Seen and Unforeseen

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Chapter 26 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Seen and Unforeseen← Chapter 25 | Chapter 27 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Luna Lovegood does not know when the interview with Harry will be published in The Quibbler. At dinner, Harry tells Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan, and Neville about the interview. All agree that Harry acted courageously. As they leave, Ron arrives from Quidditch practice, while Cho Chang walks in with Marietta Edgecombe, ignoring Harry. When Harry tells Hermione that their date went badly. Hermione suggests he approached it wrong. He should have told Cho that he really hated that he had to meet Hermione, and even though he did not really like her, he promised to go see her, ugly as she was. Harry protests that Hermione is not ugly. Harry thinks Hermione should write a book about how to understand girls, to which Ron whole-heartedly agrees. Ron and Ginny are dejected over how bad Quidditch practice was. Ginny, who is playing Seeker, says Angelina was in tears at the end. The Twins comment later to Harry and Hermione that Ginny is an excellent player. Hermione says she has been breaking into the Weasley broom shed and practicing since she was six-years-old. Fred laments that Quidditch was about the only thing keeping them at school. With the Skiving Snackbox line ready to go, they could open a store any time, and they do not need NEWTs to do that.

The following weekend's Quidditch game against Hufflepuff is awful as well, with only two mitigating factors: first, it is short, and second, due to Ginny's excellent flying, she grabs the Snitch from under the Hufflepuff's Seeker's nose, and Gryffindor loses by only ten points. That night, Harry has his recurring nightmare of long hallways and closed doors; he is awakened by Ron's loud snoring.

The following Monday at breakfast, Harry is surprised by a flock of owls delivering him mail. The Quibbler article was published over the weekend, and the letters seem evenly split between those who think he is insane, and others believing that his story fills the gaping holes in the Ministry's official version. Professor Umbridge is incensed, and immediately gives Harry detention and penalizes him 50 House points, as well as cancelling further Hogsmeade visits. Very shortly, a new Educational Decree appears: possessing the Quibbler is an expulsion offence. Hermione is happy because it ensures the entire school will read it. And it appears the teachers have read it; Harry seems to be receiving extra favors from them. For Harry, the best result is that Cho seems to have forgiven him. Between classes, she says how brave he was to give the interview, and kisses him. Harry also sees Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle discussing something with another Slytherin boy in the library. Hermione says they are unable to contradict Harry's claims that their fathers are Death Eaters because they cannot admit to reading the Quibbler without risking being expelled.

That night, Harry has another disturbing dream in which he is Voldemort discussing Bode's death with Rookwood, one of the escaped Death Eaters. Voldemort is angry because Rookwood, who worked at the Ministry before his arrest, told him that the plan to extract something from the Ministry was doomed to fail. That is why Bode fought Malfoy's Imperius curse so strongly. Dismissing Rookwood, Voldemort asks to see Avery, who helped create the plan. Harry wakes up, screaming. Ron asks if there is another attack, but Harry says only the Death Eater Avery is in trouble. Ron wants him to tell Dumbledore, but Harry refuses, saying Dumbledore would not have had him learn Occlumency if he wanted to hear about these things.

Discussing Harry's dream the next day, Hermione speculates that Bode, under the Imperius curse, was being forced to steal the weapon at the Ministry, and, running afoul of the protective spells around it, went insane and landed in St. Mungo's. The healer there had said that Bode was recovering, so the Death Eaters probably killed him off before he improved enough to recount what happened. Harry recalls that Lucius Malfoy was loitering in the Department of Mysteries the same day as his hearing. Hermione guesses that Lucius used the Imperius curse on Sturgis Podmore, which is why he was arrested trying to get through a security door at the Ministry.

Harry continues his Occlumency lessons, but his hatred for Snape prevents him from clearing his mind. Although he is making little progress, on one occasion, he briefly enters Snape's mind using a Shield Charm. The next attempt, Harry again experiences his corridors dream, but when he reaches the door, it is open for the first time. Snape breaks him from the vision, seeming concerned at what is appearing in Harry's mind. Their session is interrupted by someone frantically screaming in the entrance hall. It is a hysterical Professor Trelawney, who has just been fired by Umbridge and ordered to leave Hogwarts immediately. Dumbledore intervenes, and although he is unable to reverse Trelawney's dismissal, he tells Umbridge that it is within his power to allow Trelawney to remain in residence at the castle. Dumbledore also tells her that he still has the authority to replace Trelawney with his own appointment, and, to Umbridge's outrage, he introduces the Centaur, Firenze, as the new Divination teacher.

