Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Major Events/Dumbledore's Army

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event
Dumbledore's Army
Location usually Room of Requirement
Time Period Year 5, about October to about March, and again in Year 7
Important Characters Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, among others

Overview[edit]

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

Dumbledore's Army (D.A.) is the secret Defence Against the Dark Arts group founded by Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, with assistance from Ron Weasley.

Event Details[edit]

Professor Dolores Umbridge, Hogwarts' new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher in Harry's fifth year, only lectures on Ministry-approved theory from the textbook, and refuses to teach real defensive magic. Within the first two weeks of classes, Hermione has seen how stultifying and useless this form of teaching is, and with the assistance of Ron, suggests to Harry that it would be a good idea to have someone teach the students real Defence Against the Dark Arts, rather than the useless "conciliation techniques" currently being taught only through books. When Harry agrees to this, Hermione tentatively suggests that the appropriate teacher would be Harry himself. Harry is surprised when Ron agrees that he is the logical choice.

Although Harry initially feels he is unqualified to teach Defensive Arts to any interested classmates, he reluctantly agrees after Hermione and Ron convince him he has gained considerable knowledge on the subject through their experiences in the past four years. Hermione then invites "a couple of students" to meet at the Hog's Head Inn on their next Hogsmeade weekend to discuss forming a group to learn real Defence Against the Dark Arts. Harry is stunned when Hermione's "couple of students" ends up numbering 25; Hermione simply says "The idea did seem quite popular." The group originally calls themselves the Defence Association, or D.A. for short.

The Members Of Dumbledore's Army include: Hannah Abbott, Lavender Brown, Katie Bell, Susan Bones, Terry Boot, Cho Chang, Michael Corner, Colin Creevey, Dennis Creevey, Marietta Edgecombe, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Seamus Finnigan, Anthony Goldstein, Hermione Granger, Angelina Johnson, Lee Jordan, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Ernie Macmillan, Padma Patil, Parvarti Patil, Harry Potter, Zacharias Smith, Alicia Spinnet, Dean Thomas, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Ginny Weasley, and Ron Weasley. Seamus Finnigan is a late-joining member; not present at the initial meeting in The Hog's Head, the first meeting he attended turned out to be the final meeting of the group.

Shortly after the initial meeting, a new Educational Decree is posted by Umbridge banning unapproved student groups. Harry and Ron are convinced that someone has told Umbridge about the DA, but Hermione says nobody could have. She reminded Harry and Ron that she had passed a parchment around that everyone had signed their names on in the meeting. The parchment was jinxed so that anyone who betrayed the group after signing it would break out in severe facial blemishes.

Sirius Black uses the Floo network to speak to Harry about this organization. He reveals that Umbridge's choice of teaching philosophy is because the Ministry is worried that Professor Dumbledore may be trying to raise a private army of students to attack the Ministry itself. Umbridge has been placed at the school as a teacher by the Ministry, and remains loyal to the Ministry. Sirius Black mentions to Harry that he knows that they are starting the Defensive Arts group. He says that a heavily veiled witch that Harry and Hermione had noted was Mundungus Fletcher in disguise, there to keep an eye on Harry's activities for the Order. Sirius passes on a message from Ron's mother forbidding Ron from having anything to do with the DA, and appealing to Harry and Hermione to likewise give up the idea. Sirius himself, however, says he strongly supports the idea of the group.

There is concern for some time as to where the group can have meetings. Various suggestions are made and rejected for practical reasons. Finally, Harry happens to ask Dobby if he knows of a place, and Dobby tells Harry about the Room of Requirement. This is a room which appears when a person really needs it, in the form that the person needs. Harry, Ron, and Hermione pass on the description of the Room to other members of the Defence Association, and then go to the room themselves. When it appears for them, it is perfect, stocked with everything they need for a Defence Against the Dark Arts class. Hermione, who has been unsure about using the Room of Requirement for a meeting place due to its nature, agrees that it is a good idea. At their first full meeting, they change the name of the group to "Dumbledore's Army" to show their loyalty to the Headmaster and to mock the paranoia of the Ministry of Magic.

