Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Chapters[edit]

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.
Chapter 1: Dudley Demented
Chapter 2: A Peck of Owls
Chapter 3: The Advance Guard
Chapter 4: Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place
Chapter 5: The Order of the Phoenix
Chapter 6: The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black
Chapter 7: The Ministry of Magic
Chapter 8: The Hearing
Chapter 9: The Woes of Mrs. Weasley
Chapter 10: Luna Lovegood
Chapter 11: The Sorting Hat's New Song
Chapter 12: Professor Umbridge
Chapter 13: Detention with Dolores
Chapter 14: Percy and Padfoot
Chapter 15: The Hogwarts High Inquisitor
Chapter 16: In the Hog's Head
Chapter 17: Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four
Chapter 18: Dumbledore's Army
Chapter 19: The Lion and the Serpent
Chapter 20: Hagrid's Tale
Chapter 21: The Eye of the Snake
Chapter 22: St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
Chapter 23: Christmas on the Closed Ward
Chapter 24: Occlumency
Chapter 25: The Beetle at Bay
Chapter 26: Seen and Unforeseen
Chapter 27: The Centaur and the Sneak
Chapter 28: Snape's Worst Memory
Chapter 29: Careers Advice
Chapter 30: Grawp
Chapter 31: O.W.L.s
Chapter 32: Out of the Fire
Chapter 33: Fight and Flight
Chapter 34: The Department of Mysteries
Chapter 35: Beyond the Veil
Chapter 36: The Only One He Ever Feared
Chapter 37: The Lost Prophecy
Chapter 38: The Second War Begins

Overview[edit]

The fifth book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is told from the viewpoint of the now fifteen-year-old Harry.

This is possibly the darkest book in the Harry Potter series. Surprisingly, perhaps, it is not the return of Voldemort and his Death Eaters that give this book its power, for in fact they do very little during this year. Its grimness is the multiplicity of enemies facing Harry, as the Ministry of Magic, headed by Cornelius Fudge, has also set itself against Harry and Dumbledore. Additionally, Harry must deal with a new nemesis and possibly the series' most hated character, Dolores Umbridge, a petty Ministry bureaucrat.

Apart from the usual magic, events at Hogwarts School, and the frustrating Dursleys, this book includes the resurrection of the Order of the Phoenix, a group dedicated to Lord Voldemort's downfall, and Voldemort openly returning. Darker and more mature than the preceding entries in the series, this book shows Harry coping with loss and dealing with adversity, while growing in maturity and ability.

While the book appears daunting at 766 pages (Bloomsbury / Raincoast edition), it is set in somewhat larger type than the first three volumes. If set in the same type as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, it would be 655 pages (approximately) to 223 for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. At this, though, it is still the largest of the seven volumes.

Book Highlights[edit]

Chapter 1: Dudley Demented

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry is once again enduring a dreadful summer with Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. He is angry and frustrated that he has had little communication with either Ron or Hermione, and feeling isolated and cut off, is desperate for any information about Voldemort and the Wizarding world. One day, he hides in the Dursleys' flower bed under the living room window so he can overhear the Muggle news on TV. He is listening for any reports of unexplained events that, as a wizard, he would recognize as being caused by Dark magic. Hearing a cracking noise that he recognizes as someone Disapparating, Harry jumps up, wand at the ready, but bumps his head on the window frame, giving away his presence. An argument ensues with Uncle Vernon, though the need to "keep up appearances" shortens it. Harry leaves, initially to investigate the noise, eventually ending up alone with his thoughts in a playground. He encounters Dudley with his motley friends in the park. Harry, knowing that Dudley fears his magical powers, restrains himself from taunting him. After Dudley's companions leave, he and Harry head back to Privet Drive. As they reach an alley, it suddenly becomes dark and cold, and they are attacked by Dementors. Harry repels the Dementors with a Patronus Charm. However, Dudley is chilled to the bone and later becomes nauseous. Mrs. Figg (Harry's neighbour) appears on the scene, and amazingly, she is not at all surprised to see Harry's magic wand, ordering him not to put it away.

Analysis[edit]

Readers can see how lonely Harry is at his erstwhile relatives' home and how unhappy he has always been there. He is trapped inside a world in which he no longer belongs, nor wants to be part of, but Professor Dumbledore has apparently decreed that he must endure living there each summer. We do not yet know why, but at the previous book's conclusion, Ron says that Dumbledore had vetoed Mrs. Weasley's invitation to have Harry spend the entire summer at the Burrow. The Dursleys again show how little they care for their nephew's needs. However, they do treat him better than they used to, and, as Dudley seems to, now fear Harry's magical powers. While Harry and the Dursleys' overall relationship remains unchanged, there has been a gradual power shift within the household, seen as far back as the first book, when Harry was given Dudley's "extra" bedroom and no longer had to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs. While Harry would never use magic against his relatives, he knows they fear his increasing magical abilities and alliances with wizards, and this has progressively granted him some bargaining leverage.

Harry is hungry for information about the Wizarding world he is being isolated from. In the previous book, he witnessed Voldemort's resurrection, and he knows, perhaps as no other excepting Dumbledore, how much evil has returned. However, it seems that Harry is deliberately being denied information, making him angry and frustrated. While Hagrid has been on a mission and is likely unable to write, it seems that Ron and Hermione are deliberately withholding important details from their letters, leaving Harry feeling abandoned.

Harry has been carefully watching for any signs of Voldemort's activity restarting, not only in the Wizarding realm, by means of the Daily Prophet, but in the Muggle world, which is why he listens to the Muggle news. Harry is aware that Voldemort considers Muggles unworthy of preservation. The Dementor attack may be a sign that Voldemort is becoming active, and it actually helps relieve Harry's anger and frustration by reestablishing his ties to the magical world. Discovering that batty old Mrs. Figg possesses knowledge about wizards delivers Harry a powerful shock, given the vacuum he is forced to stay in. There have been clues that Mrs. Figg is connected to the Wizarding world since the first book, such as the strange odors emanating from her kitchen and her unusual cats, though Harry was too young and inexperienced a wizard to have recognized them.

The attack also brings another character into focus: Dudley. Being a Muggle, he should have been unaware and largely unaffected by the Dementors' presence; however, he was obviously affected by them, just as they were able to detect him.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. How is Dudley affected by the Dementors?
  2. Why is Harry so intent on listening to the Muggle news?
  3. How has Harry's relationship with the Dursleys changed? What accounts for this?
  4. Why would Harry expect to hear news about the Wizarding world reported on Muggle TV?
  5. Why does Harry feel as though he is being ignored? Could there be a more logical reason behind the disappointing lack of responsiveness in his friends' letters? Is Harry overreacting, or does he have the right to feel deprived?

Further Study[edit]

  1. How does Mrs. Figg know about the Wizarding world?
  2. Why do letters from Harry's friends contain so little information about the Wizard world?
  3. Why would Dudley, a Muggle who should be unaware of a Dementor's presence, be so affected by them? Why would a Dementor attack him along with Harry?
  4. Who could have sent the Dementors to Privet Drive and why?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

The "loud, echoing crack" that startles Harry is, as he had believed, the sound of someone Disapparating. We will find out that the wizard in question was Mundungus Fletcher, abandoning his job of watching over Harry in order to complete one of his shady deals. The cat Harry sees running off immediately after the sound is one of Ms. Figg's cats (actually at least part Kneazle) running to report Mundungus' departure.

Mrs. Figg's connection to the Wizarding world was mentioned at the end of the previous book, though it is very carefully formed so as to not attract attention. We never know Mrs. Figg's first name, even the Dursleys call her "old Mrs. Figg", and the complexity of her first name (Arabella) seems to be carefully selected so as to overshadow her last name when Dumbledore mentions it. We will find out that Mrs. Figg is an associate of Dumbledore's and a member of the Order of the Phoenix from Voldemort's first rise to power, and has been charged with watching over Harry since he was first left at Privet Drive.

Slightly connected to this is Dumbledore's insistence that Harry spend time at Privet Drive each summer. Dumbledore has set protective spells on Harry and the house, based on the protection given Harry when his mother died to save him. That protection will only hold so long as Harry is sheltered by his mother's blood, which is to say as long as his home is the place where one of his mothers' close blood relatives lives. If he stops being able to call Privet Drive home, or reaches the age of majority, that protection will cease. Harry's returning each summer is sufficient to keep Privet Drive his home. While this is Harry's strongest protection, Dumbledore never has only one string to his bow, and has arranged for Harry to be watched and guarded by other means, including Mrs. Figg.

Harry is correct in his assumption that Ron and Hermione are deliberately withholding information in their letters. This is at Dumbledore's orders, though why Dumbledore wants Harry to remain unknowing is never fully explained. It is possible that, even at this early stage, Dumbledore worries that Voldemort may know about the linkage between Harry's mind and his own, and is trying to minimize the possible damage should Voldemort snoop in Harry's mind. Dumbledore is aware that, even before Voldemort re-embodied himself, there were two episodes where Harry apparently received clear images from Voldemort's mind. Dumbledore may also feel it is inappropriate for someone Harry's age to be involved in adult matters, even if it is related to Harry. And while Ron and Hermione are certainly not adults, they are in a position to overhear much of what is going on, and Dumbledore does not want them sharing that with Harry, particularly when he is so cut off from anyone who can discuss matters with him. Harry, of course, feels differently.

While it is never known exactly why Dementors were at Privet Drive, we do learn Dolores Umbridge sent them; she is introduced a little later in this book. Her only explanation for sending the Dementors is that, "something had to be done", though she remains mute on just why it had to be done, or why Dementors were the reasonable choice.

Dudley perhaps should have been affected much less by the Dementors than he was. In chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it is stated that Muggles are unable to see Dementors but can feel some of their effects, and the author has said that Squibs are also unable to see them, though we have reason to question that. (In particular, Mrs. Figg's first words in the next chapter, "Dementors! In Little Whinging!" make it clear that she recognizes the Dementors somehow, though whether by direct perception or by understanding of the effects is never made clear.) In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it is mentioned that the Dementors are attacking people, but it is uncertain to what extent Muggles are being targeted or what effects they are feeling from the attacks. But we are led to believe that Dudley suffers from the Dementors more than expected; and it is interesting that the Dementors chose to target Dudley as well as Harry.

Dudley's being affected by the Dementors leads us to an interesting suggestion. According to Rowling, in an interview prior to the third book's publication, a character, previously believed to be a Muggle would develop magical abilities unexpectedly late in life ("late" meaning after age 11 or so), and later, on her own site, she stated that it would not be Aunt Petunia. Although this was expected to happen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rowling later decided to omit this from the storyline. However, if Dudley suffers the effects from the Dementors that we see in this chapter, it is possible that he was originally intended to be the character to which this would happen, despite Rowling's later statement that the ordinariness of Vernon's DNA would crush any incipient magic out of Dudley. In that event, Arabella Figg may have been the character Rowling intended to become magical. Like Dudley, she apparently also detected the Dementors presence when she should have been unable to, and her magical lineage was at least as strong as Dudley's. (At least one of Mrs. Figg's parents must have been a witch or a wizard for her to be classed as a Squib, while Petunia's sister, Dudley's aunt, was a witch.)

Connections[edit]

  • The Dementor episode in this chapter triggers a change in Dudley's perception of Harry. In the final book, Dudley says that he doesn't believe that Harry is a waste of space, which Harry sees as the compliment that it is meant to be. We believe that Dudley's change of heart, as limited as it is, is triggered by Harry's saving him from the Dementors, and possibly reinforced by Dumbledore's visit at the beginning of the sixth book.

Chapter 2: A Peck of Owls

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

As Harry struggles to comprehend the Dementor attack and Mrs. Figg's enigmatic announcement, Mrs. Figg reveals she is a Squib and has long been in contact with Albus Dumbledore. Harry has been watched ever since he was left at the Dursley household, and especially this summer. Mundungus Fletcher was supposed to be on duty but left early — the cracking noise Harry had heard was him Disapparating. As they struggle to move Dudley to the house, Mundungus reappears. Mrs. Figg chastises him before sending him to update Dumbledore. Mrs. Figg and Harry reach the Dursleys front door. Mrs. Figg now leaves to await Dumbledore's orders, leaving Harry to face the Dursleys alone.

While Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia berate him about Dudley, an owl letter from the Ministry of Magic arrives, expelling Harry from Hogwarts, and demanding that he await the arrival of a Ministry representative who will break his wand. Harry decides his only option is to become a fugitive, but before he can get past Uncle Vernon, another owl letter arrives from Mr. Weasley, telling him to remain in the house while Dumbledore sorts things out. Harry, accepting this instruction, tries to explain what happened to his aunt and uncle, insisting it was Dementors that attacked Dudley. When Uncle Vernon asks what "Dementoids" are, Aunt Petunia responds, "they are the guards of the Wizard prison, Azkaban." Petunia's shocking revelation stuns everyone, including herself.

As Harry answers questions about the Wizarding world, more owls arrive, one from Mr. Weasley, and another from his godfather, Sirius Black, both saying that the situation is being sorted out. Finally, a Ministry of Magic owl arrives revoking his expulsion. Harry's fate now rests on a hearing scheduled for "9 A.M. on August 12th."

After hearing that Lord Voldemort has returned, Uncle Vernon, recognizing the danger of housing Harry, demands he leave. However, a Howler arrives—surprisingly, for Petunia Dursley. A menacing voice reverberates: "Remember my last, Petunia!" Petunia quickly overrides her husband, insisting that Harry remain at their house.

Analysis[edit]

Even the casual reader will be left with questions after this chapter. The largest unanswered ones are: How did Petunia learn about Dementors, and given that she knows that much, what other knowledge does she possess about the Wizarding world she has never shared? And, someone who was reasonably aware of what was happening in the house probably sent the Howler, possibly because they knew Petunia and Vernon's likely reactions. That person must hold some power over Petunia, considering how quickly she reversed her decision after the Howler uttered its four words; who could that person be? While we can speculate, the true answers are withheld until later in the series.

Petunia's explanation about Dementors and Azkaban not only shocks her family, but shows she knows far more about the Wizarding world than she has ever let on. Her own reaction to her utterance seems to indicate that she has hidden this knowledge even from herself. Based largely on this, Harry leaps to the conclusion that Dumbledore sent her the Howler; this is fueled largely by wishful thinking, as Harry has been unsuccessfully hoping for a communication from Dumbledore all summer. However, if the Howler is from Dumbledore, it implies that he and Petunia have had more contact than has been previously revealed: "Remember my last" implies that there has been more than one previous communication, and the letter left with Harry at the very start of the series is the only message we are aware of that Dumbledore had sent to Petunia. And though Harry may be unaware of such messages, this is hardly surprising as Petunia, having been Harry's guardian, would need to be informed regarding anything affecting her nephew, regardless what her personal feelings are toward him. Though that does beg the question: why Petunia, and not Vernon, who as head of the household would presumably also need that information? The answer to this question is also withheld until much later in the series.

That Harry would be expelled from school and have his wand broken, without an official inquiry and for such a minor offense, indicates the Ministry of Magic must have some ulterior motive in moving so quickly against him. Obviously, others (apparently including Dumbledore) have intervened on his behalf, and a hearing is scheduled so Harry can defend himself. As is so often the case with Harry, his first response to a difficult situation is to run away or isolate himself, rather than attempt to find a solution or seek help from others. Luckily, he is overridden by Arthur Weasley. We are left to wonder whether Arthur's response is simply instinctive, making sure Harry stays where he can be found and reassuring him that things are being done; or whether Arthur has noticed Harry's tendency to flee this sort of problem.

While Harry has been protected from Voldemort with the magic created by his mother's death, Dumbledore has, as we learned earlier, cast additional protective spells over the house as an extra precaution; this is likely part of why Arthur directed him to stay there. Also, Arabella Figg, a Squib, has apparently been watching Harry ever since he was left at the Dursleys. She explains that her rather mean behavior to him was because she knew if his aunt and uncle suspected he had a friend, she never would have been allowed to occasionally watch him. No doubt others also guard Harry whenever he stays with the Dursleys.

Petunia's rationalization of the need to keep Harry at home, to keep up appearances, is in character, of course. The Dursley family's need to keep up appearances is foremost in her mind at that point, and is probably the only thing she could use that would have any chance of reversing Vernon's decision to throw Harry out.

For reasons revealed later, the reader should particularly note Mrs. Figg's first statement in this chapter.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Who or what are 'Squibs'?
  2. How does Petunia know about Dementors and Azkaban prison?
  3. Why does Uncle Vernon order Harry to leave the house? Who overrules him and why?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why would the Ministry of Magic want to break Harry's wand and expel him from Hogwarts without an official inquiry?
  2. Who sent Petunia the Howler? What does its message say and what might it mean?
  3. Why does Petunia react so strongly to the Howler?
  4. How does Petunia know so much about the Wizarding World when she has claimed all these years she knows nothing? What more could she know?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Dumbledore mentions later in the book that the Howler was, as Harry surmised, from him. This, in association with comments Dumbledore makes in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, would indicate he has kept a closer eye on the Dursley household than we have, to date, realized. Mrs. Figg's revelation that the house is being watched, at Dumbledore's instructions, would account for some of the knowledge he has of the Dursleys, but the sort of observation that Mrs. Figg would be capable of likely would not include sufficient detail to allow Dumbledore to understand the need for a Howler at that specific time.

It is interesting that Dumbledore's Howler says "Remember my last" instead of "Remember my letter." The implication here is that there have been more letters than the single one which we have seen, left with Harry on the doorstep at the beginning of the series. It is not until the final book of the series that we learn that Dumbledore had written a letter to Petunia earlier, refusing her entry into Hogwarts. We learn at the same time that much of Petunia's understanding of the Wizarding world actually comes, not from Harry's father, as we would expect given her apparent dislike of "that awful boy", but Severus Snape, who at the time was telling Lily Evans, Petunia's sister and later Harry's mother, what to expect in the Wizarding world. In retrospect this makes sense: we will find out later in this book that Lily hated James Potter late in their fifth year, so cannot have taken up with him until, at the earliest, their sixth year. By that time, Petunia no doubt has done as much as she could to distance herself from Lily and her magical abilities, and would not care to speak with James in any event.

We never do learn if there has been any ongoing communication between Dumbledore and Petunia, but given the surprise she shows when Harry's Hogwarts letter arrives in the first book, we can safely assume that there has been no communication in the intervening years.

Connections[edit]

Chapter 3: The Advance Guard

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Locked in his room by Uncle Vernon, Harry immediately writes letters to Sirius, Hermione, and Ron. He instructs Hedwig to get detailed replies from each, pecking at them if necessary until they write. Frustration overwhelms him: he has no idea what is happening in the Wizarding world and, cut off, feels he is being treated like a "naughty child" by Mr. Weasley, Dumbledore, and Sirius, all of whom sent instructions but no explanations.

Harry remains locked in his room for the next three days, without even the company of Hedwig, who has not returned. On the third day, Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley leave for the evening. Harry is ordered to stay in his room and not steal food or touch their possessions. Uncle Vernon locks the door behind them. Later, Harry hears a crash in the kitchen, and finds his door has unlocked itself. Grabbing his wand, he cautiously advances to the stairs where nine witches and wizards, including the real Mad-Eye Moody and Remus Lupin greet him.

Harry is being taken from the Dursleys'. While he is packing, Nymphadora Tonks curiously changes her appearance, explaining that she is a Metamorphmagus and (impressing Harry) an Auror.

Lupin leaves a note for the Dursleys, then the entire group heads outside. Because Harry cannot yet Apparate, they mount broomsticks and begin a long, cold flight. They finally descend in what appears to be a lower-class neighborhood. Moody shows Harry a scrap of paper which reads: "The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, London."

Analysis[edit]

Harry has become increasingly upset and frustrated at being isolated, both physically and mentally, from his friends and the Wizarding world. Clearly, someone is preventing detailed information from reaching him, leaving Harry feeling that he is being treated as a small, untrustworthy child. This is especially galling as, having fought Lord Voldemort twice successfully, and certainly being able to understand the overall situation, he feels he should be treated as an adult. However, even though Harry is on the verge of adulthood, we have seen him sometimes acting immaturely and impulsively, often reacting in anger and frustration rather than logically evaluating what the actual circumstances may be and taking appropriate action. In particular, we note how, when being informed he was in trouble for performing magic when under age in the previous chapter, his first impulse again was to run away.

The Advance Guard's arrival reveals several things. First, so many wizards collecting Harry is yet another indication of Harry's fame and importance in the Wizarding world: Harry is surprised by the large number because he has not internalized his own celebrity status. Here we meet the true Mad-Eye Moody and witness the paranoia he operates under. Even the other Aurors find his planned precautions excessive. Finally, their appearance is a clear indicator that Harry was never forgotten, nor was he ignored, but had simply been "put on ice," until another safe-house was ready. We are unable to speculate why Harry was never told about the plan to move him, or why he has been kept in the dark on all Wizarding matters since leaving Hogwarts. It may be a matter of the less he knows about the Order's plans, the safer he is. Clearly, Harry is relieved and excited to rejoin the Magical world, even if, as Moody suspects, it puts him in more danger.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why is Harry so frustrated? Is his reaction reasonable? Explain.
  2. What is a Metamorphmagus?
  3. Why did so many people come to get Harry?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why might Harry have been denied information about Voldemort and what is happening in the Wizarding world?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

We learn shortly that it is at Dumbledore's orders that Harry has been kept uninformed. This is partly due to Dumbledore knowing about the link between Harry and Voldemort. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore learned that Voldemort created at least one Horcrux, and was alarmed that this Horcrux was also a weapon, and used as one, rather than being kept safely hidden. From this, Dumbledore suspected that Voldemort had created multiple Horcruxes, a suspicion confirmed when Voldemort claims, in in Harry's hearing, that he had "gone further along the road to immortality than any other wizard." Eventually, Dumbledore guesses that the link between Harry and Voldemort is a soul fragment that was sheared off from Voldemort and adhered to Harry's soul. Whether he already has guessed this, or simply knows the link exists, is uncertain at this point. In any event, Dumbledore keeps Harry uninformed largely to prevent Voldemort from gaining any knowledge through that link, while he determines how that link works.

Additionally, the adult wizards, notably Dumbledore and, to a lesser extent, Mrs. Weasley, may have withheld information from Harry because they believe it could put him, and also his peers, in jeopardy by making them valuable, and easy, targets for Death Eaters. Mrs. Weasley, in particular, will be portrayed as believing that Harry is too young for the sort of knowledge he is looking for; she has, perhaps, mentally adopted him and is being maternally over-protective.

Connections[edit]

This chapter is almost entirely concerned with events within this book. There is very little here that could be seen as an important connection to other books, though Grimmauld Place will be important throughout the remainder of the series, and Tonks does comment on Harry's Firebolt broom.

Chapter 4: Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

As he destroys the note, Mad-Eye Moody instructs Harry to concentrate on what had been written on it. When he does, a dilapidated-looking house materializes, and the Advance Guard ushers him in. The dark interior is as rundown and shabby as the outside. They are welcomed by Molly Weasley, who sends Harry upstairs to where Ron and Hermione are waiting, while the adults conduct a meeting. Harry's friends greet him warmly, though he does not reciprocate fully as he is still upset that they withheld information; seeing Hedwig's peck marks on their hands pacifies him somewhat. Ron and Hermione insist Dumbledore swore them to secrecy, but that does not stop Harry from shouting his frustration. When he finally calms down, he begins asking questions.

Ron and Hermione identify the house as the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society founded by Dumbledore to combat Lord Voldemort. As they have been barred from any meetings, Ron and Hermione have little more information to offer. Instead, they have been busy cleaning the house. George, Fred, and Ginny Weasley enter the room. During the conversation, they reveal that Percy Weasley has become estranged from the family. He was promoted to a prestigious position in the Ministry of Magic, which is surprising considering his involvement in the events concerning his former boss, Mr. Crouch (in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). When Arthur Weasley suggested he was promoted so he could spy on the Weasley family, a fight erupted, ending with Percy moving to London. Also, despite the absence of Rita Skeeter, The Daily Prophet has been using Harry as a "standing joke." Harry believes that this is part of a campaign to discredit his claims that Lord Voldemort has returned.

Finally, the meeting ends, and Mrs. Weasley announces dinner. In the hallway, Tonks knocks over an umbrella stand. The noise apparently disturbs something in the hall: curtains covering a woman's portrait fly open, and the woman revealed begins screaming: "Half-breeds, mutants, freaks, begone from this place! How dare you befoul the house of my fathers . . ." Mrs. Weasley and Tonks try ineffectually to close the curtains. Sirius Black enters and wrenches them shut. Greeting Harry, he comments that Harry has just met his mother.

Analysis[edit]

Harry, relieved to return to the Wizarding world, and glad to be reunited with Sirius, is still angry. He reacts by lashing out at Ron and Hermione for withholding information, unconcerned that they were under strict orders to divulge nothing in their letters to him. Though Harry is perversely pleased that Hedwig has painfully pecked Ron and Hermione's hands, they actually have little news to share. Being at Grimmauld Place has given them little access to the Order's business as they, like Harry, are deemed still too young to significantly participate in these very dangerous and adult matters. That hardly mollifies Harry, who continues to feel frustrated and angry at being denied knowledge regarding events in which he plays an integral part. Now, however, he has others he can vent his ire on, however undeserved. Harry's frustration and emotional outbursts are probably exacerbated by puberty, and no doubt the usual teenage angst he probably suffers from is enhanced, if not supplanted, by his isolation, and post-traumatic stress regarding Cedric Diggory's recent death and Voldemort's return. Harry could learn much from Fred and George's example, however. Despite being legal age, they are still students and are also excluded from the Order's affairs. But rather than childishly ranting and raving like Harry, they instead employ their ingenuity to devise unique magical methods for gathering information, which they then share with Harry and the others.

Another point should be raised about the twins, in passing. As noted, they are of legal age, and yet they report being routinely excluded from Order of the Phoenix deliberations. Why? It is safe to assume that the decision would have been influenced by their mother, who, having reared them, no doubt still sees them as children, particularly because they are still living in the family home. It is also likely that their light-hearted approach to life would influence this decision; as they don't seem to take anything seriously, it is possible that their elders feel that they are not ready yet for the serious business of battling Voldemort.

The boundary between adults and youths is clearly defined here, and though Harry and the others have continually proved their worth in fighting Voldemort, and Harry has personally faced the Dark Lord three times, they are still underage and unqualified wizards. Entrusting youths with the Order's secrets would be irresponsible and make them more tempting targets for Death Eaters to capture and torture for that information. Harry and the others fail to consider that, or that Harry just barely escaped Voldemort's trap that cost Cedric his life. The less they all know, the safer they are, at least for now, though they will continue to do whatever they can to uncover the Order's business.

Meanwhile, the rift between Percy and the Weasley clan continues to grow, and causes Ron and his family additional stress and anguish. While Percy has always been rather pompous and self-serving, his ambition has blinded him to what is truly happening within the Ministry of Magic and the Wizarding world at large. He also discounts that Voldemort has returned. Regarding his sudden promotion, two factors make it logical. First, as the other Weasleys suggest, the Ministry recruited him to spy upon his own family, who are known Harry and Dumbledore supporters. The promotion by design has made Percy more loyal to the Ministry, which would have made him a better source of information on the Weasley family if it had not caused this estrangement. Second, the Ministry was covering up Percy's severe blunder. Percy, as his family is aware, seriously erred by failing to recognize that Mr. Crouch had fallen under Voldemort's and Wormtail's control. The official Ministry of Magic stance continues to be that Voldemort is still dead and Wormtail was murdered by Sirius Black thirteen years ago. Therefore, they must deny Harry's explanation regarding Mr. Crouch, no matter how well it explains what has been happening. Percy's only official misstep was that he never realized how "sick" Crouch was, for which he can be forgiven because Crouch apparently hid this well, and Percy's promotion simply aids the fiction that the Ministry must fabricate to explain what happened to Crouch. Percy, having whole-heartedly bought into the Ministry mindset, never questions his promotion, apparently believing it is solely in recognition of his abilities.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why is Harry so angry with Ron and Hermione? How else could he have expressed his frustration?
  2. What is the Order of the Phoenix and why was it established? Who founded it?
  3. What has caused Percy's estrangement from the Weasley family? Did he react appropriately?
  4. Why does the Daily Prophet continually ridicule Harry? Who might be responsible for projecting this image?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why does Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place resemble a Dark wizard's residence? What is its current purpose?
  2. Why was so much information withheld from Harry until now? Was this wise?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Percy will continue, oblivious to the changes in the Ministry, until very near the end of our story. Finally recognizing that the Ministry has changed, fundamentally, into Voldemort's instrument of evil, Percy will return to his family as the Battle of Hogwarts begins. Until he reaches that realization, though, there will be friction between himself and his father, as they both continue to work at the Ministry.

Fred and George, along with a number of other magical items intended for their joke shop, have invented Extendable Ears, which they have tried to use to listen in on the Order meetings. While they have of late been unsuccessful due to charms being placed on the door of the kitchen, these devices, with their ability to eavesdrop on other wizards, will prove useful in this and both future books.

The house's appearance will give the reader some concern, as with its snake-head door handle, display of preserved House Elf heads, and screaming portraits, it is clearly the residence of Dark wizards, probably with some kinship to Slytherin, who almost certainly share Voldemort's views on Wizarding racial purity. We will learn that the Black family's male line has nearly died out, leaving Sirius as the sole surviving male Black. In an attempt to reject his family's values, which are repugnant to him, he is trying to eliminate the house's Dark magic. This process will continue throughout this book, and the place will be almost cheerful when Harry visits at Christmas. As Sirius has no children of his own, but takes his duties as Harry's godfather very seriously, we suspect that he may bequeath the house to Harry upon his death. We can also suppose that Harry will continue to clean up the house once his schooling is complete.

Connections[edit]

Chapter 5: The Order of the Phoenix

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Sirius Black explains to a bewildered Harry that the portrait is his mother, the late Mrs. Black. Number 12, Grimmauld Place, the Blacks' ancestral home, was inherited by Sirius while he was in Azkaban. He adds gloomily that providing the house as the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix is one of the few useful contributions he has been able to make.

In the kitchen, the Weasleys and several Order members are busy preparing dinner. Bill Weasley is there, and he and Mr. Weasley are studying numerous parchment rolls at the kitchen table, apparently Order of the Phoenix business. Bill quickly gathers everything up when Harry enters. Fred and George attempt to magically serve the meal, sending a chopping board and knife, a pitcher of Butterbeer, and a pot of stew careening through the air and onto the table. The stew barely stays on the table's edge, half the Butterbeer is spilled, and the knife barely misses Sirius' hand. Mrs. Weasley scolds them: just because they are now old enough to be allowed to do magic does not mean that they have to.

During dinner, Harry catches conversation snippets around the room: Tonks taking requests for different-shaped noses, Bill discussing the Goblins' stance on Lord Voldemort and how it was affected by their dealings with Ludo Bagman the previous year, and the thief Mundungus Fletcher's comical business dealings.

Following dinner, Sirius suggests Harry might have some questions about the Order and Voldemort. Mrs. Weasley, feeling he is too young, disagrees over how much Harry should know. She claims Sirius treats Harry like he was James Potter, rather than as his godson. Lupin and Mr. Weasley side with Sirius, however. After some disagreement over who among the younger set can stay, Mrs. Weasley drags a fiercely-protesting Ginny off to bed. Sirius, Lupin, and Mr. Weasley begin answering Harry's questions, as Fred, George, Ron, and Hermione listen. No murders have been committed because Voldemort is keeping a low profile. The Ministry of Magic fervently denies Albus Dumbledore's claims that Voldemort has returned, and has engineered his dismissal as head of several important Wizarding institutions. Dumbledore says he does not mind, so long as they don't take his image off the Chocolate Frog cards. The Order is recruiting new members, including foreign ones. Order members working inside the Ministry must be cautious, as the Minister threatens to fire anyone friendly with Dumbledore. The Minister is apparently paranoid that Dumbledore is building a private army, with the intent of taking over the Ministry of Magic. Sirius also lets slip that the Order is guarding a weapon, at which point Molly Weasley interrupts and sends the children to bed.

After lights out, the Twins, having previously eavesdropped using their Extendable Ears, tell Harry and Ron that the only new revelation was the weapon being guarded, but their conversation is cut short when Mrs. Weasley stops outside the door of the room, apparently to check that they have all gone to bed. Harry falls asleep, only to have nightmares about weapons.

Analysis[edit]

Harry is updated on recent events and how Voldemort's return has caused significant changes in the Wizarding world; this, of course, also serves to bring the reader up to speed. As noted in earlier chapters, Harry has been worried throughout the summer: despite Voldemort's return, the expected evil has yet to materialize. In this meeting, we learn why, but it still seems little is happening, and that Dumbledore, the only high authority who apparently believes Harry, is doing little about it. More is also learned about some important adult characters, notably Sirius and Lupin, and we are offered more insight into Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's relationship.

Although Sirius has escaped after twelve years in Azkaban prison for a crime he never committed, he is as much a prisoner as ever. Being a hunted fugitive, he must remain in hiding, and is effectively incarcerated in the dreary Black home that has always been an unhappy place for him. And though he is an Order of the Phoenix member, he is unable to actively participate in the war against Voldemort. As a result, he is becoming increasingly depressed, irritable, and reckless. We also suspect a certain mental instability caused partly by his incarceration, and partly inherited. The long sojourn in Azkaban also will have hindered his development; we will see that he is somewhat less mature than we would expect of a man of Sirius' age (about 36). As Mrs. Weasley notes, Sirius tends to view Harry more as a replacement for James Potter, rather than as his godson, likely because his emotional development was stalled by Azkaban when both he and James were about 20 years of age. That is not to say Sirius does not love Harry or have his best interest in mind, but he is not as good an adult role model as he should be, and his judgment is sometimes faulty.

Mrs. Weasley's character is also becoming more defined here. While she is a strong-willed, powerful witch and a valuable Order of the Phoenix member, her maternal instincts often take precedence over all other matters. By wanting to withhold all information from the youngsters, she is trying to protect, not only her own children, but also Harry, who she has come to love like a son, for as long as possible. She cannot, however, continue to keep him and the younger Weasley children sequestered in childhood innocence. Providing too little information can be as dangerous as giving them too much.

We note in passing that Mrs. Weasley seems to be holding two separate ideas in her mind at the same time. Having lost the battle to keep Harry from learning anything about Order business, she tries to pack the Twins off to bed, saying that they are too young for the knowledge. She has earlier noted that the Twins are of age, as she admits that they are allowed to do magic when they attempt to serve the meal magically. Of course, Mrs. Weasley suffers the usual concern of mothers everywhere, being quite visibly overprotective of her own children, even the ones who are nominally old enough to take care of themselves. However, the twins' lighthearted treatment of life and events, harmless though it may be, cannot help anyone to accept that they are now "of age."

We also learn more about Mundungus Fletcher in this chapter. We have, of course, heard the name before: in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we hear that he had tried to jinx Mr. Weasley while his back was turned; in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he reportedly makes a fraudulent claim for damages, and earlier in this book, we see he has deserted his duty for some underhanded scheme. In this chapter, we see his nature revealed through his conversation with others, and learn that, engaging as he may be, he is at heart an unrepentant petty crook. We are led to believe that it was Dumbledore's influence that resulted in Mundungus' inclusion in the Order. It may be worth considering exactly why Dumbledore had chosen to befriend him, and how this reflects on Dumbledore; and how the other Order members react to what could be considered an edict from Dumbledore.

