Book Club 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


Sarah: 00:02 Hi, I’m Sarah.

Rachel: 00:05 I’m Rachel.

Sarah: 00:06 And this is Unassigned Reading.

Rachel: 00:07 Where we discuss the books you’re never going to talk about in English class.

Sarah: 00:10 Right. Y.A., sci-fi, fantasy, and all the other genres you read for fun.

Rachel: 00:15 Obviously this is not a spoiler free podcast.

Sarah: 00:18 So many spoilers.

Rachel: 00:19 And I hope you’re ready for some angst.

Sarah: 00:22 Yeah, because it’s time for the angstiest of all Harry Potter books, Order of the Phoenix.

Rachel: 00:28 Yeah, we’ve got brooding Harry, Voldemort’s returned to power, some truly evil teachers, secret underground defense against the dark arts clubs, and the death of a much beloved character.

Sarah: 00:39 Basically it’s gonna get dark, but first it’s time to do our 60 second summary, which should be super easy. It’s only 870 pages of material.

Rachel: 00:53 Could we just skip it this week? Maybe?

Sarah: 00:56 You’re gonna good at do great. It’ll be

Rachel: 00:58 I’m getting heart palpitations

Sarah: 01:01 You’re going to do great. Ready? Set, go.

Rachel: 01:03 Okay. Harry’s back with the Dursleys. He’s attacked by dementors along with Dudley. He’s expelled from Hogwarts, has to go to a hearing. He’s taken back to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. He and Dumbledore go to the hearing and he manages not to get expelled, but obviously the ministry is now like super against Harry and Dumbledore. Back at hogwarts there’s a new defense against the dark arts teacher, Umbridge who was sent there by the ministry. Basically the ministry is interfering at Hogwarts. Also, she’s basically evil. She tortures students, she takes over the school, kicks out Dumbledore, Harry and the others are kind of fighting back by trying to learn defensive spells anyway, in this secret defense against the dark arts group that they called Dumbledore’s Army. Also, Harry’s having visions. Over Christmas, he sees Mr. Weasley attacked by a snake and he starts taking occlumency lessons with Snape to try and stop the visions, though it doesn’t seem to be helping very much. So then he sees the vision of Sirius being taken by Voldemort during his O.W.L.S., Harry and Co. go to the ministry on thestrals to try and save him, but it’s a trap to get Harry to acquire the prophecy for him. They fight. The order, shows up, Sirius dies. Dumbledore and Voldemort fight. Voldemort possesses Harry. Then the ministry shows up and Voldemort flees. Now everybody knows the truth about Voldemort’s return and Dumbledore.

Sarah: 02:03 Stop. Stop. Stop.

Rachel: 02:04 finally tells Harry stop about the prophecy. Okay.

Sarah: 02:08 That was impressive. Clearly you prepared ahead of time, but it was impressive.

Rachel: 02:14 I mean, to be fair, if I had not prepared ahead of time,

Sarah: 02:20 You would have had no chance.

Rachel: 02:20 I would have gotten to like Umbridge shows up at Hogwarts.

Sarah: 02:24 I did not think you’re going to make it. You spent a lot of time on the dementors at the beginning. I was like, oh boy, she’s not going to get through this one at all.

Rachel: 02:31 I spent like two words on the dementors.

Sarah: 02:33 It was 12 seconds. That’s like a quarter of your time nearly. So yeah, that was a pretty good surface level summary. Obviously you skipped a lot of details.

Rachel: 02:44 I mean obviously, but I mean I hit the basic points.

Sarah: 02:47 You did, you did. I think, you know, I could add things, but you got a lot of it. You didn’t really talk about Hagrid’s whole storyline. Where Hagrid doesn’t show up to school for a long time.

Rachel: 02:59 True, I mean honestly in regards to the larger storyline, not super relevant, like they’re one of the interesting things about this book because it’s so jam packed full and that’s one of the things when I was trying to figure out how I was going to summarize this book that I had trouble with, but there are a lot of sort of B plots.

Sarah: 03:16 Yes.

Rachel: 03:16 That don’t necessarily, that are interesting and important, but don’t necessarily contribute to the really underlying narrative of the story.

Sarah: 03:24 Yeah. I’d actually forgotten how big the quidditch subplot was. There’s this whole quidditch subplot going on and in the overall scheme of the book it has nothing do with the end. You forget about it if you haven’t read it recently, but it’s a big focus of Harry’s and Fred and George’s throughout the year. Also you did

Rachel: 03:42 Cause they’re kick off the quidditch team.

Sarah: 03:43 You also didn’t mention Fred and George at all, which I, while not important to the plot, maybe is one of the best parts of the book.

Rachel: 03:51 I mean it’s a great moment, but again, Sarah, you gave me 60 seconds to summarize an 870 page book. Is that what you said?

Sarah: 03:58 That is what I said. Yes.

Rachel: 03:59 That’s too many pages.

Sarah: 04:02 It is a good number of pages. Um, so the other thing, you sort of missed the end where Dumbledore finally tells Harry about the prophecy.

Rachel: 04:10 Yeah, right. The prophecy of course, which I came in right after the end of the timer on that one. And I think we’ll definitely talk about this more a little later in the episode, but basically the prophecy is just that, just, that Harry, it’s basically why we call it Harry the chosen one. You know, it says that Harry’s one with the power to defeat the Dark Lord, although actually it could’ve been someone else. And again we’ll probably touch on that later

Sarah: 04:34 We’ll get there.

Rachel: 04:34 And also that essentially one of them is probably going to have to kill the other. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Sarah: 04:40 We’ll get there.

Rachel: 04:41 We’ll get there too. Yeah, we’ll definitely touch more on the prophecy.

Sarah: 04:44 So I think we should start it sort of the beginning and something that becomes very, very apparent from the first couple of pages is that Harry’s not doing so good in this book.

Rachel: 04:57 Yeah, he’s really not. And you know, I think it’s really interesting because I think we’ve discussed this a little bit before, but I’m not sure that we’ve actually set it so far in this episode. The fifth Harry Potter book is our favorite book by far.

Sarah: 05:09 It’s so good.

