Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Chapter 12: Professor Umbridge
- “‘Well, I think it’s a pity we’re not trying for a bit of inter-house unity,’ said Hermione crossly.” – I think in all those years at Hogwarts Dumbledore’s Army is actually the only time we see students from different houses working together. (Except of course Slytherin, and I wonder how they would have reacted if a Slytherin student would have wanted to join them) There are no activities outside classes where all the students can join, where there would be a chance to form interhouse-friendships, which is a pity.
- “‘It’s best to know what the enemy is saying,’ said Hermione darkly, and she unfurled the newspaper and disappeared behind it, not emerging until Harry and Ron had finished eating.” – I get Hermione’s point: you need to know what exactly the Prophet writes, what they say about Dumbledore and Harry, in order to understand what the Ministry wants (as the Prophet functions as the mouthpiece of the Ministry), but also to understand the people who are currently not trusting Dumbledore and Harry. You need to understand their perspective in order to reach out to them, to convince them. Not like Harry who is just angry at everyone who doesn’t believe him, even if they might have good reasons not to.
- “Harry and Ron had so far managed to scrape passes in this subject only by copying Hermione’s notes before exams; she alone seemed able to resist the soporific power of Binns’s voice. […]‘How would it be,’ she asked them coldly, as they left the classroom for break (Binns drifting away through the blackboard), ‘if I refused to lend you my notes this year?’” – I’m really on Hermione’s side here. It is one thing to help out your friends, it is another thing if they simply take for granted that you will get them through their exams. Hermione is right when she accuses them that they don’t even try to listen. There is a difference between helping your friends and exploiting them.
- “And yet, he thought, as they joined the queue lining up outside Snape’s classroom door, she had chosen to come and talk to him, hadn’t she? She had been Cedric’s girlfriend; she could easily have hated Harry for coming out of the Triwizard maze alive when Cedric had died, yet she was talking to him in a perfectly friendly way, not as though she thought him mad, or a liar, or in some horrible way responsible for Cedric’s death … yes, she had definitely chosen to come and talk to him, and that made the second time in two days … and at this thought, Harry’s spirits rose.” – Awww, young love. I feel that at least partly Cho was interested in Harry because of Cedric, to hear his version of events, to learn the truth. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t genuinely interested in Harry. But Cedric’s death is only two months ago, and as Hermione later that year kindly explains to Harry Cho is very much confused about her feelings, to ones she still has for Cedric and those for Harry. (Which of course leads naturally to a lot of crying which Harry can’t really deal with *sigh*)
- “His eyes rested on Harry and his lip curled. Harry glared back, feeling a grim pleasure at the idea that he would be able to give up Potions after fifth year.” – Not if you want to become an Auror. But hey at least he will never have potions again with Snape after fifth year, so there is that.
- Examining Harry’s potion Snape can tell what exactly Harry did wrong so this would imply it is perhaps a very common mistake, that Snape has witnessed before. Anyway, he vanishes all of Harry’s potion, giving him the same result as if Harry had done nothing at all the whole lesson, not even giving him the chance to earn any points. Did I mention that Snape is the worst teacher? Because he is.
- “‘Hermione and me have stopped arguing,’ he said, sitting down beside Harry. ‘Good,’ grunted Harry. ‘But Hermione says she thinks it would be nice if you stopped taking out your temper on us,’ said Ron.” – Hermione of course is right, and Harry at least feels a bit ashamed. Again, anger is not logical and sometimes we hurt those lest deserving. But also it was Hermione and Ron’s bickering that had annoyed Harry, which is very common for them. And to some the reason why they can’t get behind the whole Hermione-Ron-relationship. Why would you be with someone you always disagree with, always fight with? First of all I don’t see the arguments between Ron and Hermione as fighting. They are friendly banter. But this is also how their relationship works – which is different than the one between Harry and Ron or Harry and Hermione or even Harry and Ginny. And perhaps Ron and Hermione have to work harder for their relationship to work. But I also feel that their arguments are a sign for how much they care about each other, oddly enough. They wouldn’t bother that much for anyone.
- “‘I never remember my dreams,’ said Ron, ‘you say one.’ ‘You must remember one of them,’ said Harry impatiently. He was not going to share his dreams with anyone.” – Because Harry doesn’t talk about his feelings, yet alone his nightmares. He bottles them up until they come out all at once. Again, not very healthy.
- Umbridge constantly reminds her students to raise their hands before they speak, trying to control the conversation, and who is allowed to speak at all. Which again shows that she doesn’t think of her students as equals, or people with their own minds. Everything about her teaching method is about power and control. She is the very opposite of Lupin (who she addresses as half-breed, showing once again her true colours), who always respected his students and encouraged them to think for themselves.
- I also don’t get the logic behind the Ministry’s decision to only teach defensive spells in theory. According to them learning how to use those spells would imply you need them which would imply that there are actual dangers in the world you need to learn to defend yourself against. But as they deny Voldemort’s return this can’t be true. But for one thing there are other dangers out there. And the other thing is that it made me wonder why this subject exists in the first place. Because obviously the Wizarding World is dangerous enough that they think it is necessary for children to learn how to defend themselves. I never learned that at school (even though sometimes I wish I had). Does this subject exist in other schools as well? (It was said that in Durmstrang they actually learn Dark Arts, not how to defend them.) If school prepares you for life than life as a wizard/witch is dangerous enough that you need to learn defensive spells. And it is one thing to deny the truth but another to leave an entire school defenceless.
- The other reasoning of course is that the Ministry believes Dumbledore uses his school to build up an army, and in trying to prevent this, this is exactly what happens.
- I also wonder how much Umbridge had calculated Harry’s behaviour, that perhaps she had expected him to call her a liar and to use him to set an example.
- “‘It was murder,’ said Harry. He could feel himself shaking. He had hardly spoken to anyone about this, least of all thirty eagerly listening classmates. ‘Voldemort killed him and you know it.’” – Ah, Hogwarts and student numbers. We never get an official number how many students attend Hogwarts in the books. I think J.K. Rowling said a number in an interview once but whatever. Many times I saw the fact that Harry shared his dormitory with 4 other students as basis: 5 boys, therefore 5 girls, therefore 10 students per house, 40 students per year, 280 students in total. Which for one thing wouldn’t be a lot. But also, I don’t think the Sorting Hat has a quota he works with. The only Gryffindor girls from Harry’s year that are mentioned are Hermione, Lavender and Parvati, so really I think there are only 8 Gryffindor students in the fifth year. So the other 22 students from that 30 students class must be from another house, as we know that two houses usually share classes. It is very likely that the houses don’t have the same amount of students. Which then makes the whole house point competition not very fair.
- “Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry. Then she said, ‘Have a biscuit, Potter.’” – This will always be my favourite McGonagall line.
- “‘Do you really think this is about truth or lies? It’s about keeping your head down and your temper under control!’” – I think Harry is still idealistic in the way that he thinks the truth should always matter the most. That this is a fight worth fighting for. But there are times where the truth matters, and times where it is best to keep your mouth shut. Umbridge is not interested in the truth, and neither is Fudge. All they care about is power and control. And Harry learns this lesson the hard way.
- “‘Well, I’m glad you listen to Hermione Granger at any rate,’ she said, pointing him out of her office.” – I love how easily McGonagall can tell that Harry is simply repeating Hermione’s words. And that she is glad that he has at least someone at his side who sees the things for what they truly are, because Harry himself is too blind to see them.