Analysis[edit]

Skeeter's article changes many peoples' opinion about Harry and Dumbledore, although others remain unconvinced that Voldemort has returned. Umbridge is not only outraged, but she realizes the story will garner support for Harry while further eroding her power and the Ministry's official stance. Her attempt to ban the story from Hogwarts only ensures that it will be read by even more students, and lends credibility to Harry's claim about Voldemort. Her previous Educational Decree prohibiting faculty and students from engaging in personal conversations, and this one banning simple possession of a magazine, shows her increasing desperation and paranoia, and will only create further solidarity and opposition against her. Dumbledore does little to interfere with Umbridge's antics, perhaps knowing that she is her own worst enemy and will likely self-destruct given enough time. However, he intervenes to prevent Umbridge from ousting Trelawney from the castle, and further infuriates and undermines her authority by appointing the Centaur, Firenze, as Trelawney's replacement. We have already heard her speaking with almost unveiled hatred against "half-breeds", and it is certain that Dumbledore is aware that Umbridge considers Centaurs the same as she does Hagrid.

Hermione is absolutely correct that Umbridge's banning the Quibbler will absolutely ensure it will be read by the entire school. Human nature is such that any attempt to withold information by authorities will only increase curiosity about it and the desire to access it. That said, Umbridge was powerless to prevent the article from being read and discussed; her high-handed treatment of the school's occupants, staff, and students alike, made her a prime target for rebellion. Her attempts to bluster away the truth have left obvious voids in her stories, which Harry's interview fills.

Meanwhile, Harry continues to struggle with Occlumency, although it may be his resistance to learning it that causes him difficulties. One must also assume that this is partially due to the teacher assigned to him. Snape can seldom resist an opportunity to needle Harry, and if Snape's teaching methods are to be trusted, the process' first step is to clear the mind of all emotion, something that appears to be nearly impossible for Harry in Snape's presence. Not only does Harry fail to understand why he must study Occlumency, he actually prefers knowing what Voldemort is thinking. However, Harry fails to consider that the connection between him and Voldemort could be a dangerous two-way path, something Dumbledore already suspects. It also seems odd that when Harry's vision becomes more detailed and focused, Snape prevents Harry from seeing what is inside the now-open door. Snape may know what is in there, but wants to prevent Harry from seeing it. Why is unknown, but if there is something inside that is being protected, Voldemort could learn about it from Harry's thoughts.

Harry's "dream" here is quite plainly something else entirely, like his earlier witnessing of the attack on Mr. Weasley. We now perceive that Podmore's arrest and imprisonment, and Bode's insanity, were side effects of a plan that Voldemort had put into motion to retrieve an item from the Ministry. Voldemort learns here that this plan will be ineffective, and that a new one will have to be devised. No clue is yet available as to what the new plan will involve, however.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Review[edit]

  1. Whom does Dumbledore hire to replace Trelawney and why? What is Umbridge's reaction?
  2. What is Hermione's theory about Bode?
  3. What are the after effects of Skeeter's article in The Quibbler?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why does Dumbledore insist that Trelawney remain in the castle after Umbridge fires her?
  2. Why would Umbridge ban possession of The Quibbler? What prompted this latest Decree?
  3. Is banning The Quibbler an effective measure? Why or why not?
  4. Why does Snape break off Harry's vision during Occlumency just as he is about to enter the open door? What could be behind it and why wouldn't Snape want Harry to see it?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Quite possibly, the reason Dumbledore chooses to keep Trelawney at Hogwarts — affirmed somewhat by an exchange between Dumbledore and Harry in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — is that were Trelawney to fall into Death Eaters' hands, they would attempt to extract the Prophecy revealed towards the end of this book, and thus learn its "missing" second half. Whether or not they succeeded in retrieving the prophecy, Trelawney would be unlikely to survive the attempt. Dumbledore's line in Chapter 20 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is as follows: "Between ourselves, she has no idea of the danger she would be in outside the castle. She does not know — and I think it would be unwise to enlighten her — that she made the prophecy about you and Voldemort, you see."

It is possible that the interview's overwhelming popularity may have something to do with the Quibbler continuing to run stories about Harry that are counter to the official Ministry line in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Remembering that news about Harry outsold stories about Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, the editor may have decided that articles about Harry, being equally counter to the Ministry as his more sensational pieces but significantly more popular, would make for a more profitable paper. This is similar to today's tabloid papers that publish stories based on what sells the most copies.

Harry's dream here marks Voldemort's changing strategy to retrieve the Prophecy. As noted, Voldemort discovers that his plan cannot succeed and that he must devise a new one. Rookwood revealed that only the people named in a Prophecy are able to remove it from the shelf without being driven mad, as Bode was; as only Harry and Voldemort are named in this prophecy, one of them must physically remove the Prophecy from its shelf. Voldemort devises a plan to lure Harry to the Department of Mysteries by means of the connection between them, gradually leading him mentally further into the Hall of Prophecy until he is able to show Harry where the Prophecy is stored, and then fabricating an event to force Harry to that location. It is interesting how quickly this plan is put into play: in the Occlumency lesson of this chapter, we already see that the door has opened, an indication that Voldemort is pulling Harry deeper within his mental picture of the Department.