Rachel: 05:11 Yeah. And I think rereading it has only kind of reaffirmed that in our minds, obviously Harry’s dealing with a lot more trauma and this book it’s really angsty and we’re seeing a lot of Harry’s external manifestations of all of the trauma that he’s been through. And I mean there are a lot of other reasons I love it too, but I think kind of finally getting to see some of the fallout of the things that he’s been to and some reactions to that. And yeah, I just, I really love kind of finally getting that pay off. And I think it’s interesting that his actions maybe come across as whiny or unnecessarily mean or aggressive or whatever to some people. When I actually think that that’s one of the aspects of this book that I really love because we’re finally sort of seeing the expression and some of this trauma being dealt with.

Sarah: 05:53 Yeah, because Harry has been through a lot and in the first four books he doesn’t deal with it a whole lot. Like he doesn’t want to go home for Christmas, but like he was in a very abusive situation growing up like he was clearly neglected and unloved and, and then in the first three books, at the end of every year, there’s some sort of giant battle. Usually sort of Voldemort adjacent. Yeah. It’s sort of surprising that he hasn’t had, he hasn’t really had any issues with that until this point. Although to be fair, things get much, much worse at the end of book four than they’ve been before.

Rachel: 06:27 Yes. Before we dive any deeper into this, because I’m about to dive really deep, I want to just give a quick little warning here to anybody who might be concerned. We are, as you can probably already tell, we’re gonna touch on some sensitive subjects here, including childhood trauma and child neglect and abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. So if any of that might be concerning for you then just maybe go ahead and skip ahead a little bit and we’ll be moving on to some other interesting subjects after that, so this is not going to be the whole entire episode but it probably is going to be the whole first part of it. So that’s just a little heads up there. So yeah, trauma in Harry Potter and specifically in Harry Potter five. So this is kinda one of those times where I’m getting to like pull out my college degrees, which is fine because I’m the kind of person who has college degrees that people are like, what, what are you gonna do with those. And I, mine are actually kind of useful to my life, but for anybody who doesn’t know which is probably most people listening to this. I double majored in Child Development and English literature when I was in college and that might seem like a weird combo but you know, it works. And I actually had the opportunity to take a really cool class in college on the psychology and child development of Harry Potter.

Sarah: 07:44 You know how it’s at the beginning of very episode were like, these aren’t the books you’re going to talk about English class. Well we kind of lied because Rachel straight up studied these in school.

Rachel: 07:53 Yeah, straight up took actually more than one class on Harry Potter in college, although technically for one of them I was a teacher’s assistant, but you know.

Sarah: 08:02 You know.

Rachel: 08:02 So anyway. Yeah, I’ve, I’ve studied some this before so I kind of want to touch on a little bit of that stuff because obviously I find child development and psychology really fascinating and I think there’s some really interesting ways we can look at some of the theories and ideas from that in relation to Harry Potter. So I want to start a little bit by talking about trauma up to this point in the series. So we’re going to do a bit of a retrospective. So like you said, Harry’s had a lot of trauma in his life like a lot and we know from, from book three that he does have some limited degree of memory of Voldemort’s attack on him when he was a baby and his parents’ death. And we know that it’s had some lingering effects because well, of his reactions to dementors in that book and his longing for paternal figures and people like the Weasleys and Hagrid and Sirius. We also know that he’s faced a number of traumatic experiences like you said pretty much at the end of every book, including facing Voldemort, at least when you’re talking about from the point of book three, he’s already faced Voldemort twice. He’s nearly died way more often than that. He’s faced off against the man who’s betrayal led to his parents’ death, not to mention a number of highly dangerous magical creatures, which brings us to book four in which Harry faces probably what is his greatest trauma yet up to this point, being kidnapped by Voldemort, witnessing the murder of one of his classmates and actually being tortured before escaping and then immediately being taken by another dark wizard who wants to kill him. So basically, needless to say, Harry has faced some serious trauma. And that’s really, that’s the only the more, you know, quote unquote, I hate to say it like this, but like exciting stuff, you know, I mean we haven’t, you briefly mentioned the Dursleys earlier. Um, and they, they really do bear mentioning because the Dursleys were Harry’s primary caretakers throughout essentially his entire childhood from about age one to age 11.

Sarah: 09:54 Yeah.

Rachel: 09:55 And they were at best from what we see on the page, neglectful at best and very likely at least verbally abusive.

Sarah: 10:03 I mean I think it’s pretty clear that they are from what we see.

Rachel: 10:05 I think they probably are too. But you know, we’re talking best to less best case scenario there. And even when you’re talking about just a neglectful situation in childhood that still, that’s really an abusive environment just in a different way. And it’s still extremely harmful for child development. So that’s not to say that that’s any less terrible. So basically what I’m saying is that Harry’s been through a lot, probably explained some things about him. I think, you know, we could see maybe a little bit of that in his tendency to be both overly trusting and mistrusting of authority figures and things like that and he also has a pretty high risk factor I would say because of those things for more adverse effects because of how turbulent and traumatic his upbringing was. So basically the question that poses for us, is he’s how is he doing as well as he is, because we’re going to get more into sort of some of the manifestations of trauma that we’re seeing in book five, but all things considered. He’s a very well adjusted kid. So how, how does that happen? Like how did we get to that point? So the thing I want to talk about in relation to that are some ideas from child development and these ideas are resilience and protective factors. I found this really great definition of what resilience is in terms of child development on the Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development website. Just so we can sort of have a foundation to build on resilience is children’s showing healthy development in spite of adversity, pretty easy to follow. And there are a couple of different contexts that we can look at to examine resilience, but essentially we’re looking at three different spheres of influence that act upon how resilient a child is likely going to be. So the first one is within the child themselves, the second is within the family. And the third is within community interactions, interactions between the child and the community that they live in. Let’s go through and kind of look at Harry through those three different spheres of influence.

Sarah: 11:57 Okay.

