Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Chapter 9: The Woes of Mrs Weasley
- So Dumbledore might have his reasons why he avoids Harry (afraid Voldemort will use him as a spy) but he even walks past Mr Weasley without bothering to tell him that Harry got cleared. Rude.
- “‘Oh, it’s a simple enough anti-jinx,’ said Mr Weasley as they mounted the stairs, ‘but it’s not so much having to repair the damage, it’s more the attitude behind the vandalism, Harry. Muggle-baiting might strike some wizards as funny, but it’s an expression of something much deeper and nastier, and I for one –’” – I know I mentioned this a couple of times before but my love for Arthur Weasley is based on his love for Muggles. His job isn’t just about keeping the State of Secrecy but for him it is about protecting Muggles. He has a genuine interest in them and respect of how they manage to live without magic, but he is also aware how helpless they are towards wizards. And he is aware what it tells about a wizard or witch if they abuse their power to torment Muggles. That is why he was so outraged when Fred and George did the very same thing in book 4 with Dudley. To them it was just a prank, but Mr Weasley deals with this every day, and knows that often it is something much more sinister.
- “‘Malfoy’s been giving generously to all sorts of things for years … gets him in with the right people … then he can ask favours … delay laws he doesn’t want passed … oh, he’s very well-connected, Lucius Malfoy.’” – Does Lucius Malfoy actually have a job? Or is he just strolling around, spending the Malfoy fortune? It is always mentioned that he has a certain influence in the Ministry but it doesn’t seem like he works there.
- “‘Mr Weasley,’ said Harry slowly, ‘if Fudge is meeting Death Eaters like Malfoy, if he’s seeing them alone, how do we know they haven’t put the Imperius Curse on him?’” – Mr Weasley says that Dumbledore thinks Fudge is acting on his own, but the thing is they have no proof. For all we know Malfoy could have put him under the Imperius Curse, telling him to act like usual, but to report to him regular. It is fortunate for the Death Eaters and Voldemort that the Minister refuses to see the dangers right in front of him, so that they can continue to work in the underground.
- “He looked up into the handsome wizard’s face, but close-to Harry thought he looked rather weak and foolish. The witch was wearing a vapid smile like a beauty contestant, and from what Harry knew of goblins and centaurs, they were most unlikely to be caught staring so soppily at humans of any description. Only the house-elf’s attitude of creeping servility looked convincing.” – Ah yes, the “Fountain of Magical Brethren”. I think Dumbledore talks about at the end of the book, after the fight in the Department of Mysteries, telling Harry that the fountain represents a lie. Harry in part already notices that, realizing that neither a Goblin or a Centaur would look admiringly at a wizard or witch. But it is not just that: the word brethren would imply they are equal, when they are not. Even though they have their own kind of magic, Goblins and House-Elves are denied to carry a wand (I’m not sure if Centaurs have magic of their own as well). And their mistreatment will have severe consequences within the story (see Kreacher in this book and Griphook in book 7, but also the way Harry’s kindness towards Dobby and later Kreacher will help him defeating Voldemort). Later on, after Voldemort took over the Ministry in book 7, the fountain is replaced by the “Magic is Might”-Statue, that no longer pretends that everyone is equal but rather shows the ugly truth of Voldemort’s regime: that wizards are superior to everyone.
- “‘I knew it!’ yelled Ron, punching the air. ‘You always get away with stuff!’ ‘They were bound to clear you,’ said Hermione, who had looked positively faint with anxiety when Harry had entered the kitchen and was now holding a shaking hand over her eyes, ‘there was no case against you, none at all.’ ‘Everyone seems quite relieved, though, considering you all knew I’d get off,’ said Harry, smiling.” – It is interesting to see how different Ron and Hermione react. I think Hermione was much more aware of the sincerity of the situation; she knew that the Ministry would use any chance to get rid of Harry, legal or not. Ron instead looks at it like it was just another instance of Harry breaking the rules, and because Harry is Harry he obviously got away with it.
