Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Chapter 24: Occlumency
- “Harry did not mention his vague suspicions to Sirius, whose cheerfulness was evaporating fast now that Christmas was over. As the date of their departure back to Hogwarts drew nearer, he became more and more prone to what Mrs Weasley called ‘fits of the sullens’, in which he would become taciturn and grumpy, often withdrawing to Buckbeak’s room for hours at a time. His gloom seeped through the house, oozing under doorways like some noxious gas, so that all of them became infected by it. Harry didn’t want to leave Sirius again with only Kreacher for company; in fact, for the first time in his life, he was not looking forward to returning to Hogwarts.” – “Fits of the sullen” is a very nice way to describe that Sirius is going through a depressive episode. Something Harry can’t quite understand because he is too young or because mental health isn’t something that is talked about in the Wizarding World it seems, or perhaps both. But his instant reaction is that he does not want to leave Sirius alone in his state, because he sees Sirius as his responsibility. This is something that often occurs when a parent or parent figure becomes ill (mentally or physically), that the roles are reversed and the child instantly starts to take care of their parents.
- Also, this is the first time that Harry acts like a normal child, who doesn’t like the idea of returning to school. Hogwarts has been in the last years his safe place, the place where he felt accepted, where his friends are, his home. However Umbridge has destroyed Harry’s home. He gets isolated (no contact to anyone outside Hogwarts), his privileges are taken away from him (Quidditch) and he got physically abused in a place he considers to be safe.
- “Harry had an unpleasant constricted sensation in his chest; he did not want to say goodbye to Sirius. He had a bad feeling about this parting; he didn’t know when they would next see each other and he felt it was incumbent upon him to say something to Sirius to stop him doing anything stupid – Harry was worried that Snape’s accusation of cowardice had stung Sirius so badly he might even now be planning some foolhardy trip beyond Grimmauld Place.” – Reading this and knowing exactly where this story ends makes you realize how cruel J.K. Rowling is (it’s like Cedric’s father talking about his future grandchildren again).
- “‘OK,’ said Harry, stowing the package away in the inside pocket of his jacket, but he knew he would never use whatever it was. It would not be he, Harry, who lured Sirius from his place of safety, no matter how foully Snape treated him in their forthcoming Occlumency classes.” – REALLY J.K.?
- That whole exchange between Harry and Cho, with him finally realizing she wanted him to ask her out, was super awkward and left me mortified with second-hand-embarrassment. It is also totally how I would ask someone out.
- I’ve already talked in my previous chapter note about the Wizarding World’s huge issue with consent and Legilimency is obviously part of it, as one’s mind is intruded without giving consent, even to the point where you can manipulate what the other one sees. In order to successfully protect yourself from such an act of violence Snape informs Harry to control his emotions, to get rid of them. Harry is unable to do so, and it is always portrayed as a weakness – if he had learned to control his emotions Voldemort could have never manipulated him, resulting in Sirius’s death. And yet his emotions are also his biggest strength because it makes it impossible for Voldemort to possess him. But I think that this general advice to show no emotions, to always be tough, to man up is not very healthy at all. Harry never had anyone to share his feelings with until he entered Hogwarts and it is still hard for him. Cho’s constant crying annoys him because he doesn’t know how to react. Hermione had to actually explain to Harry how she feels. And I think that anger, unlike crying or sadness, is considered to be an acceptable emotion for young men or men in general. It is okay if they are angry, if they are violent, and for many it is the only way to deal with their negative emotions. Harry still suffers from PTSD (and he possibly will long after the war is over) and never gets the help he needs. He never learned to deal with his emotions in a healthy way, and Snape’s advice to shut them down doesn’t help either.
- “Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked so easily – weak people, in other words – they stand no chance against his powers!” – Funny but to me Snape is exactly the kind of guy who wallows in sad memories and gets easily provoked. I mean we talk about an adult man who lets the anger directed at Harry’s father out on Harry himself, an innocent child after all. Despite being good at Occlumency, Snape is exactly the kind of weak he describes here, and I think he knows and hates himself for it.
- “As he opened it, he glanced back at Snape, who had his back to Harry and was scooping his own thoughts out of the Pensieve with the tip of his wand and replacing them carefully inside his own head.” – Interesting. I always assumed you can only take your thoughts out your mind, not back in. And of course the thought would not be lost, but rather be in a visible form so you can look at it from a distance. Does that mean that Dumbledore eventually put all of his thoughts back in his mind again? Do you have to or else you forget them?