Rachel: 11:57 So in terms of Harry himself, when we’re looking at his childhood, we have a brief period of really good home life during his first year at least assumedly from everything we know about James and Lilly and his first year of life. I think we can assume that it was a pretty good year and he was well taken care of, well loved. And then he went through a long period of neglect and abuse. And then a period in late childhood and early adolescence of once again, having caring and supportive adult authority figures in his life. So that sort of, you know, family factors as far as community factors. We can probably guess that, or at least I would guess that Harry probably had kind of middling success there. School was probably fine, although we know that he was bullied. Maybe he had some good teachers. We just really don’t know a lot about that aspect of his childhood. He wasn’t really starved that we know of though. Again, we know nutrition wasn’t great. Dumbledore even kind of alludes to that himself at the end of the book when he says that Harry came to Hogwarts, neither happy nor as well nourished as he would have liked, but I think we do have reason to believe that Harry had pretty strong internal resilience and I would base that on the fact that a, again, he seems to be pretty well adjusted and b, he reacts fairly well to change and adversity and I mean just all the extremely stressful situations that he keeps finding himself in because there are a lot.

Sarah: 13:15 Yeah.

Rachel: 13:15 So some examples of these internal protective factors that I think we can see in Harry that are probably contributing to his resilience are one his easygoing temperament. I would say Harry does a fairly decent job of going along with the flow. I mean, when he’s 11 years old, he finds out he’s straight up a wizard.

Sarah: 13:31 Yeah.

Rachel: 13:31 That’s a bit of a surprise. I don’t think. I mean, most kids would be stoked, but I think they still might be a little more shocked. He just Kinda like, oh, okay.

Sarah: 13:39 Cool. Cool. Cool.

Rachel: 13:40 Yeah. Alright, that makes sense.

Sarah: 13:42 I’ll go with you, a strange man who brought me a cake.

Rachel: 13:45 Better than the Dursleys let’s go. I think he has fairly positive expectations of himself. He has definitely a strong sense of independence. He has fairly good communication skills and definitely good problem solving skills. He has a good ability or at least a decent ability to identify, manage and express emotion. I actually think to touch a little bit on book five, we do see a really good example of it in this book that I wanted to point out specifically because there’s a great scene where has just found out that Ron has been made prefect and he doesn’t take it super well. He kinda has a brief freak out, but then he acknowledges that he did kind of expect if he had been expecting anything, that he would have been made prefect, that that’s not really fair and that he’s no more deserving of it than Ron and essentially he just has this moment where he acknowledges his jealousy and works through it and honestly really shows some maturity, I think even beyond his age in the way that he reacts to that and handles it on his own. So I think he definitely shows the ability to manage and express emotions very or at least fairly well all things considered. And he also has for sure the ability to develop positive and lasting relationships because we see him do that just time and time again throughout the series. So yeah, I think between his high degree of internal protective factors, because that’s really, you know, I was listing on that he’ll end up with. But it’s like most, if not all of them, that he lines up with and the fact that we know he did have some healthy attachments in his early life to Lilly and James and again, a little bit in later childhood. I think that’s part of what led to a high degree of resilience in Harry. Basically, you know, those things were working as protective factors to lead to a healthy trajectory of development. And we can talk more about secure attachments and stuff like that. But that’s just a whole nother thing. So we’re just not going to, we’re just not really going to go into that.

Sarah: 15:33 We still haven’t gotten to book five, so.

Rachel: 15:34 Yeah, exactly. So that sort of leads us up to book five and then what I’m seeing in book five is a lot of response to trauma. Like I mentioned at the end of book four Harry went through really the biggest trauma yet in his life, you know, you could argue that maybe his parents deaths were worse, but he was too young to really remember that well. And also in some ways I think he was a less active participant in that.

Sarah: 16:01 Yeah, of course.

Rachel: 16:02 In terms of what happened at the graveyard, he was actively fighting Voldemort and he was actively tortured and yeah, it was a very traumatic experience. And you know, I think what we see in book five is him kind of trying to cope with that experience. We know he’s having nightmares about the events at the end of book for about the graveyard and Cedric’s death. That’s mentioned several times throughout the book, including in talk from Dudley that Harry reacts very aggressively to right before the dementors attack them. I think that’s that, that tendency toward anger and frustration is just definitely a response to all of the grief and trauma that he’s been feeling. We see him yelling a lot more than we have in any of the other books. We see him taking out his frustrations, particularly on Ron in Hermione, which on a side note, I also think it’s kind of interesting just because I wonder if subconsciously he tends to be taking out his anger on them more because he knows that they will take it, you know, that he’s not going to lose them over that. So that’s kind of off subject, but I do think that’s interesting. We see him acting recklessly, although that’s not necessarily out of character for him. And it was like unable to hold his tongue even around umbrage even though he knows she’s dangerous.

Sarah: 17:10 And he’s been warned multiple times like don’t mess with Umbridge.

Rachel: 17:14 Yeah. And, and all of that kind of condensed and bottled up in the scene at the end, after Sirius dies where he yells and he runs and he destroys half of Dumbledore, his office and he’s basically rapid fire cycling through the stages of grief and he’s just undergone another pretty serious trauma and this time lost someone very close to him as a result of it.

Sarah: 17:33 Yeah.

Rachel: 17:34 So all of that brings us kind of to a related point, which I know you also wanted to talk about, at least I think you did, which is how all this trauma is maybe effecting Harry because we’ve talked a little bit about why maybe he’s been able to cope as well as he has with all of this trauma and adversity, but we definitely see it affecting him more in this book in more negative ways and I just laid out quite a few of those effects but it’s never explicitly stated and maybe you know, shown more strongly I can give, given some other books like the Hunger Games, but I think there’s a strong case to be made for Harry possibly having post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sarah: 18:08 Yeah, I was actually going to ask you about that. So.

Rachel: 18:12 Okay. Ask Away.

Sarah: 18:13 So I sort of have two questions. My first one was based on sort of the text and what’s implied, do we think Harry probably has PTSD?

Rachel: 18:23 So my answer is I think you could make an argument for that. I don’t think it’s necessarily 100 percent intended. And I think you could also argue that, you know, he’s just experiencing other kinds of emotional and mental turmoil because of all the trauma, but I definitely see him as fitting some of the symptoms. Quite a few actually of the symptoms of PTSD. Would you like me to like go through those really fast?