- “‘Suit yourselves. But I sometimes think Ron’s mum’s right and Sirius gets confused about whether you’re you or your father, Harry.’ ‘So you think he’s touched in the head?’ said Harry heatedly. ‘No, I just think he’s been very lonely for a long time,’ said Hermione simply.” – Harry notices that Sirius alone doesn’t seem as happy as everyone else that Harry got cleared and will return to Hogwarts. Hermione suspects that Sirius might have hoped that he and Harry could be outcasts together. And I think she could be right in some ways. I mean obviously Sirius wants the best for Harry and knows that Harry belongs in Hogwarts, but he has been very lonely. And despite his house being the headquarters for the Order Sirius doesn’t feel like he belongs. He can’t actively help them, can’t even leave the house. Sirius is no longer in Azkaban but he is still trapped. And both Hermione and Mrs Weasley have enough distance to see the things Harry refuses to see when it comes to his godfather.
- Ron complains that they have to clean the house, that he feels like a house-elf. Mrs Wesley reminds him that he wanted to help the Order and in cleaning its headquarters he is doing it, even though Ron thinks cleaning is beneath him, which basically disrespects the work his mother is doing every day. Hermione then suggest they could clean the Gryffindor common room to help raise awareness for S.P.E.W. And that made me thinking… if you grew up like the Malfoys or other old wizard families, with a house-elf doing all the housework, and it’s the same at Hogwarts, do they never actually learn to clean? Or to cook? (And I guess in real life there are people who grew up so privileged, so used of other people doing their work, they couldn’t live on their own.)
- “‘One sacked, one dead, one’s memory removed and one locked in a trunk for nine months,’ said Harry, counting them off on his fingers. ‘Yeah, I see what you mean.’” – Do you think Hogwarts students over the years developed a mnemonic for the ways the DADA teachers lost their jobs the same way there exists a mnemonic for the fates of the wives of Henry VIII? (“Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.”)
- So, Ron being a prefect is… unexpected. From the point of the audience, as Harry is our main character, and therefore naturally everything happens to him, but also within the story, as Harry is special and gets special treatment. I don’t think Ron was the first choice, but rather became prefect instead of Harry. Dumbledore later explains his decision that he didn’t wanted to give Harry another responsibility. However Harry (and everyone else) sees the position of being a prefect rather as a privilege instead of a burden. Maybe Dumbledore had hoped it would give Ron more confidence, but as he has to take over more responsibility, that it would make him also more mature. Ron is the second youngest in a large family; he is not used to be in control. And I think Ron deserves something that is his own, that he doesn’t have to share with Harry, and a party for him and present. He deserves to be the special one for once. However, Kingsley argues that Dumbledore would have made a sign with making Harry a prefect, showing that he trusts Harry. There are two sides to it.
- I think Molly reacts as overly enthusiastic to Ron becoming a prefect because being a prefect is a reward, it is a privilege, and one that has nothing to do with money. We see the Weasley children having both academic and professional success: Bill, Charlie, Percy and Ron were prefects (is it ever mentioned if Ginny had been a prefect as well?), Bill and Percy were head boy, they all later started successful careers. They made something out of themselves, despite their parents not being able to support them financially. Their success is rightfully earned. And that is immensely important for both Molly and Arthur, that the system rewards hard work, that their children are given the same opportunities as everyone else. They are the opposite of the Malfoys in every way, whose influence and reputation is built on their wealth.
- “But maybe, said the small voice fairly, maybe Dumbledore doesn’t choose prefects because they’ve got themselves into a load of dangerous situations … maybe he chooses them for other reasons … Ron must have something you don’t … Harry opened his eyes and stared through his fingers at the wardrobe’s clawed feet, remembering what Fred had said: ‘No one in their right mind would make Ron a prefect …’ Harry gave a small snort of laughter. A second later he felt sickened with himself.” - And then we have Harry’s reaction, and again it shows us a less sympathetic aspect of him. He even admits that he isn’t better at anything than Ron except maybe Quidditch. And yet. I wrote about privilege before and how Harry often is unaware of his own privileges, and book 5 is the one where a lot of them are taken away. He doesn’t become prefect, he will be banned from the Quidditch team, people constantly question him and his story, thinking of him as an attention seeking liar. And Harry often reacts angry to it, which is understandable, but he also turns his anger to those who are not responsible for his situation (Ron & Hermione), which is not fair. A lot of book 5 is about growth, which we will see in book 6. It is ok to show Harry in this less sympathetic way, because it makes him a rounder, more complex and interesting character, but it also shows us the change he is going through. It makes him a better person in the end.
