Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Chapter 1: Dudley Demented
- Ah, book 5. The longest in the series and what I feel not the most popular of the series, mostly because of teenage angst!Harry. Because just here in chapter 1 we see a very angry Harry. But, I think he has every right to be angry. Everyone deals different with trauma and this is how Harry does, because it is the least painful. He feels trapped, isolated and ignored after everything he went through. Of course there is a reason why Dumbledore especially treats him this way, and a lot of it has to do with trying to protect Harry in every possible way. But I wrote in my chapter notes for book 4 that the moment at the graveyard when Cedric died Harry stopped being a child. Of course he is not an adult either, but he lost his innocence. And Harry’s anger, his frustration is born out of the feeling that everyone still treats him as a child, despite what he had to endure. And despite not having to face trauma the way Harry did I could recognize myself a lot with his anger, with his loneliness, with his need to break out.
- This is the first book in the series that doesn’t feature a “previously in the Potter series”-segment. By now everyone should be familiar with the character and his story. Terms like “Muggle” or “Dementor” are no longer explained; they should be known by now.
- And to nobody’s surprise Dudley became an even bigger bully and his parents more oblivious to their son’s character and behaviour.
- “‘Get – off – me!’ Harry gasped. For a few seconds they struggled, Harry pulling at his uncle’s sausage-like fingers with his left hand, his right maintaining a firm grip on his raised wand; then, as the pain in the top of Harry’s head gave a particularly nasty throb, Uncle Vernon yelped and released Harry as though he had received an electric shock. Some invisible force seemed to have surged through his nephew, making him impossible to hold.” – I don’t remember if it was ever explained why Uncle Vernon could no longer continue to strangle his nephew. We later learn that the loud crack had been Mundugus Fletcher disapparating, so no other wizard was around to help Harry (as Mrs Figg is a Squib). Was it Harry’s own magic, that he had no longer control over? Was it simple impossible for Vernon to hurt his nephew or almost kill him because of the prophecy saying only one (Voldemort) has to power to kill Harry? We don’t know.
- Also, Vernon states how unlikely it is a teenager would want to listen to the news, suspecting Harry is up to something. But teenagers and young adults are interested in the world, they are political, and they use their voices and their power to change something. Thankfully.
- I really feel like this is the first time we get more of a feeling about Little Whining, with Harry mentioning the streets he passes by and the neighbours, who all live in the same kind of houses, driving the same kind of cars etc. But despite growing up here, despite walking these streets without really looking, because he knows them so well, Harry doesn’t belong there. The Dursleys of course made sure of that, but he also never had anyone there. No childhood friend, no neighbour who had been nice to him, despite maybe Mrs Figg. This has never been Harry’s home.
- “In the meantime, he had nothing to look forward to but another restless, disturbed night, because even when he escaped the nightmares about Cedric he had unsettling dreams about long dark corridors, all finishing in dead ends and locked doors, which he supposed had something to do with the trapped feeling he had when he was awake.” – Dream Interpretation 101. And of course if Harry was a normal boy (and we are countlessly reminded that he is not) this would be indeed what this dream means. And on a meta level I feel this is a subversion of the old trope of giving dreams meaning, of dreams being metaphors for other things. Because as we later learn there is no deeper meaning to those dream but rather it represents Harry’s connection to Voldemort. He sees what Voldemort sees. Which is also a bit ironic: Harry is so desperate to know what Voldemort is doing, what he is planning, but he sees it every night in his dreams.
- “Harry was not remotely afraid of his cousin any more but he still didn’t think that Dudley learning to punch harder and more accurately was cause for celebration. Neighbourhood children all around were terrified of him – even more terrified than they were of ‘that Potter boy’ who, they had been warned, was a hardened hooligan and attended St Brutus’s Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys.” – I wonder what the neighbours might think about the Dursleys. Both of their boys dangerous and violent – one (Dudley) oblivious to them, the other (Harry) because they spread that rumour. It probably made the neighbours wonder what kind of parents they actually are. And I wonder if some of the neighbours had been aware of the abuse Harry had to endure, if someone might had pitied Harry, if somebody had thought he was in danger.
- Also book 5 is the birth of sass-master Harry. We see this especially in his conversation with Dudley, the way he continuously teases Dudley, knowing his cousin can’t hurt him. It’s a good look on Harry and the very least Dudley deserves for bullying Harry all those years.
- “‘“Don’t kill Cedric! Don’t kill Cedric!” Who’s Cedric – your boyfriend?’” – Ah yes, implying someone is gay as an insult. And still I think this is the most queer text in the entire series (there is of course a lot of queer subtext, but when it comes to actual text… sadly nothing).
- I love how the arrival of the Dementors is described – by the feelings they evoke. It takes some time before Harry sees them, before the word “Dementor” is even written down, but as a reader (just as Harry) you already know what is happening.
- “Harry muttered frantically, his hands flying over the ground like spiders. ‘Where’s – wand – come on – lumos!’ He said the spell automatically, desperate for light to help him in his search – and to his disbelieving relief, light flared inches from his right hand – the wand-tip had ignited.” – I don’t think this counts exactly as wandless magic, but it is interesting that Harry didn’t need to hold the wand in his hand to cast the spell.
- I love the Mrs Figg reveal. She is actually mentioned in book 4, at the end in the hospital scene, when Dumbledore tells Sirius to get the old gang together – including Arabella Figg. I wonder if between the release of book 4 and 5 some people had already speculated if Arabella Figg and Mrs Figg from book 1 are the same person, or if that would have been too obvious. But it is nice to know that at least someone had looked over Harry all those years before he went to Hogwarts.