Sarah: 18:46 Yeah, go through them really quick. Let’s hear.

Rachel: 18:48 Okay. Yeah. So I mean for anybody who doesn’t know PTSD is, and again I’m drawing this definition off of several websites including the department,US Department of Veteran Affairs and Stanford Children’s Health, which has some information about PTSD in children, but basically PTSD is a condition following a traumatic event that causes someone to have persistent, frightening thoughts, memories or flashbacks of that event. And it can be short term or chronic. And there are a lot of symptoms. Most of these symptoms are true kind of from childhood through adult, but there are some that are more specific to adolescents that I think is interesting and I’ll touch on again because Harry definitely fits that. But yeah, symptoms I think we see in Harry: sleep disturbances for sure. Like we talked about the nightmares, feeling jittery or on edge. I think we could argue that we see this in Harry, especially at the beginning of the book in the summer when he’s like, you’re just trying to listen to the news and he’s jumping at every sound being easily startled again, you know, he smashes his head into the window because he’s so jumpy. Loss of interest, attachment, feeling numb. Again, I think we see Harry cycling through that occasionally throughout the series in particular. One of the things that stuck out to me is there several times in the series when he explicitly says that he can’t decide if he wants to be alone or be with people and every time he has one, he wants the other and he isolates himself several times. Here’s a big one. Irritability or increased aggression. Oh my goodness. Yes.

Sarah: 20:13 He’s got that one a lot.

Rachel: 20:14 See literally all of book five. I mean, I think this is the first time we ever see Harry get into a fistfight. Is in this book? I think.

Sarah: 20:22 Yeah, I think you’re right.

Rachel: 20:24 Normally he uses the wand and then I wanted to particularly emphasize this note that I found on the VA website because it’s talking about some of the symptoms that may differ in adolescents and children for PTSD and it says adolescents are more likely than younger children or adults to exhibit impulsive and aggressive behavior and I think that is one of the biggest sort of differences we see in Harry in this book is he’s markedly, I think, angrier and more aggressive than he has in a lot of the other would say.

Sarah: 20:54 He’s even like. I think Harry is always a little impulsive, but I think he’s more impulsive.

Rachel: 21:00 I agree. He’s, he’s always to so extent those thing.

Sarah: 21:03 He’s taking more risks.

Rachel: 21:03 I mean he is a Gryffindor. He’s brash and reckless. He always is, but I agree. I think those things are all decidedly heightened in this book.

Sarah: 21:11 Yeah.

Rachel: 21:12 So yeah, I, I would argue that I think there’s a strong possibility that he maybe has PTSD in this book.

Sarah: 21:18 I would agree.

Rachel: 21:18 Is that, is that your feeling as well? Yeah,

Sarah: 21:20 yeah. Yeah. I think obviously it’s not made clear, which is something thing that happens a lot in Harry Potter. There’s, there’s subtext without actually saying it.

Rachel: 21:28 There’s not as much dealing with trauma as I think we would like.

Sarah: 21:31 Yes. Overall, and that sort of leads me into my second question, which is, so if we do think Harry has PTSD, do we think the way it’s shown in the book is like it’s a good way of showing it?

Rachel: 21:42 Ooh, that’s a good question.

Sarah: 21:44 Yeah.

Rachel: 21:45 I mean I guess my first answer would be that I don’t think it’s necessarily, and again I’m by no means an expert on PTSD or really anything. I don’t think it’s necessarily showing any negative stereotypes of PTSD or like really much stereotypic behavior in general just because I’m not at all convinced that it was intentional.

Sarah: 22:06 Yeah.

Rachel: 22:07 Just because I think it might’ve been a little more overt if it was.

Sarah: 22:11 Right, that’s my thinking too.

Rachel: 22:12 We don’t actually, we don’t actually overtly see Harry experiencing a lot of the, like main hallmarks of PTSD. We don’t see him having flashbacks and even though he is having enough nightmares that I would say maybe that counts. Yeah. I, I don’t know, I don’t, I don’t think it’s really a negative portrayal because also again, I think you could kind of argue either way.

Sarah: 22:33 Yeah,

Rachel: 22:34 I think you could definitely see this book as representing Harry as having PTSD, but I also think you don’t necessarily have to read it that way.

Sarah: 22:41 Yeah, that’s sort of what I think it’s very sort of walking the line were sort of in between. Like you, there’s definitely a reading to be made where Harry has PTSD, but you can also read it as, he doesn’t. I think both. There are two ways to read it and I do think if because of that, like if he does have ptsd, it’s sort of subtle. So I always say like if you’re looking, you know, if you wanted to read a book with a character who has PTSD, like you can probably say Harry does, but it’s not necessarily intentional. So you’re not gonna get.

Rachel: 23:08 Yeah.

Sarah: 23:08 It’s not about that. And so it’s sort of under the surface and maybe doesn’t show all the things you would expect if somebody actually had.

Rachel: 23:16 Which on the flip side could make it less good representation.

Sarah: 23:20 Right, that sort of. Yeah, because it’s in this sort of in between place. It’s not bad representatation. It’s not really good representation either. It’s kind of somewhere in the middle.

Rachel: 23:32 I feel like, Is that going to be our thesis for representation and Harry Potter?

Sarah: 23:36 Probably.

Rachel: 23:37 It’s like somewhere in the middle

Sarah: 23:41 Like you said, I mean we’ve talked a lot about the trauma and that’s because it’s probably the biggest part of the book. As I was taking notes I would say more than half my notes were like hey look, Harry’s showing a symptom of his trauma

Rachel: 23:53 Oh look, Harry’s screaming at somebody at the top of his lungs?

Sarah: 23:57 Yeah, it’s a big part of the book, but it’s a big book. So there are lots of other things going on too that I think you need to talk about.

Rachel: 24:04 And the other big part is, you know, the title, the order of the Phoenix. We’ve got all of these groups and kind of this idea of political resistance going on and you know, I think we touched on it a little bit in relation to the last book, but we’ve really experienced quite a big shift in the series. Voldemort is back, the ministries is in denial and trying to discredit Harry and Dumbledore. We’re entering into basically an entirely different political climate than anything we’ve seen before.