It is uncertain why the author chose the name she did for Mundungus Fletcher. One suspects that the name was chosen so that the nickname, being scatological, would be amusing to children of a certain age. Fletcher's name was selected in the second book of the series, and the intended age group for that book might have found the nickname humorous; however, the nickname is first mentioned in this book, which has a target audience old enough that scatological humour has faded.

It is interesting to note the roles the various adult characters take on, in relation to Harry, during the argument after dinner and the discussion that follows. Mrs. Weasley quite clearly takes the motherly role in protecting Harry. Surprisingly, perhaps, Mr. Weasley does not act as Harry's father, but more like an uncle: always having Harry's best interests at heart, but somewhat emotionally detached. For all that he is Harry's godfather, Sirius also seems less like a father to Harry, possibly due to his emotional immaturity. Instead, Sirius seems more like an older brother, supporting but also encouraging, perhaps somewhat unwisely, Harry's attempts to uncover what is going on. It is Remus Lupin, Harry's former teacher, who maintains a strong authoritarian role to Harry. Lupin, while understanding Mrs. Weasley's protectiveness, seems to be the principal adult championing Harry's need to know, though in a more guarded and careful way than Sirius, about what he is up against and what the Order is doing.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why has Dumbledore been demoted from important Wizarding posts, and by whom?
  2. Why is Mrs. Weasley angry with Fred and George? Should she be?
  3. What are some of the tasks the Order of the Phoenix is trying to accomplish?
  4. What does Sirius mean when he says offering the Black family house to the Order of the Phoenix is one of the few useful things he can do? Is that an accurate statement? What more could he do?

Further Study[edit]

  1. What could the weapon be that Sirius mentions? Where might it be?
  2. Why might the Order have to be kept secret?
  3. Why do the adults disagree over how much information Harry should be allowed to know? What should he be told?
  4. Why does Molly Weasley accuse Sirius of treating Harry more like a friend than a godson? Is she right? If so, why do Lupin and the others side with Sirius?
  5. What accounts for Sirius' performance as Harry's godfather?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

What Voldemort seeks is not actually a weapon, but rather a prophecy relating to Harry and Voldemort. However, the idea of a supremely powerful weapon will so fill Harry's, Hermione's, and Ron's thoughts, that when they need to lure Professor Umbridge away from the school, Hermione fabricates a story about a secret weapon that Dumbledore supposedly left behind. When Ron had previously overheard Order members talking about guard duty, Harry sourly suggested that they were guarding him, but we learn that the Order is also guarding the prophecy. At least two Order members, Mr. Weasley and Sturgis Podmore, will run into trouble while on guard duty.

The prophecy, which is not actually heard until the penultimate chapter of this book, could only be considered a weapon in that it tells what power Harry has that will be Voldemort's undoing, and that it will be the Dark Lord's marking Harry as an equal that gives him that power over the Dark Lord. Voldemort previously only heard the prophecy's first half, which predicts Harry's birth and parentage, and that he will have power the Dark Lord knows not; Voldemort spends much of this book attempting to recapture that prophecy, hoping it can reveal how he might defeat Harry. Like so many prophecies, if Voldemort actually had retrieved it, its most essential part for him would have already been foregone. What Voldemort has yet to hear is that the Dark Lord will "mark him as an equal." In fact, that mark, the scar on Harry's forehead that resulted from Voldemort's attempt to murder Harry, is the visible indicator of that attack. We will discover that the attack also left a shard of Voldemort's soul within Harry, which gives him insight into Voldemort's plans throughout the series' last book. The final part, about "the power that the Dark Lord knows not", is by this time an open secret, though Voldemort still discounts it. By the time he returned, Voldemort knew that it was Lily's sacrifice that protected Harry, and thus that the magic set to oppose him was based on love; not knowing love himself, Voldemort could never truly comprehend its power.

However, a more conventional weapon does exist, and it plays an important part later in the series. In the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as Voldemort's wand has been proven ineffective against Harry's, he will seek the legendary Elder Wand. It is supposedly the most powerful wand ever crafted, and Voldemort, if he can obtain it, hopes it will empower him to defeat Harry.

One other point should be raised about the roles of the adults that we see set out so plainly in this chapter. We mentioned in the Analysis section that Sirius does not fit the role of a father figure, no matter how much he fancies himself to be one. Like Hagrid, Sirius is somewhat stalled in his maturation, though for different reasons. A subtle pointer in this direction is visible in the way Sirius is addressed; all other adults are referred to by their last names, either alone ("Lupin") or with an honorific ("Mr. Weasley", "Professor Dumbledore"), while Sirius is referred to always by his first name, just as Harry's fellow students are. That lack of maturity seems to prevent Harry from seeing him as a father figure, though it certainly doesn't stop Harry's affection for him. It is possible that the author may have intended Sirius to be a father figure, but the character could not be forced into that mold successfully. By the same token, Dumbledore is similarly largely unwilling to be forced into that role; especially in this book, he determines that he must keep his emotional distance from Harry, a decision that Harry will not understand and possibly never fully accepts. Of all the adults in Harry's life, it seems, especially in this chapter, that it is Remus Lupin who most closely fits the role that should have been filled by James Potter. It is because Harry sees Lupin as something of a father figure that Lupin's willingness, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, to abandon his wife and unborn child to help Harry, who feels abandoned by his own father, feels to Harry like a betrayal rather than an offer of assistance.

Connections[edit]

  • In this chapter we find, in the discussion of the "weapon" that Voldemort seeks, the first mention of the prophecy that drives the entire series. The prophecy will be retrieved, destroyed, and revealed (in that order) in the final chapters of this book. We will learn in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that the half of the prophecy that was carried to Voldemort was overheard by Snape.
  • We get the impression that only Sirius can manage his mother's portrait. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it seems Harry has inherited this ability along with the house.

Chapter 6: The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys spend the next morning ridding the parlour of Doxies. When Harry catches Fred pocketing a paralyzed Doxy, he explains that he and George can experiment with its venom for new joke products (Skiving Snackboxes). Mundungus Fletcher arrives with a load of stolen cauldrons to store at the house, sending Mrs. Weasley into a rage. While she furiously prepares lunch in the kitchen below, a wizened House-elf wanders into the parlour, muttering obscenities about "mudbloods," evidently meaning Hermione. The elf, Kreacher, apparently devoted to Mrs. Black, has been taking orders from her portrait for the past ten years. Hermione's attempts to be kind to him are thwarted by the Twins and Sirius, who has just entered the room.

Harry notices an old tapestry that Sirius describes as the "Noble and Most Ancient House of Black" family tree. Mrs. Black has blasted off various members for "sins" against the family—namely, associating with, marrying, or sympathizing with Half-bloods and Muggles. Sirius points out that pure-blood Wizarding families like the Blacks are almost all interrelated. Notable Black family connections include the Malfoys, the Lestranges, the Weasleys, the Prewetts, the Tonks, and former Hogwarts Headmaster Phineas Nigellus. In addition, his brother, Regulus, was once a Death Eater. According to Sirius, "He got in so far, then panicked about what he was being asked to do and tried to back out." This led to his death.

The next few days are filled with cleaning tasks, often interrupted by Kreacher's rescuing discarded family heirlooms and Dark objects, and with visits from Order members. Finally, Mrs. Weasley reminds Harry that his Ministry of Magic hearing is the next day. Mr. Weasley will escort him, as requested by Professor Dumbledore when he visited Grimmauld Place the night before. Harry, already worried about the hearing, is vexed that Dumbledore had visited without stopping to talk to Harry, on top of having apparently avoided him all summer.

Analysis[edit]

Despite Voldemort, the upcoming hearing, Sirius' increasing depression, and Harry's frustration, Grimmauld Place offers rare snippets of domestic bliss that Harry and his godfather enjoy with the Weasleys. Neither Sirius nor Harry has ever experienced a happy family life, and Harry relishes these brief interludes. Harry and Sirius actually share much in common, growing up isolated and miserable in loveless households: Grimmauld Place and Privet Drive. And while Harry only has to endure his unhappy home for the summer, Sirius is now trapped inside a house containing many unpleasant (and, in some cases, magically permanent) reminders of his difficult youth—among them, his mad mother's screaming portrait, a sullen House-elf, and the family-tree tapestry bearing scorch marks where he and his other "blood traitor" relatives were blasted away by Mrs. Black. But a house can only reflect the people living in it, and Harry and Sirius have taken the first steps in creating their own happy family there. The pleasant time they share together will be short-lived, however. Classes at Hogwarts will start soon, and Sirius and Harry must then part company; for the time being, Sirius must endure being even more lonely and miserable, which possibly will affect his mental stability.

Harry also learns more about Sirius' ancestry and how interrelated wizard families are. It is quite possible that Harry and Sirius are distant blood relatives as well as godfather and godson. Harry may even be related to the Weasleys. It is also revealed that Tonks is related to Sirius; her mother, Andromeda, is Sirius' cousin, and sister to both Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange. While this means that Tonks is cousins with Draco, neither seems to acknowledge this relationship.

Some readers have thought, and Mundungus Fletcher in the story has seemed to suggest, that Sirius is being hasty in discarding so many family heirlooms. While Kreacher seems to be attempting to reclaim and hide much of the Black valuables, that seems to be out of a perhaps misplaced loyalty to the Black family matriarch, or her insane portrait alter ego. Fletcher, on the other hand, notes a silver goblet with the Black crest on it, commenting "that would come off", apparently assessing it for grey-market resale value. Some readers have suggested that the more valuable proceeds of the house could be sold to fund Sirius' continuing expenses. Against this one must weigh the fact that Sirius, as revealed in the closing chapter of the third book, was able to buy Harry a very expensive racing broom while on the run. From this, we can deduce two things: one, the author has made Sirius, as sole heir to the Black family fortune, quite rich; and two, the Gringotts goblins care little, if any, for the legal affairs of wizards. Relative to this, the potential return from sale of the heirlooms must be quite trivial, particularly weighed against the joy of making a clean break with his family's Dark past and the potential risk of Sirius' discovery should a large number of Black family artifacts suddenly appear on the market.

Hermione looking out the drawing room window and down at the front steps may be somewhat confusing for US readers. The house at Grimmauld Place is built to the London pattern, very much vertical, and apparently has four stories above the ground floor. The drawing room or parlour is apparently located one floor above ground level, on what U.S. readers would call the second floor, and European readers call the first floor. More information is available here.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Kreacher continually retrieve discarded items?
  2. What was Sirius' relationship with his family?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why doesn't Sirius directly answer Harry when he asks if he can live at Grimmauld Place if he is expelled?
  2. Why would Dumbledore ignore Harry while he was at 12 Grimmauld Place?
  3. What exactly is Kreacher's relationship with the Black family?
  4. With Kreacher's name, Rowling is obviously playing with words here; she is directing us to infer a certain connotation in Kreacher's name. What might this be? Is there only one?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

This chapter marks the first time Sirius' brother, Regulus, is mentioned. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a note is found that is signed only with the initials R.A.B. This R.A.B. is Regulus Arcturus Black, as confirmed by Kreacher in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Also, amongst the miscellaneous stuff being tossed out is "a heavy locket that none of them could open". We discover later that a locket, which can be traced back to Salazar Slytherin, plays a major part in the story. Dumbledore believes that Voldemort had hidden a Horcrux in a cavern by the sea, where he had first consciously exerted his power over Muggles. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he and Harry journey to the cave to retrieve it, only to discover the Horcrux had been replaced with a fake locket and the above-mentioned note. The replacement being a locket, and Dumbledore's belief that Voldemort had preferentially been seeking relics of the Founders to store his Horcruxes, leads Harry to believe that the missing Horcrux is within a locket owned by Slytherin. Ironically, this locket had been at Headquarters all this time. As a Slytherin relic, Kreacher would likely have squirreled it away for safe-keeping, along with other discarded Black family heirlooms and photos, including those of Bellatrix Lestrange. Kreacher and Mundungus Fletcher explain the locket's history in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and we will see its eventual destruction in that book as well.

It is actually this locket that caused Regulus' death. It is true that Regulus, as we will find out in the final book, had rebelled against Voldemort, but much more effectively than Sirius supposes. Voldemort had borrowed Kreacher to assist him in placing the Horcrux in the cave. Kreacher had reported back to Regulus, and Regulus had then tried to retrieve the Horcrux, instructing Kreacher to destroy it. Regulus then fell to the traps surrounding that Horcrux, but Kreacher, as mentioned above, escaped with the locket.

Dumbledore will continue to avoid Harry throughout this book. We will only find out why in the final chapters of this book: that this was a conscious policy adopted by Dumbledore to try to protect himself and Harry. At this point, Dumbledore suspects some mental connection between Harry and Voldemort, and is aware that Voldemort, believing love a weakness, would try to use any perceived affection between Harry and Dumbledore as a weapon against one or both of them. By isolating himself, Dumbledore hopes to prevent any knowledge of his feelings for Harry, or Harry's for him, from reaching Voldemort. This will, to a certain extent, backfire, as Harry, retaliating for what he perceives as a slight, will at several points in this book fail to forward information about Voldemort that Dumbledore could have used.

Connections[edit]

  • This is the first we hear of living Black relatives, notably Andromeda, Narcissa, and Bellatrix. When Sirius dies, it will develop that he has left his house to Harry; there is some concern, however, that it may be entailed, so that it would stay in the Black family. This will be a minor plot point in the sixth book. Additionally, Harry will be briefly alarmed in the final book by a strong facial resemblance between Bellatrix and Andromeda.
  • We see, in passing, a "heavy metal locket that none of them could open." This will turn out to be a Horcrux; in fact, it will be the Horcrux that Regulus Black had retrieved from the sea cave. Kreacher has brought it back to Grimmauld Place at Regulus' orders, and will be distraught that he was unable to complete his master's final instructions, to destroy it. This will prove a major plot point once it is discovered in the final book, and will also be a lynch-pin on which Harry is able to win Kreacher's loyalty. Hermione will recover the locket, and Ron will destroy it, in the final book.

Chapter 7: The Ministry of Magic

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry wakes early in the morning, too nervous to eat breakfast. He and Mr. Weasley depart for the Ministry of Magic, commuting in a "thoroughly non-magical fashion," as Mr. Weasley believes this will make a better impression. Upon arriving, Mr. Weasley and Harry cram into a broken telephone booth and are transported underground. They enter a huge, brightly lit atrium with a large fountain at its center (a wizard and witch surrounded by various magical creatures wearing servile expressions).

Harry passes through the security screening, then follows Mr. Weasley into a lift (elevator). Harry notices that underground windows in the hallway have sunlight streaming through them. Mr. Weasley explains that they are controlled by Magical Maintenance, who, among other Ministry maintenance tasks, determine the apparent weather effect. Passing the Auror offices, Harry sees they are plastered with Sirius Black photos, along with others. Kingsley Shacklebolt approaches, acting as though he and Mr. Weasley are on poor terms.

Shortly after they reach Mr. Weasley's noticeably tiny office, Perkins, a co-worker, runs in. The hearing's time and place have been changed, making Harry late. The new location is in the basement, but because the lift does not descend that far, Harry and Mr. Weasley race down the stairs. Just outside the courtroom, Mr. Weasley stops; Harry must face the hearing alone.

Analysis[edit]

This is Harry's first visit to the Ministry of Magic. Until now, he has had relatively little exposure to the adult Wizarding society, having only been to Hogwarts, and a few trips to Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade village, all while being supervised. The Ministry is the hub of the Wizarding community in the U.K., and it governs nearly all its activities. Unfortunately, Harry's first visit here is an unpleasant one.

The Fountain of Magical Brethren in the Ministry atrium is particularly noteworthy, as it represents that the Ministry's power is wielded only by wizards, with all other magical beings under their domain. Harry notes that the syrupy, subservient expressions seem out of place on all the sculpted magical races except the House-elf.

The relative size of Arthur Weasley's office also quite plainly shows us the Ministry's opinion of the usefulness of his division. Arthur, as we learned earlier, is in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts division. Here we find that he effectively is that division, having one largely ineffective assistant, and working out of an office full of files converted from a broom closet. Apparently he is also brought in to assist on sweeps for Dark Magic artifacts, as mentioned in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which would indicate that his abilities as a wizard outweigh the need of the Ministry to have his division be effective. It is something of a revelation to us that Lucius Malfoy's opinion of Arthur's division is to a large extent shared by the Ministry.

The hearing's sudden time and location switch is an obvious ploy by certain Ministry officials to prevent Harry from testifying and to convict him in absentia. Whether or not Harry violated the law, the Ministry seems intent on preventing his making further claims that Voldemort has returned, and will use any means to censure and exile him from the Wizarding world. Whether Voldemort's Death Eaters are behind this, or it is merely corrupt and/or inept Ministry officials who refuse to believe that Voldemort has returned or prefer that the general population remain ignorant to real events, is still unclear. The author here, in her portrayal of the Ministry and allusion to its motives, is reinforcing what we have already been told. Hermione has told Harry that the Daily Prophet is making both Harry and Dumbledore into laughing stocks so they can "spin" their warnings about Voldemort's return into oblivion. This has little impact on readers because it does not happen directly to the viewpoint character (Harry); this is a deliberate violation of the "show, don't tell" rule of writing. The author has chosen to delay full understanding of the Ministry's treatment of Harry and Dumbledore, initially revealed when Harry arrived at Headquarters three chapters earlier. With the hearing's sudden rescheduling, we are actually shown that there may be some ill-feeling against Harry, and that some machinations within the Ministry may be underway to permanently rid them of him.

The byplay between Kingsley Shacklebolt and Arthur Weasley is also used to highlight something that we have only been told. Hermione, Ron, and the Twins had previously told us that Percy had moved to London and cut contact with his family because association with Dumbledore, or with those who publicly agree with him like Arthur, are at risk of losing their Ministry jobs. In this chapter we see that Shacklebolt and Arthur are pretending to an interdepartmental friction, specifically to hide their friendship. This is clearly intended to preserve Shacklebolt's status within the Ministry, as an Auror sympathetic to Dumbledore could not be allowed to retain his job in the current Ministry climate.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why would the time and location for Harry's hearing have been changed so suddenly?
  2. Why might Mr. Weasley be prevented from attending the hearing?

Further Study[edit]

  1. How might the Fountain of Magical Brethren represent both an accurate and inaccurate picture of the Wizarding world?
  2. Why does Harry think the House-elf's expression in the statue is the only accurate one?
  3. What is the significance of holding a full hearing for using underage magic in this particular courtroom (Courtroom 10)?
  4. This is Harry's first visit to the Ministry of Magic. We know of its bureaucracy, of course, and now of its refusal to face facts (the Ministry denies Voldemort's existence), but entering the ministry we - and Harry - see some of the corruption within. What insight does this provide for us into the Ministry of Magic? Can we really trust them anymore? Could we ever? Explain.

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Whether the Ministry's ongoing denigration of Harry and Dumbledore is being driven by Voldemort, or simply by the Ministry following Fudge's orders as he attempts to retain his power, is never completely resolved. Fudge's struggle to stay in control, though, would likely explain why Harry and Dumbledore are constantly discredited. After Fudge is ousted in favour of Rufus Scrimgeour, Harry is suddenly elevated to the position of "Chosen One", the one wizard who could defeat Voldemort; this would suggest strongly that the current anti-Harry campaign is purely Fudge-inspired.

Harry learns here where the Ministry's Visitor's Entrance is located and how to access the main Atrium. This information, plus the general Ministry layout that he observes during this visit, will prove vital at the book's end when Harry urgently attempts to rescue Sirius Black there. Information on the Ministry layout will be useful also in the final book, as the Trio infiltrate the Ministry in search of a Horcrux.

The Fountain of Magical Brethren depicts, with almost uncanny realism, how the Ministry expects non-human Magical races to regard Wizards. Though never officially stated, Ministry policy has always treated most Magical races as second-class citizens, while others are nearly disenfranchised. This fountain will be destroyed at this book's end; Harry will again need to re-enter the Ministry in the final book, at which time we shall see the replacement. That statue, showing a Wizarding family seated upon thrones made of writhing, tormented Muggles, will echo the now Death Eater-controlled Ministry's new policy. Clearly the statuary in the Ministry is being used by the author as a way of highlighting the guiding policy of the Ministry at each visit. We do not see the form this statue takes when Scrimgeour is Minister for Magic, possibly because the militant stand of the Ministry in his time is quite plain from other part of the story.

Connections[edit]

  • We heard of "Unspeakables" as Ministry employees working in the Department of Mysteries in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; in this chapter we hear more of them. The Department of Mysteries will play a large part later in this book.
  • The physical layout of the Ministry, and the use of the visitor's entrance, both of which Harry learns in this chapter, will be useful to him at the climax of this book, and the layout also will be useful in the later infiltration of the Ministry by the Trio in the final book.

Chapter 8: The Hearing

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Upon entering, Harry recognizes this as the same courtroom the Death Eaters were tried in — the place he had entered in Dumbledore's Pensieve during his previous year at Hogwarts. Cornelius Fudge is presiding over the Wizengamot (wizard high court); Harry is surprised that Percy Weasley is the scribe. Dumbledore suddenly sweeps in, to several court members' evident discomfiture, and announces himself as witness for the defence. Fudge begins the questioning, giving Harry little time to answer completely.

Frustrated, Harry exclaims, "I did it because of the Dementors!" The Wizengamot seem stunned. Amelia Bones questions him further about the Dementors' presence. Dumbledore steps in, noting that they have a witness, Arabella Figg. Summoned, she seems particularly batty and frightened and begins her testimony as though she has memorized it. There is doubt as to whether Squibs can see dementors, but Mrs. Figg describes them accurately.

After Mrs. Figg is excused, Fudge struggles to regain the courtroom's flow, insisting Harry's actions have little to do with the Dementors' presence. A few court members aid Fudge, notably Dolores Umbridge, who obviously remains convinced Harry is guilty. Dumbledore quickly asserts that Harry has broken no laws if he was protecting himself and Dudley from a life-threatening danger, as is noted in the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. Fudge quickly brings up other instances where Harry has broken the Decree, but Dumbledore nullifies each one in turn. The council votes, and Harry is cleared of all charges, much to Fudge's dismay. Harry turns to thank Dumbledore, only to find the Headmaster already leaving the courtroom.

Analysis[edit]

That Harry would be subjected to a full hearing before the entire Wizengamot for a simple matter involving underage magic indicates that sinister forces are at work against him. Abruptly changing the hearing's time and location without prior notification is yet another despicable tactic by the Ministry of Magic to discredit Harry and also to prevent Dumbledore from testifying, though, fortunately, their scheme failed. By attempting to prevent Harry from giving a complete explanation about the events at Privet Drive, it seems certain that some Ministry officials had already conspired to rule against him, showing they will do whatever is necessary to invalidate Dumbledore's and Harry's claims concerning Voldemort, including ousting Harry from the wizard world and demoting Dumbledore from his many prestigious Wizarding posts. That the hearing was relocated to the same courtroom where Death Eaters were previously tried and convicted is significant—an obvious ploy to implant the impression in the Wizengamots' minds that Harry is likewise guilty. Dumbledore's intervention saves Harry, though his abrupt departure without speaking to him is puzzling, as well as upsetting to Harry, who has already been feeling neglected by him.

Mrs. Figg's testimony was also crucial, though, as she is a Squib, the Wizengamot probably suspected it was unlikely she actually saw the Dementors and had been coached prior to testifying. Mrs. Figg had, however, identified the Dementors while talking to Harry, before he mentioned them, and prior to Mundungus Fletcher's return. Against this, the author stated in a post-publication interview that Mrs. Figg was unable to see Dementors. Presumably, Mrs. Figg, though perhaps unable to see Dementors, had been coached about their effects, and could have known that Dementors were present by recognizing their emotional effects on her (as on Dudley). Dumbledore, as we saw at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, suspected both the Dementors and the Giants would rally to Voldemort, and may have briefed Mrs. Figg on their effects. Also, having grown up in the Wizarding world, she may have had some prior knowledge regarding their appearance and behavior.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Can Squibs really see dementors? If not, how and why could Mrs. Figg provide such convincing testimony?
  2. Why would Fudge want Harry to be voted guilty, even if he is not?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why would Dumbledore avoid looking at or talking to Harry?
  2. Why would Harry's hearing be held in the same courtroom that Death Eaters were tried and convicted in?
  3. Why would the full Wizangamot be present for a hearing on a simple case of underage magic? How could Fudge have arranged to convene the entire Wizengamot for such a simple case?
  4. Compare Dolores Umbridge's and Fudge's behavior to Amelia Bones'. Is either side behaving fairly? If so, which? How? What could Rowling's underlying message about justice be here?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Harry has been upset by Dumbledore's failure to contact him throughout the summer or while he was at Headquarters. He was particularly dismayed when Dumbledore left Headquarters without visiting with him. Here, Dumbledore arrives, defends Harry successfully, then departs quickly and without a word to Harry or even making eye contact. Harry, confused, feels nearly abandoned by Dumbledore, and this will result in Harry withholding things from Dumbledore that occur throughout the year and that directly affect them both. This, it will turn out, is Dumbledore's deliberate policy during this year. Knowing that Harry occasionally perceives what is happening inside Voldemort's mind, Dumbledore concludes that, if and when Voldemort learns the connection exists, he will use it against Harry and his associates. Dumbledore attempts to shield Harry and himself by maintaining a relationship no greater than Headmaster to student. Harry, resentful that this abrupt change was made unilaterally, will unconsciously retaliate by withholding important information.

We see a curious, but possibly intentional, oddity of the Wizarding justice system here. Rather than having prosecuting and defending representatives before a neutral party, the defending party in the dispute is questioned directly by the nominal head of the Wizengamot, and the Wizengamot members then confer and vote on the innocence or guilt of the defending party. This tallies with the view of the Wizengamot that Dumbledore's Pensieve previously allowed us to see. This can lead to abuses of justice, as the prosecution is generally going to be better prepared for trial than the defence, particularly if the defendant has just been released from Azkaban, and as the prosecutor will be a member of the same group as the judges. Most committees seem to be reflections of one powerful individual, who pulls the other committee members along with his or her views by main force; Harry's great fortune in this case seems to be that while Fudge is apparently the official head of the Wizengamot, the actual leader seems to be Amelia Bones, who, perhaps inspired by Dumbledore's presence, is more interested in justice than in toeing the Ministry party line.

We should note that this simplification of the justice system seems to make the courtroom drama better suited to a children's book. Very few children of this book's targeted age group will be fully aware of the normal judicial system's structure, and this adversarial form of court is better suited to their understanding. Additionally, Harry's victory over such a court is all the sweeter, as the deck is so clearly stacked against him.

It should be noted, perhaps, that the source of the Dementors in this instance will be a surprise. It will turn out that it was Umbridge herself who sent the Dementors, because "somebody had to do something." No further explanation is ever granted the reader, as to why something had to be done, or why Dementors could be considered as a means of doing it. As mentioned in the Analysis, Dumbledore likely coached Mrs. Figg on the possibility of Dementors, but it was almost certain that he would have expected Voldemort to send them, not someone associated with the Ministry.

Chapter 9: The Woes of Mrs. Weasley

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Leaving the courtroom, Harry tells Mr. Weasley the good news. Mr. Weasley comments that Professor Dumbledore brushed past without speaking. As wizards exit the courtroom, Mr. Weasley expresses surprise that Harry was apparently tried by the entire Wizengamot. As Percy passes, and he and Mr. Weasley studiously ignore each other, though the lines around Mr. Weasley's mouth tighten.

Harry and Mr. Weasley encounter Cornelius Fudge talking to Lucius Malfoy. Mr. Weasley surmises Malfoy was sneaking down to the courtroom to learn what was happening, despite Malfoy citing "private matters" to explain his conversation with Fudge. Mr. Weasley comments privately to Harry that it more likely involved exchanging gold, and that Malfoy donates to appropriate causes to get certain laws delayed or ignored. Knowing that Malfoy is a Death Eater, Harry thinks Fudge could be under the Imperius Curse. Mr. Weasley says they considered that, but Dumbledore believes Fudge is acting on his own.

Everyone at 12 Grimmauld Place is relieved that Harry has been exonerated. Fred, George, and Ginny break into a victory dance and chant, "He got off, he got off, he got off!" until Mrs. Weasley yells at them. During the next few days, Harry notices that Sirius seems sad. Hermione suggests Sirius may have secretly hoped Harry would be expelled and live at Grimmauld Place. Regardless, Harry's spirits are lifted, and he dreams about Hogwarts.

Booklists finally arrive, raising the question as to who the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher might be. There is other news—as expected, Hermione is named a Gryffindor prefect, but so is Ron, much to everyone's astonishment. As a reward, Mrs. Weasley agrees to buy Ron a new broom. Harry struggles with jealousy and resentment, believing he should have been chosen over Ron. At Harry's celebration dinner, Sirius consoles him, saying that his father had not been a prefect either. Of the four Marauders, only Lupin was made Prefect. Lupin comments that Dumbledore probably expected him to keep his friends under control, though he could not. Harry offers Ron his sincere congratulations.

After dinner, Mad-Eye Moody shows Harry a photograph of the original Order of the Phoenix, though Harry finds it disturbing, seeing them amongst so many others who died at Death Eaters' hands. Harry makes excuses and leaves the party.

Harry passes the drawing room in which Mrs. Weasley is attempting to banish a Boggart. She is sobbing, and each time she waves her wand, another family member's image appears—dead. It also appears as a dead Harry. Lupin comes to her rescue. As Harry slips away to bed, he feels quite old and wonders how he could have been upset about who was made a prefect when there are so many more important matters at stake.

Analysis[edit]

For once, it is Harry, rather than Ron, who copes with jealousy and being in second place after Ron is named a Hogwarts prefect and Harry is not. Dumbledore may have appointed Ron partially to help him develop his own identity, away from Harry's influence and the constant attention surrounding him. Ron has always contented himself to tag along after others, lacking self-confidence due to feeling overshadowed by his accomplished siblings, Hermione's intellect, and Harry's celebrity. Lupin may have been appointed a prefect for similar reasons. Dumbledore may also have been concerned that other students would feel Harry was being given preferential treatment due to his fame. Harry also fails to understand Ron's struggle to discover his own unique talents and abilities. Also, with Voldemort re-emerging and so many doubting Harry's claims, Dumbledore may simply want to avoid putting any additional stress and focus on Harry. And though Harry is initially resentful, he shows his emerging maturity here by realizing that there are far more important matters going on than being selected prefect.

We do see a small conflict here. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Hagrid tells Harry that his parents were "Head Boy and Head Girl in their day." We have already seen that Percy had progressed from prefect to Head Boy, so the assumption is that, in order to become Head Boy, James Potter must have first been a prefect. Yet, it was Lupin who was prefect. This anomaly is never explained, but if Lupin had resigned or been forced out as prefect, or had elected not to complete his seventh year at Hogwarts, it is possible that James would have been made prefect and Head Boy in his stead.

Molly Weasley's deepest fears are also on display here. A devoted and loving wife and mother, she lives in constant terror that her family will fall victim to Voldemort. She has lost her brothers, and it is unlikely she could bear to lose Mr. Weasley or any of her children. Her fears show she is convinced that the Weasley family will be unable to survive the war unscathed. Harry is deeply disturbed by witnessing this, though the Boggart turning into his image shows how deeply Mrs. Weasley cares for him, considering him as a son. Harry is also confronted with his own mortality and realizes he may not survive.

Meanwhile, another character, Lucius Malfoy is spotlighted. His meeting with Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge so close to Harry's hearing is highly suspicious, though there is no proof that Fudge is connected to Death Eaters. Likely he is not, but Malfoy has certainly courted his and the Ministry's favor and influence, mostly through generous monetary donations. Here, Lucius, a Death Eater, may be attempting to manipulate Fudge regarding Harry's hearing, or is trying to extract information for Voldemort. A clueless Fudge is more inept than corrupt, and he is mainly concerned with cultivating his public image rather than paying attention to what is actually happening in the Wizarding world. He truly seems to believe that Voldemort is dead and that Harry is an attention-seeking liar. Fudge is also highly paranoid and is convinced that Dumbledore is plotting to overthrow the Ministry.

Another contradiction should be noted. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Fudge, speaking with Madam Rosmerta, Hagrid, Professor Flitwick and Professor McGonagall, quite clearly believes that Voldemort is still alive, and that Sirius, his "most trusted lieutenant," intends to rejoin him. In this chapter, he denies the possibility, as he has ever since Professor Dumbledore categorically stated that he had returned, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. One would suspect that this was the author's failing, except that it fits in so well with Fudge's character. Fudge quite clearly believes in the first rule of politics: get re-elected. It was on Fudge's watch that the Wizarding administration suffered the public relations catastrophe represented by the only escape from Azkaban in history. The Dementors, as unpopular as they are, are the only route Fudge has to recover from that debacle. Voldemort, off somewhere in some distant land and ineffective, is a good bogey-man, useful in retaining public support despite the inconveniences the roaming Dementors cause the Wizarding population. Thus, Fudge publicly and privately believes in a distant and ineffective Voldemort who must be stopped at all costs from reuniting with Sirius Black. A real, re-embodied Voldemort, active and recruiting in England, is far too close, far too dangerous, and far too destabilizing for Fudge and his regime to survive. Thus, he now must believe that this has not happened, that Voldemort has died. If Voldemort could exist far away and harmless, he could also exist nearby and dangerous, so he must not have been around two years before either. As a good politician, Fudge either believes privately as he does publicly, or else he chooses to mask all doubts in order to present a confident face.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why is Harry upset when Mad-Eye Moody shows him a photo of his parents?
  2. What is Harry reaction when he witnesses Mrs. Weasley's boggart turning into her family, dead? What does this say about Molly Weasley?
  3. How does Harry feel when he sees the same boggart becoming him, dead?
  4. Why does Harry react the way he does when Ron is chosen to be a prefect?
  5. What changes Harry's attitude about Ron becoming a prefect?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why might Lucius Malfoy have been meeting with Cornelius Fudge immediately after the hearing?
  2. Why might Dumbledore have chosen Ron to be a prefect and not Harry? Does Harry think he is better qualified than Ron?
  3. Is Ron really qualified to be a prefect or will he just rely on Hermione's guidance?
  4. Who might be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor? Have there been any clues as to who this might be?
  5. How might the Boggart scene foreshadow other events in later books?
  6. Why might Fudge be denying Voldemort's existence when two years ago, at Sirius Black's escape, he claimed Black was going to rejoin him? What does this tell us about Fudge? Explain.

Greater Picture[edit]

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

It is unlikely that Lucius being so near the Department of Mysteries is an innocent coincidence on his part; we will discover that Voldemort is seeking something in that department, and Lucius may be searching for a suitable candidate he can place under the Imperius curse to fetch that for him. Within days, Sturgis Podmore will be caught attempting to enter a secure door, probably having been magically compelled to breach the Department of Mysteries by Malfoy. Later in the book, we will learn that one Broderick Bode, an Unspeakable who was seen in the previous chapter, will run afoul of protective spells within the Ministry. Bode will be seen in St. Mungo's hospital recovering from a severe jinx around the Christmas holidays. Hermione will later surmise that Bode, like Podmore, had been compelled to try and retrieve the object that Voldemort had wanted. We will also overhear a conversation between Voldemort and Rookwood, a Death Eater, which confirms this, and that Bode had been jinxed in the Department of Mysteries. It is Voldemort's ongoing attempts to fetch this object which will result in the climactic battle of this book.

