The Harry Potter septology’s initial works were written with a youthful audience in mind. By the release of the fourth book, Goblet of Fire—the first of the much larger works, the series began to transition into more horror-oriented fiction.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix continued this transition and carried forward the themes established in Goblet of Fire. This novel represented the “calm-before-the-storm.” In that, resistance is established and plans are made, but it is only at the very end that the action kicks into high gear and doesn’t let up until the series concludes.
Harry opened his eyes.
Tall, thin, and black-hooded, his terrible snakelike face white and gaunt, his scarlet, slit-pupiled eyes staring . . . Lord Voldemort had appeared in the middle of the hall, his wand pointing at Harry who stood frozen, quite unable to move.
“So you smashed my prophecy?” said Voldemort softly, staring at Harry with those pitiless red eyes. “No, Bella, he is not lying. . . . I see the truth looking at me from within his worthless mind. . . . Months of preparation, months of effort . . . and my Death Eaters have let Harry Potter thwart me again. . . .”
“Master, I am sorry, I knew not, I was fighting the Animagus Black!” sobbed Bellatrix, flinging herself down at Voldemort’s feet as he paced slowly nearer. “Master, you should know —”
“Be quiet, Bella,” said Voldemort dangerously. “I shall deal with you in a moment. Do you think I have entered the Ministry of Magic to hear your sniveling apologies?”
“But Master — he is here — he is below —”
Voldemort paid no attention.
“I have nothing more to say to you, Potter,” he said quietly. “You have irked me too often, for too long. AVADA KEDAVRA!”
An excerpt from page 812/813
J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was published in 2003 by Scholastic Press and was the fifth book in the Harry Potter series. Order of the Phoenix was also the second of the large novels and by far the longest of the seven—see below.
The Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1), 1997. Page count 309.
The Chamber of Secrets (Book 2), 1999. Page count 341.
The Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3), 1999. Page count 435.
The Goblet of Fire (Book 4), 2000. Page count 734.
The Order of the Phoenix (Book 5), 2003. Page count 870.
The Half-Blood Prince (Book 6), 2005. Page count 652.
The Deathly Hallows (Book 7), 2007. Page count 759.
Order of the Phoenix also had the longest wait-period between the previous volume and itself, i. e. 2000 (GoF) vs 2003 (OotP).
With Goblet of Fire, the Harry Potter books grew dramatically in page count (See above). Extracted from The Harry Potter Lexicon website is this chronology of the events in the book.
The increasing complexity of multiple plotlines makes this a highly useful aid in comprehension.[i]
As in Goblet of Fire, this story of the trio’s (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) fifth year begins long before they even arrive at Hogwarts. Back at the Dursley home, Harry is just waiting for news of Voldemort’s return. Circumstances intervene and the story begins.
Themes that were presented in a previous post will be continued and expanded upon. A few more themes and sub-themes will be introduced as well.
Throughout Order of the Phoenix, the wizarding world is further expanded. Also explored is how the wizarding world and the muggle world intertwine. The reader wanders the corridors of the Ministry of Magic, at first for Harry’s trial. The trial is held before the Wizengamot, the official high wizard court. At the close of the book, the final clash with evil occurs in a rarely traveled area of the Ministry building.
On a darker note, the trio visits St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries where Mr. Weasley is recuperating from a violent attack. By accident, the trio comes upon Neville Longbottom visiting his parents. Both of Neville’s parents were tortured unto insanity by Bellatrix LeStrange. She repeatedly used the cruciatus curse on the couple until their minds broke.
When the school year begins at Hogwarts, a pillar of stability for Harry, Ron, and Hermione is not there. Hagrid is not at Hogwarts! In fact, Hagrid is absent from a significant part of the book; only returning under strange and secretive circumstances. It was later revealed to the trio that Hagrid had been sent by Dumbledore to attempt to forge an alliance with the giants. Hagrid being a half-giant himself was perfect for the talks. Hagrid goes into some detail explaining giantish society and culture to the trio. Also, this discussion re-introduces the subject of racial prejudice and the evils that might spring from it.