Meetings are irregular, as they have to be fit around the three different participating house's Quidditch practices. Hermione provides fake Galleons that allow DA members to send messages. The spell used to do this is a Protean Charm, which Terry Boot says is "NEWT-level magic". For several months, Harry secretly teaches the signed up students from Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. Under Harry's effective tutoring, the D.A. members learn many advanced defensive techniques, starting with the simple disarmament charm and proceeding to the NEWT-level Patronus charm. Neville struggles to learn these charms throughout the meetings, but eventually he becomes very successful. Many of the members of the DA find themselves considering Dumbledore's Army to be like a second family.

Dumbledore's Army abruptly ends in March when D.A. member and Ravenclaw student Marietta Edgecombe reveals its existence to Umbridge. Umbridge then sets a raid by her Inquisitorial Squad, comprised of Slytherin students and led by Draco Malfoy, to bring in those behind the DA. Umbridge's attempt to detain members of the Army is thwarted by Dobby, who defies Umbridge's orders and warns Harry. Harry sends the rest of the group away, and is the only group member captured. He is taken to Dumbledore's office, where he finds Dumbledore, along with Umbridge, the Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge, Percy Weasley (along to record the meeting), and a pair of Aurors, one of whom (Kingsley Shacklebolt) Harry recognizes as being in the Order of the Phoenix.

Umbridge's star witness, Marietta, proves less than useful, as it seems Kingsley has performed a memory charm on her secretly to keep Harry out of trouble. However, the membership list for the D. A. was retrieved by Pansy Parkinson, and the title on the paper, "Dumbledore's Army", causes some consternation. This title allows Dumbledore to claim responsibility for forming the group, thus protecting the students in general and Harry in particular. The Ministry's subsequent attempt to arrest Dumbledore results in his spectacular departure from Hogwarts. Umbridge is appointed Headmistress in his place, but is apparently not able to enter the Headmaster's office.

It is later implied that Umbridge illegally used a truth potion on Marietta to get her to tell the details about Dumbledore's Army, though it seems the original impetus had to be Marietta's. For betraying Dumbledore's Army, permanent purple pustules spelling "SNEAK" had erupted across Marietta's face courtesy of Hermione's jinxed parchment.

With the appointment of a competent Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher in Harry's sixth year (Severus Snape), there is little need to re-start Dumbledore's Army. Harry does put out a call to the members of the DA for assistance when he knows Dumbledore will be leaving the school temporarily, but only five members respond: Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, and Ginny Weasley. Providing them with the remnants of his Felix Felicis luck potion, Harry sets them to watch the Room of Requirement, where Draco has been working, and Severus Snape, who he believes is working with Draco.

In what would be Harry's seventh year, Neville, Luna, and Ginny restart Dumbledore's Army as a means of rebelling against Hogwarts' new emphasis on Dark Arts at the hands of headmaster Snape, Dark Arts teacher Amycus Carrow, and Muggle Studies teacher Alecto Carrow, all of whom are Death Eaters. The DA falls on hard times as its members are hunted down; Luna is captured, Ginny escapes with her family, and Neville's grandmother is targeted in an unsuccessful attempt to put pressure on Neville (although Dawlish, who is sent to capture her, is thwarted, winding up in St. Mungo's). The DA retreat to the Room of Requirement, from which they recruit new members and continue guerrilla raids on the school. When Harry eventually returns to the school to hunt for the final Horcrux, there are many rebelling Hogwarts students in the Room of Requirement. Neville, using the Galleons that Hermione had earlier enchanted to tell about meetings, recalls the rest of the D.A. The members of the Order of the Phoenix come along with them, along with many other wizards, triggering the final, climactic battle.

Notable Consequences[edit]

When meeting in the Hog's Head, Harry expresses some doubts that they may be overheard by someone, suggesting that a veiled witch in the corner might be Umbridge. Umbridge is not present, as it turns out, but there are in fact two eavesdroppers: the witch is Mundungus Fletcher, there for the Order of the Phoenix, and also present is Willy Widdershins, the comprehensively bandaged wizard at the bar drinking Firewhiskey, who promptly reports back to Umbridge. It is as a direct result of this meeting that Umbridge causes promulgation of Educational Decree number Twenty-Four which prevents unapproved student groups. This has the side effect of banning the Quidditch teams. The fact that the Slytherin Quidditch team is approved and reforms immediately, while the Gryffindor team is not allowed to reform for a month, is an indication of how Umbridge will tend to abuse her powers.