The Boggart transforming into "dead" Weasley family members may foreshadow a tragedy in the series' final book.

Dumbledore's appointing Ron a prefect may have been motivated by something other than an attempt to boost Ron's confidence and self-esteem. Dumbledore knows Harry is destined to one day confront Voldemort. By now he probably suspects that Ron, and also Hermione will play an integral part in this quest. Being a prefect may help Ron become more independent-minded and develop leadership abilities that are critical on any mission to destroy Voldemort.

Chapter 10: Luna Lovegood

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

After a restless night, Harry awakens to chaos: everyone is racing around, trying to pack as quickly as possible. The Advance Guard is accompanying Harry and the others to King’s Cross Station, and Sirius insists upon coming along in his dog form, much to Mrs. Weasley's dismay. They wait for Sturgis Podmore, who is late, but eventually move on without him. Sirius, who has been confined until now, scampers around and snaps at pigeons.

After bidding everyone goodbye on the platform, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, and Ginny board the Hogwarts Express. Fred and George depart to talk business with Lee Jordan. When Harry suggests finding a compartment, Hermione and Ron awkwardly explain that they must join the other prefects for instructions, but promise to return soon. Harry and Ginny search for an empty compartment; Harry notices that everyone is looking at him, then remembers that the Daily Prophet has been calling him a lying madman all summer. They meet Neville, and Ginny leads them into a compartment. Inside is an odd-looking girl reading a magazine upside down. Ginny introduces her as Luna Lovegood, a Ravenclaw student. Their discussion turns to Neville’s birthday present, a rare Mimbulus Mimbletonia plant. He pokes it with his wand to show its defense mechanism, and the entire compartment is sprayed with horrid-smelling green pus just as Cho Chang walks in to greet Harry.

An awkward moment passes. Cho leaves and Ginny cleans the stinksap off them. Ron and Hermione return to announce that Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson are the Slytherin Prefects; Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott are Hufflepuff Prefects; and Anthony Goldstein and Padma Patil are the Ravenclaw Prefects. Ron tells a bad joke, at which Luna laughs inappropriately loudly. Harry notices Sirius Black's name on Luna's magazine cover. He asks to borrow it and reads an article claiming Sirius’ alter-ego is a singer before realizing the story is bogus. Hermione disdainfully states that the Quibbler is "rubbish," to which Luna replies, "My father’s the editor."

Draco Malfoy and his ever-present sidekicks, Crabbe and Goyle suddenly apppear. Draco snidely asks Harry how it feels being second to Ron. Hermione orders him out, though Draco hints that he recognized Sirius at the train station. After he departs, Harry and Hermione exchange troubled looks, but are unable to say anything, while Ron seems oblivious to this exchange.

They reach Hogwarts, but rather than Hagrid’s familiar voice greeting the first-years, they hear Professor Grubbly-Plank. They hardly have time to ponder this before Ginny and Harry have to carry their belongings to the carriages. Harry is stunned that the carriages are no longer horseless; they are drawn by black, skeletal horse-like creatures with leathery skin and wings. Ron sees nothing, leaving Harry wondering if he has gone mad. Luna approaches, saying she also sees them, leaving Harry confused: is confirmation from someone believing in Crumple Horned Snorkacks truly reassuring?

Analysis[edit]

There are several interesting developments in this chapter. Sirius unexpectedly seeing Harry off at the Hogwarts Express was not only reckless and risked him being captured, but it endangers Harry, and his friends, and could possibly expose the Order of the Phoenix. His dog Animagus form may also have been recognized by the Malfoys, which could lead to Harry, and possibly Dumbledore, being accused as his accomplices. His impulsive act shows that Sirius' judgment may be deteriorating.

It is not immediately apparent how Draco and Lucius would have recognized Sirius. However, we must recall that Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) started working for Voldemort, fifteen years ago and was Sirius' close friend at school. Wormtail can describe Sirius' Animagus shape to Voldemort, and Voldemort, knowing that Sirius would likely be in the Order of the Phoenix, would pass on that information to his returned Death Eaters, including Lucius Malfoy. This also does not seem to occur to Sirius.

On the train, Harry, who usually sits with Ron and Hermione, must fend for himself for a while as they report for their Prefect duties. Still smarting over Ron's new status, Harry is embarrassed to find himself seated with some less popular students who others label "misfits". Luna Lovegood, in particular, is an oddity Harry would rather avoid, though Ginny seems on friendly terms with her. However, Harry does have his first inkling that Cho Chang, who he has had a crush on for some time, appears to show an interest in him, though she catches him at a rather awkward and embarrassing moment. However, Harry, like Cho, is still deeply affected by Cedric Diggory's death, and pursuing a relationship may be an unwise course for either at this time.

Harry recognizes the issue of the Quibbler as the same one that Kingsley Shacklebolt had earlier slipped to Mr. Weasley, saying it would amuse Sirius. We now know exactly why Sirius would be amused.

Hagrid's absence is not entirely unexpected; Harry knows he is on a secret mission for Dumbledore. However, him being away is still unsettling for Harry, who considers Hagrid as family and represents comfort, security, and familiarity; Harry is also worried for his friend's safety.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Who meets the first-years students at the platform? Who should be there and why are they missing?
  2. Why does Sirius insist on seeing Harry and the others off at the train station when it is so dangerous for him to be out?
  3. How could the Malfoys have recognized Sirius in his dog form?
  4. Why would Harry rather not sit with Neville and Luna on the train?

Further Study[edit]

  1. What are the black horse-like creatures pulling the "horseless" carriages? Why can Harry and Luna see them, but not the others? Could they be Dark creatures?
  2. Where is Hagrid?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

The strange, horse-like creatures pulling the carriages are Thestrals, and they are only visible to those who have seen death. Until now, Harry, like many other students, believed the carriages magically pulled themselves. He sees them now because he witnessed Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew) murdering Cedric Diggory. Luna Lovegood, a most unusual girl anyway, sees them because she was present when her mother accidentally killed herself experimenting with magic. They are also visible to Neville Longbottom, though he mentions nothing about it here. We learn later that he once saw a relative die. His first encounter with them, therefore, would have been in his and Harry's second year; as Harry and Ron arrived in the flying car that year, they were absent when Neville first saw the Thestrals. By now he may consider them commonplace, and may even be unaware that they are invisible to others. Curiously, we will later discover that most other students seem oblivious to Thestrals' existence, indicating that those who can see them perhaps rarely mention them. Despite being gentle creatures, they are painful reminders of death to those who witnessed someone dying. More is learned about these unusual creatures in Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class, and they will have a role to play later in the book and in the series.

It could be argued that although Harry is unable to see the Thestrals until after Cedric Diggory was murdered, he, technically, had witnessed other deaths prior to this tragic event. In Chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry "sees" the Muggle, Frank Bryce, being killed by Voldemort. However, Harry was not physically present when Frank was slain. Harry instead watched the death through a mental connection he has to Voldemort. Though what he viewed was apparently real and from his own perspective, he was unaware it was actually happening at the time, and merely passed it off as a bad dream. This may be why the Thestrals remained invisible to him

We discover later that Professor Quirrell died when Voldemort abandoned him in the first book. Harry was present, but, being unconscious, he never saw Quirrell's death.

Finally, Harry was present when Voldemort killed his mother, and when Voldemort's killing curse rebounded on him. The author has explained that Harry's cot (baby crib) blocked him from witnessing his mother's death, nor could he have comprehended anything he did see at so young an age. Additionally, Harry may not have seen Voldemort being hit by his rebounding course, nor was he really quite dead.

We are never positive that the Malfoys recognized Sirius in his dog form, but on the train, Draco hints to Harry that they did, and a story in the Daily Prophet placing Sirius in London will appear shortly.

Not only is Harry miffed when Ron and Hermione are off performing their prefect duties, he is also embarrassed to be seated with unpopular students like Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. These two "misfits", however, will prove to be among Harry's strongest and most capable allies. Neville will also be closely associated to a prophecy regarding Voldemort and Harry, and Harry will learn they have actually much in common.

Sturgis Podmore's absence is because he was arrested the night before while attempting to enter through a locked door at the Ministry. Evidence will suggest that this doorway leads to the Department of Mysteries, in which lies an artifact Voldemort greatly desires. Lucius Malfoy, at Voldemort's orders, had been attempting to compel other wizards to enter the Department of Mysteries and recover that item; as this is what Broderick Bode was later forced to do, we can only guess that the same fate has probably happened to Podmore.

That Luna's father publishes the Quibbler will also prove important, as this will provide Harry a direct channel for disseminating truthful information about himself and Voldemort without it being censored or filtered through the standard media, namely The Daily Prophet. The Prophet is echoing the Ministry's stance, and we will witness the effect that it has on Harry. It soon becomes vital for Harry to have another means to truthfully tell his story. The Quibbler's contrarian nature will again prove to be important in the series' final book.

Chapter 11: The Sorting Hat's New Song

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

As Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, Neville, and Luna ride toward the castle, Harry cannot keep his mind off the disturbing black horse creatures. Soon, though, the conversation turns toward Hagrid’s mysterious absence. Harry, Ron, and Hermione scan the Great Hall upon entering, unable to find him. They conclude he is still on his Order of the Phoenix mission.

A short, stout, curly-haired woman with a "pallid, toadlike face and prominent, pouchy eyes" is seated at the staff table. Harry immediately recognizes Dolores Umbridge, the particularly nasty interrogator at his Ministry hearing. Before they can discuss this further, Professor McGonagall brings out the Sorting Hat as the first years arrive.

This time, however, the Sorting Hat sings a different type of song. It tells about the four Hogwarts founders (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin) and their friendship. When Hogwarts was new, the school was unified because each founder hand-picked students for his or her House. Slytherin, however, eventually only wanted pure-bloods students to be admitted to the school. The resulting dissent caused Slytherin to eventually leave Hogwarts. From then on, the Sorting Hat sings, the Houses have been divided. The Hat then warns that Hogwarts is "in danger from external, deadly foes," and urges unity from within. Hermione wonders aloud if the Hat has ever given warnings like that before, and Nearly Headless Nick tells her it is not the first warning the Sorting Hat has delivered.

Professor Dumbledore delivers his customary speech and introduces Dolores Umbridge as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Surprisingly, she rises to give her own speech, and addresses the students as if all are young children, speaking in a mind-numbingly dull fashion. Only Hermione, Dumbledore, and a few other teachers are able to remain attentive. Umbridge finally finishes, and Harry asks why Hermione seemed so interested in a load of waffle. Hermione explains that the Ministry intends to meddle with Hogwarts. When students are dismissed, Hermione reminds Ron that they have to lead the first-year students to the Common room. Harry, unencumbered by first-years, takes a short-cut and, thanks to Neville, who, for once, is able to remember the password ("Mimbulus Mimbletonia"), is in his dormitory before Ron reaches the Common room.

In the dormitory, Seamus complains his mother was reluctant to allow him to return to Hogwarts due to Dumbledore and Harry. She believes the Daily Prophet's claims that Lord Voldemort having returned is a lie. As Seamus and Harry launch into an argument, Neville sides with Harry, while Dean tries to remain neutral. Ron appears and ends the dispute by threatening to use his prefect power. In bed, Harry reflects on the strange looks he had received all day, certain few believe him. He consolingly thinks to himself, "They’ll know we’re right in the end."

Analysis[edit]

This chapter mainly highlights several main themes in the series: friendship and loyalty. The Sorting Hat's new song warns about a gathering storm, though to date Voldemort's activities have remained relatively unnoticed, making claims about his return easy to ignore. The song also highlights strength through unity. This is shown throughout the series by Harry's relationship with his friends and the strength he derives from them, though this is tested as more people doubt Harry's assertion that Voldemort is alive. The Sorting Hat pleas for the four Hogwarts Houses, who have maintained (mostly) friendly rivalries, to unite under a single cause.

Dumbledore has also foreseen the need for greater unity among all wizards, locally and internationally, which is why he was instrumental in reviving the Triwizard Tournament, believing that the friendships and alliances forged with the other schools (Durmstrang and Beauxbatons) will prove crucial in the future. Ironically, the Hogwarts Houses are more divided than ever, as students take sides over Harry's claims regarding Voldemort.

Professor Umbridge's disrespectful display towards the other teachers, as shown by her arrogant interruption and inappropriate speech, and to the students through her condescending manner, hints at an underlying tyrannical nature. That nature was glimpsed during Harry's trial when she was particularly partial to convicting Harry, despite flimsy evidence. That she was personally appointed by Cornelius Fudge as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor at Hogwarts, usurping Dumbledore's authority to make his own selection, indicates the Ministry has a hidden agenda. Whether or not this is tied to Voldemort is unknown yet, but either way, it hardly bodes well for Harry or for Hogwarts.

This chapter marks one of only three times that Harry actually hears the Sorting Hat's song. At every other Sorting throughout the series, something prevents him from being present for the new song.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why was Dolores Umbridge selected as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher? Who chose her?
  2. Why don't Seamus and his mother believe Harry and Dumbledore?

Further Study[edit]

  1. How might the Sorting Hat detect danger?
  2. What can be guessed about Dolores Umbridge's character based on her appearance and speech?
  3. Why does Harry refuse to tell Seamus and others what happened in the graveyard the night Cedric died?
  4. What does Dolores Umbridge's appointment as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher reveal about the power of the Ministry of Magic?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Dumbledore tolerating Umbridge's interruption and her rambling speech criticizing his leadership indicates that a serious power shift is underway at Hogwarts. Dumbledore's authority as Headmaster and his political clout within the Ministry appear to have diminished. Umbridge and her Ministry agenda are being forced upon Dumbledore, and he is currently powerless to prevent this interference at Hogwarts. This foreshadows Umbridge's rising empowerment while Dumbledore's authority and Hogwarts' welfare as a whole is eroded. One does rather wonder about Dumbledore's apparent equanimity regarding all this. Is he that certain Voldemort will reveal himself, vindicating him soon enough so that he is able to complete his work? He may also be considering that Umbridge's inappropriate actions will eventually lead to her own undoing.

Seamus Finnigan's behavior reflects many students' animosity and disbelief, even those in Gryffindor, that Harry will endure in the coming year. This attitude is largely inspired by the Daily Prophet's attacks on Harry, and will cause many friends to turn against him and also one another. Ron and Hermione always believe in and remain loyal to Harry, but curiously Neville, who is becoming increasingly important to the plot, also never loses faith in him. Luna Lovegood, strange as she may now seem, will reveal a remarkably uncluttered world view, and will also remain true to Harry.

Perhaps most interestingly, among those with wavering loyalties, many will eventually migrate to Harry's side not only due to Umbridge's despicable behavior as she further discredits Harry and Dumbledore, but also because she increasingly restricts their activities and privileges. Her actions often seem motivated by the bizarre and paranoid belief that Dumbledore, who previously declined the Minister of Magic position, nonetheless is building a private army to seize the Ministry. This belief, originally voiced by Fudge, will result in the Defence Against the Dark Arts course being so diluted that it becomes utterly ineffectual. The Ministry's sole reason for interfering at Hogwarts may be an attempt to prevent this nonexistent army's formation by effectively banning any real offensive and defensive magic instruction that could be used against the Ministry. In this case, Umbridge's further actions, having herself appointed Hogwarts High Inquisitor and arranging for the promulgation of Educational Decrees to continually increase her own power, might be termed private enterprise. In any event, it is largely disgust with Umbridge's non-teaching that provides the catalyst for Harry's secret self-defence instruction group, which will call themselves Dumbledore's Army, in a sarcastic nod to the Ministry's unfounded belief.

Harry is correct that everyone will soon know that he and Dumbledore are telling the truth. For now, though, Voldemort remains hidden, creating doubt and confusion as he quietly builds his power base and slowly infiltrates key Wizarding institutions. Once his control is secure, we can assume he will reveal his presence. Until then, Harry must bear many schoolmates' doubts and disdain.

Chapter 12: Professor Umbridge

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The next morning begins nearly as frustratingly as the previous night ended. Seamus leaves the room as quickly as possible without speaking to Harry. Hermione says Lavender Brown doubts Harry’s story, as well.

At breakfast, there is still no sign of Hagrid. Hermione suggests that Professor Dumbledore has not mentioned it to avoid drawing attention to Hagrid's absence. Harry is braced by Angelina Johnson, who has been made Quidditch captain. With Oliver Wood gone, they need a new Keeper, and will be having try-outs on Friday. Angelina wants everyone there. Professor McGonagall hands out class schedules, which seem particularly strenuous this year. Fred and George offer their defective Skiving Snackboxes for a discount, then discuss their lack of concern for school. George mentions that they considered not returning to Hogwarts and says they will spend their last year doing market research for their joke shop. George hints that they have financial backing, sidestepping questions about where the money is coming from.

During a break in their morning classes, the Trio run into Cho Chang. She apparently wants to talk to Harry, but Ron insults her favorite Quidditch team, causing her to leave, and earning him a scolding from Hermione. Harry’s spirits are further dampened, both by losing a chance to talk to Cho and by his friends' bickering, as they head to Snape’s dungeon for Potions. Snape gives them a particularly difficult potion. When Harry misses part of the instructions, Snape singles him out and Vanishes his entire mixture, earning him no marks for the entire lesson. Luckily, the following Divination lesson is uneventful.

In Professor Umbridge’s classroom, students are instructed to put away their wands and take notes. Professor Umbridge announces that they will be learning a "Ministry-approved course of defensive magic this year." After giving the course aims, she instructs the class to read the first chapter in their textbooks, but Hermione sits defiantly with her hand raised until Professor Umbridge is forced to call on her. Hermione notes that there are no course aims concerning actually using defensive spells, to which Umbridge replies, "I can’t imagine any situation arising in my classroom that would require you to use a defensive spell." Instead, students will study the theory and perform the spells for the first time at their examinations in the spring.

A heated discussion ensues about the necessity of learning practical Defence Against the Dark Arts, in which Professor Umbridge rebuts Harry’s claims that Voldemort has returned as a lie. Harry reacts angrily, telling the class that Cedric Diggory was murdered, not accidentally killed as Umbridge stated. Harry is sent to Professor McGonagall’s office with a note detailing his detention. McGonagall sternly warns Harry to tread carefully around Dolores Umbridge—the Ministry of Magic is interfering at Hogwarts.

Analysis[edit]

It is immediately clear that Dolores Umbridge is at Hogwarts for some reason other than teaching Defensive Arts. That she was personally appointed by the Ministry strongly indicates that she is probably there to represent their interests as well as to act as Fudge's spy. Although there is no indication that either Fudge or Umbridge is a Death Eater or even a Voldemort sympathizer, they likely share a paranoid belief that Dumbledore may be formulating some sinister anti-Ministry plot. It certainly appears that her job is to prevent students from learning proper defensive magic, though she may also have her own agenda for Hogwarts. She and Harry immediately clash over how the class should be taught and the Ministry's stance that Cedric Diggory's death was a "tragic accident." Umbridge's claims regarding Diggory are laughable, but demonstrates how far the Ministry will go to discredit Harry and Dumbledore and to protect the Ministry.

Although this is Fred and George's final year, there is little left for them to learn. Despite their poor academic achievements, they are extremely powerful, talented, and resourceful wizards who, much like Harry, learn best independently, in an unstructured environment and for their own interest. Readers should remember that Harry donated his Triwizard winnings to them to finance their joke shop enterprise, and the Twins have hardly been idle. They now have the necessary funding, have developed the magic, and produced the products; now they are only biding their time until school ends and they can open their own shop in Diagon Alley.

A few other noteworthy events occur in this chapter. Harry is reminded of Hagrid's absence, and once again wonders exactly what mission Dumbledore assigned him and Madame Maxime. Snape's ongoing hatred of Harry is evident. It is particularly interesting that his written instructions Harry misses seem deliberately confusing. We also observe Professor Umbridge's horrible teaching style, her useless planned curriculum, and her particular hatred toward Harry and Hermione. And now Cho, who wants to talk to Harry, is being as ill-served by Harry's friends as Harry was by the convoys of giggling girls that constantly surrounded Cho whenever Harry attempted to invite her to the previous year's Yule Ball.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Hermione believe that Professor Dumbledore wants to avoid drawing attention to Hagrid's absence?
  2. How does the "Ministry approved" course of defensive arts compare to how former classes were taught? Why has it been changed?
  3. Why does the Ministry claim Cedric Diggory's death was "an accident"?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why is the Ministry of Magic preventing students from learning defensive spells? Is this actually possible?
  2. Should Harry have spoken out in class? How else could he have handled the situation?
  3. What does Professor McGonagall mean when she asks Harry, "Do you really think this is about truth or lies? It's about keeping your head down and your temper under control!"
  4. Why does Harry ignore McGonagall's advice, and what will likely result from that? What could Harry have done instead?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Both Fudge and Umbridge believe that Dumbledore is using students to build a secret wizard army to take over the Ministry of Magic. Unfortunately, for now, Harry is unable or unwilling to accept McGonagall's advice to remain quiet, and he instead provokes Umbridge, earning him detention and giving her fodder for imposing even stricter rules on Hogwarts. Harry, however, has yet to realize just how severe his punishment will be and how evil Umbridge likely is.

We should mention that dissatisfaction with Umbridge's teaching is becoming widespread. Hermione will later suggest that Harry secretly teach a more practical Defence course; though Harry only reluctantly agrees and is expecting very few students, the resulting organization, much to Harry's initial surprise and dismay, will attract some twenty-five or more students. This organization, called Dumbledore's Army, being a rebellion against Umbridge, and by extension the Ministry, will, at times, be Harry's one cheering influence in what could arguably be his worst year at Hogwarts.

While we only see Umbridge in Harry's class, we soon learned she also teaches other Defensive Arts classes. Fred and George, in year 7, apparently are in her class, as they had earlier asked "who had assigned the Slinkhard book" for the course. And later, their classmate Lee Jordan gets into trouble in her class and serves detention. This also allows some speculation on exactly which courses Fred and George managed to receive decent OWL marks. In the previous year, the first after the Twins' OWL results were available, the Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor was the false Professor Moody. Moody was clearly a stern, though fair, teacher, and as such he would have probably required at least Exceeds Expectations at OWL-level before he accepting a student into NEWT-level Defence Against the Dark Arts, all the more so as he was likely to be training them in more dangerous jinxes and curses. We can guess, then, that the Twins must have managed to achieve Exceeds Expectations in Defence Against the Dark Arts, this being one of their three passable OWL marks apiece.

Chapter 13: Detention with Dolores

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Over dinner, amid skeptical background whispers, Harry, Ron, and Hermione discuss Harry’s claims in Professor Umbridge's class. Hermione suggests that many doubt him because he has little concrete evidence. The Trio then heads to Gryffindor Tower where Fred and George are using First Years to test Fainting Fancies. Only Hermione's threatening to tell Mrs. Weasley convinces them to stop. Upset that Ron refuses to support her, she goes to bed, leaving knitted hats on the table, hoping House-elves will be freed if they pick them up.

Harry is increasingly nervous; teachers are briefing students about upcoming Ordinary Wizarding Levels exams and piling on homework. Adding to Harry's woes, Hagrid is still gone. Professor Grubbly-Plank has taken over his classes. Also, team captain Angelina Johnson is furious that Harry's detention interferes with Quidditch tryouts.

Harry arrives for his first detention with Professor Umbridge. Her office is decorated with lacy doilies and colored kittens on plates. She hands Harry a black quill, saying he will not need any ink. As Harry begins writing, "I must not tell lies," the same letters cut into his hand, and he realizes that the "ink" on the parchment is his blood. Over and over, the line carves into his skin as he writes, healing over each time, leaving his hand raw and sore by the time Umbridge dismisses him. It is so late that Harry has to finish his homework the next morning. Surprisingly, Ron is doing the same, but his excuse that he went for a walk seems suspicious to Harry. Uncertain why, Harry decides to say nothing about his punishment.

Harry’s detentions continue every night. By Thursday, the words are permanently etched into his flesh. Heading to Gryffindor Tower, he runs into Ron, who tries hiding his broomstick, but admits he is practicing for Quidditch Keeper, pleasing Harry. Noticing Harry’s hand, Ron forces him to tell the truth. Harry ignores his suggestion to tell Professor McGonagall, feeling this is a private battle.

Harry's final detention is the next night. He is leaving when, as Umbridge grabs his hand to check his work, his scar starts burning. He departs rapidly for Gryffindor tower where a small party is underway: Ron is the new Keeper. Hermione urges Harry to tell Professor Dumbledore about his scar hurting. Harry sarcastically replies, "That’s the only bit of me Dumbledore cares about, isn’t it, my scar?" He decides to write Sirius instead, but Hermione reminds him about Moody's warning to avoid writing anything that can be intercepted. With no solution, they both head for bed.

Analysis[edit]

Although Umbridge's cruel detention is almost certainly illegal, Harry refuses to report it. Instead, he prefers to engage her in a silent battle of wills, and is determined to prove he can take anything she throws at him. Harry is also surprised and suspicious when his scar burns after Umbridge touches his hand. The only time it has hurt previously is when there is some association with Voldemort. Hermione is unsure whether Umbridge is being controlled by Voldemort, but she advises Harry to tell Dumbledore about it, though he does not. Feeling slighted by Dumbledore, who has apparently avoided face-to-face meetings since summer, is likely a partial reason for Harry's refusal to speak to him. as well as his general anger. The observant reader may have noticed, though Harry has not, that Umbridge touched Harry's hand after the first night's detention without Harry's scar reacting. It may be concluded that the painful twinge he felt during his last detention was merely a coincidence.

Though Hermione's plan to emancipate House-elves is noble and just, it is also poorly conceived and possibly harmful. A House-elf is freed if it receives clothing from its master. Though the House-elves at Hogwarts do serve the students, including Hermione, it is unlikely that she would be considered their master to a sufficient degree to free them. Even if a House-elf was freed by taking her "gifts", she has given little consideration to what would happen to them after being liberated. While Dobby and Winky were employed by Dumbledore out of compassion, Dobby's experience after leaving the Malfoy household indicates that it is unlikely many wizard families or businesses would hire a "free agent" elf, leaving newly independent House-elves with few resources or the means to earn a living. Changes must first be made within Wizarding society, and then the resources provided for elves to survive and prosper in a new order. Even then, many wizards will be resistant to change and will likely discriminate against these newly equal citizens. Hermione is also forgetting that many House-elves, like Winky, have no wish to be free. Being enslaved for centuries has warped and reshaped their perceptions, and their identities and social status are firmly tied to the families they serve; their beliefs will need to be readjusted as well.

When Ron admits he has been secretly practicing for Quidditch tryouts, Harry is surprised but supportive. That Ron never told Harry what he was doing nor asked for his help may indicate that he is independently attempting to develop his own abilities and identity. Ron has been overshadowed by his talented older brothers, and also by his association with Harry, making it difficult for him to set himself apart.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Hermione believe people are skeptical of Harry's story about Voldemort? What can Harry do about it?
  2. Why does Hermione become angry with Ron for what Fred and George are doing? What does she threaten to do that gets the Twins to stop?
  3. What was Ron secretly doing and why didn't he tell anyone about it? What is Harry's reaction when he finds out?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why would Harry's scar hurt when Umbridge touches him? What does Harry think? Has this happened before?
  2. Why does Harry refuse to report Umbridge's cruel detention? Would it make any difference?
  3. Why is Harry angry with Dumbledore? What might be the reason for Dumbledore's odd behavior towards Harry?
  4. A House-elf can only be freed when their master gives them clothing. Dumbledore is the master of Hogwarts' House elves, not Hermione. Why does she think she has the power to free them?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Harry's scar will hurt again after a Quidditch practice later in the story. When that happens, he remembers it hurting when Umbridge touched his hand while in her office. He concludes that his scar had hurt then because Voldemort was happy about something. It is possible that Voldemort had either just determined how to retrieve the Prophecy from the Ministry, or had discovered that one stage in the plan had been successful. He has either decided to use the Imperius curse on someone in the Ministry to force them to bring the Prophecy to him, or has heard that someone has been so cursed. That plan originated with Avery, who will suffer when it fails. We will shortly discover that Sturgis Podmore, who was to be one of Harry's guards at King's Cross Station, was arrested for attempting to breach a restricted door at the Ministry. While it may be Sturgis' attempt that Voldemort was happy about, Sturgis had gone missing a week before, and it is unlikely that he would have been cursed, arrested, tried, convicted, and had the news reach the Daily Prophet in the roughly eight hours between Harry's scar paining him and the Prophet's arrival the next morning. It is more likely that Voldemort received news that the Unspeakable, Broderick Bode, had been placed under the curse, for a second attempt to steal the Prophecy.

Before this revelation is granted to us, though, Sirius will speak with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Sirius will pass along the Order's belief that, though she is a bad bit of work, Umbridge is not directly under Voldemort's control. Sirius' opinion is that the pain occurring when Umbridge touched Harry's hand was merely a coincidence, and later events in the story will bear out his statement.

The detention and the pain Harry suffers does nothing to change his beliefs; nor will a second round of detentions that he endures when he speaks out again in Umbridge's classroom. It will, however, drive his rebellion against her and her teaching underground, becoming an impetus to accept Hermione's idea to head an extra-curricular Defence Against the Dark Arts group.

Hermione's attempt to free the House-elves will utterly fail, and the only result will be that Dobby, who is already free, will be the only House-elf now willing to work in Gryffindor Tower. When Harry next sees Dobby, he is wearing Hermione's knitted hats piled atop his head, and tells Harry the other House-elves refuse to work in Gryffindor tower because, "They finds them insulting, sir." To spare Hermione's feelings, Harry witholds this information, while Hermione continues knitting elf hats throughout the year.

Chapter 14: Percy and Padfoot

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The next morning, Harry writes to Sirius about Professor Umbridge and his burning scar. He uses a code name and shared experiences to encode the contents (such as saying Umbridge is, "almost as nice as your mum"). In the owlery, Harry sends Hedwig off with Sirius' letter. Cho Chang arrives, and she is furious that Umbridge denies Voldemort has returned. Filch also enters and accuses Harry of having ordered Dungbombs, and demands to see Harry's letter. Cho confronts Filch, saying the letter is already gone; Harry is almost inordinately pleased.

A story in the Daily Prophet implies Sirius was spotted in London. Harry thinks Lucius Malfoy recognized Sirius' Animagus dog form at King's Cross station. It is also reported that Sturgis Podmore, and Order member, was arrested after attempting to break into a sealed door at the Ministry of Magic. Hermione agrees with Ron that he was probably lured into a trap.

At Quidditch practice, Slytherins hurl abuse at Harry, and also Ron, who is particularly harassed. Flustered, he passes the Quaffle to Katie Bell so forcefully that it hits her face and causes a nosebleed. Fred and George's attempt to stop the bleeding results in giving her a Blood Blisterpod and ends the practice.

Percy Weasley writes to Ron congratulating him on becoming a Prefect and says he is relieved Ron has not followed in Fred and George's "footsteps." Percy also advises that Ron spurn their parents' misguided beliefs and urges him to disassociate himself from Harry and Professor Dumbledore. He hints there may soon be a change at Hogwarts before praising Dolores Umbridge, believing she is an asset to the school. Furious, Ron rips up the letter.

Shortly after, Sirius' head appears in the Gryffindor fireplace. He believes Umbridge is not a Death Eater, and Harry's scar hurting was probably just Voldemort having a strong emotion. Sirius claims a paranoid Fudge fears Dumbledore is secretly building a wizard army to take over the Ministry, which is why Umbridge's teaching is non-effective. Sirius knows nothing about Hagrid's whereabouts, but says Dumbledore is unconcerned and warns the Trio against drawing attention to Hagrid's absence. When Sirius suggests meeting Harry and the others in his Animagus dog form at the next Hogsmeade weekend, both Harry and Hermione sternly veto this, stating it is too dangerous. Sirius chides Harry for being so cautious, saying that his father, James, would have loved the risk. And with a faint pop, he vanishes.

Analysis[edit]

Two characters' personalities are becoming more apparent — Sirius and Percy.

Although Sirius is still an attentive and loving godfather, his reckless behavior is increasing. When he suggests meeting Harry in Hogsmeade in his Animagus dog form, it is the students who rebuke the adult for it being too dangerous, remembering that the Malfoys must have recognized Sirius at the train station while he was transformed. Sirius chides Harry for being so cautious, saying that his father, James, loved taking risks. Unfortunately, Sirius' emotional development has been stunted by his years in Azkaban, impairing his judgment and causing him to treat Harry more as his peer than as his ward. Molly Weasley had earlier felt it necessary to remind Sirius that Harry is not James Potter. Sirius will likely further decline mentally as the story progresses. His confinement to Grimmauld Place, a house he has always hated, is merely another prison. He is often left alone there, accompanied primarily by his hate-spewing, mad mother's portrait, and a surly and insulting House-elf. Constantly evading the authorities, unable to live a normal life, and prevented from fighting the war against Voldemort in any meaningful way is depressing and stressful. As a result, Sirius is becoming increasingly sullen and irritable, leading to his careless and rash behavior. However, insanity and mental instability are also prevalent in the Black family, and Sirius appears to show symptoms similar to those exhibited by his cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange. It is debatable as to whether anyone recognizes how serious Sirius' situation may actually be or that he needs help; certainly Order of the Phoenix members are overly burdened, their resources taxed, and they are mainly focused on the overall war effort rather than one individual's needs, but it seems a greater effort could be made on Sirius' behalf.

Readers may wonder how Lucius Malfoy could have recognized Sirius in his dog Animagus form. Peter Pettigrew, having been Sirius' close school friend, would have seen him transform numerous times, as Sirius did Pettigrew. Pettigrew likely reported Sirius' Animagus form to Voldemort, and Voldemort in turn may have passed that on to his Death Eaters. We are never told why Voldemort would have been interested enough in Sirius to prime his Death Eaters to spot him, but it is likely that Pettigrew's confirmation that he was still alive, his having escaped Azkaban, his relationship to Harry, and the likelihood that he would join Dumbledore made it worth keeping an eye out for him. Voldemort may also be interested because Sirius' late brother, Regulus, was a Death Eater.

Meanwhile, Percy's growing estrangement from his family is reaching a breaking point and his starchy personality combined with his single-minded ambition blinds him to what is actually happening within the Ministry of Magic and the Wizarding world at large: he will continue to adamantly support the Ministry's stance that Voldemort has not been resurrected. The other Weasleys' assertion that he is a Ministry pawn being used to garner information about Harry and Dumbledore only offends Percy. He firmly believes his rapid advancement within the Ministry of Magic is solely due to his abilities, rather than his connections. Whether or not Percy can realign his faulty judgment and reconcile with his family will remain unknown for some time. In the meantime, the rift will only deepen

Cho and Harry take another step in their budding romance. Finally, they have an opportunity to talk, without Stinksap mishaps or Quidditch-inspired animosity, and Harry learns that Cho whole-heartedly supports his and Dumbledore's beliefs. While neither we, nor Harry, have any idea whether their relationship will proceed, this meeting at least gives Harry some hope that he and Cho may become a couple. This is actually an interesting illustration showing how the author chose to avoid certain young-adult fiction stereotypes. The series covers seven years in Harry's life, and therefore should depict his maturation during that time; as most young men at this stage, he will experience romantic thoughts. Harry's relationship with Cho realistically takes time to develop, and is visited by setbacks and issues. The author has rejected the standard scheme that contains a romance within one book, instead having it gradually mature, as a real relationship does, over several novels.

