Wow, it’s the last book. It’s not my last post though, so I’ll get all nostalgic then. For now, here’s a little rambling about Magic Mike and Hermione’s patronus.
CHAPTER 12: MAGIC IS MIGHT
We start this chapter in the house on Grimmauld Place, and let me tell you, Rowling has a way with tone here. It’s impossible to not feel the intense anticipation of what is about to happen. They’ve been hanging out here for a while and we’ve all got a little cabin fever. There is a lot of waiting in this book, and while I’ve never found it boring, it definitely has a different pace than the other books. I don’t even mean in a bad way- she just does a great job of building tension. Waiting sucks, and it’s no wonder these three get all nasty with each other after a while. Saving the world can get a little rough at times. Plus, they have a slightly improved, yet still grumpy roommate. And on top of this, Snape has been named Hogwart’s Headmaster and they can’t do anything about it. Good times!
But they’ve got a plan. In fact it makes me a little nostalgic for the first time they did Polyjuice Potion. There’s just something so comforting that they are using something out of their bag of tricks. They’ve planned every bit of it out: find Umbridge, get the locket, get back to 12GP. They even know who they will turn into- it’s so well-planned something is bound to go wrong. The intelligent wizards they are, Harry, Ron, and Hermione turn into Ministry of Magic employees and make their way to get flushed into the Ministry, where the statue has been replaced with Muggles “in their rightful place.” (Yikes.) It’s called “Magic is Might,” which kind of reminds me of Magic Mike.
Ahem, anyway, nice way to start the tour of the MoM! Ron, or Cattermole, gets sidetracked in dealing with a raining office, while the real Cattermole’s wife, who is not pureblood, is being interrogated. (Whoops.) Just as Hermione is about to go with Ron, who do suppose steps onto the elevator but THE Dolores Umbridge. If we didn’t hate her so much we might actually be happy to see her!
It is somewhat obvious as to what kind of message Rowling is trying to send with the “Magic is Might” statue, the torturing of Muggle-born wizards in the basement, and the investigation of friends of Muggle-borns. This sort of persecution is a common theme throughout history: (ironically) witch hunts, the Red Scare, Nazi Germany, etc. Racisim and bigotry has been present throughout the series, but here we see where it crosses that horrifying line. “Protecting the pureblood line from the Muggles” sounds an awful lot like “preserving the Aryan nation.” While I’m not sure if Rowling has made this specific connection intentionally, it is this theme that stuck out to me this last go-through. Does anyone know if Rowling did this on purpose, or was it a more general warning or theme about when racism goes far past the line of evil?
CHAPTER 13: THE MUGGLE-BORN REGISTRATION COMMISSION
Hermione goes with Umbridge, while Harry, whose cover does not seem entirely pleasant, gets off the elevator to find her office. It looks identical to the horror she set up at Hogwarts. Who knew that kittens and pink and lace could feel so disgusting and evil. Harry attempts to Accio the locket, but it doesn’t work. Instead, he finds a file on Arthur Weasley- and that Harry himself is called “Undesirable No.1.” Not exactly an ego-booster if you ask me. After almost getting caught, he runs into a soaking wet Ron in the elevator again (hah), and then Mr. Weasley (HAH). The whole situation would be hilarious if it weren’t so horrifying. And then Mr. Weasley gets all up in Runcorn/Harry’s face, which Runcorn likely deserves. Harry warns Mr. Weasley that he’s being tracked.
Ron and Harry continue to descend, and guess what! Things get worse. There are Dementors. And people being tortured. And the locket’s around the devil’s neck. I mean, things really couldn’t get much worse. If there weren’t another 500 pages in the book, I’d be convinced they were all done for. But, somehow, because the trio gets out of EVERYTHING, they attack, saving Mrs. Cattermole in the process. Long story short (it’s difficult to summarize such an action scene), they apparate to number twelve and then apparate again and it all goes dark. So yeah, now they’re screwed.
I’ve always found it interesting that Hermione has problems casting a patronus. What does this say about her? Anyone? Even the smartest, most capable people have self-image issues sometimes. Perhaps this is her Achilles Heal? Or maybe I’m just identifying too strongly at the moment with her.
For Rowling, the Dementors are a metaphor for depression, darkness, despair. For Harry, this despair stemmed from his visceral desire for a family, the sadness he’s experienced with each loss. Perhaps for Hermione, her despair comes from something else. She has the family, she’s smart, successful. She’s the girl who’s got it all! But she, too, is not without sadness and suffering. I find it interesting that as resourceful and as intelligent as she is, she lacks the ability to rid herself of the Dementors. Does she lack the resources to deal with her sadness and suffering in her life too? Perhaps she too Type A, too much of a perfectionist, to let things go and conjure that patronus. I see the patronus as the acceptance of suffering. It does not destroy Dementors, but it is a light that scares it away. Does Hermione have a difficult time letting go? Why is it an otter (besides that they go well with Ron’s Jack Russell Terrier)? Food for thought.