It is not only the physical world that is expanding in Order of the Phoenix. Our 15-year-old, fifth-year students are expanding (or growing) mentally and emotionally as well. A significant part of this growth came with the realization that they cannot rely on adults to always help and protect them. Sometimes they have to stand up for themselves against what is wrong and for what is right; in a mature way, of course. This manifests itself, most clearly, following Hogwarts new approach to the D.A.D.A. (Defense Against Dark Arts) class which basically eviscerated it. The trio can not wait for adults save them; they must act independently to take the security of their lives into their own hands by teaching themselves the D.A.D.A. Even if it means that they must challenge authority. The trio does not appear to consciously realize it but they are acting more like adults.
Also presented are negative examples of what being an adult means. In particular, I mean Percy Weasley and Dolores Umbridge. Percy chose to become part of the petty bureaucracy of the Ministry of Magic. More than anything else, choosing boot-licking career advancement over family and integrity, Percy hurt and confused Harry and the others. However, while pathetic, it is far less than being a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing. In the Harry potter universe, one does not need to be a Death-Eater to have a twisted soul. Evil can take many forms and Dolores Umbridge, new professor at Hogwarts, is seriously twisted. Percy’s pettiness is as nothing compared to the depths Umbridge would stoop to enforce her bureaucratic despotism. To say nothing of the fact that she is a cruel sadist.
Building upon my previous post concerning “hormonal challenges,” in Order of the Phoenix, all the craziness is still there just not how one would expect. However, in order to better organize this discussion, two sub-themes are introduced; Love is in the air and Resentment and anger issues.
Love is in the air
While not taking any giant steps forward, Ron and Hermione grow closer and more comfortable with the idea of growing closer. It is with Harry and Cho Chang where the true challenges are to be found—miscommunication and misunderstanding. Highlighting the deeply confusing nature of teen romance, the relationship between Harry Cho reached a head on Valentine’s Day. As usual, both Harry and Ron were completely clueless regarding Cho’s reaction. Also, as usual, Hermione had to interpret Cho’s actions for them. Ron puts it best when he tells Hermione:
“You should write a book,” Ron told Hermione as he cut up his potatoes, “translating mad things girls do so boys can understand them.”[ii]
Resentment and anger issues
The most intense hormonal challenge felt throughout Order of the Phoenix was Harry’s feelings of anger and resentment directed toward everyone; though not without a modicum of justification. Almost from the opening of the book, Harry is frustrated at not knowing what is going on.
With the return of Voldemort, the sense of urgency, fear and threat have all greatly intensified. Harry’s aggravation will only build as he feels buffeted by fate, events, and even his friends, who keep him in the dark for his own safety. Compounding this, Harry’s enemies regard him as a real and serious threat.
Harry’s feelings are understandable. However, it is how he responds to such feelings of irritation, anger and such that is the true indication of his maturity. Regretfully, Harry reacts like a petulant 15 year old. He gives into all his negative emotions and lashes out to all around him. Harry believes that the adults around him are treating him like a helpless child, hiding things from him that he thinks he has a right to know! It was inevitable that all this bottled up emotion would erupt.
Rowling spends a great deal of ink giving vent to Harry’s anger and resentment, providing possible justifications for Harry’s petulance toward everyone. Rowling herself is credited with having stated:
Well, he [Harry] has obviously been through a lot since book one, and book five was the book when he cracked up a little.[iii]
By the conclusion of Order of the Phoenix, much of this animosity is reconciled, but not all.
The Past Instructs
In my previous Harry Potter book series post covering Goblet of Fire, at the end of the section on themes I stated that I would be introducing a new theme. “The Past Instructs”. As a historian, it is one I greatly appreciate. Further, to my knowledge, no commentator has discussed the belief that only a true and complete understanding of the historical past (as presented in the Potterverse) could play such a pivotal role in the storyline’s present. This theme will be revisited.
