The Harry Potter books are really made for Christmastime. There’s something cozy about them you just want to slip into. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a Harry Potter book on a deck overlooking the beach (that’s what Michael Chabon is for, amirite ladies?), but I have read a lot of them huddled under a blanket with some hot cocoa… or red wine. One of my favorite Christmas traditions it to curl up on my parent’s overstuffed armchairs and reread one of the Harry Potter books. (I know it sounds cliched. It’s not my fault my parents bought overstuffed armchairs when I went to college.) I love rereading all the books, 1-3 if I’m pressed for time, 4, 6 or 7 if my family is into knitting that year. The only one I don’t really reread is 5. It’s not that I don’t like Order of the Phoenix, I like it a lot, but it’s hard. It’s frustrating and stressful and sad, which is pretty much the opposite of what I aim for at Christmas. Well then, what book am I writing about today? Oh, ok.
CHAPTER 7: THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC
Guys! I cannot believe I got this chapter! I love this chapter! I always loved how Rowling introduced a new part of the wizarding world in each book. After five books, we finally see the Ministry of Magic for the first time and somehow JK Rowling manages to make bureaucracy exciting. Is there anything she can’t do?
Harry and Mr. Weasley embark on their journey to the Ministry by muggle transportation, and of course Mr. Weasley is a delight. Can we talk about how he wears a bomber jacket to blend in? What a perfect detail. Very sad they left that out of the movie.
Some highlights from Harry Potter & His Brief Tour of The Ministry of Magic That He Can’t Really Enjoy Because He Is Fairly Certain He Is About to Go To Jail:
Bob, the wizard who carries around a fire breathing chicken in a cardboard box. That Arthur is so nonplussed suggests this is a fairly common occurrence. In my head it’s a file box and you’ll never take that from me.
The Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee!
Harry Potter and his continued awe of ponytails. I am actually surprised adult Harry didn’t end up with a ponytail considering how cool he seems to find them in his teens. I like the consistency; it’s the little things that make the third (and fourth) re-reads worth it.
The interdepartmental memos folded into paper airplanes and flying in and out of the lift.
And last, probably my favorite detail, the windows enchanted to look as if they’re above ground. The Hogwarts Great Hall ceiling is just magicked to mimic the actual weather, but at the Ministry of Magic it’s someone’s job to decide what the weather will be. It could snow in July, just because someone felt like it! How beautiful is that?
CHAPTER 8: THE HEARING
Oh boy! Who’s ready to meet Dolores Umbridge for the first time? Not me! The entire hearing is demonstration of the heinousness inherent in leaders aggressively burying their heads in the sand. Fudge may not be as evil as, say, Lord Voldemort, but while he’s not trying to murder anyone he is trying to get a teenager kicked out of school just so people will stop asking questions. His refrain of, “I want this taken care of today,” is shockingly lacking in empathy, not to mention respect for the legal process.
However the whole chapter is worth it for Dumbledore’s epic burn,
“Laws can be changed,” said Fudge savagely.
“Of course they can,” said Dumbledore, inclining his head. “And you certainly seem to be making many changes, Cornelius. Why, in the few short weeks since I was asked to leave the Wizengamot, it has already become the practice to hold a full criminal trial to deal with simple matter of underaged magic!”
Oh snap! This is the perfect kind of burn, because it can be said in polite company. Ugh, I love it so much.
CHAPTER 9: THE WOES OF MRS. WEASLEY
Here’s where we come to the other part of The Order of the Phoenix that’s so stressful. Harry Potter is fifteen years old and fifteen year old boys are… not great. I think Rowling does a lovely job of portraying Harry’s adolescence and how he often struggles against (and sometimes falls prey to) hormonal flares of temper and crises of self-esteem. This chapter finds Harry being kind of a prat about not being named a Prefect. His decency and love for Ron win out, but it’s a dark portent of what’s to come.
Oh no! Not this part! Oh god, don’t look at me! I cry every time I read this chapter. Mrs. Weasley sobbing as the Boggart from the writing desk takes the form of her dead family is one of the most heartbreaking and memorable parts of the series for me. The mood is already somber after Moody shows Harry the photo of the old Order of the Phoenix, most of whom lost their lives to Voldemort. Molly Weasley has always been protective of her family, as perfectly illustrated by the every watchful “clock” in the burrow. It would be easy to see her as worrying too much, except that as we just learned she’s already been through this once before. It’s a heart wrenching scene and it’s always stuck with me.
One of my favorite moments: Something very cold trickled down the back of Harry’s neck; for a moment he thought someone was putting a Disillusionment Charm on him again, then he realized that Mrs. Weasley was attacking his hair with a wet comb.
I love how she subverts herself here. It’s a cute, funny moment in the midst of a whole lot of bleakness.
Bog-standard is fun way to say “ordinary!”
How long do you think it took the Ministry to switch from owls to little flying paper airplanes for interdepartmental memos? Probably a long time, right?
Which of the twins do you ship Hermione with?
- The Potters and The Weasleys were in the order together, but we really don’t know anything about their relationship. It doesn’t necessarily feel like they have one. It’s part of what makes Harry’s relationship with the Weasleys kind of unique and lovely. So many of the adults in Harry’s life love him unconditionally because he’s an extension of the love they had for James and Lily, but Arthur and Molly adopt Harry because he’s Ron’s friend and because he needs a family.