Cho Chang has joined the D.A. largely because Harry was there. Cho makes use of the end of the last D.A. meeting before Christmas to kiss Harry in private. We can see from his response to this, as related to Hermione, that he is extremely unsure of himself around Cho.

The continued unapproved meetings of the D.A., in violation of Educational Decree number Twenty-Four, are eventually betrayed, and an attempt is made to apprehend the group. In the end, due to a timely warning from Dobby, the only group member caught is Harry himself. Pansy Parkinson enters the Room of Requirement and retrieves the membership list. Cornelius Fudge has been summoned to witness the bringing of the group to justice; on seeing the membership list heading, his paranoia asserts itself, and he tries to arrest Dumbledore. Dumbledore escapes, dramatically, and Umbridge is appointed Headmistress, although she is never able to get into the Headmaster's office after Dumbledore's departure.

Marietta Edgecombe's defection not only betrayed Dumbledore's Army, but ultimately doomed Harry and Cho Chang's relationship. When Cho defends Marietta's actions and is angry that Hermione secretly jinxed the parchment the D.A. members signed, Harry angrily lashes out, calling Hermione's plan "brilliant." Cho is deeply offended and storms off in tears; she and Harry do not speak to one another for two years.

Unfortunately for Umbridge, students have acquired what she vigorously prevented them from having: Defence Against the Dark Arts knowledge. The D.A. members use their new-found skills on several occasions. When Ron, Ginny, Neville, and Luna are captured by Umbridge's Inquisitorial Squad, they escape with defensive jinxes and hexes. The students use Defensive Arts during the Battle at the Department of Mysteries, fending off Death Eaters until Order of the Phoenix reinforcements arrive. When Draco and his minions attempt to Curse Harry on the Hogwarts Express, D.A. members come to his rescue, jinxing the Slytherins until they are unrecognizable. Members of Dumbledore's Army use what they have learned to assist with the defence of the school at the battle under the Astronomy tower. And it is largely members of Dumbledore's Army who make up the core of the guerrilla resistance against Snape's rule in the seventh book.

For Neville Longbottom the D.A. is a timely opportunity to improve his dueling skills. After the escape of Bellatrix Lestrange from Azkaban, Neville is determined to become proficient in Defence and works very hard at D.A. meetings.

The D.A. is very important to Luna Lovegood who experiences, for the first time, a fellowship with her peers. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Luna tells Harry how much she misses the D.A. meetings and what the friendship of the D.A. means to her.

Analysis[edit]

Curiously, it is Hermione who takes action against Umbridge by forming Dumbledore's Army. Although she believes in strictly adhering to school rules, she never hesitates to break them when she believes they are wrong or a nobler purpose is served. In this instance, she not only takes on Umbridge, but the entire Ministry of Magic, who are convinced Dumbledore may be creating a secret wizard army against them.

There are two people in Dumbledore's Army who do not completely seem to belong there. These are Zacharias Smith and Marietta Edgecombe. Smith is confrontational, to the point that at the organizational meeting Fred Weasley feels compelled to threaten him with a pointed metal object that he produces from a Zonko's Joke Shop bag. Smith also does not seem to want to sign the parchment that Hermione passes around, where they swear not to tell anyone about the D.A. Granted, he is not the only one to express reluctance; Ernie Macmillan hesitates, saying he is a prefect, and if the parchment were found... He only signs when Hermione points out that she's not going to leave this bit of parchment lying around. From the beginning, we have a feeling that the D.A. is doomed, that it will accomplish at least some part of its purpose, but will ultimately fall to Umbridge and her cronies; and Zacharias Smith's continuing skepticism makes him a lead candidate for that betrayal.

Marietta is along because Cho is going, and she is always very quiet, limiting her interaction to sighs and non-verbal displays of impatience. When the actual betrayal takes place, we fully expect Zacharias to have been the agent, and are very surprised when it turns out to be Marietta.