Sarah: 24:35 Yeah. Fudge’s treatment of Harry has completely changed over time.

Rachel: 24:40 Yeah. Just night and day. He’s gone from Harry being his poster child for all things good and lovely to saying that. Harry’s a maniac.

Sarah: 24:50 Harry’s the problem.

Rachel: 24:51 Yeah.

Sarah: 24:51 Yeah. He’s the problem Voldemort’s not back Harry’s bad. You know, and sort of using journalism to get that point across

Rachel: 25:00 The Daily Profit is just entirely playing their own game. Sadly. We had a great discussion about sort of the groundwork that was laid for this about Rita Skeeter and all of her terrible reporting practices in our last episode, that was sadly lost in the Great Harry Potter four recording debacle in which we lost like half of our audio.

Sarah: 25:21 And had to rerecord and then had to kind of try to remember what we talked about before and didn’t quite remember all of it.

Rachel: 25:27 And that just got left by the wayside, but yeah, they, they’ve got, there’s this really premeditated campaign to delegitimize Harry and Dumbledore and all of the truthful claims that they’re making about the return of Voldemort because that’s the ministry’s agenda. They don’t want to acknowledge that Voldemort might be back.

Sarah: 25:44 I think part of how they’re so successful in that is also because the wizards, the community, they don’t want Voldemort back. They don’t want to believe it. So all the ministry has to do is sort of just nudge them in that direction. Like of course Voldemort’s not, Harry’s crazy and in the populace was like, of course, yeah, Harry’s crazy that’s fine as long Voldemort’s not back.

Rachel: 26:07 You know, the pretty lie rather than the very terrifying and disconcerting truth, which is I think what we see going on in this book, but we do have these two groups that are sort of created to fight back against that. And the first one of course is the Order of the Phoenix, which is they’re fighting back against, you know, the very overt enemy against the rise of Voldemort and his supporters. And then the other is sort of doing it in a more. I mean they’re both covert, but this group is fighting back really against the political establishment, like against the government, refusing to acknowledge Voldemorte and you know, the way that they’re trying to keep people from.

Sarah: 26:47 They’re trying to keep people from learning how to protect themselves.

Rachel: 26:50 Yes. And, and that group is the DA, Dumbledore’s Army. And I think it’s interesting that, you know, it’s sort of the parallels you see between those two groups and both the ways in which they’re fighting back, but also the groups in which they’re fighting back and the parallels that that draw between the actual enemy and the people that are standing in the way of you fighting the enemy.

Sarah: 27:10 Well, and it gets interesting to, in the later books we’re going to see you sort of Dumbledore’s Army merge a bit with the Order of the Phoenix. They’re going to become closely tied together

Rachel: 27:21 Because Dumbledore’s Army really does become, even though it doesn’t necessarily exist as such, maybe again until the seventh book, although we don’t see that as much since we’re reading from Harry’s perspective and he’s obviously off hunting horcruxes. But yeah, we see them sort of become their own resistance fighters against the sort of incursions from dark wizards and you know, bad people into Hogwarts. And also some of them actually joining up with the Order as they become old enough to do so.

Sarah: 27:46 Yeah, there’s definitely. It sort of becomes like Order of the Phoenix Junior.

Rachel: 27:51 Yeah, it really does.

Sarah: 27:52 Sort of a way for the students who were too young for the Order to still play a part because they want to fight back too. They want to do what they can to help and and also to protect themselves because it’s scary.

Rachel: 28:04 Yeah, it’s a dark world out there.

Sarah: 28:07 I hate to interrupt this excellent discussion, but we need to talk about another great book podcast for a second.

Rachel: 28:12 Do you mean Loaded Lit?

Sarah: 28:14 That’s the one.

Rachel: 28:15 And if you like literary analysis, these guys really get into it.

Sarah: 28:19 They choose a new book each month to break down over the course of several episodes. Also themed food and drinks to go along with it.

Rachel: 28:27 But maybe we should just let them explain it.

Sarah: 28:29 Yeah, they’ll probably do a better job of it than we are.

Anya: 28:48 Do you love books and booze?

Hale: 28:50 Do you like themed food?

Victoria: 28:52 Do you like a mixture of high and low brow? Well then welcome to loaded literature where your host:

Victoria: 28:59 I’m Victoria.

Hale: 29:00 I’m Hale

Anya: 29:01 I’m Anya.

Victoria: 29:01 This podcast began as a book club that expanded beyond our reading room. We cover one book in a month and break it down by analysis, background, context and adaptions, all of which will be paired with alcohol and food.

Hale: 29:15 So please come join our book club episodes Air Wednesday at 10:00 AM Pacific Time, wherever you listen to podcasts, you can find us on social media at, @loadedlitpod on Twitter, or loadedliterature on Instagram. We all have our own individual social media, so please follow us there as well and come join the conversation.

Rachel: 29:40 Okay. Let’s get back the order of the Phoenix

Sarah: 29:42 And in book five in particular, like they are actively being prevented from learning how to protect themselves.

Rachel: 29:49 Yeah. Which I think is a great segue to another thing that we have to talk about in relation to book five, which is Umbridge. I mean you cannot talk about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix without talking about Umbridge.

Sarah: 30:02 Yeah. Because as much as everyone hates Voldemort, I think Harry Potter fans hate Umbrige more.

Rachel: 30:09 I was literally about to say that, they do. They hate Umbrige more than Voldemort, which is kind of wild. When you think about it, so actually I have two questions for you in relation to that first question, why do you think that is? And second question, which of them do you think is actually the bigger villain?

Sarah: 30:29 So I think the reason why, and it’s sort of a lead into my answer to the second question Umbridge is the kind of evil we are more likely to experience in our lives. She’s the kind of evil you expect she’s incredibly bigoted, she’s cruel, she’s in a position of authority that she abuses. And so I think Umbrige is an exaggeration that I don’t think most of us are ever going to meet someone quite like Umbrige, but I think our lives are going to, you know, run in with someone who’s very bigoted or someone who uses their position of authority to be really cruel.

Rachel: 31:09 I’m sorry, are you reading off of my notes?

