Posts Tagged ‘order of the phoenix’

Harry Potter Re-read: Order of the Phoenix

Oh, Order of the Phoenix, longest book of the series.  Perhaps annoyingly so, because it’s the first book to break the mold of school-year specific plots.  Harry spends about 75% of the book whining and yelling at everyone and at first glance it seems like there’s no point.  OotP I’ve only read a handful of times, mostly because I spend a lot of the book wanting to punch Harry in the face, but I didn’t feel that way this time.  I’m not sure why, except perhaps now that I’m looking at the books in a way that takes the entire series into account, so Harry’s feelings make more sense to me.

You see, in every character’s arc, there’s something that we writers refer to as the Dark Moment.  The Dark Moment is when a character is at their lowest, when they don’t know if they have the strength to go on, or if it would be worth it to just give up.  And OotP is Harry’s Dark Moment.  The entire book, but especially the end.

You see, up to now, while Harry has had his problems and people who don’t like him (Snape, Malfoy), in general things have been okay.  In some ways, even better than okay, because he’s the Boy Who Lived and that title pulls some weight around.  Here, everything changes.  Sure, there was that bit at the beginning of the Triwizard Tournament, but that was nothing compared to what’s happening here.  Suddenly, most of the wizarding world is against Harry.  He’s branded as a liar or, perhaps worse, off in the head. Voldemort’s back and he knows what that means, and yet, no one will listen, no one will prepare.

And then, at the end, Harry does something stupid and someone close to him dies, and he realizes that maybe he’d been buying into his own hype.  He’d been getting away with stupid, reckless things for years, but this time luck wasn’t on his side and things went horribly wrong.  And it had dire consequences.  While Harry never really settles down, he takes things much more seriously from here on out.

We see the prophecy for the first time here, we see Harry realize what must be done before this will all be over.  (There’s also a scene, just after Harry tells Dumbledore Arthur Weasley has been attacked, where Dumbledore fiddles around with snakes and shadows, which without knowing about horcruxes makes very little sense, but knowing that they’re coming, makes much more.  A nice hint, really, because I’ve always kind of thought that the horcruxes come out of left field in HBP.)

Taken by itself, Order of the Phoenix is kind of obnoxious, but it does contain a lot of important information for the remaining two books.  And it has its fun parts.  Personally, the scene where Fred and George make their exit is one of my favorites in the whole series.

(Ha, and yes, I managed to get through my entire write-up without mentioning Umbridge.  Extra cookies for me!)

Ye Olde Questions for Discussion:

1. So much epic fantasy revolves around the idea of Good and Evil.  How does JK Rowling subvert this in the character of Dolores Umbridge?

2. Harry and Cho are both a bit obtuse in their actions with each other.  What could each have done differently?  How would the books have changed if they had managed to make a go of it?

3. There’s a few hints of a future Ron/Hermoine in Goblet of Fire and that’s continued here.  How would it have changed things if they had acted on their feelings sooner?

4. To get off the topic of romance, Harry can sometimes see and feel what Voldemort is doing through their connection.  Voldemort uses this against him here and tries to possess him, but never does again afterwards.  Why not?

5. We learn here that Neville also fit the initial terms of the prophecy, though he no longer fits because Voldemort did not mark him.  How would the series be different if this were the Neville Longbottom series?  How do you think growing up under different circumstances would have changed Neville’s character?

We’re going to give Half-Blood Prince three weeks, so we’ll discuss it on Oct 31.  (That scene with the Inferi is certainly Halloween appropriate!)