Mr. Graham's Reviews > Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
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Apr 14, 11

bookshelves: childrens, fantasy, saw-the-movie
Read in April, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the next step in complexity in the Harry Potter novels. There was a new level of complexity concerning politics, relationships, death, and prejudice. We see a very complex snapshot of real-world issues. As the readers of these books grow older, they will begin to see that all of this is really going on in the world on some level.

From the start, as we saw in the previous book, there was a split between the people that believed Voldemort was back and the people who didn’t. Obviously Harry was at the center of this, since it was his testimony that people either believed or discounted. The Ministry of Magic and the Daily Prophet, along with most of the magical world, chose to deny that the world was in dire peril. The Order of the Phoenix, spearheaded by Dumbledore, was the small organization made up of the ones who were willing to face the truth, however ugly it was. Hogwarts, because it was headed by Dumbledore as well, also largely believed Harry.

The Ministry of Magic felt the duty to put the world at ease by silencing the “lies” that Voldemort was back. In order to do so, they assumed control of Hogwarts in the person of Professor Umbridge. It is interesting that, in order to keep the world believing they are safe, certain universal and unalienable rights are revoked. Through Umbridge, the Ministry revoked the right of free speech when Harry got detention for saying that Voldemort was back. They revoked the right to freedom of assembly when they disbanded all clubs and teams. They revoked the right to freedom of the press by controlling what the Daily Prophet printed, and banning the paper that printed opposing ideas. They revoked the right to keep and bear arms by refusing to teach practical defense. Umbridge passed judgments and inflicted punishments in a dictatorial manner. She even used illegal means to do so.

This book also gives us an interesting take on education:
• “It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient to get you through your examination, which, after all, is what school is all about.” Interesting in a world where a degree means more than practical experience. A world where occupational training is being pushed out of the schools.
• “I am here to teach you using a Ministry-approved method that does not include inviting students to give their opinions…”
• “Teachers are hereby banned from giving students any information that is not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach”
• “It seemed to Harry that Umbridge was steadily depriving him of everything that made his life at Hogwarts worth living…” In a world where music, art, drama, and sports are being cut from schools.

I must say I was a little disappointed in the lack of a major twist at the end. The twist was, of course, that Umbridge was actually more evil than just being the face of the political institution; that she actually set the dementers on Harry and was willing to perform an unforgivable curse on a student. What this book did have, though, more than the others, was a major, descriptive battle between good and evil that went beyond Harry vs. Voldemort.

A good book on the whole. The anticipatory elements have been set in place. Which side is Snape really on? Will Malfoy become any more than a snot-nosed, spoiled rich kid? Surely the dementers will defect. What about the giants? I have to think the centaurs will be involved. How will the other characters…Neville, Luna, Ginny, Cho… be involved? I can’t wait to see how it all comes out in the end.
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