Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry Potter Quandaries: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix #5

As with many of us who are anticipating the first half of the final Harry Potter film, I have been rereading the entire series.  Since I'm teaching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, it has also been a great opportunity to reread all of them.  Honestly, what's not to love?  I might be different from many readers, in that I might be enjoying them more this time around than I did the first time because I'm catching more connections.  With this readin, I'm finally seeing the things that led to the conclusion.  It's exciting and makes me love the books even more!

Several weeks ago I finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was probably my second least favorite after number three.  Okay.  So I'm changing my tune now!  I've always been a Goblet of Fire fan, maybe because after losing my father, I loved when Harry's parents return to help him.  I caught a few things this time around in book five that really reminded me how strongly Rowling is playing on the theme of love and its power, which then helped me connect more.  If Harry ever had a power stronger than Voldemort, it was that he allowed himself to be vulnerable and look silly and weak to others so that he could have love in his life.

For once, I didn't necessarily find things that stumped me.  In fact, I really only had a couple of thoughts that haunted me over and over again.  Here are a few of the things that I've been considering:
  • Although Dumbledore avoids Harry to protect him from what he knows about his final battle that must be with Voldemort, is it possible that Rowling was also showing some of the emotional restraint that was so characteristic in many British classics?  Flurries of emotion, even in American history, have not been connected with strength.  Is Dumbledore's restraint an evidence of a type of quiet strength or is this just another way of playing on the mystery that was unfolding in this fifth installment?
  • My students actually brought this next point up after we reviewed the book.  What was the deal with the archway in the Ministry of Magic?  There were voices whispering from it and Sirius falls through it when he is killed.  Are we to assume this is some sort of portal to the afterlife?  Interestingly enough, later when Harry tracks down Nearly Headless Nick, he learns that the difference between the ghosts and those who have died are a desire to face the afterlife.  I've thought a lot about this and wondered not only about that arch, but about those who would choose not to face what was to come.  I'm sure this is an interesting comment on how we all face life and death, but really just stood out to me in this installment. (There's a whole other question waiting here about the ghosts that roam Hogwarts...)
  • My final thought was actually after watching the film.  Regardless of all the details they left out of the final battle at the Ministry of Magic (sorry, but I don't know if I would have believed a brain with tentacles was attacking Ron), I found the end of the battle when Voldemort seems to enter Harry to be an amazing scene in the film.  For once I actually liked the way the film portrayed it better!  If you watch this YouTube clip (for some reason they won't let you embed this, but it starts around 6:00), you see Harry fight an internal battle with Voldemort where he casts him off by remembering all the love and relationships with others that he has had.  In the book it seems to be his anger over losing Sirius that helps him draw out Voldemort, which is fine, but it was so short and to the point.  The film manages to really play on all that Harry has that Voldemort does not, "You'll never have love or friendship and I feel sorry for you."  For once, I can say I appreciated what the film did to enhance Rowling's themes about love.  Simply amazing.Yep.  I shed tears over it just as I did with the fight scene at the end of book four.

After rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I have a new-found love for this installment that I simply didn't have before.

Now off to see the newest film!  I won't be seeing it until Monday morning with my Popular Fiction class that I'm taking to the theater--unless I can't stand it and run out to see it this weekend.


  1. I loved that scene in the movie, too-it made the whole movie (which would be completely indecipherable if I hadn't read the book) worth it.

    I was also struck by the oddity of the gateway when I read Order the last time around. It's a portal to the afterlife but no one can come out of it? That doesn't make sense. Why have a portal in the first place, then?

  2. Heidenkind--Thank you! That gateway is a bit confusing and really makes you think about what in the world it is that Sirius fell through. I totally agree and would love to find out more about it.

  3. I literally am finishing this book today! I am about 20 pages from the end! I have to agree with you though . . . I am loving the books on these re-reads so much more than my previous or even first reads. Knowing the ending, catching the details that I didn't get before, puts a new twist and deeper understanding that I have never had! All I can say is I LOVE HARRY POTTER!!

  4. One thing I noticed about the archway in this last reading I did was that only Luna and Harry can hear the voices. This led me to conclude that it has something to do with the fact that they have seen/witnessed death. I think the archway holds some sort of temptation or power over those who have lost people. Like so many things in the Department of Mysteries, it is dangerous in that it could attract you and pull you to the afterlife.