Monday, March 11, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapters 1-3

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was my favorite of the first three books the first time I read them, and it's also one of my favorites of the movie adaptations from the series. This week, I jumped in with chapters 1-3: "Owl Post," "Aunt Marge's Big Mistake," and "The Knight Bus." (Spoilers below.)

Ron starts the book with a couple of memorable moments. First, he tries to call Harry on the regular Muggle telephone and angers Uncle Vernon by shouting into his ear. Then, he sends Harry an owl which closes with my new favorite quote: "Don't let the Muggles get you down." (Is this quoted a lot? I feel like I have never seen it, but it should be on a tee shirt!) I'm really glad his character is holding up so well to these re-readings.

Because Harry is entering his third year at Hogwarts, he has now come up against the problem of needing a permission form signed to be allowed to visit Hogsmeade. Of course, after Harry blows up Aunt Marge, the Dursleys won't sign, and Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, won't do it either. In my fuzzy memories of this predicament, I was under the impression that Fudge was standing on ceremony and somehow upholding the Dursleys' authority, but after this reading, it's clear that his inability to get the form signed is giving Harry an added layer of protection that Fudge wants him to have, as Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban and everyone thinks he's dangerous at this point in the story. 

The other thing about Fudge that is notable is that he doesn't punish Harry for using magic on Aunt Marge, even when Harry is certain he is about to be expelled. Fudge seems to be motivated by relief in finding Harry safe as well as by his own affection for the wizarding world's young celebrity. I don't think it would have been right to expel Harry, necessarily, with a murderer on the loose, since Hogwarts is the safest place for him, but Fudge's leniency does add to the pile of evidence showing that Harry never faces the consequences of his actions. 

Finally, this section introduced one of my favorite things in the wizarding world: the Knight Bus. This was the scene I most wanted to see when the movie came out, and having just watched the clip on YouTube, I can say that the filmmakers really did a nice job bringing Rowling's description accurately to life, even if the dialogue was a bit condensed for time.

I'm looking forward to refreshing my memory about other favorite scenes as I read through this book over the next 5 weeks!

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