Sarah: 31:13 Yeah. And so the, I think that’s why everyone hates her more.

Rachel: 31:15 I agree.

Sarah: 31:15 Because Umbridge is the villain you recognize, Umbridge is the villain you know, you’re going to see in your life and I get it. Like I do kind of think Umbrige is worse because Voldemort’s so over the top he causes a great deal of death and destruction, but he’s a clear evil. You can fight and you know, if you’re a death eater, you’re evil. If you follow Voldemort, you’re clearly evil. Umbridge she’s part of something that’s supposed to be good. She’s part of the Ministry of Magic. She’s not everything about her shouldn’t be evil, but she is. And so I kind of do think Umbridge is more evil because when Voldemort is gone, people like Umbrige, they’re still going to exist and they’re always going to exist.

Rachel: 31:54 In the spectacular words of Sirius Black, “The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.”

Sarah: 32:00 And Umbridge’ss, like the big sort of example of that is even if you save the day, you get rid of the big evil, the world,

Rachel: 32:08 There are still just bad people.

Sarah: 32:10 There are still going to be Umbridges.

Rachel: 32:11 I don’t know that I would say Umbrige is a bigger villain to me. I do think she might be more terrifying. I think that might be a distriction for me.

Sarah: 32:20 I think that’s a better way to say it.

Rachel: 32:21 Yeah, I have trouble that too because I do weirdly, like most people, I think I have a more visceral reaction to her and it’s pretty much for exactly all of the reasons you said she’s, you know, she’s the evil that’s more real to me. I think, you know, even though most of us hopefully will never experience anyone quite as terrible as Umbridge, like I think most of us can think of some authority figure in our past who used their position in ways that they shouldn’t have, you know, and that’s really what I’m Umbridge is.

Sarah: 32:52 Because we also have sort of her compared to Snape because Snape’s the teacher you hate, your teacher doesn’t like you, you don’t like the teacher, but he’s not evil in the way Umbridge is evil. Like yeah, he gives Harry a zero,

Rachel: 33:04 Snape’s a bully and verbally abusive to his students.

Sarah: 33:08 He’s not a great teacher. I mean he’s, he’s good at potions, but he, he’s not a good teacher due to the way he treats it, teaches his pupils, but

Rachel: 33:15 He’s like that professor that was just there for the research and really shouldn’t have been allowed around people.

Sarah: 33:20 That’s exactly who snape is, but that’s not who Umbridge is. Umbridge is there to be cruel. That is what she. She’s not. She doesn’t care about Defense Against the Dark Arts. She’s there for power.

Rachel: 33:32 Quite the opposite.

Sarah: 33:34 Yeah. Because this is why the Dumbledore’s Army forms is because they’re not allowed to do magic anymore in Defense Against the Dark Arts. It should only be theoretical because theory is what’s going to save you against Voldemort. Yeah. So I definitely see why people hate Umbridge so much and this is not the end for Umbridge either and we’re going to see kind of why her sort of everyday kind of evil is so terrible. Because shes’ going to come back.

Rachel: 33:54 And why despite the fact that, you know, we said she’s the person that plays within the rules or maybe because of it. We actually see her come back almost as an even more prominent and overt villain.

Sarah: 33:54 Yeah. This is not the end of Umbridge, but I think at the end of Umbridge for this book at least. So I think we should move on.

Rachel: 34:19 Good riddance.

Sarah: 34:21 Well, you can forget about her for at least one book, so let’s talk about what this book is really all about, or the big reveal in this book, I should say.

Rachel: 34:32 The prophecy.

Sarah: 34:34 Which even though we’ve been rereading the series, and I’ve literally read all of the first four books before this, I’d forgotten it takes this long to find out about the prophecy

Rachel: 34:44 It is you know

Sarah: 34:45 Because they tip-toe around it for so long

Rachel: 34:45 When you’ve read a series as much as we have read Harry Potter and you go into it kind of knowing all the things that come later, you kind of forget what it was like not to know up until that moment because this was a huge reveal.

Sarah: 34:59 It was a huge reveal. We learned so much in this book.

Rachel: 35:03 Yeah. We find out why Voldemort tried to kill Harry. We find out why Dumbledore has been acting the way he has and why a lot of the things that have happened to Harry have happened and it essentially really it sets the course for the rest of the series. The next two books also hinge on this prophecy and the discussion that they have about it.

Sarah: 35:24 Yeah. We also learned that Neville could have been the chosen one, which really shifts the way Harry and I think the way the reader views Neville.

Rachel: 35:34 Yeah, and I think this book does some really great things to set that up and really the series does as a whole, but we get some great parallels between Harry and Neville in this book that you kind of notice more after you know about the prophecy. Yeah, but we see for the first time actually what’s happened to Neville’s parents in person. We already knew what happened, but we actually meet them this time and so we sort of have that parallel between what happened to Harry’s parents and what happened to Neville’s parents who weren’t killed but who were still effectively taken from him by Voldemort’s followers.

Sarah: 36:04 They have very parallel lives because we sort of had this reference throughout that grandmother’ss quite strict. She is.

Rachel: 36:11 She is.

Sarah: 36:12 She’s not the Dursleys.

Rachel: 36:13 She’s not. She’s definitely loving but strict.

Sarah: 36:16 Neville had a better upbringing than Harry, but she’s very strict and I think Neville hasn’t had an easy upbringing either. Better than Harry’s for sure, but not easy.

Rachel: 36:20 He hasn’t. And you know, we also get in this book, his reaction to Bellatrix and the other death eaters escaping kind of a similar fallout to when Sirius escaped in book three and how difficult that was for Harry. And then at the end of the book we also see significantly, and I think this was probably an intentional choice. We see Neville is the last one standing alongside Harry when he’s fighting to the death eaters. Everyone else is to endure to keep going. But Neville still up there beside Harry fighting. And also significantly, I think he was the only person other than Harry to actually touch the prophecy, which I did not notice until this read.

Sarah: 36:59 Oh Wow. You’re right

Rachel: 37:02 Now, I don’t that’s a thing where, you know, I think it’s that one of the prophecy subjects has to be the one to take it down. After that, I think anybody can touch it. But I think it’s significant that the only other person who actually does is Neville.

