Chapter 13 – Detention with Dolores
- Hermione’s approach to house elf rights and freedom has really not improved, as she now attempts to force freedom upon them!
- I like how the student population’s response to Harry is mixed overall, with at least a few believing his story – perhaps I just need a little positivity to desperately grasp.
- There seems to have a big leap from one year to the next concerning the amount of work Harry has: I can’t remember it being so stressful before. Then again, there are complicating factors like having detention every night for the first week.
- Forcing Harry to slice his hand open, while maintaining a horribly sweet attitude which makes the whole thing even worse – this is where I really start to hate Umbridge.
- Harry’s excuses for not telling Dumbledore about potentially important things have been a bit flimsy before, but here, he’s downright immature – it’s ultimately because Dumbledore’s being a big meanie-head and he’s not Harry’s friend anymore!
Chapter 14 – Percy and Padfoot
- It’s nice to see Harry actually appreciating the problem of conveying information non-suspiciously in a letter and seeing things from Ron and Hermione’s perspective a little. Plus he gets to experience a little happiness when Cho compliments him.
- And the Gryffindor Quidditch team have an absolutely rotten practice session – because in case you didn’t realise, absolutely nothing is going right in this damn book.
- Percy’s letter may not be a pleasant read, but it does allow us to get a little perspective into his mind, what he’s placing value in – and what he assumes Ron the newly assigned Prefect may also place value in now.
Chapter 15 – The Hogwarts High Inquisitor
- You can see how the Daily Prophet pretends to be a fair, unbiased publication by including the negative comments of Griselda Marchbanks – before happening to note that she has ‘alleged links to subversive goblin groups’.
- Could Professor Trelawney’s ancestor Cassandra Trelawney also be the Cassandra Vablatsky who wrote Unfogging the Future? Maybe Vablatsky was her maiden name? It seems a coincidence for two women who were given the convenient name of Cassandra to both grow up to be Seers.
- Umbridge values independent thought in her students just as much as the teachers at Springfield Elementary.
- It’s a pleasure to see McGonagall standing up to Umbridge and even being a little supportive to the students – though I can imagine Umbridge thinking, ‘You’ll get yours,’ at this point.
- And then the idea of a secret Defence Against the Dark Arts group is raised and I have something properly positive to grasp. I like having secret rebellions like this in stories, and I also like Ron and Hermione forcing Harry to face up to everything he’s achieved, and the position which his experience puts him in. Apparently Harry is willing to talk about what he’s done while throwing an entitled tantrum about how he doesn’t get enough respect, but not when it means taking up a position of proper responsibility! This is a good scene, which also reinforces the fact that while Harry knows what it’s like to properly face danger, he’s still just a teenager – as are the peers he’s going to be teaching – and really wouldn’t have in an ideal world.
Chapter 16 – At the Hog’s Head
- Running a secret study group under Umbridge’s nose is a pretty insane idea – but insane ideas often make for such great stories.
- The Hog’s Head barman being Aberforth Dumbledore was another secret that the fan community picked up in advance, from such clues as his ‘long grey hair and beard’ and the bar smelling strongly ‘of something that might have been goats’. Aberforth does seem rather obsessed with his goats, even as a child according to Albus’s commentary in The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
- This is a really great chapter: I love seeing this huge group of people coming together and letting all their different personalities play off each other.
- It was a disappointment to learn that Ginny had apparently gotten over Harry and was now dating someone else, especially with how much she had come out of her shell in this book (she has some great attitude in this chapter alone). Just need to hang on for the next book…
Chapter 17 – Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four
- Not too much to this chapter, except to marvel at how well Hermione thinks things through with her jinxed-parchment insurance plan, and to get annoyed at how biased towards the compliant little Slytherins Umbridge is.
Chapter 18 – Dumbledore’s Army
- As if we needed another reason to hate Umbridge, she indulges in cruelty to animals by injuring Hedwig in the previous chapter.
- The Qudditch practice in this chapter feels quite pointless, apart from Harry’s realisation about his connection to Voldemort occurring at this time.
- We are now introduced to the Room of Requirement, which I’m sure all of us would like to have tucked away in our house, and the big group is back to have more fun. Harry starts taking on the proper, conscious role of a leader – and feels odd doing it – and insecure, bumbling Neville takes his first steps on the proper progression that will lead him to great things.
Chapter 19 – The Lion and the Serpent
- After all the fun and hope of the formation of Dumbledore’s Army, this is another chapter that is unbearably painful to read. First we get the Slytherins putting a unbelievably horrible amount of effort into bullying and sabotaging Ron with their own special song; then Harry gives in to Malfoy’s petulant insults and lashes out, no matter how much I beg him not to; and to cap it all off, Umbridge gleefully imposes more authority and takes his beloved Quidditch away from him.
- What’s that, Hermione? Hagrid’s back? Thank God, maybe he can perk things up again.