Below are a few instances from the books, up thru Goblet of Fire, where a more detailed knowledge of the past would have really been helpful to our trio.
· The very first interaction between Harry and Professor Snape occurred in Sorcerer’s Stone. Professor Snape’s statement is more than just fantasy verbiage. To one familiar with the 19th century Victorian language of flowers, these words have meaning deeply significant to the story of Harry Potter.
· Tom Riddle’s diary and the adolescence of Voldemort are introduced in Chamber of Secrets. The readers did not know it, but they have just been introduced to a horcrux.
· Much is revealed in Prisoner of Azkaban: the real story behind Sirius Black; the true mass murderer of muggles; and the actual betrayer of Harry’s parents.
· Goblet of Fire starts the process of turning knowledge of the past into a weapon against evil. The pensieve is introduced as a tool to reveal more mysteries of the past. Though Dumbledore’s faith in Snape is questioned, a complete understanding of the past would remove all doubt—as will be shown in later volumes.
What’s Old is New Again
Dumbledore and his adult supporters, in reacting to Voldemort’s return, reconstitute a secret organization to combat evil. Originally formed to oppose Voldemort during his first attempted rise to power nearly twenty years previous, “The Order of the Phoenix” reforms in the summer of 1995—following the events in Goblet of Fire and before the start of school at Hogwarts in Order of the Phoenix.
Represented below is a wonderful artist’s rendition of “The Order of the Phoenix” membership as it stands in July 1995.[iv]
The trio is not included because they are too young to join The Order at that time.
In Order of the Phoenix, when Dumbledore relates to Harry the complete prophecy concerning Harry and Voldemort’s linked fate, he also reveals the absolute importance true knowledge of the past can have:
THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD APPROACHES. . . . BORN TO THOSE WHO HAVE THRICE DEFIED HIM, BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES . . . AND THE DARK LORD WILL MARK HIM AS HIS EQUAL, BUT HE WILL HAVE POWER THE DARK LORD KNOWS NOT . . . AND EITHER MUST DIE AT THE HAND OF THE OTHER FOR NEITHER CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES. . . . THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD WILL BE BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES. . . .[v]
Dumbledore brought up several times earlier in the series that the power Voldemort “knows not” was love, however, not from any obvious person. Quite by accident, Harry was made aware of just how cruelly a young Snape was treated by his father, James, and Sirius. While at the same time, how kind his mother, Lily, was to Snape. Though full appreciation of this revelation only comes with Deathly Hallows, the first inkling of Snape’s true loyalty is found here.
Truth Changes Everything.
The Fake Phoenix
As I was editing this post, I came across a blog post from 2014. The author reported that in 2003, he was able to get ahold of what he believed was a digital copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix months before its release. He goes on:
. . . the story is thrilling and has all the elements of the wizarding world. While reading it I was elated – it contained all sorts of cool new insights into Hogwarts and the history of Voldemort, as well as new magic spells and abilities. I really enjoyed reading it.
Now if you are familiar with the Harry Potter saga, something should be very evident to you now. Everything that I described above has absolutely nothing to do with the real story of the Order of the Phoenix, which Harry Potter fans got to read when the actual book hit the stores in June 2003. The book I read was a complete work of Fan Fiction.[vi]
The blog post author then goes on to other topics not related to Harry Potter.
I included this aside because: first of all, it is kind of funny. And, second, I like the idea of a piece of fan fiction fooling at least one person into thinking that it was the real deal. The world of fan fiction has improved to such an extent that best selling books have been based upon works of fan fiction. For example, Fifty Shades of Grey originally was a large piece of Twilight fan fiction called “Masters of the Universe.”
For any party interested, here is the link to the fake “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” As of writing this post, I have not read it. . . . Maybe for a future post.
As I have been doing in many of my previous posts, and will most likely continue to do, I listened to the unabridged audiobook narration of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, performed by Jim Dale. Once again, this greatly increased my enjoyment of the novel.
