Tuesday, July 9, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 5-8

My second assignment in Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix was to read Chapter 5 ("The Order of the Phoenix"), Chapter 6 ("The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black"), Chapter 7 ("The Ministry of Magic"), and Chapter 8 ("The Hearing.") Spoilers for the entire series will appear in this post.

What struck me immediately in these chapters is how good it was to see so many of these characters alive and well again. There is such a warmth to these early scenes at 12 Grimmauld Place, as the sense of camaraderie among the members of the Order (and the kids) is juxtaposed against the darkness of the Black family home and the dangers that lie beyond its walls. Every character is much more fully realized than I appreciated on my first reading, and there is a lot more going on than I remembered. There is tension between Molly and Sirius, as they disagree about how much to involve the younger generation, and especially Harry, in their fight against Voldemort. There is also tension between Percy and the rest of the Weasleys, as he has taken the Ministry's side against Harry's claim that Voldemort has returned. And then there is Harry's own personal concern, first over the possibility of being expelled from Hogwarts for performing illegal underage magic, and later over the fact that Dumbledore doesn't seem to be speaking to him. But there is also this wonderful feeling of people coming together to take on a common enemy that gives Chapters 5 and 6 a surprisingly cozy quality.

Another important scene at 12 Grimmauld Place is Sirius's explanation of the relationships between all of the pureblood wizarding families. I doubt I thought much about this during my first reading, but given the roles Bellatrix and Regulus Black play in upcoming events gives it a significance that made me better attention this time. The family tree also helps to highlight the different ways pureblood families have treated non-purebloods, and to contrast families like the Malfoys and the Weasleys. 

After her brief appearance at Harry's hearing, I'm both dreading and eagerly anticipating seeing Dolores Umbridge appear at Hogwarts. So far, the character I've loved to hate is Rita Skeeter, but even she is no match for Umbridge, who is possibly the best villain in this series, making me angrier and more disgusted even than Voldemort. Harry's arrival at the Ministry for the hearing also made me think about Harry, Ron, and Hermione infiltrating the Ministry using polyjuice potion later on in book 7. Rowling does a great job of establishing this setting not just for the purpose of this one occasion in Harry's life, but also as a means of laying the groundwork for things to come.  

So far, I'm enjoying this book just as much as book four. The writing is just so much better than in the first three books, and so much has happened before Harry even leaves for Hogwarts! He'll get there - and meet Luna Lovegood - in the next set of chapters, and I'm eager to join him. 

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