Sarah: 37:14 Because it could have been about him.

Rachel: 37:15 Because it could have been about him. Yeah.

Sarah: 37:17 And it also, there’s this line right before they get onto thestrals to leave where I think it’s Harry sort of thinking to himself that of everyone and the DA, Neville, Luna, and Ginny were the three he would least like to come with him, which was surprising to me.

Rachel: 37:32 Which I take a little fault with because I, I definitely would’ve picked Ginny.

Sarah: 37:35 Yes. We’re learning, it’s sort of one of Harry’s blind spots that he sees Ginny as the little sister

Rachel: 37:43 and I also think he feels protective of her.

Sarah: 37:46 So he hasn’t paid attention to that she’s a really good witch. And then Luna, everyone’s like, oh, she’s like loony. Luna is the best.

Rachel: 37:54 I wish we had time to talk about Luna in this episode because I adore her.

Sarah: 37:56 She’s got so many like weird sort of beliefs. She’s like discounted even though she is also like there’s a reason she’s a Ravenclaw. She’s smart, she’s talented. She’s just sort of doing her own thing.

Rachel: 38:09 Yeah.

Sarah: 38:09 And then Neville is, I think from the beginning I’ve said Neville has like a really strong character. We talked about it in our episode about book one, but Harry always remembers like, oh Neville, can’t remember anything. Neville’s really bad at potions and all the classes except Herbology and he sort of doesn’t notice that Neville’s getting better. Neville’s learning how to stand up for himself and to do stuff and I’m just excited. I love Neville and I get really excited about where his storyline’s going because it’s so good.

Rachel: 38:39 Yeah, Neville’s great. And to bring it back back to the prophecy itself a little bit. I also think it’s interesting that despite the fact that I think we could generally call it a more run of the mill prophecy, where it’s like what the prophecy says has to come to pass. I do think it also shows some interesting elements of self fulfilling prophecies.

Sarah: 38:57 Yes. My favorite kind of prophecy.

Rachel: 39:00 Yeah, that’s, that’s the best kind because Voldemort had to mark one of the boys for them to become the second figure of the prophecy. That’s what the prophecy says. If you actually pay attention to it “and the Dark Lord will mark them as his equal.” If Voldemort hadn’t done that, it’s entirely possible that neither of the boys would have become the second figure in the prophecy and even more importantly, knowing what we know from book seven, the latter part of the prophecy, “neither can live while the other survives” wouldn’t have been a possibility. If Voldemort had never tried to kill Harry because he wouldn’t have accidentally turned him into a Horcrux.

Sarah: 39:31 It’s also one of those interesting thing is because in most, like there’s sort of two kinds of prophecies in stories. There’s a kind where like, once you know the prophecy, it must happen. Like knowing the prophecy ensures that it will happen and the kind where like if you know the prophecy, you can change it. And it’s really interesting because this is a case and this is sort of always the case where like the prophecy must come true is the character tries to change it to like, okay, I know this has been prophicized so I’m going to change it and that causes it.

Rachel: 39:58 They make it happen.

Sarah: 39:59 Yeah. And like, this is not literary, but if you watch the old Disney TV show That’s So Raven, you know what I’m talking about, every episode of that show is that.

Rachel: 40:11 What a reference.

Sarah: 40:12 And then again I’m going to talk about movies, but Minority Report is kind of the other one where by knowing what’s going to happen, you can change it. And I think we only really have this one good example of prophecy. So it’s hard to say, but I do think just based on what we know, that this is sort of the kind where knowing the prophecy you are destined to fulfill it. Once you know the prophecy like you’ve had, it’s going to happen. I’d like, it’d be interesting to know in this world. What happens? Do the prophecies happen? If you don’t know, like what happens if, if neither of them had known what would have happened? Would it still come to pass or would it not have?

Rachel: 40:46 I think maybe not.

Sarah: 40:46 I think if Snape hadn’t overheard and told Voldemort, I don’t think it would have happened.

Rachel: 40:50 No, because I don’t think Voldemort still might have killed James and Lily just because they were very powerful.

Sarah: 40:56 Yeah, they were clearly on his hit list.

Rachel: 40:59 Yeah, I mean they’d already faced him three times, but I don’t know that he would have tried to kill Harry. I mean it might’ve just been like, AH, babies here, I’ll just kill him because I’m evil, but yeah, I don’t know I’m not sure that it would have.

Sarah: 41:09 Yeah. So I think that’s really interesting and yeah, and just by choosing act on the prophecy like Voldemort sort of created his own demise is very interesting. Although this is, we’re going to talk about Dumbledore for a second because it sort of is frustrating in this book because Dumbledore is like, okay, I’m finally coming clean. I’m going to talk everything, but he’s not. We know from the last two books

Rachel: 41:29 Dumbledore you big fat, adorable liar.

Sarah: 41:32 Dumbledore left a lot out. He didn’t tell Harry the Horcruxes yet.

Rachel: 41:36 He’s like oh I’m going to lay it all out now. And then in book seven he’s like, just kidding. I kept the biggest secrets for last made

Sarah: 41:45 I made Snape tell you because I couldn’t deal with telling you that you are in fact a Horcrux and you’ve got to die or Voldemort can’t.

Rachel: 41:52 Okay, Dumbledore, we get it.

Sarah: 41:52 It’s just you sort of understand why he’s so hesitant in that case. Like he doesn’t want to tell Harry because he knows as long as Harry has to die, that is Harry’s destiny. But yeah, it’s very frustrating that Dumbledore makes this big deal of coming clean with Harry now that he’s old enough to know the truth. He leaves so much out.

Rachel: 42:11 Particularly with hindsight being what it is for those of us who have read the entire series, which I hope is everyone since we keep just dropping spoilers left and right,

Sarah: 42:19 I mean, once you’ve gotten to like book three or four, they’re not going to wait to keep up with us if somebody had made it this far without reading at this point they’re running through the series.

Rachel: 42:26 If anyone is reading for the first time with us. Gosh, I hope they have just read all the way through to the end.