- “‘Thanks,’ said Hermione. ‘Erm – Harry – could I borrow Hedwig so I can tell Mum and Dad? They’ll be really pleased – I mean prefect is something they can understand.’” – Does anyone wonder why Hermione spends her holidays with the Order instead of her family? Last year she was at the Weasley’s because of the Quidditch World Cup, but what about now? Are her parents aware of the danger she is in? That Voldemort has returned? That her best friends and their families are part of the resistance? Did she tell them that the headquarters of the Order would be the safest place for her? Or did she feed them some lie why she had to leave them earlier, afraid they might not allow her to return to Hogwarts if they would know the truth?
- Also, one last thing about the prefects: everyone assumes Dumbledore chooses the new prefects, but then why would he make Draco and Pansy Slytherin prefects? That is more likely a choice Snape would have made.
- “Harry’s mood suddenly lifted. His father had not been a prefect either. All at once the party seemed much more enjoyable; he loaded up his plate, feeling doubly fond of everyone in the room.” – And then of course there are expectations: Ron lives up to his family expectations, something he was always afraid he would not be able to, to be not good enough. Harry on the other hand feels better that his father had not been a prefect either; it is not something his parents would have expected of him or be disappointed about.
- “Harry watched them go, feeling slightly uneasy. It had just occurred to him that Mr and Mrs Weasley would want to know how Fred and George were financing their joke shop business when, as was inevitable, they finally found out about it. Giving the twins his Triwizard winnings had seemed a simple thing to do at the time, but what if it led to another family row and a Percy-like estrangement? Would Mrs Weasley still feel that Harry was as good as her son if she found out he had made it possible for Fred and George to start a career she thought quite unsuitable?” – There is something quite heartbreaking with Harry being afraid to lose Mrs Weasley’s affection. But also Harry thinking about the consequences of his actions, that something that had seem right and simple could possibly lead to another huge fight within the Weasley family, that is that ideal version of family for him, but that he is also part of.
- I wonder if Moody thought seeing his parents in an old photograph would cheer Harry up, but the opposite is the truth. Learning about all the members of the original Order, about their fates, only makes him again realize how serious the current situation is, that they are at war, and that all the people around him are in danger. I wonder if Harry ever knew that Fabian and Gideon Prewett were Molly’s brothers. I know she gave him her brother’s watch for his 17th birthday, but I don’t remember if she had mentioned his name, or if she ever talked at all with her children about her brothers and how she lost them.
- · I also can’t believe that young Sirius had short hair, because every Marauders fan art always shows him with long hair.
- “And then, to see them surrounded by all those other happy faces … Benjy Fenwick, who had been found in bits, and Gideon Prewett, who had died like a hero, and the Longbottoms, who had been tortured into madness … all waving happily out of the photograph forever more, not knowing that they were doomed … well, Moody might find that interesting … he, Harry, found it disturbing …” – Even though wizard photographs seem to be balive they only show a moment in time, forever trapped in the same state of oblivious happiness, not knowing what will happen to them.
- “You weren’t in the Order then, you don’t understand. Last time we were outnumbered twenty to one by the Death Eaters and they were picking us off one by one …’” – Which gives you a picture of how many followers Voldemort had/still has, and how small the resistance was. And that is why it is so important for the public to know about Voldemort’s return. So they can be prepared, so that those against him outnumber his followers.
- “But Harry, closing his bedroom door behind him some ten minutes later, could not think Mrs Weasley silly. He could still see his parents beaming up at him from the tattered old photograph, unaware that their lives, like so many of those around them, were drawing to a close. The image of the Boggart posing as the corpse of each member of Mrs Weasley’s family in turn kept flashing before his eyes. […]Harry ignored it. He felt older than he had ever felt in his life and it seemed extraordinary to him that barely an hour ago he had been worried about a joke shop and who had got a prefect’s badge.” – Things are put very hard in perspective for Harry. For how eager he was to join the Order and annoyed by Molly mothering him, he know truly realizes what it means to be in the Order. That Mrs Weasley dreads a member of her family gets hurt (it is interesting that her Boggart turned into a dead Harry as well, next to her husband and her sons, but we never see a dead Ginny), remembering the last war and how she lost two brothers. Because Voldemort doesn’t act out in the open yet Harry for a moment or two forget that they are all in danger, that the war has already started. There are no victims yet, but there will be.