One small highlight also is cast on James Potter's character, when Sirius points out that James would have loved the risk. Readers may begin to wonder here how much Harry is James' son, and how much he is Lily's.

Filch's sudden appearance in the Owlery with an obviously specious story about Harry ordering dungbombs is somewhat odd. Harry himself wonders who tipped off Filch. This question is never answered, but the reader, like Harry, suspects a connection with Umbridge.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Sirius chide Harry for being cautious? Is this appropriate? Why or why not?
  2. What does Filch accuse Harry of doing in the Owlery? Could there be another reason he's interrogating Harry about his owl post?
  3. Why is Ron angry at Percy? Is Ron justified?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why does Sirius warn the Trio about drawing attention to Hagrid's absence? Does he know more than he is letting on?
  2. Why would Percy advise Ron to stop associating with Harry and Dumbledore?
  3. What does Sirius say that Cornelius Fudge thinks Dumbledore is planning? What would lead Fudge to believe this, and could it be true?
  4. What is Percy's opinion of Dolores Umbridge? Why might he think that?
  5. What change at Hogwarts might Percy be hinting at?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Percy remains estranged from his family until the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Finally realizing he was wrong, he arrives at Hogwarts just prior to the final battle, apologizing to his family for his stupidity. He joins forces with Harry and the other allies against Voldemort and his Death Eaters.

While Harry and Cho's relationship may now proceed, ultimately it will be doomed by Cho's need to revisit Cedric's death, a loss for which she has not yet reached closure. We do not see this yet, and will not until Christmas, when Harry and Cho kiss under the mistletoe. At that point, Hermione will give Harry and Ron a quick rundown of Cho's current emotional state, which will explain most of her interactions with Harry since September.

Surprisingly, Umbridge seems to realize that having Argus Filch on her side is an asset. Quite possibly, Umbridge recognizes a kindred soul, as she hates the students almost as much as Filch seems to. It is also possible that she recognizes that among the staff, she has no other allies; even the Slytherin Head of House, Professor Snape, seems to disapprove of her appointment. Immediately after Dumbledore's attempted arrest and subsequent escape, we will see that Filch believes he will shortly be allowed to physically torture the students for malfeasance. Many readers believe that Umbridge has promised this to Filch, but has no plans to carry out her promise. It is certainly true that Filch never seems to gain permission to whip or chain any students during the remainder of Umbridge's tenure.

While it is never confirmed, it is likely that Podmore's attempt to break through a sealed door at the Ministry was done while he was under the Imperius curse, trying to retrieve the Prophecy that Voldemort is seeking. A later attempt will involve an Unspeakable, Bode. In that attempt, Bode will be placed under the Imperius curse by Lucius Malfoy. Harry will guess that the reason Lucius was at the Ministry the day of Harry's hearing, was that he was trying to find someone he could curse to retrieve the Prophecy. While Podmore was unsuccessful because he was unable to open a sealed door, Bode will fail due to a curse placed on the Prophecy itself – as an Unspeakable, he is cleared to work in the Department of Mysteries.

In discussions later, Harry will decide that his scar paining him when Umbridge touched him is, as Sirius surmised, incidental, and that at the time, Voldemort had been particularly happy about something. Harry will mention that this felt strange because he was so miserable, and was receiving such happy feelings from Voldemort. While the timeline is never completely laid out, this could be the occasion of Lucius Malfoy reporting successfully putting the Imperius Curse on Bode.

Chapter 15: The Hogwarts High Inquisitor

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The next day, the Daily Prophet reports that the Ministry of Magic has appointed Dolores Umbridge as "High Inquisitor," giving her extensive power to arbitrarily impose new rules and regulations at Hogwarts. She apparently intends to evaluate all teachers and classes. During lunch, Fred and George tell Harry that when Umbridge inspected their Charms class, Professor Flitwick just ignored her. In Divination, Harry finds Umbridge there with a clipboard. Professor Trelawney, nervous, teaches as Umbridge takes notes. She demands that Trelawney make some predictions, and is apparently unimpressed with the result.

During Defence Against the Dark Arts class, Umbridge claims that Professor Quirrell was the only other Defensive Arts teacher likely to have received Ministry approval. Harry retorts that Voldemort just happened to be stuck on the back of his head, thus earning himself another week's detention. The next morning, Angelina Johnson berates Harry for receiving another detention. Professor McGonagall also penalizes Harry five House points for provoking Umbridge despite her earlier warning.

In Transfiguration, Professor McGonagall rudely ignores Umbridge during her inspection. Umbridge, however, is delighted with Professor Grubbly-Plank's Care of Magical Creatures class, though Grubbly-Plank is only substituting for Hagrid. Harry loses his temper when Draco mentions being injured by a Hippogriff during Hagrid's class, earning Harry another day's detention.

Hermione is also fed up with Umbridge's ineffective teaching and suggests that Harry teach Defence Against the Dark Arts to students. Harry is at first surprised, then reluctant, feeling he is unqualified, but Hermione and Ron point out that he has extensive knowledge he could teach to others. Harry believes he has just winged it, it was luck, and had other people's help. Hermione insists Harry is the only one who knows what it is like to actually face Voldemort. Harry grudgingly agrees to consider it, then goes to bed, again dreaming about long corridors and locked doors.

Analysis[edit]

Umbridge's new power allows her to indiscriminately impose her will on Hogwarts. Evaluating teachers far more competent than herself shows she may have an ulterior motive, possibly to weed out anyone she considers "unworthy" to teach at Hogwarts, particularly non-humans, regardless of their abilities. However, she has apparently also targeted the thoroughly human Professor Trelawney, and probably Professor McGonagall, who despises and openly opposes her. It seems the only teacher Umbridge deems worthy is Professor Grubbly-Plank, a competent teacher substituting for Hagrid, though Umbridge's enthusiasm may have less to do with Grubbly-Plank's abilities than with finding a reason to sack Hagrid as the Care of Magical Creatures instructor.

About the only time we can even remotely empathize with the reprehensible Umbridge is when her actions express her belief that Divination is pure nonsense; she is not at all taken in by Professor Trelawney's dubious fortune-telling abilities. Harry, of course, shares that opinion, and probably wishes he had dropped the course with Hermione. However, readers, like Harry, probably cringe at Umbridge's evaluation technique.

Harry, meanwhile, continues to provoke Umbridge, stubbornly disregarding McGonagall's warning, which causes her to deduct House points. He is also unhappy again with what his fame and exploits have brought him when Hermione and Ron urge him to secretly teach real Defensive Magic. Although Harry believes he lacks the necessary skills, Ron enumerates Harry's accomplishments, and it is an impressive list. But Harry repudiates every point, claiming it was just luck or other people's help, rather than anything innate in him. Harry's reluctance to teach others may stem from several factors, such as a lack of self-esteem, and believing he is unqualified. Also, being a somewhat lazy student, he would need to do extra work to prepare lessons. However, he has always excelled in this subject and his abilities are more advanced than most other students. He also has practical experience, having fought Voldemort. There is still Harry's ever-present need to "go it alone", however, and by organizing and teaching other students, he essentially becomes their leader in the fight against Umbridge and also Voldemort, thereby, by obligation, tethering him to the group.

This chapter presents a new and interesting development in Hermione's character. Presented in earlier books as an insecure rule-follower with a need to please, rather like Percy Weasley, Hermione is now showing a willingness to stand for what is right even if it means some risk and dishonesty. She is also shown to have, in contrast to Harry and Ron, a very mature political and social conscience. While both Harry and Ron recognize that Umbridge is stifling the students, neither has the presence of mind to suggest an organized movement as an antidote.

Readers may discern a slight plot hole. Presumably, the sixth and particularly the seventh-year students should be fairly well trained in basic defensive magic by now and capable of performing many of the same spells and curses that Harry has prematurely learned independently. Harry even will comment that Cedric Diggory, who was an older student, already knew much of what he is teaching. However, the other students have never been in combat with Death Eaters or Voldemort; only Harry can share that experience.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Hermione, who always follows rules, want Harry to secretly teach defensive magic?
  2. Why is Harry reluctant to teach Defensive Arts to other students?
  3. Why would the Ministry of Magic appoint a High Inquisitor at Hogwarts?
  4. Why is Umbridge evaluating teachers and their classes? What is the teachers' reaction to her?
  5. Why does Malfoy tell Umbridge he was once attacked by a Hippogriff? What is Harry's reaction, and why?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why is Umbridge particularly pleased with Professor Grubbly-Plank, the substitute teacher for the Care of Magical Creatures class? Is it because Grubbly-Plank is such a great instructor, or is there another reason?
  2. Why does Harry continually provoke Umbridge, knowing the consequences and despite McGonagall's stern warning?
  3. Is it a good idea for Harry to run these secret Defensive Arts classes? What could be some of the negative consequences? What could be some positive consequences? Overall, is Hermione's insistence or Harry's reluctance the wiser?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Although Trelawney is hardly an exceptional teacher, Umbridge may be targeting her for other reasons. Trelawney is tied to a Prophecy regarding Harry and Voldemort, a fact Umbridge probably knows about since a copy is stored within the Department of Mysteries at the Ministry of Magic, though Umbridge likely does not know the Prophecy's content. Dumbledore knows that Trelawney is vulnerable, and, despite her meager talents, hired her as the Divination teacher to protect her and the prophecy. If she were ever outside Hogwarts' protective walls, it is likely Voldemort would have her captured and use any means possible to extract the prophecy from her memory before killing her. Umbridge may want to eliminate the prophecy's source by dismissing Trelawney and ejecting her from the castle (probably knowing she would be in danger by surviving Death Eaters) to remove credence to Harry's claims that Voldemort has returned.

While Hermione makes it sound as if it is only herself and Ron who are interested in Harry teaching Defence, she will later mention this to several other students, and the word quickly spreads to other Houses. As a result, and rather to Harry's dismay, the idea "will prove to be quite popular," in Hermione's words, and about 28 students will arrive at the Hog's Head for the organizational meeting. Despite his initial reluctance to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts, Harry will prove to be an excellent and inspiring instructor, and the classes help him learn to rely on and trust others. Teaching becomes something he will truly enjoy and look forward to.

Harry continually insists that he has accomplished less than people claim he has, a belief that is not fully understood by Ron until the seventh book. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry talks about how Ron saved his life and used the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy one of Voldemort's Horcruxes. Ron claims that Harry makes it sound more impressive than it actually was, to which Harry responds that that is what he (Harry) has been saying about himself for years. Regardless of whether or not it was luck or other people who had helped him, Harry has gained considerable skills and knowledge through these experiences, which is how he learns best.

Harry's dreams about corridors and locked doors are actually real scenes depicting Voldemort's deepest desires, played back through a telepathic link between him and Harry. Voldemort is still unaware that this link exists or that Harry sees what he is thinking. This will change near Christmas when Harry experiences an attack on Arthur Weasley through Voldemort's eyes. Following this event, Harry's dreams become sharper and more directed. At the book's end, it will be learned that once Voldemort discovered the link existed, the visions (either real or false) were being deliberately directed into Harry's mind.

An interesting little circle starts here. Hermione recommends Essence of Murtlap tentacles to soothe Harry's injured hand after his final detention night. When Lee Jordan later receives detention from Umbridge, Harry suggests Essence of Murtlap to ease the pain. Lee apparently suggests Essence of Murtlap to Fred and George when they mention a side effect of one of their Skiving Snackboxes. The Murtlap cures the boils that appear on a rather private anatomical area when the Snackbox is used. So, Hermione is indirectly helping the Twins with one of their products, which would probably anger her if she knew.

Chapter 16: In the Hog's Head

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Only after Harry's detention with Umbridge has ended a fortnight later does Hermione dare ask if Harry has considered teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts. Harry admits he has, leaving Ron relieved that Harry has not started shouting again. Hermione recommends teaching anyone wanting to learn, though Harry believes only a few will attend. He is, after all, "a nutter." The first meeting is set to take place during the next Hogsmeade weekend to avoid Umbridge. Harry is concerned that Sirius might show up in Hogsmeade, but Hermione says he has enough worry about, and Sirius listens to Dumbledore.

As Harry, Ron, and Hermione head for Hogsmeade, Filch sniffs at Harry before allowing him to leave. Harry tells Ron and Hermione of the incident in the Owlery, saying someone told Filch he was ordering Dungbombs. Hermione wonders who tipped Filch off. In Hogsmeade, Hermione steers them to a side street leading to the Hog's Head Inn, a small and rather seedy establishment, which Hermione confirms is not off limits to Hogwarts students. Only four patrons are there, a much-bandaged wizard, a witch under a veil, and two wizards hooded and caped like Dementors. Harry notes that the bartender looks familiar.

The invited students begin arrive, and Harry is stunned at how many there are: Neville, Dean, Lavender, Parvati and Padma Patil, Cho and her friend whom Harry does not recognize, Luna Lovegood, Katie Bell, Alicia Spinnet, Angelina Johnson, Colin and Dennis Creevey, Ernie Macmillan, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones from Hufflepuff, Anthony Goldstein, Michael Corner, Terry Boot, Ginny, a Hufflepuff Quidditch team member (later identified as Zacharias Smith), Fred and George, and Lee Jordan. Curiously, there are no Slytherins.

Hermione starts off by reminding everyone why they are there, then Harry says that if they expect to hear what happened to Cedric Diggory, he will not be discussing it. Harry will only teach defensive magic. Zacharias Smith seems skeptical, but the other students list Harry's accomplishments, and Zacharias subsides. Hermione has everyone sign an agreement swearing to keep the group secret. They agree to meet when a location is found, then break up.

Hermione comments later that Michael Corner probably attended only because Ginny was there. She and Michael met at the Yule Ball the previous year. While Ginny had her sights on Harry, she has since given up. Ron is incensed that Michael Corner dares to go out with his sister, though Harry is less concerned. Hermione mentions that Cho never took her eyes off Harry throughout the meeting, and Harry suddenly realizes that Hogsmeade is a truly beautiful place.

Analysis[edit]

The strong turnout for the Defensive Arts meeting may be motivated by the students' curiosity about Cedric Diggory's death, as well as an interest in learning proper defensive magic, though Harry is adamant he will never discuss what happened during the finale of the Triwizard Tournament. Harry's comment that most consider him a "nutter" is probably true, but he has done little to help overcome that perception, preferring to withhold details about his confrontation with Voldemort and to internalize his emotions—an action reflecting his constant need to face adversity alone. Regardless, the students agree to give the lessons a try, though many probably doubt Harry's claim about Voldemort's resurrection. However, their disgust with Umbridge is likely what motivates them to join.

While Harry may still be reluctant to teach the class, it has provided one benefit—an opportunity to get closer to Cho Chang, who Harry now knows is interested in him. Ron, meanwhile, is upset that Michael Corner is interested in Ginny, though it seems that this has little to do with Michael himself, and more to do with Ron, being a protective older brother, feeling that no one is "good enough" to date his little sister. It is certainly suggestive that Ron never comments that he distrusts Corner until after Hermione mentions the attachment.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Hermione choose the Hog's Head Inn to have the meeting at? Was this effective?
  2. Why does Harry think few students will be interested in attending the meeting?
  3. What seems to be the main reason students want to join Harry's defensive arts class? What does Harry tell them?
  4. Why is Zacharias Smith skeptical about Harry teaching defensive magic?
  5. What is Harry's reaction when Hermione mentions Cho Chang? Why?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Does Hermione deliberately omit Slytherin students from the Defence Against the Dark Arts group? If so, why? If not, why are none included?
  2. Why is Ron upset that Michael Corner wants to date his sister, Ginny?
  3. Hermione has everyone sign the parchment containing a vow of secrecy. How can she trust them to keep their word? Does she trust them?
  4. Why does Harry suddenly realize the beauty of Hogsmeade?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Of the four customers in the Hog's Head Inn, two were rather more interested in the students' meeting than perhaps Harry would have liked. The veiled witch in the corner is Mundungus Fletcher, who has been watching Hogsmeade for the Order of the Phoenix. He was disguised because he had evidently been barred from the Hog's Head, at least according to Sirius in the next chapter. And the much-bandaged wizard drinking Firewhisky at the bar is Willy Widdershins, who is in some trouble with the Ministry for charming toilets to regurgitate on Muggles. It is likely that he is in disguise to evade arrest. Hoping to beat the penalties for the charges, he reports the meeting to Umbridge, as is discovered in Chapter 27.

Hermione has required each student joining the defensive group, soon to be known as Dumbledore's Army, to sign a parchment bearing an oath of secrecy. But unknown to them, she has secretly jinxed the parchment to reveal any "snitches" who divulge information to anyone outside the group. When Marietta Edgecombe later informs Umbridge about the secret meetings, she is horrified when purple pimples spelling "sneak" break out across her face.

Associated with that, we see the first interesting misdirection when the author deliberately keeps the group's eventual betrayer, Edgecombe, to the periphery, where she says nothing apart from the occasional sigh or fidget. Zacharias Smith, with his obvious skepticism, seems the most likely betrayer, with his attitude continuing into the group's first session in the Room of Requirement. Willy Widdershins' report to Umbridge following the Hog's Head meeting results in all student organizations being banned. This leads Harry and Ron to initially suspect that someone present at that meeting betrayed them, though Hermione assures them that it can't be, because of the jinx on the parchment. Despite Hermione's assurances, the readers' suspicions will likely fall on Smith. Ron immediately suspects Michael Corner, based apparently on Corner's relationship with Ginny. Edgecombe's later betrayal will come as a surprise.

The innkeeper at the Hog's Head looks familiar for a reason—he is Aberforth Dumbledore, Professor Dumbledore's younger brother, as many readers guessed instantly. An extremely large clue is the goat odour Harry notices as he enters. Readers will remember that in the previous book, Professor Dumbledore mentioned that his brother was convicted of practicing inappropriate charms on a goat. Aberforth will play an important role in the final book.

Chapter 17: Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

In the common room on Monday, a large notice has been posted announcing Educational Decree Number Twenty Four, outlawing all unapproved student organizations. All current student groups have been disbanded and must request approval from Professor Umbridge to reform. Harry thinks someone must have informed Umbridge about their meeting. Ron suggests Zacharias Smith or Michael Corner, but Hermione says she secretly enchanted the parchment everyone signed to reveal any snitches.

At breakfast, Fred, George, Ginny, Neville, and Dean approach Harry, who assures them the defence class is still meeting. Angelina Johnson, meanwhile, is dismayed over the decree banning Quidditch teams, and she has to request permission to reform the Gryffindor team. She begs Harry not to upset Umbridge again.

During History of Magic class, Hedwig appears on the windowsill carrying a message, but her wing has been injured. Harry takes her to Professor Grubbly-Plank in the staff room, who says Hedwig was attacked but can be healed. Sirius' message is extremely short: "Tonight, same time, same place." Professor McGonagall reminds Harry that all communication channels may be monitored.

Before Potions class, Draco Malfoy makes a rude comment about people with mental infirmities staying at St. Mungo's. Neville, enraged, tries to fight him but is restrained by Harry and Ron. Snape arrives, and seeing the scuffle, promptly penalizes Gryffindor ten House points. Harry, keeping his promise to Dumbledore, says nothing to Ron about Death Eaters having tortured Neville's parents to insanity. Professor Umbridge is present and taking notes. In response to her question, Snape says he has applied repeatedly for the Defence Against the Dark Arts post, and was always refused. Umbridge asks why, and Snape suggests she ask Dumbledore. Straining to hear Umbridge and Snape's conversation causes Harry to ruin his potion.

Angelina announces there is no Quidditch practice, as she is still waiting for permission to reform the team, though the other Houses have been approved. Meanwhile, Fred and George demonstrate their latest Skiving Snackbox product: Puking Pastilles, which induce projectile vomiting.

Late that night, Sirius' head appears in the common room fireplace. He has heard about Harry's defensive magic group from Mundungus Fletcher, who was in the Hog's Head during the meeting, disguised as the heavily-veiled witch. Sirius passes on Mrs. Weasley's message that Ron is forbidden to get involved, and her advice that Harry and Hermione abandon it. Sirius, however, encourages them to continue. Looking sideways in the flames, Sirius vanishes as a hand suddenly appears in the fire, grabbing at where his head just was. Harry, Ron, and Hermione run; looking back, Harry recognizes Umbridge's hand.

Analysis[edit]

Umbridge clearly has many ways to obtain information. She enthusiastically goes overboard doling out new rules and regulations (i.e. banning all student organizations to prevent the student Defence Against the Dark Arts group from meeting) to cement her ever-growing authority. Rather than this further discouraging Harry, who is increasingly depressed over Hagrid's absence, no Quidditch, and only sporadic communication with Sirius, he becomes even more determined to start the defensive arts class and combat Umbridge's dictatorial reign. Umbridge has become a tyrannical symbol of oppression that Harry and the other students rebel against, helping unite the Houses as the Sorting Hat pleaded, and as Dumbledore had stressed the year before. It is hardly surprising that only Slytherin House is missing; we already see how heavily biased Umbridge is in their favour, resulting in Slytherin feeling far less pinched than the other Houses and staff. This oppression will prompt many students to rally around and support Harry, though many likely will remain skeptical that he actually witnessed Voldemort's resurrection.

Harry knows that the Floo network is under surveillance by the Ministry of Magic. He will need to find another means to communicate with his godfather. It is unknown whether or not Umbridge actually intercepted Hedwig, only that she was injured when something nearly caught her. However, it is a safe assumption Umbridge was probably involved. If the Floo network is being monitored, as it evidently is, the limited information Hedwig was carrying ("Tonight, same time, same place") would not reveal Sirius' whereabouts, nor would it pinpoint the specific meeting time with Harry, or that it was even Black that Harry was meeting, unless the monitoring had started before Sirius' previous visit on the first weekend in the year. However, it would only alert Umbridge that Harry was meeting some unknown person, unless the Ministry is now aware that Sirius is an Animagus and what form he takes. The latter is possible; Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) has probably informed Lucius Malfoy that Sirius is an Animagus and what form he assumes; Malfoy apparently reported Sirius' presence in London to the Ministry, though there is no official record that Black is an Animagus, he being unregistered. The scheduled time "tonight" would help narrow the physical location, as students are forbidden to leave the school or its grounds without permission, particularly at night, so Umbridge could have heightened the surveillance on the Floo network as being among the few available contact avenues.

Snape tells Umbridge that he has been teaching at Hogwarts for fourteen years. As Harry is now fifteen, Snape would have begun teaching at Hogwarts in September of the year Harry turned one-year-old, and would have been on the job for only two months when Harry's parents were killed and Voldemort initially disappeared.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why has Umbridge disbanded all student groups and organizations? What does Harry decide to do?
  2. Why does Neville attack Malfoy in Potions class? What does Harry know about it?
  3. Who or what might have caused the injury to Hedwig's wing?
  4. How did Sirius know about Harry's secret defensive magic group?
  5. How was Umbridge able to locate Sirius?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why has Slytherin been given permission to reform their Quidditch team, when Gryffindor has not?
  2. Why would Harry ignore McGonagall's warning about the Floo Network and other communication methods being monitored? How risky was this?
  3. Harry has suspected that both Snape and Umbridge are Death Eaters. What about their interaction with each other either supports or discredits that belief?
  4. How can Hermione be so certain that no one in the defensive magic group tipped off Umbridge about their meeting? Is she right?
  5. Why does Molly Weasley oppose the defensive magic group while Sirius supports it?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Though Ron immediately suspects that a student revealed their meeting, Hermione is confident none did, because of the charm on the parchment; however, Ron and Harry, and perhaps the reader, may think Hermione made a mistake in casting the spell. That Sirius found out without Harry or the others telling him, should cause us to suspect that more than one eavesdropper was in the Hog's Head. We will discover that Willy Widdershins was also among the four customers in the Hog's Head, and though it may not have been his intention to eavesdrop, he was quick enough to use this collected information to barter with the Ministry. Widdershins had been charged with making Muggle toilets regurgitate, and sold the information to Umbridge in exchange for reduced or dropped charges.

Umbridge later reveals to Harry that all school fireplaces except her own are being monitored. It is likely this monitoring that detects Sirius communicating with Harry, rather than the possibly-intercepted message Hedwig had been carrying, which contained insufficient information other than the general meeting time ("tonight"). That Umbridge has the fireplaces monitored may indicate there is a far greater connection continuing between her and the Ministry than was suspected.

The fireplace monitoring, coupled with Harry's need to communicate with Sirius, will require him to break into Umbridge's office later in the story. He will need to do this on two separate occasions: his first attempt will be successful, the second time results in his getting caught by Umbridge. That may have been her intent when she told Harry about the fireplace, knowing it would probably entice him into using hers to contact Sirius.

As mentioned in the Analysis section above, Umbridge's unceasing attempts to subjugate the school may be the single greatest reason for the anti-Umbridge sentiment within Hogwarts. In this chapter, we see Umbridge's early attempts to cement her powers by unilaterally increasing them, resulting in almost immediate rebellion. Older readers have likely personally experienced a pattern of increasing oppression resulting in growing rebellion, but for younger readers, this may be their first exposure to this behaviour. It is to the author's credit that she is able to portray this familiar sequence of events, in this and succeeding chapters, so convincingly, without losing the older audience's interest.

As mentioned above, Snape would have begun teaching at Hogwarts in September of the year that Harry turned one-year-old, and would have been only two months on the job when Harry's parents' died and Voldemort disappeared. Revelations in the series' last book strongly suggest that Snape had uncovered Voldemort's plan to kill Harry and his parents shortly before that, and then become a double agent, working for Dumbledore. It was about at the same time that Snape became Potions Master for Hogwarts, probably as part of the "anything" that Dumbledore required of him.

Chapter 18: Dumbledore's Army

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Hermione suspects Umbridge caused Hedwig's injury attempting to intercept Harry's mail. That is likely the real reason Filch had earlier tried to confiscate Harry's letter when he was in the Owlery.

Angelina announces that the Gryffindor Quidditch team has been allowed to reform. Practice starts that evening. Hermione, meanwhile, is having second thoughts about Harry's Defense classes, mainly because Sirius supports it. She feels Sirius is somewhat immature and attempts to live through Harry. Her opinion only gets an angry rebuttal from Harry and Ron.

The weather is dreadful, and Fred and George debate skipping Quidditch practice by using a Skiving Snackbox product, but Angelina knows about them. Testing their latest item, Fever Fudge, has given them pus-filled boils in rather private places. Due to this and the bad weather, practice lasts only an hour. When Harry's scar pains him, he tells Ron that Voldemort is angry. Something he wants done is happening too slowly. This feels differently than when he was in Umbridge's office—Voldemort was happy then. And the time before that, he was furious.

Later that evening, Harry has the familiar dream about the windowless corridor. He is awakened by Dobby the House-elf returning the healed Hedwig. Dobby is wearing all of Hermione's hidden knitted elf hats and socks. He has been collecting them from Gryffindor tower because the other House-elves find the items insulting and refuse to clean in there anymore. Harry decides not to tell Hermione. When Harry mentions needing a secret meeting place, Dobby tells him about the Room of Requirement, a place he puts Winky in to dry out. Dobby offers to show Harry how to summon the room, and says it will appear fully equipped with whatever is needed.

The next day, Harry passes the word that the first meeting is that evening. Hermione is doubtful, remembering how Dobby's other schemes have failed, but Harry tells her that Dumbledore mentioned this room once. That night, Harry, Ron, and Hermione summon the room; it is perfect, with cushions to catch Stunned students, there are Dark detectors, which Harry thinks were in the false Moody's office the year before, and, most reassuring to Hermione, a full library of Dark Arts reference books. The other students file in, awed by the space's perfection, and the first session begins.

Harry is unanimously elected as the group's leader. Cho Chang suggests naming the group "Defence Association," or D.A. for short. Ginny Weasley notices the initials could also stand for "Dumbledore's Army," and the members choose that, mostly to mock paranoid Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge, who fears Dumbledore is secretly organizing a wizard army against the Ministry of Magic. Hermione writes "Dumbledore's Army" at the top of the parchment with the students' names on it and attaches it to the wall. Harry begins the first lesson – the Disarming charm, though Zacharias Smith complains it is too simple. Harry says it served him well enough against Voldemort, but Zacharias is free to leave if he chooses.

Practice goes well, though Cho fumbles her charms whenever Harry is watching. Harry, evaluating the spell-casting, is glad he started with something so simple. The session ends, and the next meeting is Wednesday, a time that does not conflict with Harry's Quiddich practice.

Analysis[edit]

The school Houses' separate identities have created (mostly) friendly rivalries, although Gryffindor and Slytherin have traditionally been more antagonistic. As is so common, an external threat creates an alliance among these more-or-less disparate groups. With the exception of Slytherin, the Houses become united over a common cause: opposing Umbridge and the Ministry. While Umbridge does seem to show obvious favoritism towards Slytherin House, it would seem that they were not deliberately excluded from the DA. The organizers may have simply felt students from that House would be uninterested in joining or possibly feared that some were untrustworthy. As Voldemort's power grows, this initial bonding between Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff could prove significant later on.

Also, the name, Dumbledore's Army (or D.A.), that the students have chosen for their secret group not only reflects their defiance and willingness to oppose Umbridge and mock Fudge, but it re-enforces their loyalty to Dumbledore and Hogwarts. Fudge's ongoing paranoia that Dumbledore is secretly building a wizard army to take over the Ministry is ridiculous; there is simply nothing to support this, and significant evidence against it — we were told by Hagrid in the first book that Dumbledore had been offered the post and declined it — but it shows just how warped Fudge's reasoning now is. Dumbledore's Army becomes an extreme example of Fudge "creating what he fears." Fudge suspecting that an army is being built, for which he has no proof, is in stark contrast to his unbending claims that, despite concrete evidence, Voldemort and Peter Pettigrew are still dead and Sirius Black is indeed guilty. Umbridge supports his stance, of course, though she has a different agenda.

Dumbledore's once mentioning the Room of Requirement, that Harry alludes to to calm Hermione's fears, was an extremely fleeting moment: at the Yule Ball the previous year, Dumbledore, conversing with Professor Karkaroff, mentioned discovering, and then losing, a room filled with chamber pots. That Harry, based on Dobby's description, recognized it as the Room of Requirement, is rather astute and reflects his growing intellect and logic, even though Harry may have read more into the wink that Dumbledore tipped him at the time than was meant.

Returning to Gryffindor tower, Harry only half listens to Hermione and Ron discussing the meeting; he is also thinking about Cho admitting that she is nervous whenever he is nearby. Harry sees this as the beginnings of the romance he has dreamed about the past year. However, this being tied to Cedric Diggory's death, for which he feels partially responsible, leaves Harry unsure of himself.

Dobby's comments about House-elves' opinions regarding the scattered clothing is quite telling. We understand how House-elves feel about their work and their masters; Dobby's re-iteration strongly reinforces that House-elves are deeply devoted to providing for their masters' comfort, in this case the school. Hermione is likely powerless to free them, as she is not their master, they would refuse if offered, and would be offended if trickery was involved.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Hermione suspect it was Umbridge who attempted to capture Hedwig? What does she think about Filch?
  2. Why does Hermione express second thoughts about starting the defensive group? Is she justified?
  3. What does Harry think is the reason his scar hurts during Quidditch practice?
  4. Why do the House-elves avoid Hermione's gifts of clothing? Why would they find them insulting?
  5. How does Harry learn about the Room of Requirement? What's Hermione's thoughts about it?
  6. What do the defensive magic group call themselves? Why is that name agreed on?
  7. Why does Cho fumble her charm whenever Harry is watching?
  8. Why is Harry glad he started the students off with such a simple spell?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Could repercussions result from the name the group chooses for themselves? If so, what might they be?
  2. Is Sirius, as Hermione believes, trying to "live through" Harry? If so, how and why?
  3. What is behind Zacharius Smith's current attitude towards Harry and the D.A.? What might cause it to change?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

What Voldemort wants done that is not happening quickly enough could be extracting the Prophecy from the Ministry, although, equally, it could be recruiting the Dementors to his side, and the associated jail break. Whatever it is, is never clear, though most likely it is retrieving the Prophecy. Evidence for this is Harry's recurring dream: the passageway he sees will be revealed shortly after Christmas to be the hallway that leads to the Department of Mysteries, where the Prophecy is stored, and the dream represents Voldemort's desires. As Malfoy was tasked with putting Bode under the Imperius Curse, that may be taking too long to suit Voldemort and it may signal the Malfoy family's downfall within the Death Eaters. Alternately, as it was a little over a week earlier that Harry's scar had seemingly reacted to Umbridge, and as we now discover Voldemort was then happy about something, it is quite possible that the earlier event was Voldemort learning that Bode had been put under the Imperius curse, and this could be the occasion of his receiving a report of Bode's continuing resistance.

It is Fudge's paranoid belief that Dumbledore is creating a secret wizard army that leads to the D.A. being formed. It, ironically, becomes the core of the army that helps to battle Voldemort and his Death Eaters, after they have taken control over the Ministry of Magic, as well as Hogwarts, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In the meanwhile, when the group is exposed, Fudge will use the group's name as "proof" that Dumbledore was organizing his own private army; this will result in Dumbledore's attempted arrest and dramatic escape.

The Room of Requirement will play a significant role in the next two books. Throughout this book, it becomes the secret meeting place for Dumbledore's Army; in the next book, Malfoy will secretly work on Voldemort's dark task inside it, and in the final book, it will once again be used by Dumbledore's Army. It will also be where Lord Voldemort once hid something quite valuable to him.

Chapter 19: The Lion and the Serpent

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry is pleased with the D.A.'s progress, and he takes great pleasure in flouting Umbridge's regulations. With various team Quidditch practices, it is difficult to have a regular night for Dumbledore's Army to meet, but Hermione has a solution: she gives everyone fake Galleons that transmit messages. Harry can use them to summon them for the next meeting. Terry Boot is impressed, saying this is a Protean Charm, and it is NEWT-level magic.

The first Quidditch match is approaching, and Ron is a nervous wreck. Their opponent is Slytherin, and the students are wearing badges reading, "Weasley is our King". It is a cruel effort to undermine Ron's confidence by implying he will win the game for Slytherin with his poor Quidditch skills. During the game, Slytherin students sing, "Weasley is our King" to further unnerve him. It apparently works, as Ron plays badly, missing several shots, but Harry catches the Snitch, winning the game for Gryffindor.

After the game, Harry (already angry after Crabbe hit him with a bludger after the final whistle) and George Weasley jump Malfoy and his cronies for mocking Ron. McGonagall hauls them into her office and assigns each a week's detention. However, Umbridge barges in with another Decree in hand, declaring she now has sole authority over all student discipline. Over McGonagall's protests, she permanently bans Harry and George from Quidditch. She also bans Fred Weasley, even though he was never involved in the incident. Umbridge also confiscates their brooms.