In my earlier discussion on Goblet of Fire, I went into a little detail on the strengths of Jim Dale as a narrator. While I shall not repeat those details here, it will suffice to say that Jim Dale is fantastic as narrator for the entire Harry Potter septology.
The Ending Begins
With the battle in the Ministry near the conclusion of Order of the Phoenix, and Voldemort’s undeniable participation in it obvious to all, the Harry Potter book series enters its final phase. Now, everything Dumbledore and Harry have been saying cannot be doubted any longer. Unfortunately, the price for this vindication has been high.
Part of any violent conflict, wizard or muggle, is the struggle to cope with death of family or loved ones, and as Order of the Phoenix ends with the war beginning; this is a haunting foreshadow for what is yet to come.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix marks the last bit of normalcy before the upheaval of war really hits. Existing themes are moved forward and new ones introduced. This was also the last opportunity for new characters to be established—for good or for ill.
In many ways, this book is a deep breath before the final sprint.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic Press, 2003. Print
“Fake Order of the Phoenix.” Internet Archive. Web. 20 September 2018. https://archive.org/details/FakeOrderOfThePheonix
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Narrated by Jim Dale, Listening Library (Audio). 2003. Audiobook. CD.
Contributors. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Harry Potter Wiki. FANDOM Books Community. 07 July 2017. Web. 08 August 2018. http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix
Contributors. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” The “Harry Potter” Compendium. FANDOM Books Community. 23 April 2017. Web. 08 August 2018. http://harry-potter-compendium.wikia.com/wiki/Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix
Contributors. “Sybill Trelawney’s First Prophecy.” Harry Potter Wiki. FANDOM Books Community. 24 August 2018.. Web. 11 September 2018. http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Sybill_Trelawney%7s_first_prophecy
Fieldman, Kate (Aidinera). “Order of the Phoenix 1995.” DeviantArt. DeviantArt. 18 July 2015. Web. 20 September 2018. https://www.deviantart.com/aidinera/art/Order-of-the-Phoenix-1995-547271893
Haber, David. “The power The Dark Lord knows not.” Beyond Hogwarts. Beyond Hogwarts.com.18 March 2007. Web. 16 September 2018. https://www.beyondhogwarts.com/harry-potter/articles/the-power-the-dark-lord-knows-not.html>
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” The Harry Potter Lexicon. Wordpress.com. Web. 17 September 2018. https://www.hp-lexicon.org/source/the-harry-potter-novels/op/
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix novel.” Mugglenet.com. Mugglenet.com. Web. 18 September 2018. http://www.mugglenet.com/harry-potter/harry-potter-series/order-of-the-phoenix-book/
Lauf, Jordan. “'Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix' Revealed Once & For All That Harry Is The Worst.” Bustle. Bustle Digital Group. 11 July 2017. Web 18 September 2018. https://www.bustle.com/p/harry-potter-the-order-of-the-phoenix-revealed-once-for-all-that-harry-is-the-worst-69327
“Order of the Phoenix.” The Harry Potter Lexicon. Wordpress.com. Web. 14 September 2018. https://www.hp-lexicon.org/thing/order-of-the-phoenix/
Thinker of Thoughts. “The Book of Abraham and the Order of the Phoenix.” Thoughts on Things and Stuff. Wordpress.com. 09 July 2014. Web. 19 September 2018. https://thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/the-book-of-abraham-and-the-order-of-the-phoenix/
Wikipedia contributors. " Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 July 2018. Web. 29 July 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix
[i] I wish I had known about this for Goblet of Fire.
[ii] Page 573.
[iii] Original source is unknown. Quote taken from:
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Harry Potter Wiki. http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” The “Harry Potter” Compendium. http://harry-potter-compendium.wikia.com/wiki/Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix
[iv] Fieldman, Kate (Aidinera). “Order of the Phoenix 1995.” DeviantArt. 18 July 2015.
[v] Page 841.
[vi] Thinker of Thoughts. “The Book of Abraham and the Order of the Phoenix.” Thoughts on Things and Stuff. 09 July 2014.