Even before Harry gets the teaching up to that level, Hermione is seen doing two NEWT-class spells here. The first is the parchment, on which everyone signs their names at the organizational meeting. As mentioned above, the parchment is charmed so that anyone who betrays the D.A. will break out in horrendous blemishes. When Hermione mentions this to Ron and Harry, after the promulgation of the Educational Decree banning student organizations, they are both very impressed; Ron in particular recognizes that this is very advanced magic. One wonders why Hermione had not told the rest of the D.A. of this charm, once they had all signed; Marietta might have chosen a different course of action had she known that betraying the D.A. to Umbridge would result in her wearing the word "Sneak" across her face for at least a year.

The second is the Galleons; every Galleon has on it a serial number, that of the gnome who cast it. Hermione has made fake Galleons for the D.A., which look like real ones except that the serial number changes to indicate the date and time of the next meeting. When Hermione passes these out at the second regular meeting, everyone present is amazed that she is capable of performing a Protean Charm, it being such advanced magic.

It is noted that Seamus had joined Dumbledore's Army for only its last session before it was discovered and disbanded. This timing is, in fact, rather important. Harry has noted and tried to work around the fact that there are an even number of people (including himself) in the DA; most often, he has the students pair up so they can practice on each other, and as he cannot generally be one of the pairs, as he has to inspect and correct the other students, he often creates a single group of three, Neville, Hermione, and Ron. In the final session, Marietta Edgecombe is not present because she is telling Professor Umbridge about the group; Harry would be much more likely to notice her absence if suddenly he could pair everyone up. Seamus's presence, by keeping the number of working students odd, prevents Harry noticing that Marietta is missing, and thus helps provide the necessary surprise.

Questions[edit]

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

  1. What prompts Hermione to form Dumbledore's Army? Why is it kept secret?
  2. What are possible reasons Slytherin students were excluded from the group? Is it simply because none of them signed up, or inter-house stereotypes?
  3. Why does Professor Dumbledore claim responsibility for having organized the group?
  4. Where does Professor Dumbledore go when he eludes the ministry's capture?
  5. Why is Harry initially reluctant to teach Defensive Arts?
  6. How does Marietta Edgecombe betraying the D.A. contribute to Harry and Cho breaking up?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry finds out that he and Dumbledore are going to both be leaving the school for a while, and while he cannot be sure what Draco's mission is, or whether he has accomplished it, he has at the very least a great suspicion that it has been completed successfully. Although Dumbledore reassures him that the school is protected by Aurors and members of the Order of the Phoenix, Harry does not feel that is enough. For reasons of his own, he feels that Draco's task may have resulted in an increased danger to Hogwarts in a way that the Order had not anticipated. When appealing to Dumbledore seems ineffective, Harry tries to re-activate the D.A., with very limited success: only Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna Lovegood come forward. However, the five of them, with a little help from Harry's remaining stock of Felix Felicis potion, manage to turn the tide of the battle.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Neville and Ginny re-activate Dumbledore's army as a means of rebelling against the headmaster, Severus Snape. As there are two other Death Eaters teaching at the school, and the teaching has become a lot darker and more abusive, this is not a complete success. However, the organization is in place, and is working out of the Room of Requirement, when Harry reaches Hogwarts. Additionally, when Neville uses the Galleons to summon the D.A., all of the past members of the D.A. (with the possible exception of Marietta Edgecombe) arrive as well, forming the nucleus of a fighting group that will largely save Hogwarts.

Surprisingly, the choice of which student enters the Room of Requirement when the DA is broken up to retrieve the parchment is important. Voldemort, when he was at Hogwarts, apparently discovered the Room of Requirement. It seems that most people who discover it are looking for some place to hide something; Professor Trelawney had discovered it when looking for a place to hide her sherry, and the Twins had been looking for a place to hide themselves from Filch, for instance. Voldemort, presumably looking for a place to hide something he had done, had thus managed to open the door onto a warehouse full of a thousand years worth of magical junk. He apparently instructed Draco Malfoy, over the summer, as to how to get into that aspect of the Room. It is in that aspect of the room that Draco was working on his technique for getting Death Eaters into Hogwarts throughout Harry's sixth year. If Draco had ever seen the inside of the room prepared for D.A. meetings, he might have had a better idea of what the room actually was; as it is, though, only Pansy has seen that aspect of the room, and Draco, in his superior way, likely would not bother to ask her what the inside of the room looked like, assuming, once he got instructions on how to enter, that the DA had been practicing in the junk warehouse.