In the Common room, Angelina frets over losing her team Beaters and Seeker, then goes to bed. Only Harry, Hermione, and Ginny are left in the common room when Ron arrives, still wearing his Quidditch robes. He threatens to quit the team, saying he never should have thought he could be a Keeper. When he hears about Umbridge's permanent bans, Ron says it is the worst he has ever felt, to which Harry agrees. Hermione tells them something that cheers them up: Hagrid is back.

Analysis[edit]

Just as Harry's unhappy mood was improving, Umbridge squashes it yet again. She grows more dictatorial by the day, and it seems she constantly passes new decrees solely to increase her power. She obviously favours Slytherins. Although Crabbe was involved in the fight, he only had to write lines as his punishment, while Harry, Fred, and George were permanently banned from Quidditch. That Fred was included, even though he was uninvolved in the incident, shows how biased and vicious Umbridge truly is. Harry had previously asked Sirius if he thought Umbridge was a Death Eater. Sirius does not believe she is, and her actions seemingly support this. Rather, they indicate a growing addiction to, and abuse of, power.

Umbridge's implementing the Ministry's agenda is further seen. She, along with Cornelius Fudge and other Ministry officials, continues a public smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore, refuting their claims that the Dark Lord has arisen. Close-minded and paranoid, they still suspect Dumbledore is recruiting Hogwarts students for a secret wizard army with which to overthrow the Ministry. Umbridge was likely placed at Hogwarts solely as Fudge's spy and to deliberately meddle in its operations; nothing so far changes that belief, and she fully utilizes her ever-increasing and Ministry-backed authority to prevent Harry or Dumbledore from becoming what is perceived as an even greater threat. Banning Harry from Quidditch seems designed to demoralize, and thus further discredit, Harry publicly. It is uncertain why she chooses to also ban Fred, despite her "explanation"; the obvious reason appears to be spite, he (and George) supports Harry, and, "because I can."

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why did Crabbe receive such a light punishment for the same offense as Harry and the Twins?
  2. Why would calling Ron a "King" be insulting and what effect does it have on him? Who is doing it?
  3. Why would Umbridge ban both Weasley twins from Quidditch when only one was involved in the incident with Malfoy?
  4. Why would Umbridge confiscate the students' brooms?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why does Umbridge favor Slytherin students?
  2. Why is McGonagall angry at Umbridge? What does this indicate?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Umbridge will shortly demonstrate her unreasoning hatred of what she terms "half-breeds": magical creatures who are either part-human (like Hagrid) or have human characteristics. We will see this in how she treats Hagrid, and later her reaction to the Centaurs in the Forbidden Forest. This actually suggests that Umbridge will create more difficulties for Harry. With his broom confiscated and his Quidditch ban, Harry's only enjoyment will be teaching Dumbledore's Army and his friends, notably Hagrid. Hagrid's return is heartening, but with Umbridge threatening to sack him, yet another pleasure and security in Harry's life is threatened.

Ron lacking confidence in his own Keeping abilities will be a recurring thread in this book and the next. He finally hits his stride in time for the year's final match, which will be won, and the Quidditch Cup with it, thanks to his efforts. However, he loses faith in himself again by the next book. This is likely meant to illuminate Ron's still emerging and vacillating maturity; he tries out for Keeper but lacks the inner strength to keep at it, and, after disappointments on the field, he wants to quit. It is only external influences that convinces him to keep trying. This behavioral pattern is quite realistically rendered; one can see the author's awareness of how boys venture into new and complicated endeavors.

Chapter 20: Hagrid's Tale

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry fetches his Invisibility Cloak and the Marauder's Map, and covering himself, Ron, and Hermione, they head to Hagrid's hut. Hagrid greets them but his battered appearance shocks the Trio. Hermione correctly guesses he had visited the Giants.

Hagrid says he and Madame Maxime, the Beauxbatons Academy Headmistress were on a secret mission for Dumbledore to recruit the Giants against Voldemort. Their negotiations stalled when the chief Giant was overthrown. The new chief was less receptive, and he and Madame Maxime used magic to escape. They also had to avoid Macnair and other Death Eaters, who were also recruiting Giants for Voldemort.

When asked about his mother, Hagrid replies she died long ago. Before he can explain who battered him and why it took so long to return after the mission failed, there is a loud knock on the door; Harry, Hermione, and Ron dive under the Cloak, and Professor Umbridge strolls into Hagrid's hut.

Umbridge speaks loudly and slowly. She has noticed three sets of footsteps going to the hut, but none leaving, flustering Hagrid. Umbridge seems skeptical when Hagrid says he was away for his health, given his current battered state. Umbridge glances around, apparently searching for students hiding, and passes within inches of the cloaked Trio. She informs Hagrid that she will be inspecting his class, as the Ministry is determined to weed out unsatisfactory teachers, then leaves.

Once Hagrid confirms Umbridge has returned to the castle, Harry strips off the Cloak. Hermione, worried, asks what Hagrid plans to teach. Hagrid says only that it will be good. Hermione warns him that Professor Trelawney is on probation, and she recommends that Hagrid follow the boring, Ministry-recommended procedures. Hagrid brushes off her concerns, saying he is tired, and they need to get back to the castle.

As the Trio heads back under the Cloak, Hermione works on an Obliteration Charm to hide their footprints. Ron thinks Hermione's warning failed to get through to Hagrid, and she vows to prevent Umbridge from firing Hagrid.

Analysis[edit]

Although Hagrid and Madame Maxime failed to enlist the Giants as allies, their mission's importance should not be under-emphasized. Dumbledore knows that Voldemort is actively recruiting many dangerous non-human magical creatures, specifically the Giants and Dementors. Voldemort has also approached the Werewolves, Centaurs, and others who have historically been repressed, ostracized, and even enslaved by the Wizarding world. We can safely assume that Centaur pride and their distaste for all human affairs will ensure their continued neutrality. For the Werewolves, Dementors, and Giants, however, there is no such assurance. No matter how evil and violent Voldemort's reign will likely be should he prevail, he can offer these denizens more rewards and freedom than most currently have under the present social order. If Voldemort entices these outcasts to join him, it could tilt the war in his favor. Whether or not he actually intends to honor any promises that were offered to lure them to his side is unknown.

It also appears that Hagrid and Madame Maxime's mission ended some time ago. Hagrid's delayed return and his injuries may have some cause apart from the mission, though Hagrid remains secretive about what that might be.

Meanwhile, Hermione, knowing that Umbridge is targeting weaker teachers, particularly non-human ones, cautions Hagrid. Unfortunately, Hagrid seems unconcerned and downplays Hermione's warning, though just why is unclear. Hagrid, whose absence has isolated him from the school's recent ongoing upheavals, may simply believe Dumbledore will protect him. And while it has been suggested that Hagrid may actually feel he has little defense against Umbridge's possibly dismissing him, his reaction seems more complacent than resigned—he simply fails to perceive that Umbridge is a significant threat, despite Hermione's counsel. This seems in tune with Hagrid's character, as he had also considered Dragons or Blast-Ended Skrewts as being harmless.

Umbridge's condescending treatment toward Hagrid indicates that she considers him vastly inferior and of low intelligence, and it may reflect an underlying prejudice towards all partially-human or non-human races. She also seems suspicious regarding Hagrid's whereabouts during his absence and could possibly know something about his mission if Voldemort's spies or Ministry agents spotted Hagrid and Madam Maxime while they were away.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. What was Hagrid's secret mission? Who sent him, and why is it so important?
  2. Why was Madam Maxime also sent on the mission?
  3. What was the outcome of Hagrid and Madam Maxime's secret mission? Why?
  4. Why is Umbridge so interested in where Hagrid has been? She asks if Hagrid had been vacationing in the mountains – does she possibly know anything about the mission and where he went?
  5. If Umbridge does know where Hagrid might have been, how could she have found this out?
  6. Why does Umbridge speak to Hagrid in such a deliberately slow and loud manner?
  7. What does Hermione warn Hagrid about and why?

Further Study[edit]

  1. If Hagrid and Madam Maxime were on the mission together, why might Hagrid have returned much later than she did?
  2. What could have caused Hagrid's battered appearance? Why won't he say how he was hurt?
  3. Why might Umbridge suspect that Hagrid and Madame Maxime were on a secret mission?
  4. What would motivate magical creatures like Werewolves, Goblins, Centaurs, and others to support Voldemort?
  5. What might Umbridge's definition of "unsatisfactory teachers" actually mean?
  6. Why would Hagrid shrug off Hermione's serious warning, and what does that say about his character in general?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

It is mentioned above that Umbridge denigrating Hagrid may hint at a deeper disdain for half-Human and non-Human races. While this remains unconfirmed until nearly the end, it is strongly suggested that Umbridge is generally biased against "half-breeds" by the comments she makes while "examining" Hagrid's teaching. Umbridge's hatred of what she terms "half-breeds" will later extend to the Centaurs, a proudly pure-bred race, although her rude condescension results in consequences.

Even though he is back on nominally safe ground, Hagrid will continue to sport various new injuries throughout the year. Much later, we learn what is causing these injuries: Hagrid located his half-brother, Grawp, living with the giants, and brought him home. Grawp's intransigence, which will continue into the summer, slowed Hagrid's return, and is now resulting in the injuries Hagrid repeatedly suffers. Hagrid, mindful that Grawp is all the family he has left, is trying to civilize him. There will be several incidents where Hagrid alludes to "family", meaning Grawp, but it will be significantly later in the year before we meet him.

Hagrid is hiding Grawp in the Forbidden Forest while he attempts to make him fit for society. This, while it would normally be a safe hiding place, will result in the Centaurs falling out with Hagrid, and eventually will result in Hagrid being barred from the Forest. One centaur, Firenze, will allude to this problem in private conversation with Harry, but when the message is passed on, Hagrid dismisses it.

In passing, it may be interesting to note that while the Centaurs refuse to support Voldemort, neither do they aid his opponents, instead remaining neutral until, in the last chapter of the final book, they are goaded into action by Hagrid. The Werewolves, led by Fenrir Greyback, join Voldemort, as will the Dementors and at least two Giants, although Grawp remains loyal to Hagrid.

Chapter 21: The Eye of the Snake

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The next morning, Hermione pleads with Hagrid to only teach something safe, but he only responds that nobody in his right mind would rather study Knarls than Chimeras. Hermione assures Harry and Ron that Hagrid must be joking about Chimeras. Hagrid still refuses to explain his injuries, while his return receives a mixed reception: Fred, George, and Lee Jordan rush to greet him while Parvati Patil and Lavender seem dismayed. Harry understands; Professor Grubbly-Plank's "interesting" lessons do not risk getting one's head torn off.

In class, Hagrid leads students into the Forest. Within are the same scaly, horse-like creatures sporting leathery wings that Harry saw pulling the carriages. The only students in the class who can see the strange beasts are Harry, Neville, and a stringy Slytherin. The creatures, Hagrid explains, are Thestrals, and are only visible to people who have seen death. Now Harry understands: he sees them because he witnessed Cedric Diggory's murder during the Triwizard Tournament the previous year.

Professor Umbridge arrives to inspect Hagrid's teaching, but her watching, constant interrupting, and generally treating Hagrid as subhuman unnerves him, and he delivers what may be his worst lesson. The Slytherins doing their best to interfere further unnerves Hagrid. Umbridge departs, saying that he can expect his evaluation in ten days.

Banned from Quidditch, Harry has little to look forward to except Dumbledore's Army, which will be suspended over Christmas break. The prospect of an idle and tedious Christmas break vexes Harry until Ron remembers something: Harry is invited for Christmas.

Entering the Room of Requirement, Harry finds Dobby has decorated it extravagantly. Harry removes most decorations, but mistletoe is still hanging when the students arrive. Harry has them practice the Impediment jinx and Stunning. At class end, Harry praises everyone's performance and promises they will start the big stuff in the new year. Cho Chang, lingering behind, says she still misses Cedric and wonders if he had known what Harry is teaching, would he still be alive? Harry says he did know it, otherwise he would never had finished the Triwizard Tournament's Third Task. Cho compliments Harry as being a good teacher, and maneuvering him under the mistletoe, kisses him.

Returning to the common room, Harry tells Ron and Hermione what happened, saying it would be nicer if Cho were not always crying. Hermione explains all the emotional turmoil Cho is undergoing, though Ron thinks that is impossible. "One person couldn't feel all that at once, they'd explode." Hermione retorts that just because he has the emotional range of a teaspoon does not mean everyone does. Hermione tells Harry, ". . . it could have been worse," when he describes his efforts to comfort Cho. When Ron notices Hermione is writing to Viktor Krum, he lapses into disgruntled silence; very little else is said until everyone is in bed. While falling asleep, Harry thinks that Hogwarts should teach boys how to understand girls.

Harry dreams he is a snake slithering down a long hallway. A man hiding under a silvery cloak draws his wand as Harry attacks him with his venomous fangs. Harry awakens screaming and his scar searing, and is convinced this dream was real and that the attacked man was Mr. Weasley. Neville summons Professor McGonagall who escorts Harry and Ron to Dumbledore's office.

Analysis[edit]

Harry and Cho's relationship is starting off badly. Although Cho likes Harry, she is still grieving Cedric Diggory's death while coping with other problems. Harry, dealing with his own difficulties and lacking romantic experience, is simply unequipped to handle Cho's fragile emotional state, despite Hermione's advice. He is uncertain if it is wise to continue seeing her. Ron is also undergoing relationship problems after learning that Hermione is writing to Viktor Krum. Ron's unresolved feelings for Hermione are causing him to experience jealousy, though he is confused over how he actually does feel or even why.

Meanwhile, Harry's dreams are becoming more real and intense. Not only is he convinced that what he saw was actually happening, requiring that he act quickly to save Mr. Weasley, but he sees it from his own point-of-view and feels the emotion as it unfolds, leaving him extremely disturbed.

Hagrid, meanwhile, deliberately ignored Hermione's advice to only teach "safe" Ministry-approved lessons, though it probably matters little what lessons he does teach or how well or how badly he teaches them. Clearly Umbridge is a racist intent on eliminating him solely based on his half-Giant heritage. Hagrid, though, is hurting his own cause. Whether this is childish obstinacy, failure to comprehend his precarious situation, or resignation to a hopeless fate, remains unclear. Not all students would be unhappy if he left, however. Slytherins, of course, would favor his dismissal purely from spite, but others also fear his lessons, which often feature dangerous creatures and sometimes result in minor injuries.

It has been noted that Harry should have been able to see the Thestrals when riding in the horseless carriage to the train at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; after all, he had just seen Cedric Diggory killed. There are actually several answers, including one in the context of the books, and one in the context of the author's plans. Rowling states that immediately after Harry witnessed Cedric Diggory's death, he was still in shock and had not completely internalized what had happened. Cedric's death is not entirely real to him yet, and only after much brooding over the summer does he finally accept that Cedric is dead. Only when he fully believes that he has witnessed death, is he able to see the Thestrals. Readers have asked, did he not see death earlier, such as when Lord Voldemort killed his parents? The answer is no, he did not. Being a baby, he was unable to comprehend that night's tragic events. Also, his father was actually killed in another part of the house, while his mother's death probably happened beyond his view while in the crib. While it could be argued that Harry saw Voldemort die by his own rebounding killing curse, Voldemort is not really dead, nor would baby Harry understand what he saw. Harry also did not see Professor Quirrell die in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. He lost consciousness before Quirrell actually died. The author has also stated that having the Thestrals visible to Harry just before the book's end would have left a rather uncomfortable puzzle for the readers: what are these creatures, are they Dark? So she said she made the conscious decision to leave them invisible until the next book.

The above is a paraphrase of the author's own comments on the matter. However, critics can argue that this was actually one of several inconsistencies throughout the books. Rowling may have simply made a literary mistake regarding Harry being unable to see the Thestrals at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and she devised an explanation to fit the facts once the error was apparent.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Hermione urge Hagrid to teach something "safe" in his class? Would her advice make any difference?
  2. How does Hagrid react when Umbridge arrives to inspect his class?
  3. What does Dobby do to the Room of Requirement? What is Harry's reaction? Why?
  4. What are the horse-like creatures? Who can see them and why?
  5. What is Ron's reaction to Hermione writing a letter to Viktor Krum? Why?
  6. Why does Cho cry so much? What does Hermione think of Harry's efforts to comfort Cho?
  7. We are told that Harry does not return to Gryffindor tower until half an hour after the DA meeting has ended. What takes him so long?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why are some students less enthused than others about Hagrid's return to Hogwarts?
  2. How has the nature of Harry's dream changed, and why is he convinced this one is real?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Harry's dream about the hallway is much more realistic than the previous ones he experienced. He soon becomes convinced that Voldemort is possessing him. Dumbledore will seem unsurprised when Harry recounts the night's events, and he initially offers little explanation about what might be happening, leaving Harry more confused, upset, and angry at Dumbledore than ever. Eventually, we learn that this is an artifact of the linkage between Voldemort and the soul shard left in Harry by Voldemort's murder attempt. This is also when Voldemort learns that the linkage exists. With it, he will shortly try to influence Harry's actions. The attempt will be sporadic and ineffective until after Voldemort's discussion with Rookwood, which Harry will also see as a dream. Voldemort then starts systematically using this link to coerce Harry to retrieve something for him.

It is actually the concern that Voldemort may be using the mental link between himself and Harry, that has been preventing Dumbledore from speaking to Harry so far this year. Dumbledore reveals at the end of the book that, to protect Harry or to prevent Voldemort gaining more information, he was attempting to block Voldemort from learning that his and Harry's relationship was anything more than a typical Headmaster-to-student relationship.

As mentioned, we quite clearly see Umbridge's bias against Hagrid, and that it is typical prejudice: Umbridge arrives at Hagrid's class with preconceptions, and discovers exactly what she expects to while "examining" him. We will later learn that she is prejudiced against all non-human races, having authored anti-werewolf legislation; her dislike for Hagrid, based on nothing more substantial than his ancestry, will be only one aspect of her dislike of not-fully-human wizards. This prejudice will result in Hagrid shortly being put on probation, and, near the end of the year, Umbridge will employ several Aurors to help sack Hagrid. In the meanwhile, she will repeatedly examine his classes, deliberately causing his already-weak confidence to crumble even further.

Chapter 22: St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Professor McGonagall escorts Harry and Ron to the Headmaster's office. Many voices are heard within Professor Dumbledore's office, but they fall silent when McGonagall knocks. Inside, Dumbledore is alone. Dumbledore continues to avoid looking at Harry while questioning him, vexing him. Harry says this dream was from his point-of-view, as if he was the snake, and claims Mr. Weasley is badly hurt. Dumbledore immediately sends two past Headmaster portraits, Everard and Dilys, to their respective other portraits to search for Mr. Weasley. Dumbledore dispatches Fawkes to warn Mrs. Weasley, though her magical clock may have already alerted her to the danger. Dumbledore sets an intricate silver machine on his desk in motion; it emits a puff of smoke that forms into a snake. Dumbledore says, "Naturally. But in essence divided?" The smoke stream splits into two snakes. Everard's portrait returns, reporting that Mr. Weasley was found badly injured and has been sent St. Mungo's. Dumbledore sends Professor McGonagall to fetch the other Weasley children.

Dumbledore creates a Portkey, then addresses Phineas' portrait, who grudgingly agrees to deliver a message to Sirius at Grimmauld Place that the Weasley children and Harry will soon arrive. Fred, George, and Ginny arrive with Professor McGonagall. Fawkes sends a warning that Umbridge is on her way, and McGonagall leaves to head her off. As he activates the Portkey, Dumbledore looks directly at Harry for the first time. Intense pain in his scar and overwhelming hatred causes Harry to want to attack Dumbledore.

Arriving at Grimmauld Place, Harry hears Kreacher muttering aspersions to the children about blood traitors. Sirius orders him out. Harry tells the Weasley children and Sirius about his vision, though he refrains from sharing that he was the snake. The Twins demand to go to the hospital, but Sirius vetoes it, saying the Order wants Harry's visions kept secret. Harry wonders why he felt hatred towards Dumbledore, and why he seemed to have fangs.

Molly Weasley sends word that Mr. Weasley is seriously injured, but still alive. She arrives later and expresses her deep gratitude to Harry for saving her husband's life. Privately, Harry confesses to Sirius that he seemed to be the snake, and about the intense rage and hatred he felt towards Dumbledore, Sirius tells him not to worry about it. Later, Harry is unable to sleep, fearing he will turn into a snake and attack Ron.

The group decides to stay at Grimmauld Place for Christmas, to be close to the hospital. The next day, Mr. Weasley is out of danger, Tonks and Mad-Eye Moody escort everyone to St. Mungo's. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Tonks, and Moody have (they think) a private discussion regarding the previous night's events. Using Fred and George's Extendable Ears to eavesdrop, Harry and the Weasley children overhear Moody saying that Harry is seeing inside Voldemort's mind, and wonders if he is being possessed by Voldemort.

Analysis[edit]

It can be surmised that the voices heard in Dumbledore's office were the former Headmasters' portraits conferring with Dumbledore. These are far more than mere "talking heads." While they counsel the present Headmaster, they also act as a surveillance and communication system, able to travel to their other portraits throughout the Wizarding world to deliver messages, report news, and occasionally act as spies. The Hogwarts Headmaster's office is potentially better informed than even the Minister of Magic regarding events throughout the Wizarding realm.

By now, we should suspect that Voldemort is accessing Harry's mind. This is confirmed when Harry relates that he could see the events at the Department of Mysteries from Voldemort's (or the snake's) point-of-view and feel his emotions. The small instrument Dumbledore consults emits a serpent-shaped puff of smoke, which splits into two when questioned. Its significance, which is never completely explained in the book, could be interpreted several ways. From the shape, we can assume that it is somehow related to the snake that attacked Arthur Weasley. Its splitting into two may represent the snake and Voldemort sharing its experiences. Alternately, it may represent Voldemort and the snake on one side, and Harry on the other. In the latter case, that it splits into two images may indicate that Harry and Voldemort remain separate, meaning Harry has not been possessed by the Dark Lord. Whatever its meaning, there seems to be some mental connection between the two, and when Harry makes eye contact with Dumbledore, the rage and hate he feels is almost certainly Voldemort's. Harry is more distressed than ever, unable to understand what is happening to him, and angry that Dumbledore is deliberately withholding information.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Whose voices did Harry hear inside Dumbledore's office, even though Dumbledore is alone? Why was Dumbledore talking with them?
  2. Why is McGonagall sent to head off Umbridge?
  3. Why aren't the Weasley children allowed to visit their father in the hospital right away?
  4. What does Moody say about Harry? What makes him believe this?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Where was Mr. Weasley when he was attacked, and what was he doing?
  2. Why does Harry feel hate and rage when he looks at Dumbledore?
  3. What might be the significance of the smoke stream from Dumbledore's instrument forming into a snake and splitting in two?
  4. Why is Harry reluctant to tell the other Weasleys what he actually felt when he witnessed the attack on Arthur Weasley?
  5. Why doesn't Kreacher respond when Sirius summons him? Is it possible that he could have left the house, even though he would need his master's permission? How could he have done that, and where might he have gone?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

While Harry apparently remains oblivious, Dumbledore is reasonably certain a connection exists between Voldemort's mind and Harry's. He bases his conclusion on Harry's dreams involving Voldemort in August and May during the previous school year. Though probably still unaware that Harry is now dreaming about corridors, Dumbledore guesses that Voldemort's regaining his body may have strengthened the link, and that Voldemort will shortly discover its existence. Recognizing that the Dark Lord could use the connection to spy on Harry and himself, Dumbledore acts aloof and indifferent to Harry, hoping to conceal that their relationship is more than headmaster-to-student. Harry, knowing nothing about this, is hurt by Dumbledore's apparent disregard.

Regarding Dumbledore's "in essence divided" comment, J.K. Rowling explained its meaning during an online chat at a fan site shortly after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published. Says Rowling, "Dumbledore suspected that the snake’s essence was divided – that it contained part of Voldemort’s soul, and that was why it was so very adept at doing his bidding. This also explained why Harry, the last and unintended Horcrux, could see so clearly through the snake’s eyes, just as he regularly sees through Voldemort’s. Dumbledore is thinking aloud here, edging towards the truth with the help of the Pensieve."

Sirius was unintentionally overly forceful in ordering Kreacher to leave. Kreacher manipulated this into permission to leave the house, and he visits the only still-living Black family member he respects: Narcissa Malfoy. While he is unable to tell Narcissa about the Order of the Phoenix, or anything else that Sirius has expressly forbidden him to discuss, he does tell Narcissa, and through her, Voldemort, that Sirius and Harry have a very caring relationship. At almost that same instant, Voldemort senses Harry's thoughts and glimpses Dumbledore through him, causing Harry to feel the Dark Lord's rage and desire to kill Dumbledore, and rise, snake-like, within him. As Dumbledore suspects, Voldemort is now aware that he and Harry can occasionally share thoughts. While this is not yet useful to Voldemort, he will exploit it shortly.

Harry is already worried that Voldemort may be possessing him, and he is additionally concerned that he had been physically transformed into a snake and transported to London to attack Mr. Weasley. Ron reassures him on the latter point, saying that he was still in his bed and most definitely not a snake during the vision. Harry remains skeptical, and Moody's comment in St. Mungo's seems to be confirmation: Harry now believes that Voldemort may be using him to spy on his surroundings. This will shortly result in Harry deciding to leave Grimmauld Place, a departure that will be forestalled by Dumbledore's message, relayed sarcastically by Phineas Nigellus.

Chapter 23: Christmas on the Closed Ward

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry, consumed with fear that Voldemort is possessing him, worries he will attack Order members, and thinks Voldemort may be able to see into Order headquarters. To protect everyone, Harry decides to leave Hogwarts, and return to the Dursleys. As he drags out his trunk, Phineas Nigellus' portrait delivers Dumbledore's message: "Stay where you are." Upset by the message's brevity, and exhausted, Harry falls asleep and again dreams about the the black door, yearning to open it. Ron's voice announcing dinner awakens him.

Depressed, confused, and convinced everyone is avoiding him, Harry isolates himself. Concerned, Hermione arrives at Grimmauld Place, hauls Harry from Buckbeak's room, and scolds him for his behavior. Ginny reminds Harry that she knows what it is like to be possessed by Voldemort and describes her experiences, finally convincing Harry he has not been possessed.

Sirius' joy that everyone is staying for the Christmas holidays seems infectious as everyone helps decorate the house. Sirius and Lupin give Harry books on jinxes and counter-jinxes that will be useful for teaching Dumbledore's Army. Fred and George tell Ron and Harry to wait awhile before going downstairs; Mrs. Weasley is in tears because Percy returned his Christmas gift, unopened, and without a note.

Hermione has a quilt for Kreacher's Christmas present, saying it should brighten up his sleeping space in the kitchen. Under an old-fashioned boiler (US: furnace), Harry sees what looks like a nest. Scattered in the corners are discarded Black family items, including a portrait of Bellatrix Lestrange. No one has seen Kreacher since Harry and the others arrived. A House-elf is forbidden to leave without permission, though Harry points out that Dobby did that three years before. Sirius is briefly disconcerted by this, but brushes it off.

After lunch, the family, plus Mad-Eye Moody and Lupin go to visit Mr. Weasley at St. Mungo's. When Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny head to the cafeteria, they run into Gilderoy Lockhart, who still suffers severe memory loss. The Healer assumes they are there to see Gilderoy. While in his ward, they notice another patient, Broderick Bode, who received a potted plant as a Christmas gift. They also run into Neville and his grandmother, who are visiting Neville's parents, Frank and Alice, who, Harry knows, were once Aurors and former Order of the Phoenix members. Both were tortured into insanity with the Cruciatus curse by Sirius' Death Eater cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange. They are permanently hospitalized at St. Mungo's. Neville is embarrassed that his classmates now know about his parents, the more so when his mother shambles over and grandly gives him a gum wrapper. Mrs. Longbottom says that Neville should be proud of how his parents defended themselves. After Neville and his grandmother depart, Harry admits to the others that he knew about the Longbottoms, but that Dumbledore asked him to say nothing.

Analysis[edit]

Harry's belief he is being possessed by Voldemort results in his usual response when faced with a stressful situation: a childish need to run away. This time he convinces himself it will protect his friends. Harry is also angry, particularly at Dumbledore for ignoring him again. Believing everyone is avoiding him, he becomes increasingly paranoid until Hermione scolds him for his immature behavior. Ginny, who actually was possessed by Voldemort, is able to describe her own experience to him, finally convincing Harry that he retains his own mind. And though Harry has been assured he has not been possessed, it seems strange that Dumbledore provided him such sketchy information. And even though Dumbledore prevented Harry from leaving Grimmauld Place, he did so in a rather abrupt and distant manner that only fuels Harry's confusion and anger, making him feel like he is being treated as a small child again.

The trip to St. Mungo's Hospital proves insightful for Harry and shows a significant step in his maturity. Even though he has endured much sorrow over his lost parents, he is becoming acutely aware that others, such as Neville Longbottom, have also suffered terribly under Voldemort's reign of terror. Harry has protected Neville's secret, as Dumbledore requested, to respect Neville's privacy, but seeing the Longbottom family in person profoundly affects him. And though the Longbottoms are still alive, Harry realizes that they are as lost to Neville as James and Lily Potter are to him. This must also serve as a painful reminder to the Weasley children how vulnerable their own family is, particularly after their father's near-fatal attack. Percy Weasley's estrangement from his family is hardly helping matters, and his returning his mother's Christmas gift seems especially cruel.

Hermione, meanwhile, continues her quest for House-elves rights, and gives Kreacher a Christmas present, though her kind gesture is probably unappreciated by him. His sleeping space is revealing in that it shows he remains staunchly loyal to the Black family. There should perhaps be more concern regarding why Kreacher seems to be missing and what he might be up to.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Harry fear he is being possessed? Who convinces him otherwise?
  2. Why does Harry feel he should leave Hogwarts?
  3. What does Percy Weasley do that upsets Mrs. Weasley? Why does he do this?
  4. What happened to Frank and Alice Longbottom?
  5. Why is Neville embarrassed when he runs into Harry and the Weasley children? What does his grandmother have to say?
  6. Why did Harry never tell anyone, not even Neville, what he knew about the Longbottoms?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Harry unexpectedly runs into Gilderoy Lockhart, Broderick Bode, Neville, his grandmother, and his parents while at St. Mungo's Hospital. Briefly describe each person's significance to the story.
  2. Why has Kreacher saved the Black family objects that Sirius had tossed out?
  3. Why does Hermione give Kreacher a Christmas gift? What is his likely reaction?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Suspecting that Voldemort is looking through Harry's eyes, Dumbledore's failure to explain his instructions to Harry is probably an ongoing attempt to prevent Voldemort from recognizing that his relationship with Harry is more than he shares with other students. In this particular instance, it is exacerbated by Phineas Nigellus and his general disdain for everyone who is not a Black. His snide comments about students knowing their place and not questioning the Headmaster only makes Harry angrier.

Kreacher's absence is because he is off visiting Narcissa Malfoy. It is true that Dobby had left his masters' (the Malfoys) house to warn Harry about the coming school year, and he apparently did so repeatedly to convince Harry to return home, but he had a significant reason for doing so. Kreacher has no such reason; what he does have is the ability to manipulate Sirius' forceful command "Get OUT!", uttered when the Weasley children and Harry arrived at Grimmauld Place, into an order to leave the house. It is never explained why he fails to respond to Sirius' summons; he certainly appears rapidly enough when Harry summons him in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

At St. Mungo's, a wizard portrait believes that Ron is inflicted with Spattergroit. Ron's response, that he merely has freckles, leads us to believe that this may be a fictional ailment that, as medicine advanced, proved to be like "the vapours" in the Muggle world. It will turn out later that there actually is such a disease, and that it is contagious, though Ron does not have it. This particular disease will be a minor plot point in the final book.

Bode's continuing inability to speak is because he touched the Prophecy orb, while under the Imperius curse, to try and retrieve it for Voldemort. The potted plant someone sent Bode is actually a Devil's Snare, which will later strangle him. One wonders why neither the Healer, nor the Trio who experienced this plant's effects, recognize it. The Trio's experience was in near darkness, so they can be forgiven for failing to identify it, but a Healer's education must concentrate on Herbology, and they should know the plant's characteristics.

Chapter 24: Occlumency

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Kreacher reappears from the attic; it seems he was in Mrs. Black's old room. Harry is wary; Kreacher seems happier and Harry has caught him avidly staring at him a few times. Sirius, meanwhile, grows depressed as everyone's stay at Grimmauld Place nears its end. Professor Snape arrives to announce that Dumbledore wants Harry to study Occlumency, the art of closing one's mind to another's intrusion. Harry agrees, but then discovers that Snape is to be teaching him. A verbal battle between Snape and Sirius erupts, escalating with wands drawn and Harry in-between trying to prevent a duel. Fortunately, Mr. Weasley, the entire Weasley family, and Hermione enter.

Mr. Weasley is fully recovered and has been discharged from St. Mungo's. Snape leaves, saying he expects Harry in his office at 6 o'clock Monday evening. Harry discusses the Occlumency lessons with Ron and Hermione. Hermione says it will stop the nightmares, though Ron would prefer having the nightmares.

Lupin and Tonks arrive the next day to escort them back to Hogwarts. Before Harry leaves, Sirius gives him a package, saying Harry can contact him with it. Harry privately resolves never to use it, not wanting to risk exposing Sirius. Lupin summons the Knight Bus, and they are greeted by Stan Shunpike. Arriving at Hogwarts, Lupin and Tonks leave separately.

Harry's first day back is unpleasant, partly because he dreads his evening Occlumency lesson with Snape and partly because Dumbledore's Army members keep asking him when the next meeting is. When Cho Chang mentions that the next Hogsmeade weekend is February 14th, he is initially mystified, then suddenly understands and invites her to go to Hogsmeade with him on Valentine's Day weekend. Cho, delighted, accepts.

Still distrusting Snape, Harry's first Occlumency lesson begins. Voldemort is skilled in Legilimency, the ability to read others' thoughts and memories. Occlumency will help Harry block his mind. Snape removes some of his own memories and deposits them into Dumbledore's Pensieve. Harry must try and prevent Snape from penetrating his mind, but Harry's first attempts fail miserably. However, Harry recognizes the hallway he has dreamt about so frequently: it is inside the Ministry of Magic leading to the Department of Mysteries. He and Mr. Weasley raced down it last summer to his hearing, and it is the same hallway where Mr. Weasley was attacked. Snape dismisses him, telling him to come back Wednesday. As Harry leaves, he sees Snape reinserting memories from the Pensieve into his head.

Harry discusses this latest revelation with Ron and Hermione in the library. They conclude that the weapon Voldemort seeks must be hidden in the Department of Mysteries. They retreat to the common room, expecting it to be quieter, but Fred and George are demonstrating the latest Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes product, Headless Hats, that make the wearer's head invisible. Harry gives up and heads to bed. Inside the dormitory, Harry is felled by intense pain and hears wild, almost insane laughter. As he returns to awareness, his scar is burning. Harry tells Ron he saw Voldemort's thoughts again, but this time he did not feel Voldemort's anger—the Dark Lord is ecstatic. Harry questions if Occlumency is weakening his defences rather than strengthening them and wonders what made Voldemort so happy.

