Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Chapter 13: Detention with Dolores
- I love that chapter title. It shows again Rowling’s great love for alliterations. But I also love the double meaning of it. Dolores of course is Umbridge’s first name. However Dolores is also a Spanish word and the plural of dolor, which means pain and/or sorrow. Harry’s detention will be indeed very painful.
- When Hermione tells Fred & George they can’t use first-years as test-subjects for their sweets Ron doesn’t help her. He sure enjoys all the privileges he had so far as a prefect (getting a new broom, using his power over Seamus etc) but he doesn’t want to take over the responsibilities the position brings. Nobody actually likes to lecture others, but someone has to do it. It once again shows that Hermione is the most mature, most responsible of their little group (though I don’t think Harry would have supported her either against Fred & George if he had become prefect).
- Also Hermione knows Fred & George well enough to know that the usual punishments won’t work on them (and that they don’t take her serious), so she threatens them with the one thing she knows they fear: their mother. Clever girl.
- The fact that Hermione learned to knit is a shameful reminder that I wanted to learn to knit (I mean I could start any day now *cough*).
- Still, Hermione hiding hats so the house-elves will find them accidently isn’t a good thing. She is right that there needs to be a change in how House-Elves are treated in the Wizarding World, but tricking them into freedom isn’t the right way. She is so utterly convinced that all House-Elves want freedom, that she is doing them a favour, ignoring every evidence this might not be true, like Winky, who suffered once she was set free. You can’t force something on others, even if you think it would be good for them, if they don’t want the thing themselves.
- Also, once again Harry and Ron rely completely on Hermione helping them with their homework, Ron even saying he can’t do it without her. Like they don’t even try to pick up a damn book and work on their own.
- “‘I wouldn’t bet on it,’ Ron told her cuttingly. ‘They might not count as clothes. They didn’t look anything like hats to me, more like woolly bladders.’ Hermione did not speak to him all morning.” – I mean that is how my hats would look like as well probably. But also Hermione isn’t naturally good at domestic things (I put knitting in the domestic space because the only other character we know who knits is Molly Weasley). In book 7 we learn that she is not a great cook. And Ron’s mother is the opposite of that: she is good at knitting, cooking etc. Which makes it interesting that Ron would fall in love with someone so different from his mother, someone who also refuses to mother him. Both Hermione and Molly are very empathic and caring people, but very different in most other aspects. Molly is very often reduced to her role as her mother, and Hermione is different in that she wants to be more than that.
- “‘Because she’ll never be as good as Hagrid,’ said Harry firmly, fully aware that he had just experienced an exemplary Care of Magical Creatures lesson and was thoroughly annoyed about it.” – How dare she being a great teacher? Harry of course is loyal to a fault, and it sometimes ends up in him idolizing people and putting them on a pedestal, refusing to see their mistakes. This happens with Hagrid, with Sirius, with Dumbledore, people he is so utterly grateful for that he will forgive them almost everything. (Hagrid being not such a great teacher is of course not really comparable to how Dumbledore used Harry for his plans but Harry reacts very similar to both, in refusing to acknowledge their mistakes.)
- Both Luna and Ernie openly show their support for Harry. I assume that during that year every student made up their minds of they believed Dumbledore & Harry or the Ministry. It’s like Team Edward vs Team Jacob. Just like way more political.
- There are of course some students, like Draco, and other children of Death Eaters, who do know the truth for certain, but for obvious reasons don’t want everyone else to know and support the Ministry and their lies. It is also implied that Draco knows about Hagrid, at least the task Hagrid has been given, and that he knows about Sirius and his animagus form.
- Before Harry’s first detention Umbridge was an unsympathetic annoying character, but not a real villain, yet alone sinister. But I remember reading this chapter for the first time and how disbelieving I was. There is a careful line Rowling never crossed with the Dursleys, that despite the abuse we never see uncle Vernon hitting Harry. Voldemort of course hurt Harry physically but he is the big bad of the series, it is what you expect of him. But Umbridge is a teacher. She is woman whose appearance is described as girlish, who belittles the students in every way. Who refuses to teach magic, claiming there are no dangers in the world. You wouldn’t (or at least I didn’t) expect her to physically abuse a child. For hours. Harry’s detention starts at five o’clock and he guesses it was after midnight when he left, so that makes 6 hours 4 days in a row cutting open his own hand again and again. And yet he refuses to tell anyone (Ron finds out accidently), not McGonagall, not Dumbledore, thinking of it as a private battle of will between him and Umbridge. Because Harry refuses to be weak. Which is stupid, not brave, because Umbridge should have never gotten away with this.
- Also because of his detention Harry has no time to do his homework, so instead he does it in the middle of the night or in his lunch breaks. Even if he hadn’t had detention the students seem to have school until five o’clock, and given the amount of homework they have to do the only real free time they have is at the weekend.
- Angelina mentions that she didn’t pick one of the students that were better at Quidditch tryouts as Ron because she is in all sorts of societies (like Charms Club), conflicting with her Quidditch practice. So there are activities and clubs (other than Quidditch) at Hogwarts, though I fail to see how anyone would have time for it with the amount of homework they get.
- “Then Hermione said, ‘But last year your scar hurt when nobody was touching you, and didn’t Dumbledore say it had to do with what You-Know-Who was feeling at the time? I mean, maybe this hasn’t got anything to do with Umbridge at all, maybe it’s just coincidence it happened while you were with her?’” – I agree with Hermione. I mean obviously Umbridge is evil, but she is not connected to Voldemort, so this is more of a red herring than anything else, making the audience wonder if Umbridge is secretly a Death Eater.
- “‘Yeah,’ said Harry, before he could stop himself, ‘that’s the only bit of me Dumbledore cares about, isn’t it, my scar?’” – He is not wrong, though. Dumbledore later admits that his distance was caused because he was afraid of the connection between Harry and Voldemort, but also because he was afraid he would get too attached to Harry. Something that makes more sense after book 7, because Harry is an instrument, a weapon in the war against Voldemort, not a person. Not to Dumbledore, who can’t afford to think of Harry that way.
- “[…]I’m absolutely exhausted and I want to make some more hats tomorrow. Listen, you can help me if you like, it’s quite fun, I’m getting better, I can do patterns and bobbles and all sorts of things now.’ Harry looked into her face, which was shining with glee, and tried to look as though he was vaguely tempted by this offer.” – We are deprived from the Harry & Hermione knitting club. Someone please write that AU.