Sarah: 42:31 Yeah, it gets to a point where you can’t stop. Like the only reason I waited between books is because they weren’t out yet.

Rachel: 42:38 Okay you were also notoriously impatient though. So you’re not a great judge of that.

Sarah: 42:42 That’s true. I’m not very patient.

Rachel: 42:44 We are definitely for sure, no more ifs, ands, or buts about it, seeing how fallible Dumbledore is, you know,

Sarah: 42:51 And I don’t want to talk about it too much yet because I think that’s basically all we’re going to talk about in book seven. I mean, I don’t know about the only thing, but it’ll be a big part of book seven because seven’s, where the truth kind of comes out about dumbledore and we’re going to learn in a big way how just how fallible Dumbledore was. He wasn’t the perfect wizard that I think Harry sort of built him up to be and as readers, we’re starting to get that picture, but I don’t think. Harry’s not there yet. Harry doesn’t get there until books seven. Yeah. Yeah. So I guess we’re going to wrap it up now because this has been a long one.

Rachel: 43:22 Yeah, thanks for hanging in there with us.

Sarah: 43:24 I guess it’s time to determine the Harry Potter angst and sass-O meter

Rachel: 43:29 And I think we can all agree that they’re off the charts in this one. So how about sass? What would you give it?

Sarah: 43:35 Nine.

Rachel: 43:38 Okay. I’m going to go lower than that because I know where we’re going next book. So I’d give it like a little room to grow.

Sarah: 43:45 Yeah. There’s some comments in this one though.

Rachel: 43:48 We get some good lines, you know, “I wonder what it would be like to have a difficult life”, that kind of thing. But yeah, I think this is not peak Harry sass.

Sarah: 43:58 Okay.

Rachel: 43:58 What about angst?

Sarah: 43:59 I want you to say yours first for angst because I have an answer.

Rachel: 44:02 Okay. I haven’t answered to and you may disagree with me because I struggled a little with this one basically because my feeling on this is there are worse things to come. We know there are worse things to come, but in terms of Harry’s reactions to them and how he’s struggling personally and I could be misremembering, I might feel differently after, you know, say rereading books seven or something a few books from now, but I really don’t think it gets gets worse in this in terms of personal angst and feelings. So I think this is peak angst. I think we have achieved peak Harry Potter angst. I’m giving it a 10.

Sarah: 44:36 So I am going to strongly disagree. This is not a 10. This is clearly a 15. Off the charts.

Rachel: 44:48 You cheater.

Sarah: 44:53 I made you go first so I could cheat.

Rachel: 44:53 I was like, is she going to give this a five who we can’t even be sisters anymore. What’s wrong with her? Okay. 15 I’ll allow it. Still cheating, but I’ll allow it.

Sarah: 45:02 Okay. And then we’ve got to talk about Hermione.

Rachel: 45:06 Yeah. I mean she didn’t kidnap anyone in this book. She’s still blackmails Rita, again, but she didn’t kidnap anyone. So I’m definitely going to have to go down.

Sarah: 45:18 Hermione has her moments in this one though. S

Rachel: 45:21 he has her. No, I mean she’s straight up jinxes the members list for the DA so that if anyone tells their face will explode and pimples that say sneak. That’s pretty. That’s pretty. You know.

Sarah: 45:33 Yeah.

Rachel: 45:34 I wanted to say a word that I probably can’t save keeping this PG to. Um, it’s pretty, it’s pretty a savage. And she’s all, she’s the one with the idea to defy Umbridge to begin with. So I don’t know, I’d probably give her like a. In terms of Hermione, this would be way higher for anyone else, but just knowing Hermione and where she could go. I’d give it like a six point five or seven.

Sarah: 45:55 I was going to give it a seven, so I think we’re in agreement there.

Rachel: 45:58 It’s crazy salvage. But for Hermione, comparing it to kidnapping a woman and keeping her in a jar.

Sarah: 46:05 Keeping her in a jar, man. Hermione’s good. Yeah.

Rachel: 46:08 And I also, I know we’re not rating Ron, but I just do have to say if we were gonna in this book, I would give him peak loyalty for the way he asks if anyone else’s parents have a problem with Harry after he finds out the Seamus’s mom doesn’t believe him about Voldemort because that was.

Sarah: 46:25 Ron is like the most loyal in this book. He’s so good when, whenever anyone’s like not believing Harry.

Rachel: 46:32 He’s like I’m a prefect. You got a problem with Harry. You got detention.

Sarah: 46:36 Yeah, it’s great.

Rachel: 46:38 Okay, so I think we have got to wrap it up here because we have just been going on for so long, so I want to say a quick thank you to Sahara Sky for the use of our theme song Never Long Time Goes by from the album Escapism

Sarah: 46:51 And thank you for listening. You can get in touch with us by tweeting @unassignedpod on Twitter or emailing us at We love to hear your thoughts and questions and if you’re enjoying the show so far, head on over and leave us a positive review on iTunes or wherever else you get your podcasts.

Rachel: 47:07 Yeah, it only takes a minute and it makes a really, really big difference. Reviews and tweeting about the show are the two best ways to help spread the word and let other people know that you’re enjoying it and we’d really love for even more people to find the show.

Sarah: 47:18 We’ll be back on Friday, September 14th for another episode of Book Talk

Rachel: 47:23 And next month we’ll be reading Strange the Dreamer.

Sarah: 47:28 Um, I am not familiar that Harry Potter book.

Rachel: 47:30 Well, that’s because we’re going to be taking a short break from our Harry Potter series next month for an episode we are very excited to share with you, Strange to the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Sarah: 47:39 The sequel Muse of Nightmares is coming out this October and we just couldn’t resist the opportunity to discuss this incredible fantasy book before it does.

Rachel: 47:48 Yeah, it’s going to be coming out the last Friday of the month, September 28th, just a few days before the release of Muse of Nightmares and trust us, you’re not going to want to miss this one. It’s one of our longest and most epic episode yet, although this one may beat it now.

Sarah: 48:02 Yeah, so we hope you’ll join us again next month. And then in the meantime, we leave you with these words of wisdom:

Rachel: 48:10 “Don’t worry, you’re just as sane as I am.”

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