Analysis[edit]

The rift between Sirius and Snape can never be mended; their mutual hatred is too deeply embedded, though they realize they must try to put aside their personal feelings for the Order's sake. Unfortunately, this ongoing feud will likely make Harry's Occlumency lessons with Snape even more unpleasant, combined with the animosity and distrust Harry already has for him. Harry's confusion about why he must study this subject only makes it more difficult. He is further frustrated that it is Snape, rather than Dumbledore, who is teaching him. Although Harry's progress is slow, mostly due to his resistance to having to study something he does not fully understand, the lessons are, probably accidentally, resulting in Harry seeing clearer images. Harry recognizes the hallway as the one leading to the Department of Mysteries within the Ministry of Magic, leading him to conclude that that is where the weapon Voldemort is seeking is hidden.

Harry's budding relationship with Cho Chang is also progressing slowly. Her needing to drop such a strong hint about Valentine's Day shows he has little idea regarding how romance actually works, though he is more clueless than thoughtless. He, unlike Ron, learns quickly.

Kreacher's behavior, meanwhile, is highly suspicious. His devotion to the Black family is nearly fanatical, as is his hatred for Sirius, as well as Harry and anyone he considers a "blood traitor." He has been carefully observing Harry for a reason, though just why is unknown, but it is likely significant. Though as he is magically bound to serve only Sirius and to protect his secrets, Kreacher may be searching for some loophole through which he can convey information about Harry to Voldemort.

Snape removing his memories just before his lesson with Harry is interesting. He obviously fears that Harry might glimpse something should Harry successfully penetrate his thoughts. Which memories he is hiding is unknown; they could be something incriminating or merely personal.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. What is Occlumency? What is Legilemency?
  2. Why does Snape order Harry to say that their sessions are for "remedial" Potions?
  3. Why do Snape and Sirius nearly curse one another? What stops them?
  4. Why doesn't Harry want to use Sirius' gift? Is he right, or being overly cautious?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why would Dumbledore want Harry to study Occlumency? Why doesn't Dumbledore instruct him rather than Snape?
  2. Why does Snape remove his memories and place them in the Pensieve just before Harry's lesson? What memories might they be?
  3. Why might Voldemort be feeling ecstatic?
  4. What might suddenly be making Kreacher happy, and why is he watching Harry so closely?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

As previously mentioned, Kreacher had, in fact, manipulated Sirius' earlier order as being given permission to leave the house, and he then visited Narcissa Malfoy, who was the only available member of the Black family that he still respected. It is quite likely that Kreacher's joy is due to Narcissa, or Lucius, promising that with Kreacher's assistance they would eliminate the "blood traitors and mudbloods" now occupying his mistress' house. How this would be done is uncertain, as the most recent attempt to retrieve the Prophecy failed — that attempt's result being Bode's spell-induced inability to speak. While the next attempt will depend on information Kreacher gives to Narcissa, it will not be formulated until after Rookwood has been freed from Azkaban, and explains to Voldemort why the first plan failed. Rookwood will escape from prison, but there will be some delay while he, presumably, learns of the current plan and builds up his courage to approach Voldemort with bad news.

The feud between Sirius and Snape started when they were students at Hogwarts; Sirius, James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, and Remus Lupin were in Gryffindor House then, and Snape was in Slytherin. Sirius, largely influenced by James, had been more than a bit of a bully, picking on Snape in particular, and Snape has clearly never forgiven him. Sirius' imprisonment must have been very sweet for Snape, and Dumbledore's accepting his innocence after his escape must have been galling, particularly after Snape's chances of receiving an Order of Merlin slipped away with Sirius' escape from Hogwarts in an earlier book.

Twice in this book, Harry will need to speak with Sirius, breaking into Professor Umbridge's office to do so. Later he learns that Sirius' Christmas gift is a magic mirror that can reach Sirius at any time. This mirror would have been extremely useful, but Harry believed that his using it would risk Sirius being captured, and so deliberately forgets it. One may ask why, in this case, the mirror is introduced to the story at all? It turns out that a fairly substantial plot point in the final book will hinge upon this mirror. This small detail indicates the planning and interconnectedness that characterizes this author's work in this series.

The interaction with Cho Chang in this chapter shows once more how unprepared Harry is for a romantic entanglement. He is here so wrapped up in his own troubles that he almost fails to note that Cho has something else on her mind. The Hogsmeade visit, as we might expect given this inauspicious beginning, will be a complete failure.

While it is unfortunate that Harry must spend even more time with Snape, one of his biggest enemies, in order to take Occlumency lessons, it does make sense. Occlumency allows one to close off one's mind to external penetration. Because Voldemort is skilled in the art of Legilimency, the art of reading people's thoughts and feelings, he is also very good at telling if someone is lying or not, as well as feeling out Harry's thoughts at times when he may be vulnerable, such as when he is asleep or nearly so. It makes sense that Snape would be the one to teach this skill of closing his mind to Harry, considering that in a later book we find out that Snape is an extremely skilled Occlumens, playing the double agent for Dumbledore quite successfully.

Much later in the book, when Snape is called away from an Occlumency lesson, Harry's curiosity compels him to peer at Snape's memories stored in the Pensieve. They reveal an event that completely changes Harry's perception regarding his father. James and Sirius were not merely wild, as mentioned earlier in this book, but, surprisingly, were rather nasty bullies.

As mentioned above, Rookwood escapes Azkaban at the end of this chapter, as do several other Death Eaters. This will appear in the Daily Prophet the next morning, and Harry and Ron will conclude that this is what has made Voldemort so happy. Bode's death will appear in the paper as well, and while Harry says nothing about it at the time, it is likely that this also will have caused some small rejoicing by Voldemort.

Chapter 25: The Beetle at Bay

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Voldemort's joy is explained the next morning when the Daily Prophet reports a mass breakout from Azkaban Prison. Ten Death Eaters, including Antonin Dolohov, Augustus Rookwood, and Bellatrix Lestrange have escaped. Hermione suspects that the Dementors defected to Voldemort's side and abetted the escapees. The Prophet, echoing Ministry rhetoric, suggests the Death Eaters have regrouped around Sirius Black. The Prophet also reports that a Ministry employee named Bode died while in St. Mungo's Hospital, apparently strangled by a dangerous potted plant. Ron remembers seeing Bode in the same ward as Lockhart and wonders how someone could mistakenly send a Devil's Snare plant. Hermione suspects he was murdered. Harry remembers meeting Bode at the Ministry just before his hearing. Ron says he worked in the Department of Mysteries. Looking at the front page again, Hermione says something cryptic about sending a letter, and dashes off.

As Harry and Ron head to class, they run into Hagrid, who sheepishly admits that he is on probation. Harry wonders just how much more bad news he can stand.

School gossip now centers around the Azkaban breakout. Many Wizarding families are nearly as fearful of Death Eaters as they are of Voldemort. Susan Bones, who has lost an uncle, an aunt, and several cousins to Death Eaters, receives nearly as much attention as Harry. She wonders aloud to Harry how he stands it. Meanwhile, Professor Umbridge posts a new Decree banning all Hogwarts teachers from having anything but class-related conversations with students. While teachers are unable to discuss the breakout with students, they are obviously talking about it among themselves, and where Umbridge is unable to hear.

Umbridge continues evaluating Professor Trelawney and Hagrid, leading students to speculate that she intends to sack them. Hagrid forbids Harry, Ron, and Hermione from visiting him after dark, fearing it will get them and him into trouble. With Umbridge taking away everything Harry cares about at Hogwarts, only Dumbledore's Army is left. Harry redoubles his teaching efforts, and is mildly surprised that the group has been spurred on by the breakout. Even Zacharias Smith is working harder. Most affected, though, is Neville. Rather than becoming fearful, the news that his parents' torturers have escaped compels him to work even harder; only Hermione masters the Shield Charm faster. Unfortunately, Harry's Occlumency lessons are not proceeding nearly as well. He is still unable to block Snape's probes. His scar is prickling almost continually, and he has small flashes of Voldemort's emotions. He dates this increased sensitivity to when Snape's lessons started, leaving Ron wondering if Snape is making it easier for Voldemort by deliberately hindering Harry. Hermione reminds him that Dumbledore trusts Snape, and if Dumbledore is untrustworthy, who can they trust?

Valentine's Day weekend arrives. Hermione receives an owl message, then tells Harry to meet her at the Three Broomsticks at noon, then rushes off. In Hogsmeade, Cho suggests that she and Harry go to Madam Puddifoot's Tearoom. The tearoom is filled with snogging couples, embarrassing Harry. He mentions he has to meet Hermione at the Three Broomsticks, but Cho, misunderstanding, departs in tears, despite Harry's humorous attempts to explain the situation.

Harry arrives early at the Three Broomsticks and finds Hagrid sitting at the bar, unusually morose. Brushing off inquiries about his injuries, he leaves. Hermione is sitting with Luna Lovegood and Rita Skeeter, the disreputable tabloid journalist who wrote sensationalistic and false articles about Harry and other students during the Triwizard Tournament. Hermione wants Rita to write an honest interview about Harry, not a slanted one that makes him appear mad. Luna's father will publish the interview in his paper, The Quibbler.

Analysis[edit]

Harry continues to be baffled about girls and is taken aback when Cho Chang becomes upset and insulted over his plans to meet Hermione while on a date with her. His attempt to humorously explain that Hermione is only a platonic friend, and that Rita Skeeter's articles about their "romance" (in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) were false, backfires and only makes matters worse. Harry, inexperienced in romance and female psychology, is simply unequipped to handle Cho's fragile emotional state, and her lingering grief over Cedric's recent death further strains their budding romance.

Umbridge's decree banning teachers and students from conversing with one another except on academic matters is a desperate (and ridiculous) act showing how quickly she is losing her authority and credibility with staff and students, not that she had much to begin with. The more she attempts to exert her power on the school, the more everyone becomes united against her, effectively diminishing her power.

Neville Longbottom, meanwhile, has finally broken free from the fog that has clouded his mind since early childhood. Under Harry's influence and Neville's determination to avenge his parents, his magical power, which many thought he lacked, is quickly emerging, although he still struggles to control it.

Rita Skeeter, who has fallen on hard times, has little choice but to comply with Hermione's demands that she write a truthful story about Harry and Voldemort. Readers will recall in the previous book that Hermione discovered that Rita was an unregistered Animagus. Her beetle form allowed her to eavesdrop on unsuspecting subjects. Any Animagi who fail to register with the Ministry of Magic are committing a serious crime. Hermione controls Rita by threatening to expose her; that is how she prevented Rita from writing further damaging stories about Harry. Hermione's actions may seem out-of-character here, but she never hesitates to break rules or use somewhat unethical means if it serves an altruistic purpose, in this case, providing the public with the truth and rehabilitating Harry's reputation.

The Daily Prophet has published the Ministry story about the Death Eaters escaping from Azkaban, but have been unable to provide a plausible explanation as to why the Dementors failed to prevent this break-out. It is likely this large and unfilled hole in the Ministry's story is what inspired Hermione to contact Rita. And though Hermione detests Rita and her methods, she realizes Rita is a capable journalist, and, needing a professionally written story, uses her.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Hermione blackmail Rita Skeeter? What does Hermione threaten to do if Rita fails to comply?
  2. Why does Cho become upset with Harry on their date in Hogsmeade? Is she overreacting or did Harry behave inappropriately?
  3. Why might Umbridge be focusing so much attention on Hagrid and Trelawney during her teacher evaluations?
  4. How is it believed the Death Eaters escaped from Azkaban?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why is this chapter titled "The Beetle at Bay"?
  2. Could Hagrid have avoided being placed on probation by following Hermione's advice? Explain why or why not.
  3. What might have caused Neville Longbottom's inability to use magic properly? How has Harry's teaching changed him?
  4. Why does Umbridge's new Decree restrict discussions between teachers and students?
  5. Why would Animagi be required to be registered with the Ministry of Magic? What happens if they don't?
  6. Why have there been so few Animagi?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Lucius Malfoy placed Bode under the Imperius curse, forcing him to try and retrieve the Prophecy for Voldemort. The end result was Bode's insanity, and it would have become necessary to eliminate Bode if it appeared he was regaining his speech, as he would probably have answered honestly when interrogated about why he had done it. While we never know if Bode's death was murder, it seems extremely likely.

Umbridge will find or generate enough "malfeasance" to fire both Trelawney and Hagrid, but in neither case will she achieve quite the result she intended. Trelawney, though fired, will remain resident in Hogwarts at Dumbledore's request, and will be replaced by a teacher competent enough to avoid examination, but personally hateful to Umbridge. Hagrid's firing will require multiple Aurors, injure McGonagall, and badly disrupt the Astronomy O.W.L. exam Harry is taking.

The rift between Harry and Cho in Madam Puddifoot's will be closed after Harry's interview is published in a few days, but this will be their final date. While both Harry and Cho continue to meet during Dumbledore's Army sessions, the published interview will result in Umbridge canceling all further Hogsmeade weekends. Before that is rescinded, however, Harry and Cho will have ended their romance.

Hagrid's musing about "family", and about his and Harry's similarities, is largely triggered by his struggles to civilize his Giant half-brother, Grawp, coupled with awareness that he may shortly be fired and forced to leave Hogwarts. Hagrid will later secure Harry and Hermione's promise to continue this process, "just visitin' now and again", should Hagrid be fired.

Harry's interview will appear in The Quibbler very quickly. As a result, Harry suddenly starts receiving huge amounts of mail, much of which notes the "holes in the official Ministry story". Hermione has not been alone in noticing that pieces of their story failed to add up.

Chapter 26: Seen and Unforeseen

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.

Chapter 27: The Centaur and the Sneak

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Firenze begins teaching Divination, but because he, being unable to climb stairs, is unable to access Trelawney's Tower, the class meets in a ground floor classroom that has been enchanted to appear as the evening forest. Firenze greets Harry, saying that it was foretold they would meet again. Harry notes a hoof-shaped bruise on Firenze's chest. Firenze explains that he would have preferred to teach students in the Forbidden Forest, but he has been banished by his herd for being too sympathetic to humans. Harry wonders if the bruise on Firenze's chest would match Bane's hoof.

Firenze says Divination is often inexact, even for Centaurs. They watch the sky for tides or changes so slow and subtle that it may take ten years to determine what they have seen. He dismisses Trelawney's teachings with an abruptness that disturbs Lavender and Parvati. As the class ends, he is unconcerned that none of the students have seen anything that he had told them about.

At the end of class, Firenze takes Harry aside and asks him to tell Hagrid that what Hagrid is doing will not work. Although Harry does not understand, he promises to tell Hagrid. However, with Umbridge now attending all of Hagrid's classes, it is April before Harry can pass on Firenze's message. Hagrid replies that the attempt is working fine, and Firenze does not know what he is talking about.

Harry has begun teaching Dumbledore's Army the Patronus charm, and, overall, the class is doing well. Neville, in particular, has been a revelation to Harry, working hard to master every spell, and improving with each lesson. During the last session before Easter break, Dobby runs in to warn them that Umbridge is on her way. Harry yells for everyone to run. Most escape, but Draco Malfoy catches Harry and turns him over to Umbridge. Harry is forcibly dragged to Dumbledore's office where he finds Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Cornelius Fudge, Percy Weasley, and two Ministry Aurors, including Kingsley Shacklebolt, an Order of the Phoenix member. On Dumbledore's silent instruction, Harry denies knowing why he is there; Umbridge fetches their informant (Cho's friend Marietta). Although Marietta tries to hide her face, giant purple pimples spelling out "SNEAK" can be seen across it, the result of Hermione's jinx to reveal snitches. When Umbridge orders her to tell what she knows, she says nothing, apparently fearing more blisters may break out on her face.

Umbridge accuses Harry of holding an illegal meeting at the Hog's Head in Hogsmeade in October, saying this information came from Willy Widdershins. Professor McGonagall comments that she now understands why Willy was never charged for all those regurgitating toilets. Dumbledore points out that the meeting happened two days before the Decree and therefore was legal. Obviously, meetings since then have been banned, and Dumbledore asks if there is any proof that such meetings had occurred. Harry feels something whoosh past him, and Marietta suddenly has a blank expression and is unable to speak. She silently nods her head in agreement to Dumbledore's assertion that there never was a Defence group. Frustrated, Umbridge produces the "Dumbledore's Army" parchment as proof that the Headmaster was involved. Dumbledore pleasantly admits that he was indeed building a secret wizard army, and says that this was to have been their first meeting. Fudge dispatches Percy to send the meeting notes to the Daily Prophet.

Dumbledore assures Fudge they will be unable to arrest him, and as Fudge orders the Aurors to take Dumbledore into custody, a white light suddenly streaks across the room, knocking out Umbridge, Fudge, Dawlish, and Shacklebolt and leaving the office in shambles. Dumbledore quickly confirms that Marietta, McGonagall, and Harry are all right, and tells McGonagall to thank Shacklebolt for modifying Marietta's memory. He tells Harry that it is important that he continue studying Occlumency with Snape, and taking hold of his Phoenix, Fawkes, disappears in a second flash of flame. Regaining consciousness, the two Aurors and Umbridge run for the Entrance Hall to try and catch Dumbledore.

Analysis[edit]

Firenze, it is noted here, has a very different style of teaching Divination than does Trelawney. While Trelawney seems to be trying to teach that the future can be seen to the finest detail, in Firenze's class, there is considerably less certainty. While it is hard to be certain exactly what Trelawney actually believes, one gathers the impression that she is trying to create the impression that the Seer has some special insight into a fixed, immutable future, so what she is teaching is similar in concept to seeing through a fog bank to view a solid rock mountain. Firenze, on the other hand, is more aware of the mutability of the future, and instead seems to teach method, in a way analogous to the idea that beyond the fog there is yet more fog, but that it is possible to determine shapes in the fog and thus infer possible outcomes. We can see quite easily that Firenze's techniques are similar to those of Native shamans and medicine men, while Trelawney's are the techniques of Muggle fortune-tellers. Contrasting them, one can see that Firenze probably believes in what he teaches, but that Trelawney must be aware that she is teaching fakery.

It is noted that this final meeting of Dumbledore's Army is the first one that Seamus Finnigan attends. This actually is more important than it seems; Harry has consistently had trouble pairing students in DA meetings for practice in dueling, and it would be noticeable if the group was suddenly evenly matched. As Marietta is, at this point, off spilling the beans to Umbridge, it is necessary that one new student arrive to prevent Harry from wondering about why they suddenly came out even.

Harry guesses that Marietta's memory has been altered even before Dumbledore says anything. Kingsley's secretly cast memory charm is apparently what Harry feels brushing past him. Additionally, Harry notices the glassy look in Marietta's eyes; he has seen that before, it is the immediate after-effect of a memory charm.

Although Harry believes Dumbledore has nearly abandoned him, Dumbledore shows here how far he will go to protect Harry from Umbridge and the Ministry by taking full responsibility for Dumbledore's Army. He easily overpowers Umbridge and the others and also knocks out Kingsley Shacklebolt, an Order member, to avoid casting suspicion on him. Before disappearing, Dumbledore stresses to Harry how important it is for him to continue studying Occlumency, although Harry is still unable to understand why.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why was Firenze banished from his herd?
  2. What does McGonagall mean when she says she understands why Willy Widdershins was never charged?
  3. What happened to Marietta Edgecombe's memory in Dumbledore's office? Who was responsible and why?
  4. Why does Dumbledore tell Fudge he was responsible for the D.A.? What happens in his office immediately after?

Further Study[edit]

  1. What could Hagrid be doing that Firenze says is not working? Could this have anything to do with Hagrid's battered appearance? Explain.
  2. Why did Marietta Edgecombe betray Dumbledore's Army? Was she truly at fault? Explain.
  3. Considering that it is impossible for anyone to Disapparate in or out of Hogwarts, how was Dumbledore able to escape? Why didn't the Ministry anticipate this?
  4. What does Dumbledore tell Harry just before his spectacular departure? Why does he feel it is so important?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

We will find out shortly what Hagrid is attempting to do in the Forbidden Forest: he has brought his half-brother Grawp back with him from his encounter with the Giants, and is trying to civilize him. In later books, it will be discovered that this has, in fact, worked to some extent; in this case, Hagrid was right, and through sheer persistence has managed to accomplish something that the Centaurs, with their supposedly superior intelligence, had decided was doomed to failure.

Harry's teaching the Patronus charm will prove useful in the final book of the series, when Harry must make his way to the Whomping Willow. His way will be blocked by Dementors, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione will be unable to create Patronuses. The Dementors will be repelled by three DA members, Luna, Seamus Finnigan, and Ernie Macmillan.

It is mentioned in this chapter that the parchment containing the list of Dumbledore's Army members was retrieved by Pansy Parkinson. This also is more important a connection than it would initially seem. Draco Malfoy, in the next book, will be given a task by Voldemort, who will tell him how to get into the Room of Requirement, that being a nominally secret place where Draco can carry out his instructions. Voldemort, having discovered only that one particular form of the Room, will believe that the Room is simply a "junk warehouse" and has no other purpose. Harry will find this aspect of the Room himself when he is looking to hide something later in that book. Draco, having been coached by Voldemort, will only find the room's "junk warehouse" state, thus having a limited idea of what it can do. If it had been Draco who went into the Room of Requirement to retrieve the list, he probably would have realized the Room's full function, and been likely to discover it was the revived Dumbledore's Army hiding place in the final book. As he would have only known how to open its junk warehouse state, and as the room will not open for someone who is asking for an aspect other than the one that is already in use (as we find out in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), Draco, if he had guessed where the new DA was hiding, could not have opened it, and likely would have guessed that it had simply been sealed after the events at the end of the sixth book.

Chapter 28: Snape's Worst Memory

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Educational Decree Number Twenty-Eight makes Umbridge Headmistress, although she is unable to enter Dumbledore's office; it has magically sealed itself off from any but the true Headmaster. For now, she must continue using her old office. Umbridge appoints an Inquisitorial Squad composed of Slytherin students, including Draco, empowered to enforce rules and deduct House points. Montague, an Inquisitorial Squad member, attempts to dock House points from Fred and George Weasley, but they force him into an old, broken Vanishing Cabinet. Hermione is aghast, but Fred says that with Dumbledore gone, they no longer care about getting in trouble. They advise Harry, Ron, and Hermione to go into lunch to avoid accusations of being involved with Phase One.

Filch takes Harry aside, saying that the "Headmistress" wants to see him. Filch exults over how things will change with Umbridge in charge, and that a new Decree will restore corporal punishment; Umbridge has obviously recruited Filch to her side. Umbridge herself is uncharacteristically sweet, offering Harry something to drink, insisting he choose something. Harry notes that she hides the tea preparation, then recalls the Mad-Eye Moody impostor the previous year, and his refusal to drink anything offered to him. Harry carefully pretends to drink the tea. When Umbridge asks where Dumbledore is, Harry says he does not know. Umbridge then asks where Sirius Black is, and Harry responds that he does not know that either. Umbridge says that she knows Sirius was talking to Harry, and she would have Harry arrested if she had any proof. She also says that all Hogwarts fireplaces are being monitored except hers.

A loud explosion interrupts. Outside, Harry sees an enormous conflagration of exploding fireworks. Harry ducks behind a tapestry and finds Fred and George, who admit they are the culprits. The fireworks cause so much mayhem that school operations are continually disrupted. The faculty purposely do nothing to help Umbridge regain control, forcing her to personally attend to each incident. At day's end, Harry sees a disheveled Professor Umbridge leaving Professor Flitwick's classroom. Flitwick tells her, "I could have got rid of the sparklers myself, of course, but I wasn't sure whether I had the authority..." and shuts the door in Umbridge's face.

Harry has another dream that he is again in the Department of Mysteries. This time he goes through a door and into a room. Inside are rows of shelves containing small, glass spheres, but before reaching one, he is awakened by an exploding firework.

The next day, Harry runs into Cho Chang in the hall as he heads for his Occlumency lesson. Cho regrets that it was her friend Marietta who exposed Dumbledore's Army, although she defends what Marietta did, saying Marietta's mother works for the Ministry of Magic. Harry angrily responds that Ron's father does also. Cho is upset that Hermione secretly jinxed the parchment, believing it a dirty trick. Harry retorts that the jinx was brilliant and any reason for betraying the D.A. is inexcusable. As tears well up in Cho's eyes, Harry sternly warns her not to start crying again. Deeply offended, Cho storms off.

Harry's Occlumency session is interrupted when Malfoy arrives with a message that Umbridge needs to see Snape – Montague has reappeared, jammed inside a toilet. Snape departs, but before Harry leaves, he notices a shimmering light reminiscent of his dream about the Ministry coming from the Pensieve. What memories has Snape been hiding? Is it something to do with his dreams about the Ministry? Looking inside, Harry sees a young James Potter and Sirius Black at Hogwarts. They are cruelly tormenting their classmate, Severus Snape, by suspending him upside down in mid-air, exposing his dingy underwear. Lily Evans intervenes and berates James and Sirius for their deplorable behavior. James offers a deal—if she goes out with him, he will never hurt Snape again—to which she angrily declines. The humiliated Snape resents Lily's help and insultingly calls her a "Mudblood". Harry is appalled by his father's bullying, but before he can consider it further, the present-day Snape yanks him from the Pensieve. Furious, Snape demands that he never reveal what he has seen to anyone, and orders him to leave.

Analysis[edit]

Due to the Twin's magical pranks, school operations disintegrate into chaos; Umbridge is overwhelmed by the non-stop interruptions that she must personally attend to and is unlikely to regain control if they continue. The faculty, disliking her and resentful over Dumbledore's unwarranted dismissal, passively do nothing to assist her.

Harry and Cho Chang's relationship abruptly ends over the incident involving Marietta, although their disparate personalities, shaky circumstances, and differing expectations had derailed them almost from the beginning. Harry, inexperienced in romance, is unable to cope with Cho's extreme emotional needs and only wants an uncomplicated relationship, although his reaction to her was unnecessarily harsh and reflects his bouts of immature behavior. A still-grieving Cho was seeking comfort and support while attempting to fill the void caused by Cedric Diggory's tragic death (in Goblet of Fire). She may also have been attracted to Harry's celebrity, rather than to him. Regardless, neither could fulfill the other's needs or expectations.

Harry is deeply disturbed after viewing Snape's memory in the Pensieve. Although he admires and loves his father, he is appalled that someone could treat another person that way. He feels empathetic and understanding towards Snape due to his own experience as a victim to Dudley's gang. Seeing James and Sirius behaving as bullying tyrants who cruelly torment and demean Snape purely for their own amusement has severely shaken his belief that his father was a good person.

It should be noted, perhaps, that the sympathy Harry feels for Snape as a result of this episode does not decrease either the hatred or the mistrust Harry feels for him. It is possible that the conflict in Harry's feelings caused by his seeing Snape as a victim of his father's cruelty may resolve itself at some later point in the series, but until that resolution happens, we expect that Harry and Snape will remain rigid in their hatred of each other.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Harry become angry with Cho Chang? Was he justified and what is the result?
  2. Why and how do Fred and George revolt against Umbridge?
  3. Why do the other Hogwarts teachers do nothing to help Umbridge regain control of the school?
  4. Why would Snape insult Lily when she was attempting to help him?

Further Study[edit]

  1. If Umbridge wanted to catch Harry talking to Sirius, why does she warn him that all fireplaces except for hers are being monitored?
  2. Why would Snape hold a grudge against Harry for something James Potter and Sirius Black did to him before Harry was born?
  3. Why does Harry react so strongly to what he sees in Snape's Pensieve?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Snape's behavior towards Lily, in the Pensieve memory, probably seems like how he typically treated most classmates outside his own Slytherin House. However, Snape's memories in the final book reveal that he and Lily were once close friends, making his reaction to her assistance initially seem puzzling. Lily, disenchanted by his associations with future Death Eaters and his pro-pureblood beliefs, had gradually distanced herself from him, resulting in his angry outburst towards her.

Harry being forced to re-evaluate his own father actually foreshadows events in the final book. Here, we see that Harry had idolized his father, assuming from all he had been told, and his own personal beliefs, that James had been all good, with at most an admixture of mischief. In Snape's memories, he learns that his father was a bully, unfairly tormenting Snape in particular. Harry feels betrayed, as his father was not who Harry believed him to be. To resolve this disparity, Harry is compelled to speak with Sirius, so he can discover more about James' school days, and will break into Umbridge's office to do so. In the final book, Harry will learn some similarly unpleasant facts about the young Dumbledore, who he also has placed on a pedestal. Unfortunately, there will be no one he can consult with to find the truth; it will only be when he meets Dumbledore's brother Aberforth, that he learns more about Dumbledore's life.

Montague's mishap actually ends up being a fairly major plot point in the next book. The Vanishing Cabinet into which he was pushed, which is the same one which Peeves knocked over in Harry's second year, is twin to one at Borgin & Burkes which Harry had actually hidden inside earlier that same year. Because the Vanishing Cabinet is broken, Montague is trapped, though he does recognize that he is sometimes in Borgin & Burkes, sometimes in Hogwarts. Draco gathers this information from him in the Hospital Wing. Later in the series, Draco will enlist Borgin's help in repairing the cabinet, and use it to bring Death Eaters into Hogwarts to assist him with a task assigned to him by Voldemort, namely the killing of Dumbledore.

Chapter 29: Careers Advice

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

As Spring Break begins, Hermione wonders why Harry's Occlumency lessons have abruptly ended; Harry claims Snape said he was good enough. Seeing that Harry is upset, Hermione asks if he and Cho had a row, and Harry admits they fought about Marietta. Ginny suggests he talk to Cho, but Harry really wants to speak with Sirius, though he knows that is impossible. Ginny feels differently, however.

Meanwhile, a notice has been posted announcing career counseling for all Fifth Years. While Harry, Ron, and Hermione browse career choices, Fred and George approach, saying they have a diversion planned for 5:00 p.m. Monday so Harry can use Umbridge's fireplace to contact Sirius. Harry ignores Hermione's warning, determined to contact Sirius.

On Monday, Harry arrives for his Careers Advice meeting with Professor McGonagall, only to find Umbridge is there to observe. Harry wants to be an Auror, a Dark Wizard catcher, and McGonagall begins outlining what courses he needs. Umbridge interrupts, saying Harry should consider another occupation because his Defence Against the Dark Arts grades are too low and he has a criminal record. Furious, McGonagall retorts that the Ministry fully exonerated Harry, and he has always received high marks from competent Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers. She vows to do everything in her power to help him become an Auror. Umbridge is livid and claims McGonagall is supporting Dumbledore's efforts to depose Fudge, and make herself Deputy Minister and Hogwarts' Headmistress. McGonagall responds that Umbridge is raving and dismisses Harry, who leaves as their heated argument escalates.

Later, Hermione pleads with Harry to forego breaking into Umbridge's office, but Harry, hearing the Twin's diversion upstairs, dons his Invisibility Cloak and enters Umbridge's office and contacts Grimmauld Place. Lupin greets him, then fetches Sirius. Harry asks about his his father. Sirius admits that he and James were once reckless bullies, though Snape was not such an innocent victim. They outgrew their bullying ways and Sirius stresses that James matured into a kind, compassionate man. Harry, hardly soothed, knows he would never behave like his father at that age. When Harry mentions his Occlumency lessons have ended, Lupin strongly urges him to resume.

Exiting Umbridge's office, Harry discovers that Fred and George have been caught. Umbridge threatens severe punishment, but the Twins, proclaiming they have had enough, Summon their confiscated brooms that crash through Umbridge's door. Hopping on, they tell students to visit their new joke shop in Diagon Alley, then give Peeves the Poltergeist a final salute, telling him, "Give her hell from us, Peeves," before zooming off, departing Hogwarts for good.

Analysis[edit]

Umbridge is well aware that Harry was exonerated by the Ministry of all (trumped up) charges for using underage magic, and she had obviously graded him low in her class as a means to further tarnish his reputation. She also seems to deliberately provoke McGonagall in a head-on confrontation. With Dumbledore ousted, Umbridge may be trying to eliminate his most loyal Hogwarts staff, including McGonagall, likely the most formidable threat to her unrelenting drive to control the school.

Harry's self-doubts caused him to hesitate to list Auror as a career choice, fearing he would never be accepted into such an elite group. He is heartened when McGonagall strongly supports this, though her enthusiasm is somewhat reactive against Umbridge's obvious attempts to derail Harry's career goals. Harry is still somewhat unsure what his place is in the Wizarding world, and uncertain what his future will be; McGonagall's promise to do everything she can to help him achieve his goal reassures him that he not only has a place, but a future, in that world.

Although Snape's extreme reaction to Harry witnessing his worst memory was unreasonable, Harry now understands why Snape hates Sirius and his father, and, by extension, him. It also alters Harry's opinion about James, the father he has loved and admired unconditionally, but never knew. However, the father Harry idolizes is a somewhat idealized figure that he has based on other peoples' favorable recollections, and not the bullying boy he views in the Pensieve, though neither version is completely accurate. Despite Sirius' explanation that he and James were uncaring, arrogant youths who acted idiotically, and his assertion that James matured into a kind, compassionate adult, Harry has difficulty reconciling his father's abysmal behavior when he compares it to his own benevolent nature at the same age. But Harry fails to realize that youth are not born to behave in any particular manner, and that each person's unique experiences and influences results in different actions and attitudes that eventually shapes them into the adults they become. James was a pampered, only child in a wealthy household, probably with few cares, responsibilities, or consideration for others. In some ways, he shares traits with Draco Malfoy, though it is to James' credit that the cruel bully Harry witnessed had matured into the good man he became. Nor does it seem fair that Harry should now judge his father based solely on one segment of his life rather than what he knows about its entirety.

Harry's own innate compassion stems more from his own mistreatment and hardships, something he would never want inflicted on others, and it is an experience James never suffered in his own youth. Harry also neglects to consider that he is also descended from his mother. Harry loves Lily as much as James, but it seems he may have overlooked and under appreciated her accomplishments, abilities, and influences on his life and instead focuses more on his father. Harry also fails to realize that James' transformation likely was partially due to Lily's influence.

Although the Twins are caught, Umbridge's pleasure in their capture and planned punishment is thwarted when they hop onto their brooms and, exiting Hogwarts, proclaim they have had enough. Despite their spotty academic achievement and meager O.W.L.s, the Twins are powerful and talented wizards, and their claims that there is little left for them to learn at school is certainly accurate. Mrs. Weasley almost certainly will be distraught when she hears what happened, believing that without graduating, their futures are grim. But Fred and George are well on their way to starting their own successful business, thanks to Harry's financial backing.

