Chapter 12 – Magic is Might
- It would be really great to see Harry, Ron and Hermione all living together under different circumstances.
- “Fine, I’ll stay here. Let me know if you ever defeat Voldemort, won’t you?” Maybe all the humour in this book is more noticeable because there’s so much darkness in contrast to it.
- The statue in the Ministry – again, fairly unsubtle Nazi imagery.
- So what proportion of the wizarding community really believes that Harry is a bad guy now? Overall opinion of Harry has gone back and forth quite easily throughout the books – but then, most of these people don’t actually know him.
Chapter 13 – The Muggle-Born Registration Commission
- “Tut, tut…even here, in the heart of the Ministry!” It’s just like Umbridge to happily go along with this new policy on Muggleborns having stolen their magic, when she obviously knows it’s rubbish. Listening to her imperiously claim she is pureblood is even worse when you’ve seen her biography on Pottermore – her own mother was a Muggle (and her father was a Ministry janitor).
- The rows of workers pumping out pamphlets brings to mind 1984.
- Umbridge’s post-it on Harry’s picture – ‘To be punished’ – is pretty unnerving for just three words.
- It’s unfortunate that the last we see of Umbridge is just her getting Stunned, and we have to be told separately that she eventually went to Azkaban.
- Hermione does seem to have trouble using defensive spells in an actual crisis; presumably this is why she only got an Exceeds Expectations in her DADA OWL.
Chapter 14 – The Thief
- Things suddenly get even worse, as the trio are stripped of the security of Grimmauld Place. Not only that, but while they were able to be proactive in their mission to retrieve the locket, they don’t really know what to do next at this point, and how the path could be revealed is far from certain – which is not the sort of thing the reader might expect either.
- Is Ron’s request that they stop saying Voldemort’s name just another plot convenience, or does Ron actually have unconscious insights like this? He did say about Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets, “Maybe he murdered Myrtle, that would’ve done everyone a favour.”
- In fact, Ron’s portrayed relatively favourably in this book, aside from his big blip coming up shortly – his worrying about the fate of the Cattermoles is admirable.
- So it’s another year and another particular Harry-defeating object that Voldemort is after. At least he doesn’t have to time acquiring it with the end of Harry’s school year!
Chapter 15 – The Goblin’s Revenge
- Rowling certainly gets across the isolated and difficult times that the trio now find themselves in, to the point that it’s a surprise when other people turn up. Maybe this infamous camping trip isn’t the most interesting to read, but it’s generally summarised efficiently (better than the film) and the characters aren’t really in a position to move forward – from how everything has been set out, all they can do is survive.
- The big argument at the end of the chapter is just as painful to read as much of the stuff in Order of the Phoenix, as everybody’s frustration and Ron’s negative, illogical thoughts all spill out. And when it’s over, Ron is gone. Every time you think this low point can’t get any lower, it does.
Chapter 16 – Godric’s Hollow
- Watching Hermione’s distress over Ron leaving – it’s times like these I wish the story would just get a move on with this relationship.
- Harry’s frustration at Dumbledore for not giving him more of a plan is understandable – but then, even the supposedly all-knowing Dumbledore really didn’t know where the other Horcruxes were.
- “Harry, did you ever even open A History of Magic?” Once again, the moment of levity – the first one in a while – stands out.
- Harry and Hermione finally have a specific aim again – thank goodness.
- I’m struck by the quality and emotional impact of the writing when Harry finds his parents’ graves and contemplates their earthly remains beneath him. You can’t imagine anything of the same complexity appearing in Philosopher’s Stone – the writing has aged along with the audience.