Sunday, July 27, 2014

An American reading the British editions: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

(SPOILER ALERT: I’m sharing details of the Harry Potter series in this post, and in every post on the last Sunday of the month for the next two months. Just so you know!)

This is a blog series about an American girl reading the Harry Potter British editions. If you missed the previous posts, well, to be honest you’re a bit behind. But there’s still time to catch up! Here are the links: Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

First Line: “The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive.”

British vs. American English: I’ve been overseas so there are some things I read in these versions and don’t even recognize as different. Like car park vs. parking lot or garbage vs. bin. But here are a few differences that popped out to me. 

(British edition word/phrase = interpretation/definition)

trainers = sneakers
holidaymakers = vacationers

mollycoddling = to coddle or pamper
dottiness = crazy, eccentric

taking the mickey = to tease or make fun of
frame-up = set-up

at loggerheads = in dispute with
gibbering = to speak inarticulately


Laugh-Worthy Moment: After the Divination exam…
            “’We shouldn’t have taken the stupid subject in the first place,’ said Harry.

            ‘Still, at least we can give it up now.’
            ‘Yeah,’ said Harry. ‘No more pretending we care what happens when Jupiter and Uranus get too friendly.’

            ‘And from now on, I don’t care if my tea-leaves spell die, Ron, die—I’m just chucking them in the bin where they belong.’” (page 633)


Cry-Worthy Moment:  Sadly, there were a few in OOTP, including when Mr. Weasley was attacked and when Sirius fell into the veil. However, even though those were both sad, I only truly teared up at the very end, during this scene…
            “’Bye, then, Potter,’ said Moody, grasping Harry’s shoulder for a moment with a gnarled hand.

            ‘Take care, Harry,’ said Lupin quietly. ‘Keep in touch.’
            ‘Harry, we’ll have you away from there as soon as we can,’ Mrs. Weasley whispered, hugging him again.

            ‘We’ll see you soon, mate,’ said Ron anxiously, shaking Harry’s hand.
            ‘Really soon, Harry,’ said Hermione earnestly. ‘We promise.’

            Harry nodded. He somehow could not find words to tell them what it meant to him, to see them all ranged there, on his side.” (page 766)


Notable Quote:  “’Yes, yes, one of these days you’ll write more horrible stories about Harry and me,’ said Hermione indifferently. ‘Find someone who cares, why don’t you?’” (page 499)
            This quote is eerie now that Rita Skeeter’s article about the old DA reuniting at the Quidditch World Cup was posted on Pottermore earlier this month.


Last Line:  “Instead, he smiled, raised a hand in farewell, turned around and led the way out of the station towards the sunlit street, with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley hurrying along in his wake.”


Even though Harry’s been a teenager for two years, he hits it full force with a few cringe-worthy episodes of angst in Order of the Phoenix. But who’s to blame him? If you were at the center of a situation such as this (however unlikely, but imagine for a moment that you’re in the midst of a wizarding war), wouldn’t it be frustrating if everyone was treating you as though you’re an outsider? If you were the ONLY ONE who had seen the darkest wizard return, wouldn’t it be aggravating to be cut off from news of said world?

Of course it’d be maddening. However, Harry may have taken it out on the wrong people. And even though he has moments when he knows this, he still can’t seem to stop himself from blowing up at his closest friends and supporters, Ron and Hermione. He doesn’t, however, seem to take it out on the adults (mostly). Is he nervous that they’ll put him in his place? Does he not want to be viewed as an insolent teenager? Or does he just feel most comfortable with Ron and Hermione, knowing that even through it all, they will still be his friends?

I seem to be asking a lot of questions, so I’m going to switch gears. Order of the Phoenix is by far the longest book of the series. It has a mingling of subplots (just as the previous books) but there are two things that stand out to me in these 766 pages. Umbridge and the DA. One of them is the absolute worst and one of them is probably the best thing about this book.

After my boyfriend read OOTP for the first time, he told me that he hated Umbridge more than Voldemort. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people in the Potter fandom feel the same. For all Voldemort’s done to Harry, namely kill his mother and father shortly after his birth, there is something so supremely frustrating about Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic and High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. She believes whole-heartedly that Harry’s delusional and that Voldemort hasn’t returned. Since Harry refuses (rightly so) to deny Voldemort’s return, they are at odds. Umbridge banning Harry from Quidditch still makes me grind my teeth. Blatant favoritism (for Malfoy and the Slytherins), utter ignorance and a pompous attitude all equal one of the most hated characters of the series. Luckily, since she was the Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, she only lasts one book.

And the best thing about OOTP: Dumbledore’s Army, Harry’s secret society in which he teaches a couple dozen Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff students defensive spells. There is inspiration in solidarity and in youth taking it upon themselves to do something about an injustice. Umbridge’s method of teaching Defense against the Dark Arts isn’t teaching at all. It could be argued that Hermione’s motives in pressuring Harry into teaching them defense were selfish. She wants to pass her OWLs, after all. However, I think that although Hermione may have came upon the idea with that in mind, she never would have opened it up to people outside the trio if she was indeed being selfish.

In the end, Dumbledore’s Army gets very little page time in OOTP, but the society plays an important role in Harry’s happiness (until it’s disbanded) and in the incidents leading up to the climax. If the DA hadn’t been discovered, Dumbledore wouldn’t have taken the fall for leading the society and Harry would have had someone to go to (with Hagrid sacked and McGonagall at St Mungo’s) when he dreamt that Voldemort was torturing Sirius in the Department of Mysteries.

Per what happened at the Department of Mysteries: the fandom saw two things they had been dying to see. 1) Action. (Fully-trained wizards in action against Death Eaters.) 2) Dumbledore vs. Voldemort. (No explanation needed). Within the setting of the DoM and the Ministry of Magic, the climax is spine-tingling, exciting yet terrifying and ultimately devastating. Sirius’ death comes as quite a shock and we barely have time to process before Dumbledore and Voldemort are dueling. Then the Ministry Aurors arrive to catch a glimpse of Voldemort, alive. Even though there are good things that result from Harry’s trip to London, namely the wizard community discovering that Voldemort has returned, it’s cast in the shadow of Sirius’ death. A double-edged sword, that one.

In the aftermath, the most notable piece of information that Dumbledore divulges is the prophecy. It defines Harry’s path for the last two books. If neither can live while the other survives, then eventually Harry and Voldemort’s path will converge with a climatic, potentially heart-breaking result.

Up next month: Half-Blood Prince, the tale of a textbook, teenage love and bits of Voldemort’s soul.

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