Fred and George Weasley are the only students to successfully give Peeves an order in the known history of the school. This might be because the order they give is so closely in line with Peeves' natural inclination.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why did Snape end Harry's Occlumency lessons? What are the possible consequences for Harry?
  2. What might be the real reason Umbridge advises Harry to pursue another occupation? What does McGonagall have to say?
  3. Is there any validity to Umbridge's accusation that McGonagall wants to take over as Headmistress, and what might be behind it? What is McGonagall's response?
  4. Why does Harry want to talk to Sirius about his father? What does Sirius tell him?
  5. Why is Harry still conflicted about his father after talking to Sirius? Is Harry's opinion of the youthful James Potter's behavior unfair? If so, why?
  6. Why are Fred and George willing to create a distraction so Harry can use the fireplace in Umbridge's office? Is it just to help Harry? Were they concerned if they were caught?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Harry is having doubts about his idolized, 'perfect' father. Was James ever this way? Will Harry ever feel this way about his father again? How will he feel?
  2. What does Harry think after talking to Sirius about James? Does Sirius change Harry's opinion?
  3. Who showed more "moral fibre"? Lily or James?
  4. In the memory Harry witnessed, Lily Evans defended Snape. Why, then, did Snape call her a "mudblood"? Should he not have been grateful?
  5. Some readers have suggested that, having discovered the reasons behind Snape's dislike, Harry should apologize for having viewed his memories. Others believe that Harry's knowledge of this event changes nothing, Harry's and Snape's mutual dislike would prevent this happening or even being useful if it did. What is your opinion?
  6. Should Harry begin to forgive Snape for his hatred, even if Snape does not? Will he?
  7. Is Snape right in hating Harry so much when it was James, Harry's father, who tormented him?
  8. Can Snape and Harry ever reconcile? Snape and Sirius? Why or why not?
  9. Has Harry tended to overlook his mother's accomplishments and influence on him? If so, how and why?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

This chapter may foreshadow Harry and Ginny's relationship in the next book. Though Harry feels hurt and somewhat betrayed that his father was not the man that everyone claimed he was, and dreads that Snape may be right about him, it is Ginny who cheers Harry up by suggesting that talking to Sirius about it is not as impossible as it seems. In addition, after talking with Ginny, Harry comments to himself that he felt good, but does not know whether it is because he had "spoken aloud the wish that had been burning inside him for a week", to speak to Sirius, or if it is the chocolate. The reader may suspect that Ginny's presence, and that she seems to believe that talking to Sirius is possible, may also be part of Harry's happiness.

Harry's idealized mental image of his father is mainly based on others' recollections about James Potter, as well as his own feelings. In the previous chapter, Harry witnessed an event in James' early life that directly contradicts Harry's understanding. Sirius explains that Harry witnessed James' behavior when he was only fifteen, to which Harry exclaims, "I'm fifteen!" Harry has yet to grasp what Dumbledore told him in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." James ultimately chose the path leading to his fully admirable maturity.

Harry is not only James Potter's son, but also Lily Potter's. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in Snape's memories, we hear Snape commenting, "He is his father all over again —", to which Dumbledore replies, "In looks, perhaps, but his deepest nature is much more like his mother's." Harry has mainly focused on his father's legacy, largely ignoring his mother's contributions, possibly because everyone frequently comments on how extraordinarily like his father he looks. Also, boys typically identify more closely with their fathers. Snape certainly has trouble getting past Harry and James' similar physical appearance, however unfair that is to Harry. This resemblance to James may explain Sirius' behavior somewhat, as he also identifies Harry with James, treating him like his lost friend, much as Snape considers Harry as his dead enemy. It is apparent that Harry fails to recognize that his gentle nature and consideration for others at age 15 reflects Lily, rather than James.

It is interesting to note that Harry's expectation that James at 15 would behave the same way Harry does at 15 will be repeated. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry will discover that at 17, the same age Harry is then, Dumbledore, with Grindelwald, had been planning what amounts to conquering the Muggle world, "for the greater good." At that point, Harry will discover that yet another hero had been, in his youth, someone radically different from what they later became. Even at 17, and with his father's example before him, Harry will not yet fully accept Dumbledore's maxim that choices matter more than abilities. It is perhaps noteworthy that this maxim comes from Dumbledore's personal experience.

Chapter 30: Grawp

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Fred and George's departure quickly grows into Hogwarts' legend over the next few days. Adding to it are the two broom-shaped holes in Umbridge's office door. The Twins also left a large swamp in the fifth-floor corridor, which the teachers seem unable to remove. Harry suspects the teachers' inability is feigned, a passive rebellion against Umbridge's authoritarian ways. A grumbling Filch must now ferry students across the swamp in between classes.

Picking up where the Twins left off, students constantly bombard the corridors with dungbombs and stink pellets, and someone puts a Niffler into Umbridge's office, destroying it. Umbridge, Filch, and the new Inquisitorial Squad are run ragged responding to the disturbances. Fred and George had also apparently sold many Skiving Snackboxes, for whenever Umbridge enters a class, students suddenly experience vomiting, bloody noses, and fainting spells. And Peeves is everywhere, wreaking havoc. The staff, except Filch, seem unwilling to help Umbridge, and Harry notices that Professor McGonagall not only walks past Peeves while he is unscrewing a crystal chandelier, but also mutters, "it unscrews the other way."

Ron worries that his mother will blame him for the Twins' departure. When he and Hermione wonder how they can afford to open their own joke shop in Diagon Alley, Harry finally reveals that he donated his Triwizard winnings. Hermione asks when Harry will restart his Occlumency lessons with Snape, as Sirius wanted, but Harry prefers to avoid explaining why that will never happen.

As the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw barely starts, Harry and Hermione are approached by Hagrid, who has something to show them in the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid leads the way, carrying a large crossbow. The Centaurs are still angry about Firenze working for Dumbledore, and they were attacking Firenze when Hagrid intervened. Umbridge believes Hagrid put the Niffler in her office, and he expects to be sacked soon. He needs the Trio's help with something and leads them to where a Giant named Grawp is sleeping. It is Hagrid's half-brother. Hagrid brought Grawp back from the mountains with him after his failed mission with Madam Maxime to recruit the Giants against Voldemort. The other Giants mistreated Grawp for being "small" – only sixteen feet tall. Hagrid has been attempting to civilize Grawp and teach him English, though the Giant can only pull trees up by their roots. Hagrid admits that Grawp is still half-wild and has had difficulty controlling him, which explains his battered appearance when he returned to Hogwarts and why Grawp is tied up. Hagrid claims Grawp is much tamer now, and he asks if Harry, Ron, and Hermione will visit and help teach him English. Grawp wakes up, and Hagrid introduces Harry and "Hermy", though it is hard to tell how much Grawp comprehends. Harry now understands Firenze's warning to Hagrid that, "the attempt is not working."

Centaurs appear and threaten Hagrid, angry that he brought a Giant into their forest. They are also still furious that Firenze has betrayed them by entering into "human servitude." Hagrid is not intimidated, and the Centaurs agree to let him pass only because he is accompanied by innocent "foals" (Harry and Hermione). When Harry and Hermione return to the Quidditch game, they hear a new version of "Weasley is Our King", only it is not the Slytherins singing it. Gryffindor has won the match and the Quidditch Cup, apparently thanks to Ron’s suddenly superb Keeping.

Analysis[edit]

It is interesting to note that Fred and George's absence apparently causes the tremendous increase in mischief. Rowling's explanation that many students were vying for the chief troublemaker post seems rather weak. However, it is possibly an accurate description of the actual events. It is unlikely that students are competing for this particular position, but it is probably true that those students pulling pranks had been held in check by Fred and George. If one is in a school with master practical jokers like Fred and George, one tends to forgo pulling his own pranks to simply avoid being labeled a poor imitation of the master(s). With Fred and George gone, that restraint has also vanished. Hatred for Umbridge and her repression, plus her obvious ineffectiveness in dealing with the fireworks and the swamp, will tend to inspire the less-able pranksters to break out the dungbombs, while the teachers' unwillingness to assist Umbridge in her futile attempts to maintain order will only make the problems worse.

Peeves' increased activity is mentioned, and possibly worth discussion as well. This is the first time that Peeves has been noted as being more active, despite Professor Dumbledore's earlier absences. We are led to believe that Peeves can be controlled only by Dumbledore and the Bloody Baron, though Rowling, in an interview, has suggested that Dumbledore does not actually control Peeves. From his actions in this chapter, we may begin to suspect that Peeves' activities could be seen as an indicator of the overall level of satisfaction in the school: he is less active when the population is happy.

There is suddenly an explanation for some particular things we have wondered about, as well as others that have happened but never caused significant concern. With Grawp's existence revealed, we suddenly understand why Hagrid returned late from his mission, know what caused his constant injuries, see why he spends more time than usual in the Forbidden Forest, and understand his sudden deep concerns about family. Other commentators have mentioned that one of Rowling's great strengths is in handling the set-up and the pay-off, leading you up to the fact, then revealing it at a particularly satisfying time. This is a classic example: we knew about Hagrid's expedition to the Giants, and have seen the aftermath, and now suddenly the explanation for that aftermath is revealed. This is only one example, and other set-ups span several books, where we see a build-up to an event followed later by the wholly satisfactory revelation.

Of all the characters in the Harry Potter series, probably none are as lonely and isolated as Hagrid. Not even Harry's unhappy family life, Sirius Black's difficult childhood, or Remus Lupin's social ostracism compares to Hagrid's utter alienation. Many wizards either fear him, or, like Umbridge, consider him sub-human; many others will be indifferent to him. Even though most Hogwarts students and staff like him and accept him as an equal, he has never shared a close relationship with anyone there other than Harry, who knows what it is like to lack a family. Harry has been his closest friend and acts as a surrogate relative. Now Hagrid has an opportunity to have a real family by having brought back his half-brother, although it remains doubtful whether Grawp can ever be completely civilized. However, Hagrid faces losing this opportunity if Umbridge succeeds in dismissing him, forcing Hagrid to turn to the Trio for help, although it is uncertain if there is much they can actually do.

We see here also that Ron is able to perform quite well when he is confident; it seems that once he found his stride, he defended the goal posts quite well. We do not yet know what has happened; presumably we will find out in the next chapter, but here we see that Ron is carrying the Quidditch Cup and being carried on Gryffindors' shoulders, so we can safely bet that his performance saved the game for Gryffindor.

It should also be noted that Umbridge's failure to remove a swamp that Harry was sure the other teachers could remove is almost certainly intended to indicate a lack of magical ability on Umbridge's part, particularly since we have seen a similar weakness earlier with her inability to deal with the fireworks in an earlier chapter.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. What does Hagrid want to show Harry and Hermione? Why does he show it to them now?
  2. What does Hagrid ask the Trio to do? Is this putting them in danger?
  3. Why do the Centaurs threaten Hagrid? Why do they let him pass?
  4. Why has the demeaning Slytherin song changed its meaning, and who is singing it now?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why did Hagrid bring Grawp back with him? What does he hope to accomplish, and is it possible?
  2. Why do the Centaurs consider what Firenze did a betrayal? Is it?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

In this chapter we observe the Centaurs' current temper. Already aloof, they have been angered by Firenze's defection, and by Hagrid's interfering in his punishment for that defection. Hermione will later use this against Umbridge; trapped, she will invent a story about a weapon that Umbridge must then possess. Hermione will claim that weapon is in the Forbidden Forest, and will lead Umbridge into the Centaurs' realm. There, Umbridge's hatred of "half-breeds" results in the Centaurs dealing with her.

Hermione, hearing that the Centaurs do not wage war against "foals", will think herself and Harry safe as they lead Umbridge to the Centaurs, but will not reckon with the Centaur's intellect. They will see that Hermione tricked them into entering a purely Human conflict, and intend to inflict the same fate on Hermione and Harry as Umbridge. Only Grawp's presence in the Forest will save them; having broken free, he is roaming the forest searching for Hagrid. Stumbling upon the clearing where Harry, Hermione, and the Centaurs are, Grawp breaks the deadlock, allowing Harry and Hermione to escape.

It is in the next chapter that Ron's almost-miraculous improvement in Keeping is seen. While this provides a much-needed boost to Ron's confidence, it will be insufficient in the long run. In the next book, Ron is so insecure as Keeper that Harry has to artificially boost Ron's confidence.

Chapter 31: O.W.L.s

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Ron's elation over his performance and Gryffindor's victory lasts well into the next day. Harry and Hermione let him enjoy it before telling him they missed the match because Hagrid dragged them away to see Grawp. Ron is incredulous that Hagrid brought back a Giant and reluctant to help care for one, much less teach it English. "He's lost his mind!" Hermione concurs, but says they promised to help Hagrid.

The Fifth Year Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations begin, and Harry is relieved that many questions cover familiar information. In the first week, he performs creditably in Charms, Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defence Against the Dark Arts. Harry receives an extra credit for producing a Patronus when requested. Professor Umbridge, who is observing, seems pleased, but Harry hardly cares. After her Ancient Runes exam, Hermione reports that someone put another Niffler into Umbridge's office; it will be another excuse to sack Hagrid.

The following Monday, Harry does reasonably well in the Potions exam as Snape is absent. Tuesday is Care of Magical Creatures, and Wednesday morning is Astronomy. Both Harry and Ron fail Divination miserably on Wednesday. During the evening Astronomy practical exam, Harry spies Umbridge and a group heading for Hagrid's hut. A battle breaks out and Stunning spells are cast at Hagrid, though his massive body deflects them. Professor McGonagall runs to Hagrid's aid, but Stunning spells knock her down. Hagrid escapes, and McGonagall is rushed to the hospital wing.

Later in the common room, Hermione comments that the Nifflers in Umbridge's office will be used as a pretext for sacking Hagrid. Lee Jordan admits that he put them there, but Hermione claims that Umbridge, hating what she calls "half-breeds", would have sacked him anyway.

Harry, exhausted, falls asleep during next afternoon's History of Magic exam. In another vision, he sees himself entering the room with the glass orbs. Inside, he sees Voldemort torturing Sirius.

Analysis[edit]

One thing that is mentioned in the text, but never explained, is that Umbridge seems pleased that Harry, the target of her ire from well before her first day of teaching, is able to produce a Patronus. (The exact words in the book are There was a nasty smile playing about her mouth.) We can only speculate at this, as Harry does not choose to examine the incident further. It is possible that Umbridge is pleased because it will give her a second chance (she believes) to attack Harry in the following year, or that it reflects well on her "skills" as an instructor. This actually is the one drawback, had Harry thought of it at the time, of Dumbledore's Army: by providing competent teaching of Defence Against the Dark Arts, Harry at least partly manages to mask Umbridge's incompetence. One must wonder how any students from Slytherin house in Harry's year made sufficiently high OWL grades to study advanced Defence Against the Dark Arts, being taught only by Umbridge in their critical fifth year.

Ron's opinion regarding how wise it is to attempt to civilize Grawp clearly echoes Harry and Hermione's sentiment. Because Hagrid is absent, Ron alone is able to verbalize the entire Trio's doubts, and does so with his usual outspokenness. And unlike Harry and Hermione, who personally witnessed the lonely Hagrid's nearly impossible attempt to civilize his only relative, Ron's opinion is far less affected by his emotions. The author points up Hermione's unhappiness over them having promised to assume this task, in the event that Hagrid gets sacked. Hagrid is sacked, most dramatically, and the Trio is now responsible for visiting Grawp occasionally, despite the Forbidden Forest being off-limits to them, and against the Centaurs' wishes. Hagrid's request puts the students in danger, but his need to protect his half-brother has perhaps blinded him to just how perilous his request is.

Harry, meanwhile, soon has more pressing problems as he experiences a vision that Voldemort is torturing Sirius at the Ministry of Magic.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. What is Ron's reaction when Harry and Hermione tell him about Grawp?
  2. What does Harry witness during his Astronomy exam? What happens to McGonagall?
  3. What does Harry "see" during his History of Magic O.W.L. exam?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Umbridge seems pleased when Harry conjures a Patronus in his Defence Against the Dark Arts OWL. Why? This is not something that she has taught; why does she not wonder where he had learned it?
  2. Sirius gave Harry a package that Harry could use to reach him, Sirius had said so. Why has Harry forgotten this?
  3. Is the dream a hoax, a trap, or is it real?
  4. There are several pieces of evidence that might lead Harry to doubt the veracity of this latest "dream" or "vision". Why does Harry not think these through?
  5. How could Voldemort and Sirius have managed to enter the Ministry unnoticed?
  6. Filch reported that Umbridge had promised to banish Peeves if she became Headmaster. Why is he still there to wreak havoc for Fred and George?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Following his dream, Harry will be in a panic over Sirius, positive he is in danger, but it seems there is no one he can to turn to. Umbridge is in complete control, Dumbledore and Hagrid are now gone, Harry will shortly find that Professor McGonagall has gone to St. Mungo's, and there seems little that Ron and Hermione can do. However, Harry is overlooking the one person left who can help him: Professor Snape, also an Order member. He has also forgotten (deliberately) the package Sirius gave him at Christmas, which Sirius had said would be a way to reach him at any time.

We will shortly find that Harry's dream has been created by Voldemort, as a means of luring Harry into the Department of Mysteries at the Ministry. Voldemort has been seeking an object, a Prophecy, which is contained in one of the small glass orbs that Harry sees in his vision. These orbs are charmed such that only those to whom they refer can safely touch them; Voldemort knows that only he and Harry can retrieve the prophecy from the shelf where it lies, and has determined to trick Harry into doing it for him.

During the chaotic events, the Trio will quite forget their promise to visit Grawp. However, the time involved will be very short: the Astronomy exam, we see here, is Wednesday night, which is when Hagrid is sacked; the History of Magic exam, Friday afternoon, is when Harry has his dream, and they will visit the Ministry this same evening. That visit will culminate with a battle, which will result in Dumbledore's reappearance and the Ministry admitting that Voldemort has returned. One of Dumbledore's demands is that the Ministry stop chasing his groundskeeper, meaning that Hagrid is free to return to Hogwarts only two days after having been driven away.

Chapter 32: Out of the Fire

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry is frantic about Sirius, and rushes to the infirmary to see the only member of the Order of the Phoenix that he can think of: Professor McGonagall. Madam Pomfrey says that Professor McGonagall has been transferred to St. Mungo's Hospital. Harry is unsure what to do; Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid are now gone. He runs to find Ron and Hermione. Convinced his vision is real, Harry wants to go immediately to the Ministry of Magic in London to save Sirius. Hermione warns him that the vision could be false, and suggests that Harry seems to "have a bit of a — a — saving-people thing". She suggests using Umbridge's fireplace to contact Grimmauld Place to see if Sirius is there.

Ron has volunteered to distract Umbridge, while Ginny and Luna Lovegood stand guard outside as Harry and Hermione, under Harry's Invisibility Cloak, sneak into the empty office. Harry contacts Grimmauld Place, and Kreacher, the Black family House Elf, answers. He claims Sirius has gone and did not tell him where, but adds gleefully that he will never return. Harry is suddenly yanked from the fireplace, and Umbridge demands to know who he is contacting. Ron, Luna, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville are being held by Umbridge's Inquisitorial Squad.

When Harry refuses to answer, Umbridge has Malfoy fetch Snape. Harry suddenly remembers that Snape is an Order member. When he arrives, Umbridge orders him to use Veritaserum on Harry, though Snape claims she has used up his entire stock, and it takes a month to brew more. Harry desperately yells, "He's got Padfoot at the place where it's hidden." Umbridge asks what this means, and Snape coldly replies he has no idea what Potter is blathering about, and leaves.

Umbridge prepares to cast the Cruciatus curse on Harry to extract information. She admits having sent the Dementors to his home last summer. As she is about to curse him, Hermione, "crying", blurts out that Harry was contacting Professor Dumbledore about a weapon the students were building for him. They were letting him know it is ready. Umbridge demands to see it.

Analysis[edit]

Hermione warns that Sirius may not actually be in danger and believes Harry is possibly being lured into a trap. She is not being overly cautious and knows Harry often acts rashly and without considering the possible consequences. Hermione, mentioning Harry's "saving-people thing", is verbalizing a personality trait he has which has been obvious to readers throughout, though not to Harry. Hermione has previously criticized him for rushing in to be the "hero" whenever he believes friends are in danger, just as he did during the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament when he attempted to "rescue" all the hostages, even though Ron, Hermione, Cho, and Gabrielle, who were tethered underwater, were magically protected and never in any danger. This trait has made Harry dangerously predictable. Harry is very averse to hearing these truths about himself from Hermione, and responds with a good deal of aggression, which seems to frighten her more than little bit. But Hermione is consistently presented as the only one among Harry's friends who is not only willing to follow him but counterbalance him when it is called for. Interestingly, Harry does suggest at one point that only he and Ron go to London, implying that he still largely undervalues Hermione's devotion and places more stock in Ron's soldierly steadfastness.

Kreacher tells Harry that Sirius is gone from Grimmauld Place, but the loyal (though not to Sirius) Black family House-elf is an unreliable source. It should be noted that Kreacher has chosen his words carefully, possibly coached by someone: while he does say his master has gone out, he never explicitly states that Sirius is at the Department of Mysteries.

Once again, Neville has been dragged into a situation simply because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. One might wonder if the author has something against Neville, as he always seems to be getting himself into trouble that is not of his own making, sometimes dragging others with him.

Umbridge's personality is observed again in how she treats Snape. When her demand for Veritaserum is met with the simple fact that it will take a month to brew more, Umbridge, in what might be best described as a fit of pique, puts Snape on probation. If we assume that Snape is loyal to the Order, and that he is either concealing a stock of Veritaserum, or overstating the preparation time, then Umbridge's rage might be valid, but placing a teacher on probation for failure to perform extracurricular activities is unwarranted and laughable.

The episode with the Veritaserum should actually reinforce any belief Harry has in Snape's loyalty to the Order. It now seems likely that when Umbridge had added what she thought was Veritaserum to Harry's tea before interviewing him earlier, that she had never used this potion before. Clearly unaware of how it works, she failed to recognize that Harry was never showing Veritaserum's effects as he answered her questions. She had also apparently used the entire vial in the process, when even a tiny amount would have caused Harry to reveal everything he knew. Even though Harry never drank the tea, he should now be able to guess that Snape may have given Umbridge something other than Veritaserum. Harry also fails to realize that Snape could have used this incident to betray the Order without falling under suspicion: he could have provided Umbridge with true Veritaserum, and then simply stood by as Harry betrayed Sirius to her, claiming later that he had not known why she wanted it. His providing fake Veritaserum to Umbridge certainly indicates more loyalty to the Order than Harry currently believes he has.

Snape's dismissing Harry's plea concerning "Padfoot" (Sirius), however, leaves Harry uncertain whether or not Snape will warn the Order. Having previously witnessed Snape and Sirius at wands' point with each other, Harry has reason to fear that, given the opportunity to save Sirius, Snape may simply choose to do nothing. Hermione likely shares this belief, which is why she concocts her own risky plan to subdue Umbridge.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. What does Harry do after having a vision? Who does he go to for help?
  2. Why does Hermione want Harry to use the fireplace to contact Sirius at Grimmauld Place?
  3. Who does Harry talk to at Grimmauld Place and what does Harry learn? Is the source reliable? Why or why not?
  4. What does Hermione tell Umbridge after she and Harry are caught? Why does Hermione tell her this?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Does Harry really have a "saving-people-thing", as Hermione says?
  2. Why didn't Harry ask Snape, who is an Order of the Phoenix member, for help?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Although Snape appears to coldly disregard Harry's plea about Padfoot, he is carefully maintaining his cover as Dumbledore's double agent. According to Dumbledore later, Snape had immediately checked on Sirius' safety, then alerted the Order of the Phoenix when Harry and Hermione did not return from the Forbidden Forest. Harry, informed of this, believes that Snape deliberately waited too long before summoning help. Although Snape does sound the alarm, it can be debated whether he acted quickly enough and if that affected the resulting consequences. Even assuming Snape is loyal to the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore, he was in an interesting position here. If he deliberately waited to warn Phoenix headquarters, he could have allowed his hated nemesis (Sirius) to possibly be killed by Voldemort without him (Snape) technically betraying the Order. However, Snape claims that he had checked on Sirius, though we have only his word for this, and he could have altered his story in light of circumstances. If Snape was still unaware whether or not Sirius was actually in danger, the temptation to delay warning the Order would certainly have been present. On the other hand, there is no indication that Snape did anything to endanger Sirius. Although Dumbledore later defends Snape's actions and reiterates his continued trust in him, Harry, and readers, will continue to doubt Snape's loyalty.

Harry's predictable behavior will be used against him again in the final book when he is recognized by using his signature Expelliarmus spell. However, he will deliberately exploit this predictability in his final confrontation with Lord Voldemort.

Kreacher's response to Harry may have been dictated in part or in full by Voldemort, acting through the Malfoy family. Interestingly, we will find out later that Voldemort has had direct dealings with Kreacher before, and will have believed that Kreacher died; if Voldemort had known that "the Black family house elf" that was talking to Narcissa was, in fact, the same elf that he had utilized before, he might have been more worried about his Locket Horcrux. Discounting other types of magic as much as he does, however, it is hardly surprising that he dismissed the possibility that the two Black family house elves were both Kreacher.

As mentioned, Kreacher's words are carefully chosen. Kreacher knows that the ultimate plan is to lure Harry to the Department of Mysteries and then send Sirius after him, thus disposing of Sirius who is, in his mind, a blood traitor and unfit to be his Master. So Kreacher is speaking truthfully when he says that Sirius will never return from the Department of Mysteries, and very carefully avoids saying that he is at Grimmauld Place when Harry asks. The only outright lie that Kreacher makes is when he says, "Master has gone out." "Nobody here but Kreacher," is shading the truth; Kreacher is the only one in the kitchen, certainly. But Kreacher does know that Sirius is upstairs tending to Buckbeak, who Kreacher injured.

Despite his carefully chosen words, though, Kreacher is lying to Harry to mislead him. In our interactions with Dobby, we have seen that deceptions like this will produce agitation in a House-elf if he is acting against instructions. That Kreacher seems quite cool about this aligns with what Dumbledore later tell Harry: "You are not his master, he could lie to you without even needing to punish himself."

While we wonder at Neville's inclusion in the group, he will be of some use in the upcoming battle in the Ministry. While his contribution there will be limited, we will see that it acts as something of a "baptism of fire", resulting in his being much more effective in later battles and in the guerrilla fighting at Hogwarts in the final book.

Chapter 33: Fight and Flight

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Hermione leads Umbridge and Harry, who is trying to look like he knows where they are going, into the Forbidden Forest. Near a clearing, an arrow whizzes through the air, hitting a tree. About fifty Centaurs surround them, demanding to know why the humans are in their forest. Treating them as inferior half-breeds, a haughty Umbridge unleashes an insulting tirade, infuriating the Centaurs. When she binds Magorian, the Centaurs charge. Bane seizes Umbridge. She drops her wand, but before Harry can reach it, another Centaur steps on it, breaking it. As other Centaurs lift up Harry and Hermione, Bane carries the hysterically screaming Umbridge into the woods. Hermione tries explaining the situation to the other Centaurs, hoping to gain their sympathy, but they are only more incensed at being involved in human affairs and want to attack her and Harry. Despite her protests that they are "foals", and Ronan's reminder that they do not attack young humans, the Centaurs consider Harry and Hermione as devious as their adult counterparts.

As they are about to carry off Harry and Hermione, Grawp crashes through the trees. Recognizing "Hermy", he yells for "Hagger" (Hagrid). The panicked Centaurs shoot him with arrows. Enraged, the Giant howls in pain, and flails blindly at the Centaurs. Harry and Hermione get away amid the confusion.

Ron, Ginny, Luna, and Neville have escaped the Inquisitorial Squad and find Harry and Hermione; they have brought along Harry's and Hermione's wands. Harry wants to go to the Ministry in London to find Sirius. Everyone volunteers to go with him, but Harry, feeling Ron is the only capable one, suggests the others follow them later, though they insist they are all going. With all the school's broomsticks locked up, Harry has no idea how they can get to London. Luna suggests flying on the Thestrals that, smelling Grawp's splattered blood on Harry and Hermione, have migrated to the group.

Analysis[edit]

Of all the members of Dumbledore's Army, Luna, Neville, and Ginny are very nearly the last ones that Harry or Ron would have chosen to go with them to London, believing they are the least qualified. They are even reluctant to include Hermione and try to persuade her and the others to remain behind or to come later. But Harry can underestimate or misjudge his friends' abilities, often valuing the popular and seemingly more capable students over the ones who are loyal, determined, and dependable. It is Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna who usually respond first to Harry's distress calls, and they display immense bravery by risking their own lives to help Harry face Voldemort, a fact Harry does not yet fully appreciate.

Although Hermione quickly devised a clever plan to save Harry from Umbridge's Cruciatus curse, she nearly gets them both captured as a result. The Centaurs' hatred of humans usually excludes children, or "foals" as they call them. Hermione counts on this when she leads Umbridge into the forest knowing the Centaurs will resent the intrusion and that Umbridge will probably further infuriate them. Umbridge arrogantly confronts the Centaurs, believing her Ministry-backed authority will intimidate any "sub-human" creature into stepping aside. Even though the Centaurs carry Umbridge off into the forest, Hermione's plan backfires because she underestimated their reaction, and mistakenly believed that if she explained their plight, the Centaurs would be sympathetic. The herd, still outraged over Firenze's "betrayal" to serve Dumbledore, only became more incensed that Hermione used trickery to involve them in human affairs. Hermione and Harry are no longer considered so "innocent", and one Centaur argues that Harry is nearing manhood. If not for Grawp's timely intervention, it is unlikely they would have survived the Centaurs' wrath unscathed.

We see here, also, an instance of Luna's matter-of-fact nature and her willingness to ignore heckling, coupled with a perhaps surprising intelligence, and an awareness of her environment quite out of line with her usual dreamy appearance. It is Luna who connects Hagrid's mention that the Thestrals are excellent fliers with the fact that they are attracted to raw meat and blood. Ignoring Ron's gibes about Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, she sticks to her guns, pointing out the arriving Thestrals to Harry and Neville, who she knows can see them.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why does Hermione take Harry and Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest and who do they meet?
  2. What happens to Umbridge in the Forbidden Forest? Why?
  3. Who wants to attack Harry and Hermione in the Forbidden Forest and why? What stops them?
  4. What are attracted by the blood on Harry and Hermione's clothing?
  5. How does Luna suggest getting to London? How do the others react this?
  6. Ron, Ginny, Luna, Neville, and Hermione insist on going with Harry to the Ministry of Magic to help save Sirius. Why does Harry only want Ron to accompany him?

Further Study[edit]

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Up to this point, it has been Harry, Ron, and Hermione, the Trio, who have been the central characters in the series. Harry, with Dumbledore's assistance, has been moving towards his apparent destiny, that of facing and defeating Voldemort, and Ron and Hermione have been traveling alongside. Now, we have a new group of assistants, Neville, Luna, and Ginny. As mentioned, Harry does not want them along, possibly thinking them not as competent as himself, Ron, and Hermione. Circumstances will prove him wrong, however, not only in this book, but in the final two books of the series. When Harry calls up Dumbledore's Army in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to defend the school in Dumbledore's absence, it will be only these three who respond; and Neville will be the core of the resistance to Voldemort's rule of Hogwarts, while both Ginny and Luna will have pivotal roles, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

We can see the beginnings of civilization happening with Grawp, surprisingly. Grawp is looking for Hagrid, and recognizes Hermione. It seems that, despite Hagrid having only missed one visit, Grawp is already feeling his absence. Grawp's progress will happen off-camera for the rest of the series, but he will be civil enough at Dumbledore's funeral at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

It is interesting to note the Centaurs' reaction to Grawp. Despite their vaunted logic and mental superiority, the Centaurs react to Grawp in a singularly emotional manner, bombarding him with arrows when he has not, in fact, directly threatened any of them. We will see later, when Hagrid is carrying the apparently lifeless Harry out of the Forest, that he is able to shame the Centaurs into entering the battle on humanity's side. This may lead us to recognize that the Centaurs are much more emotional than they are willing to admit to themselves. This is also an indication that, despite their belief in their mental superiority over humans, they share the human traits of prejudice and intolerance.

Chapter 34: The Department of Mysteries

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Harry, Neville, and Luna quickly mount their Thestrals. Hermione, Ron, and Ginny have difficulty finding them until Luna dismounts and helps them. Harry asks his Thestral to take them to the Visitor's Entrance of the Ministry of Magic, in London and the Thestrals take off. Upon reaching the Ministry of Magic, Ron swears he will never fly on one again. The students cram into the phone box that is the Ministry's visitor entrance, and Ron dials the Ministry's number. They descend to the atrium and find reception area deserted, leading Harry to believe Sirius must be there. Harry and the others enter a lift (elevator) and descend to the lowest sub-level—the Department of Mysteries.

From his dreams, Harry recognizes the corridor and knows which door to enter. Within is a large circular chamber with twelve doors. Harry is unsure which one to go through, the more so as, as soon as a door closes behind them, the room's walls rotate. When the doors come to a standstill again, they open the first one; but the room does not match Harry's dream. Instead, it contains a large tank with floating brains. Retreating, Hermione marks the door with her wand so they know they have already looked there. The next room is a large stone amphitheater. On a raised dais at the center is an ancient stone archway, a tattered veil fluttering in the entrance. Standing next to the veil, Harry feels a strange sensation that someone is on the other side. Hermione, frightened, calls Harry back to the circular room.

The next doorway refuses to open; Harry inserts Sirius' knife that will "open any door", but its blade melts away and door remains shut. At the next door, Harry recognizes the sparkling, shimmering light from his dreams. Inside is a bell jar containing a beautiful hummingbird that hatches from an egg, flutters to the top, falls back down into the egg, then hatches again. Passing through this room, they reach a huge chamber containing shelves loaded with glass orbs that Harry recognizes from his dream. Finding no trace of Sirius, Harry considers returning to Hogwarts when Ron spots an orb labeled "S.P.T. to A.P.W.B.D. Dark Lord and (?)Harry Potter". As Harry reaches for it, Hermione warns him it might be dangerous, but nothing happens when he grasps it. Despite the cold chamber, the orb feels warm in Harry's hand.

A voice from behind breaks the silence: "Very good, Potter. Now turn around, nice and slowly, and give that to me."

Analysis[edit]

Harry is so consumed with rescuing his godfather that he rushed into an unknown situation minus a plan, ignoring the risks to himself and his friends, and without confirming that Sirius was actually in danger. He rebuffs Hermione's warning that his dream could be a false vision, and he instead relies solely on his own intuition that is fueled by intense emotions and a desire to protect Sirius. When under duress, Harry often becomes impervious to others' advice and acts according to his emotions rather than logic, thinking linearly and single-mindedly, though his intentions are usually noble. His attempts to dissuade the others from accompanying him are futile, they refuse to remain behind, despite suspecting Harry is pursuing an unwise and potentially fatal course. Unfortunately, they are correct, and Harry's rash and predictable behavior has led him and the others directly into what may be a deadly trap.

Readers are probably able to guess that the initials S.P.T. and A.P.W.B.D. inscribed on the orb stand for Sybill Patricia Trelawney and Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

It is interesting to note, though it plays no part in the storyline, the beautiful hummingbird that continually hatches from the egg and returns to it. Clearly, this is similar to a Phoenix, the mythical bird that continually dies by bursting into flames, then is resurrected from its own ashes. In this context, however, it is meant to be an indicator of one of the great Mysteries, the mystery of Time.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why was Ron worried about flying on the Thestrals?
  2. Why was the Department of Mysteries so easily accessible to Harry and the others?

Further Study[edit]

  1. What are the 'Orbs'?
  2. Was Hermione right to be worried about Harry touching an Orb, even with one that had his name on it? What might have happened?
  3. Why does Harry experience a strange sensation standing next to the veiled archway? What might have happened if Harry had stepped through it?
  4. Why do Ron, Hermione, and the others insist on going with Harry, even though they believe it might be a trap? What does this say about their characters?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

While it is never entirely made certain, Luna's reaction to the veil in the stone amphitheater, as well as Harry's, leads us to believe they are hearing voices belonging to those who have died. This room appears to physically embody a familiar Muggle figure of speech: when we say that someone has "passed through the Veil," it means that person has died. This room, and its physical Veil, would then be a figure of speech made real, or the reality behind it. This interpretation is reinforced later by Sirius' passing physically through this tattered curtain, and by Luna's telling Harry that the voices he heard at the archway's entrance belonged to the dead, waiting there for Harry to join them.

This being the Department of Mysteries, one might reasonably expect that eleven of the twelve doors off the circular room would lead to an area devoted to the study of a Mystery, the twelfth one being the way back to the Atrium. This does seem to be the case; in turn we see the mysteries of Thought or Consciousness, Death, and (skipping the locked door) Time. It makes sense that Prophecies would be associated with the mystery of Time, as they do somewhat violate our understanding of Time as being unidirectional. Later, in another room, is a giant orrery, obviously devoted to the mystery of the Physical Universe; Dumbledore will tell Harry about a department whose door is always locked because of the great power of the mystery therein, namely the mystery of Love. It also makes sense for the various Mysteries to be interconnected. Later, we will see that, leaving the amphitheater, Harry will run through the brain room; it is obvious, in retrospect, that the mystery of Consciousness and the mystery of Death are linked. This, incidentally, is an illustration of the Doctrine of Signatures, the belief that function follows appearance: e.g. a plant that grows in the shape of a heart must have effects, assumed beneficial, on people's hearts. The Doctrine of Signatures was the core of a large part of medieval "magic"; we do not know if it plays any part in the Wizarding world, though it likely did in ancient times. Whether or not the Doctrine of Signatures was a consideration in the design of the Department of Mysteries, it is likely that the wizards studying the Mysteries would feel that it would be sensible to have the connections between the Mysteries echoed in the connections between the rooms devoted to them.

Chapter 35: Beyond the Veil

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Lucius Malfoy and eleven other Death Eaters, including the powerful, sadistic and dangerous Bellatrix Lestrange, emerge from the shadows. Harry refuses to give Malfoy the orb, threatening to smash it, and demands to know where Sirius is. It is becoming apparent, however, that Harry's visions were false. Bellatrix reviles Harry for being half-blood, but Harry reminds her that Voldemort's father was a Muggle, riling Bellatrix. Malfoy intervenes, and explains that the sphere contains a prophecy about the Dark Lord and Harry. They needed Harry to retrieve it because only those whom a prophecy concerns can safely pick up the orb, any others go insane. And Voldemort could not risk being seen at the Ministry, and instead lured Harry there to retrieve it for him.

On Harry's signal, the D.A. members blast the shelves and orbs with their wands. Harry, along with the others, runs from the Chamber clutching the prophecy, chased by the Death Eaters. Harry, Hermione, and Neville enter the bell jar room, though Ron, Ginny, and Luna have gotten separated from them. Malfoy organizes his fellow Death Eaters into pairs, instructing them to search the department for the six teens. Two Death Eaters enter the bell jar room and Hermione Stuns one, while Neville disarms the other.

As they head for the circular room, two more Death Eaters appear; Harry, Hermione and Neville veer into a side office, followed by Death Eaters. Hermione silences one Death Eater who is calling his accomplices, and Harry Petrifies another. Neville is kicked, breaking his wand and his nose. Harry, Hermione, and Neville make their way to the circular room, where they find Luna, Ginny, and Ron. As they search for an exit, several Death Eaters enter, including Bellatrix, and start attacking. Harry, Neville, and Luna quickly exit into the Brain Room; they try sealing the doors, but five Death Eaters burst in. After Hermione, Luna, Ron, Ginny, and Neville have been incapacitated, Harry runs for a door, tumbling down stone steps, landing near the Veiled Arch.

Surrounded by Death Eaters, Harry backs onto the dais with the veiled archway. Neville bursts in but is quickly immobilized, and is then tortured by Bellatrix to force Harry into surrendering the prophecy. Harry is about to relinquish it when Sirius, Tonks, Shacklebolt, Lupin, and Moody arrive. Macnair grabs Harry around the neck and demands the prophecy. Neville stabs McNair's eye with Hermione's wand, and he releases Harry who Stuns him. As Harry grabs Neville's robe to pull him up the steps, the pocket rips, and the orb falls out and is smashed, its wispy vapors vanishing. Dumbledore enters, and quickly apprehends the combatants while Sirius duels Bellatrix. As Sirius taunts her, Bellatrix blasts a spell squarely at his chest. His rigid body falls through the veiled arch. Harry rushes after him, but Lupin restrains him before he reaches the portal, saying it is too late. Sirius is gone.

Analysis[edit]

This chapter is largely action, preparing for and then executing the battle. A number of things are learned here, as Harry stalls the Death Eaters, but this chapter is mostly immediate; this is the book's climax, the battle we have been building up to throughout this book.

One thing mentioned here is that only the persons who are connected to a prophecy can safely pick it up. (Presumably, this is the people listed on the label: in this case Harry, Voldemort, Dumbledore, and Trelawney.) This explains Bode's illness. We heard earlier that Malfoy put Bode under the Imperius curse, but that he had resisted having to retrieve something; it is now clear that he was being ordered to fetch this Prophecy, knowing it would drive him insane. As he was recovering his sanity, the Death Eaters moved to murder him in the hospital.

Although Harry and the others were outnumbered and outmatched by Voldemort's Death Eaters, all fought ably, mostly thanks to Harry's superb defensive training. It is conceivable that had a few more D.A. members been present, the Death Eaters could have been defeated without help from the Order of the Phoenix. Even though Harry considers them the weakest D.A. members, Neville, Ginny, and Luna perform admirably while under attack. And though they may not yet be the most technically proficient members, they are arguably the bravest, willingly risking their own lives to aid Harry, and fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Ginny and Neville prove they are true Gryffindors, while Luna could easily have fit into that House, as well as Ravenclaw. Harry will never forget what they have done for him.

When Harry contacted Grimmauld Place, Kreacher told Harry that Sirius had been taken to the Ministry of Magic. We can now guess that Kreacher, who remains loyal to the Black family, and, by extension, Voldemort, lied to Harry; Sirius was safely at Grimmauld Place with Buckbeak, unaware Harry was attempting to reach him.

Malfoy names the twelve Death Eaters involved in this battle shortly after Harry, Hermione, and Neville re-enter the bell jar room. They are: Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange, Nott, Rodolphus, Crabbe, Rabastan, Jugson, Dolohov, Macnair, Avery, Rookwood, and Mulciber. Of the two that initially attack Harry, Hermione, and Neville, one is Stunned, and the other falls into the bell jar and stumbles through the rest of the battle with a baby's head. The second pair that attack Harry are Dolohov and Jugson, and they both get Petrified. Nott is injured by falling shelves and may not play a further part in the battle. Lucius counts ten Death Eaters standing against Harry alone in the amphitheatre, so we can assume that the Stunned and Petrified Death Eaters have all been resuscitated at that point.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Who can safely pick up a Prophecy Orb? What happens to those who are unable to?
  2. How was Bellatrix able to kill Sirius?
  3. Why does Lupin restrain Harry from going after Sirius?
  4. Which D.A. members were left standing at the end of the battle?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Who alerted the Order of the Phoenix that the students were in trouble?
  2. What is the veiled archway? Why can only Harry and Luna hear the voices behind the veil?
  3. Based on what is learned in this chapter, what might have happened if Harry had gone through the veiled archway? Could he have returned?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

We will discover that Order of the Phoenix reinforcements arrived at the Ministry of Magic because Snape alerted them, when Harry and the other students never returned from the Forbidden Forest. However, Harry later accuses Snape of deliberately waiting too long to sound the alarm, resulting in Sirius' death.

Neville, Luna, and Ginny will again show their bravery in the next book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, being the only members of Dumbledore's Army to answer Harry's distress call before the battle inside Hogwarts.

Harry later bemoans the Prophecy having been destroyed until Dumbledore informs him that the prophecy itself was not lost, but rather a memory of it, and that his original memory has been retained. Apparently, prophecies are stored by a process similar to how thoughts are stored in a Pensieve, as Dumbledore then shows Harry the memory involving the prophecy, using his Pensieve.

Neville's accidentally destroying the Time Turners will prove to be a minor, but in some ways essential, plot point. Time-Turners are an almost insanely useful device to have in a wizard duel, as a wizard could, if he chose, go back an hour multiple times using a Time Turner to multiply himself. Harry would stand precious little chance facing five Voldemorts. While there are laws preventing their use in such manner, we see that Voldemort pays little attention to laws, and if he were able to retain a Time Turner, things would go badly for the Order of the Phoenix. The only mention of this destruction, however, is in the opening chapters of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where Hagrid rationalizes the Trio's decision to not take his Care of Magical Creatures course as being due to lack of time, which could not be remedied without the destroyed Time-Turners.

Chapter 36: The Only One He Ever Feared

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Stunned, Harry is unable to believe that Sirius is dead. He struggles with Lupin, attempting to reach the archway and save Sirius. Meanwhile Dumbledore has rounded up the Death Eaters, though Kingsley still duels Bellatrix.

Jinxing Shacklebolt, Bellatrix exits the amphitheatre. Enraged, Harry chases her into the Atrium, vowing to kill her. Voldemort suddenly appears, angry that his Death Eaters have failed him again. He fires a killing curse at Harry, but the now-headless magician from the Statue of Magical Brethren leaps and blocks the spell.

Dumbledore enters the atrium and manipulates the stone figure to protect Harry, while the witch statue pins Bellatrix to the floor. Dumbledore and Voldemort fiercely duel while Harry can only watch. Voldemort hurls a killing curse directly at Dumbledore, but Fawkes flies between them, taking the curse and falling to the floor. Voldemort seemingly vanishes, but then enters Harry's mind and, using Harry's voice, demands that Dumbledore kill him by killing Harry. Harry, hearing his own voice, is filled with thoughts of Sirius: if Dumbledore kills him, he will be able to see Sirius again. Voldemort suddenly exits Harry's body.

Cornelius Fudge, other Ministry officials, and Aurors begin arriving from the fireplaces; several, including Fudge, see Voldemort as he physically reappears, grabs Bellatrix, and Disapparates. Dumbledore tells a stunned Fudge what has happened and that Death Eaters are under guard in the Death Chamber. Fudge seems ready to arrest him, but Dumbledore points out that Fudge saw Voldemort himself. Fudge sends Dawlish and Williamson to the Department of Mysteries. Dumbledore demands that Umbridge be removed from Hogwarts and the Aurors stop pursuing Hagrid. He says he will explain everything, but first gives Harry a Portkey, transporting him to Hogwarts.

Analysis[edit]

Like the previous chapter, this one is largely action, with little analysis necessary or possible. A few points are worth mentioning, however.

During the duel, Harry attempts to cast the Cruciatus curse on Bellatrix, only to find it rather ineffective. Bellatrix asks if that is his first time using an Unforgivable Curse, and says that to use them properly, you must hate your target. One wonders how the false Alastor Moody found sufficient hatred for the spiders that he demonstrated the curses on in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. While Bellatrix suggests that hatred is necessary for all Unforgivable Curses to work, there is actually a quite significant difference between the Cruciatus and Killing curses, and the Imperius curse; the first two curses' sole effect is to damage the target, while the third involves employing control. It seems reasonable to suppose that the Cruciatus and Killing curses, then, require hating the victim, while the Imperius curse instead requires a belief in your aims being superior over the target's.

As is common in public edifices, the art works in a building's public areas tend to reflect the stated aims or beliefs of the organization residing there. In this case, Harry has previously commented on the Fountain of Magical Brethren, saying that excepting the subservient House-elf, the syrupy, adoring expressions worn by the other non-human magical beings for the Wizard in the tableau seemed ridiculously overdone. Yet, this seems to reflect the Ministry's belief structure, that human wizards are rulers over all other magical races. Now that this sculpture has been destroyed, it will be interesting to see what will replace it.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. What happens when Voldemort hurls a killing curse at Dumbledore?
  2. Who arrives just before Voldemort disapparates? What is the reaction?
  3. What does Voldemort do just before disapparating?
  4. Who, besides Voldemort, escapes?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Who summoned the Minister and the Aurors, and how?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Voldemort possesses Harry's mind, but overcome by Harry's myriad memories and intense feelings for his friends, Sirius, and his parents, the Dark Lord quickly vacates it. Voldemort demanded that Dumbledore kill Harry, death being the worst thing that can happen. Harry, however, would welcome death here, as it would re-unite him with his parents and Sirius, and free him from the excruciating pain radiating from his scar. As Dumbledore will shortly explain, the power Harry possesses that Voldemort never can is love, which among other things makes Harry's mind an extremely intolerable place for Voldemort to occupy. Additionally, we will find that Voldemort fears death more than anything, and Harry's yearning to die at that point must have terrified Voldemort.

In the next book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Professor Dumbledore asks Harry if his scar has been hurting. Harry replies, with some surprise, it has not hurt all year, though he would have expected it to. Dumbledore explains that when Voldemort possessed Harry's mind, he found it such an inhospitable place to be in that he likely has been shielding his own mind from Harry's since then. In the series' final two books, Voldemort never possesses Harry again, though as the final book progresses, Harry gains more and more ability to see what is happening inside Voldemort's mind.

Though Harry loses his godfather and fails to kill or capture Bellatrix Lestrange, the battle at the Ministry of Magic yields some benefit as Voldemort's presence is exposed and many Death Eaters are apprehended. Now the Wizarding world will know that Harry was telling the truth, and the Ministry will be forced to cease its smear campaign to discredit Harry and Dumbledore. It is expected that the Ministry will now take action against Voldemort and his followers. Additionally, the much-despised Umbridge will be removed from Hogwarts, and Dumbledore and Hagrid can return to their posts. While Dumbledore's reinstatement to his other previous posts will be announced in the Daily Prophet, it will be Harry's image that undergoes the most significant rehabilitation. Throughout this book, we have seen that the Daily Prophet was using Harry as a figure of ridicule, but now that his claims have been proven true, he will suddenly be titled "the Chosen One", the one hope against the returned Dark Lord. Harry will be perhaps more dismayed at being singled out for praise than he was to be reviled, but will find that he can manipulate the positive publicity.

Fawkes intercepts Voldemort's Avada Kedavra curse, but as the Phoenix is immortal, this merely ends this cycle of his life. Dumbledore will later bring him back to the bed of ashes under his perch.

Connections[edit]

Harry will remember what Bellatrix said about the Unforgivable Curses when he successfully casts Imperius and Cruciatus for the first time.

Chapter 37: The Lost Prophecy

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The Portkey delivers Harry to Dumbledore's office, which has been repaired since Dumbledore's spectacular escape. Harry is deeply grief-stricken over Sirius' death and blames himself for falling for Voldemort's deception. Dumbledore soon arrives, to the cheering portraits in his office, and places Fawkes tenderly on the ashes under his perch. He tells Harry that Madam Pomfrey is tending the other students. Tonks was also injured, but she has been taken to St. Mungo's hospital and will recover.

Harry rages at Dumbledore, but when Dumbledore claims responsibility for Sirius' death, he is subdued somewhat. Dumbledore admits that if he had been more open, Harry would have realized that Voldemort was luring Harry into a trap. When Voldemort gave Harry his scar, it left a mental connection between the two. Voldemort discovered this gateway after Mr. Weasley was attacked, and then began intruding into Harry's thoughts. That is why Dumbledore insisted Harry study Occlumency and why he remained aloof all year, fearing Voldemort could use the link to gain valuable information about the Order through Harry.

Kreacher lied to Harry when he tried to contact Sirius, who was actually upstairs tending to Buckbeak. After Harry warned Professor Snape in Umbridge's office, Snape checked to see that Sirius was safe. But when Harry failed to return from the Forbidden Forest, he alerted the Order, who then went to the Ministry. Snape wanted Sirius to remain at Headquarters, but instead, Sirius ordered Kreacher to tell Dumbledore what happened, then went to the Ministry. Kreacher told Dumbledore that he lied to Harry about Sirius, and that Kreacher's instructions came from Narcissa Malfoy. Though he was still loyal to the Black family, Kreacher was magically prevented from betraying the Order directly, but he was able to reveal enough information to Narcissa to lead Harry into a trap.

Dumbledore defends Snape, saying he had to behave as if he disbelieved Harry's warning while in Umbridge's presence to protect his position within the Order. Dumbledore also discounts Harry's accusation that Snape used Occlumency to open Harry's mind to Voldemort and reiterates his complete faith in Snape's loyalty. However, he regrets not teaching Harry himself, fearing Voldemort could access his thoughts, but underestimated Snape's deep, lingering resentments towards Harry's father.

Even though many Wizarding families offered to adopt the orphaned infant, Harry was placed with the Dursleys for a particular reason. Lily Potter's sacrificing herself to save her child created a magical shield that has safeguarded Harry from Voldemort. However, Harry must live in his mother's blood relatives' home to maintain the protection—that relative is Aunt Petunia. Convinced Voldemort would return, Dumbledore's priority was to keep Harry safe. The Howler Petunia received was Dumbledore's stern reminder that she was obligated to protect Harry.

The prophecy Voldemort sought was originally made shortly before Harry's birth. It is why Voldemort wants to kill Harry. Voldemort, however, never knew the entire prophecy, and was trying to retrieve the stored copy to learn its contents. The prophecy is known to Dumbledore, however, because it was originally told to him. Sixteen years ago, Dumbledore interviewed Sybill Trelawney for the Divination position, meeting her at a pub in Hogsmeade. Although she was descended from a gifted Seer, she herself seemed minimally talented and Dumbledore declined her the post. As he was about to leave, Trelawney fell into a trance.

Extracting a memory, Dumbledore places it in the Pensieve. Sybill Trelawney's veiled image rises, and in a familiar harsh voice recites, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."

According to Dumbledore, two boys fit the prophecy: Harry and Neville Longbottom, born days apart. Both Harry's and Neville's parents, who were Order of the Phoenix members, defied Voldemort three times. Voldemort probably attacked Harry because he is a half-blood like himself, and therefore considered him more dangerous than Neville, a pureblood. By deliberately choosing Harry, Voldemort "marked" him as his equal, leaving the scar on Harry's forehead. But Voldemort was only told the prophecy's first half. The second part predicted that the marked child would have powers that the Dark Lord could never know, and that one must die at the hand of the other, for both cannot live while the other survives. The power Harry possesses and Voldemort does not is love. It is what protected Harry from Voldemort's killing curse while ripping the Dark Lord's soul from his body. Dumbledore confirms that the prophecy means that either Voldemort or Harry must kill the other.

Finally, Dumbledore explains why Harry was not chosen to be a Prefect: "I must confess . . . that I rather thought . . . you had enough responsibility to be going on with."

Analysis[edit]

Much that has been hidden in the series is now revealed. First and foremost is the Prophecy; this one item explains why Voldemort has singled Harry out as his main target. It also explains why Harry is the hero in this series; if the Prophecy is true, and the Wizards generally believe it is, then Harry alone can defeat the Dark Lord, and the Wizarding world's sole hope rests with him. We also see Dumbledore's love for Harry, his fear for what would happen if Harry learned too soon about the burden the prophecy has placed on him, and to some small extent the efforts that Dumbledore has made to protect Harry and, as much as possible, nurture him.

These have, of course, affected the course of the entire series, and likely will also affect the final two books. We also learn exactly why Dumbledore had acted aloof towards Harry, and why he had wanted Harry to learn Occlumency. Additionally, we learn that Snape acted correctly when Harry warned him. This seems to reinforce Dumbledore's opinion of, and trust in, Snape. Harry, however, believes Snape had somehow engineered matters such that Sirius died, and he cannot be convinced otherwise. Examining what Dumbledore says, and the sequence of events, we can see that Snape believed Sirius was safe at Grimmauld Place. It is unknown whether Snape goaded Sirius into going to the Ministry, or whether Sirius decided this; Dumbledore believes it was soley Sirius' decision, but Harry, if he chooses to contemplate this, refuses to believe it was. However, considering Sirius' reckless and impulsive nature, his pent up frustration at being confined and feeling useless, as well as his paternal need to protect his godson at any cost, it seems nothing could have compelled him to remain at Grimmauld Place while the Order rushed to the Ministry.

We also learn that Dumbledore can make serious mistakes. Until now, Dumbledore had seemed largely infallible. Aloof as he always was, and somewhat unknowable, his pronouncements were invariably accurate. Here, we see Dumbledore admitting his failures in not telling Harry sooner what was prophesied for him, of attempting to have Snape teach Harry Occlumency, and in a somewhat backhanded manner, of failing to properly explain why Harry must bar Voldemort's thoughts. These latter two errors have fairly major consequences. Snape's attempts to teach Occlumency to Harry, surrounded as they were with Snape's bias against Harry, and Harry's distrust and dislike of Snape, only strengthened the link between Harry and Voldemort. And being unaware that Voldemort could plant fake images into his mind resulted in Harry being lured to the Ministry and Sirius' death.

One interesting and nearly hidden point occurs late in this chapter. Dumbledore tells Harry that the power he has that Voldemort cannot understand is love. It was that deep love, for his parents and Sirius, that protected Harry from Voldemort possessing him. Voldemort fled Harry's mind because "he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests." This could be a factor in later books.

Harry, meanwhile, is roiling in turmoil—simultaneously experiencing rage, grief, and guilt. Although Dumbledore explains why he withheld vital information and reveals the entire prophecy, it does little to console Harry. He now understands his ties to the Dursleys, and though his relationship with Petunia will never change, he now realizes that it is she, through their blood connection, who stands between him and Voldemort. And though Petunia has no love for her nephew, she continues to fulfill her obligation to protect him; Harry knows he must continue to endure living in her home until he comes of age. And now Harry has a new burden to bear: either he or Voldemort must die.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why didn't Dumbledore teach Harry Occlumency himself? Was this a mistake?
  2. Why does Harry have to return to the Dursleys each summer?
  3. Why did Voldemort "mark" Harry as his equal rather than Neville Longbottom?
  4. What is the powerful force that can be used against Voldemort, and why is the Dark Lord incapable of possessing it?

Further Study[edit]

  1. The prophecy never mentioned Harry's name. Two boys fit Trelawney's description, and either could have been marked by Voldemort: Harry or Neville Longbottom. Therefore, is it possible that Neville, who might have been chosen by Voldemort, could also have retrieved the orb from the Department of Mysteries? Explain why he could or could not.
  2. How might Harry and Neville's relationship change now that Harry knows that Neville could have been "The Chosen One"?
  3. Should Harry tell Neville about this connection between them? Why or why not?
  4. What might have been the result if Dumbledore had instructed Harry in Occlumency, rather than Snape teaching him?
  5. Why does Aunt Petunia continue to protect Harry, even though she does not love him?
  6. Who could have repaired Dumbledore's office?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

It is interesting that, when Harry is yelling at Dumbledore, he says that Dumbledore cannot possibly know the pain he is suffering. Harry blames himself for Sirius' death by having allowed Voldemort to penetrate his mind, and then falling for the ruse that lured him into the Department of Mysteries. In fact, Dumbledore does know how Harry feels, more so than many others would. As discussed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore's sister Ariana was killed during a three-way duel between Dumbledore, his brother Aberforth, and the Dark wizard, Grindelwald. While it is never known whose spell actually fatally struck her, there is no doubt in Dumbledore's mind that he is responsible for his sister's death. Indications are that he carries this regret and remorse for his remaining life, and Harry muses, near the series' end, that what Dumbledore desires the most and sees in the Mirror of Erised is his family, including his sister and mother, whole and together again. This pain is also seen in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Dumbledore drinks the potion in Voldemort's secret Sea Cave, though the reasons behind it are unknown until Aberforth's explanation in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Dumbledore says Voldemort wanted the orb because he never heard the entire prophecy. While the Hog's Head, where the prophecy was made, is known for its eavesdropping population, Voldemort's informant apparently only heard the prophecy's first half. In a later book, Harry learns that when Trelawney returned from her prophecy-induced trance, Severus Snape was present. Harry leaps to the conclusion that Snape was Voldemort's informant. Dumbledore, confronted by Harry, does nothing to dispute this, and this fact is actually confirmed much later. However, if he was present at the end of the prophecy, why does Dumbledore say that he had only heard the first part? If we look at the prophecy itself, and the earlier one, we will see that Trelawney's prophecies seem to repeat the first part at the conclusion; so someone hearing the end of the prophecy would hear a repetition of the prophecy's beginning.

As suggested, Harry being filled with love, for his parents and for Sirius, makes him a particularly unpleasant place for Voldemort to occupy. As a result, Voldemort never again re-enters Harry's mind, though Harry will experience Voldemort's thoughts in the final book, as he has in this one, when Voldemort is feeling strong emotions.

Chapter 37: The Lost Prophecy

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The Portkey delivers Harry to Dumbledore's office, which has been repaired since Dumbledore's spectacular escape. Harry is deeply grief-stricken over Sirius' death and blames himself for falling for Voldemort's deception. Dumbledore soon arrives, to the cheering portraits in his office, and places Fawkes tenderly on the ashes under his perch. He tells Harry that Madam Pomfrey is tending the other students. Tonks was also injured, but she has been taken to St. Mungo's hospital and will recover.

Harry rages at Dumbledore, but when Dumbledore claims responsibility for Sirius' death, he is subdued somewhat. Dumbledore admits that if he had been more open, Harry would have realized that Voldemort was luring Harry into a trap. When Voldemort gave Harry his scar, it left a mental connection between the two. Voldemort discovered this gateway after Mr. Weasley was attacked, and then began intruding into Harry's thoughts. That is why Dumbledore insisted Harry study Occlumency and why he remained aloof all year, fearing Voldemort could use the link to gain valuable information about the Order through Harry.

Kreacher lied to Harry when he tried to contact Sirius, who was actually upstairs tending to Buckbeak. After Harry warned Professor Snape in Umbridge's office, Snape checked to see that Sirius was safe. But when Harry failed to return from the Forbidden Forest, he alerted the Order, who then went to the Ministry. Snape wanted Sirius to remain at Headquarters, but instead, Sirius ordered Kreacher to tell Dumbledore what happened, then went to the Ministry. Kreacher told Dumbledore that he lied to Harry about Sirius, and that Kreacher's instructions came from Narcissa Malfoy. Though he was still loyal to the Black family, Kreacher was magically prevented from betraying the Order directly, but he was able to reveal enough information to Narcissa to lead Harry into a trap.

Dumbledore defends Snape, saying he had to behave as if he disbelieved Harry's warning while in Umbridge's presence to protect his position within the Order. Dumbledore also discounts Harry's accusation that Snape used Occlumency to open Harry's mind to Voldemort and reiterates his complete faith in Snape's loyalty. However, he regrets not teaching Harry himself, fearing Voldemort could access his thoughts, but underestimated Snape's deep, lingering resentments towards Harry's father.

Even though many Wizarding families offered to adopt the orphaned infant, Harry was placed with the Dursleys for a particular reason. Lily Potter's sacrificing herself to save her child created a magical shield that has safeguarded Harry from Voldemort. However, Harry must live in his mother's blood relatives' home to maintain the protection—that relative is Aunt Petunia. Convinced Voldemort would return, Dumbledore's priority was to keep Harry safe. The Howler Petunia received was Dumbledore's stern reminder that she was obligated to protect Harry.

The prophecy Voldemort sought was originally made shortly before Harry's birth. It is why Voldemort wants to kill Harry. Voldemort, however, never knew the entire prophecy, and was trying to retrieve the stored copy to learn its contents. The prophecy is known to Dumbledore, however, because it was originally told to him. Sixteen years ago, Dumbledore interviewed Sybill Trelawney for the Divination position, meeting her at a pub in Hogsmeade. Although she was descended from a gifted Seer, she herself seemed minimally talented and Dumbledore declined her the post. As he was about to leave, Trelawney fell into a trance.

Extracting a memory, Dumbledore places it in the Pensieve. Sybill Trelawney's veiled image rises, and in a familiar harsh voice recites, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."

According to Dumbledore, two boys fit the prophecy: Harry and Neville Longbottom, born days apart. Both Harry's and Neville's parents, who were Order of the Phoenix members, defied Voldemort three times. Voldemort probably attacked Harry because he is a half-blood like himself, and therefore considered him more dangerous than Neville, a pureblood. By deliberately choosing Harry, Voldemort "marked" him as his equal, leaving the scar on Harry's forehead. But Voldemort was only told the prophecy's first half. The second part predicted that the marked child would have powers that the Dark Lord could never know, and that one must die at the hand of the other, for both cannot live while the other survives. The power Harry possesses and Voldemort does not is love. It is what protected Harry from Voldemort's killing curse while ripping the Dark Lord's soul from his body. Dumbledore confirms that the prophecy means that either Voldemort or Harry must kill the other.

Finally, Dumbledore explains why Harry was not chosen to be a Prefect: "I must confess . . . that I rather thought . . . you had enough responsibility to be going on with."

Analysis[edit]

Much that has been hidden in the series is now revealed. First and foremost is the Prophecy; this one item explains why Voldemort has singled Harry out as his main target. It also explains why Harry is the hero in this series; if the Prophecy is true, and the Wizards generally believe it is, then Harry alone can defeat the Dark Lord, and the Wizarding world's sole hope rests with him. We also see Dumbledore's love for Harry, his fear for what would happen if Harry learned too soon about the burden the prophecy has placed on him, and to some small extent the efforts that Dumbledore has made to protect Harry and, as much as possible, nurture him.

These have, of course, affected the course of the entire series, and likely will also affect the final two books. We also learn exactly why Dumbledore had acted aloof towards Harry, and why he had wanted Harry to learn Occlumency. Additionally, we learn that Snape acted correctly when Harry warned him. This seems to reinforce Dumbledore's opinion of, and trust in, Snape. Harry, however, believes Snape had somehow engineered matters such that Sirius died, and he cannot be convinced otherwise. Examining what Dumbledore says, and the sequence of events, we can see that Snape believed Sirius was safe at Grimmauld Place. It is unknown whether Snape goaded Sirius into going to the Ministry, or whether Sirius decided this; Dumbledore believes it was soley Sirius' decision, but Harry, if he chooses to contemplate this, refuses to believe it was. However, considering Sirius' reckless and impulsive nature, his pent up frustration at being confined and feeling useless, as well as his paternal need to protect his godson at any cost, it seems nothing could have compelled him to remain at Grimmauld Place while the Order rushed to the Ministry.

We also learn that Dumbledore can make serious mistakes. Until now, Dumbledore had seemed largely infallible. Aloof as he always was, and somewhat unknowable, his pronouncements were invariably accurate. Here, we see Dumbledore admitting his failures in not telling Harry sooner what was prophesied for him, of attempting to have Snape teach Harry Occlumency, and in a somewhat backhanded manner, of failing to properly explain why Harry must bar Voldemort's thoughts. These latter two errors have fairly major consequences. Snape's attempts to teach Occlumency to Harry, surrounded as they were with Snape's bias against Harry, and Harry's distrust and dislike of Snape, only strengthened the link between Harry and Voldemort. And being unaware that Voldemort could plant fake images into his mind resulted in Harry being lured to the Ministry and Sirius' death.

One interesting and nearly hidden point occurs late in this chapter. Dumbledore tells Harry that the power he has that Voldemort cannot understand is love. It was that deep love, for his parents and Sirius, that protected Harry from Voldemort possessing him. Voldemort fled Harry's mind because "he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests." This could be a factor in later books.

Harry, meanwhile, is roiling in turmoil—simultaneously experiencing rage, grief, and guilt. Although Dumbledore explains why he withheld vital information and reveals the entire prophecy, it does little to console Harry. He now understands his ties to the Dursleys, and though his relationship with Petunia will never change, he now realizes that it is she, through their blood connection, who stands between him and Voldemort. And though Petunia has no love for her nephew, she continues to fulfill her obligation to protect him; Harry knows he must continue to endure living in her home until he comes of age. And now Harry has a new burden to bear: either he or Voldemort must die.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why didn't Dumbledore teach Harry Occlumency himself? Was this a mistake?
  2. Why does Harry have to return to the Dursleys each summer?
  3. Why did Voldemort "mark" Harry as his equal rather than Neville Longbottom?
  4. What is the powerful force that can be used against Voldemort, and why is the Dark Lord incapable of possessing it?

Further Study[edit]

  1. The prophecy never mentioned Harry's name. Two boys fit Trelawney's description, and either could have been marked by Voldemort: Harry or Neville Longbottom. Therefore, is it possible that Neville, who might have been chosen by Voldemort, could also have retrieved the orb from the Department of Mysteries? Explain why he could or could not.
  2. How might Harry and Neville's relationship change now that Harry knows that Neville could have been "The Chosen One"?
  3. Should Harry tell Neville about this connection between them? Why or why not?
  4. What might have been the result if Dumbledore had instructed Harry in Occlumency, rather than Snape teaching him?
  5. Why does Aunt Petunia continue to protect Harry, even though she does not love him?
  6. Who could have repaired Dumbledore's office?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

It is interesting that, when Harry is yelling at Dumbledore, he says that Dumbledore cannot possibly know the pain he is suffering. Harry blames himself for Sirius' death by having allowed Voldemort to penetrate his mind, and then falling for the ruse that lured him into the Department of Mysteries. In fact, Dumbledore does know how Harry feels, more so than many others would. As discussed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore's sister Ariana was killed during a three-way duel between Dumbledore, his brother Aberforth, and the Dark wizard, Grindelwald. While it is never known whose spell actually fatally struck her, there is no doubt in Dumbledore's mind that he is responsible for his sister's death. Indications are that he carries this regret and remorse for his remaining life, and Harry muses, near the series' end, that what Dumbledore desires the most and sees in the Mirror of Erised is his family, including his sister and mother, whole and together again. This pain is also seen in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Dumbledore drinks the potion in Voldemort's secret Sea Cave, though the reasons behind it are unknown until Aberforth's explanation in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Dumbledore says Voldemort wanted the orb because he never heard the entire prophecy. While the Hog's Head, where the prophecy was made, is known for its eavesdropping population, Voldemort's informant apparently only heard the prophecy's first half. In a later book, Harry learns that when Trelawney returned from her prophecy-induced trance, Severus Snape was present. Harry leaps to the conclusion that Snape was Voldemort's informant. Dumbledore, confronted by Harry, does nothing to dispute this, and this fact is actually confirmed much later. However, if he was present at the end of the prophecy, why does Dumbledore say that he had only heard the first part? If we look at the prophecy itself, and the earlier one, we will see that Trelawney's prophecies seem to repeat the first part at the conclusion; so someone hearing the end of the prophecy would hear a repetition of the prophecy's beginning.

As suggested, Harry being filled with love, for his parents and for Sirius, makes him a particularly unpleasant place for Voldemort to occupy. As a result, Voldemort never again re-enters Harry's mind, though Harry will experience Voldemort's thoughts in the final book, as he has in this one, when Voldemort is feeling strong emotions.