Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (for Banned Books Week)

I posted about the first Harry Potter book four years ago for Banned Books Week. Since then I have re-read one book each year, and posted in honor of Harry's birthday on July 31. I missed his birthday this year, but book five seems more appropriate for Banned Books Week, as it features a case of censorship.
By Order of
The High Inquisitor of Hogwarts
Any student found to be in possession of the magazine The Quibbler will be expelled.

The above is in accordance with Educational Decree Number Twenty-seven. 
Dolores Jane Umbridge
High Inquisitor
Of course all the students then set out to read the issue of The Quibbler that contained the interview with Harry Potter.

Meanwhile Professor Umbridge was stalking the school, stopping students at random and demanding that they turn out their pockets. Harry knew she was looking for copies of The Quibbler, but the students were several steps ahead of her. The pages carrying Harry's interview had been bewitched to resemble extracts from textbooks if anyone but themselves read it, or else wiped magically blank until they wanted to peruse it again. Soon it seemed that every person in the school had read it.
In a bit of meta-censorship, Educational Decree number 26 banned teachers from "giving students any information that is not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach" thus preventing them from mentioning the interview.
but they found ways to express their feelings about it all the same. Professor Sprout awarded Gryffindor twenty points when Harry passed her a watering can; a beaming Professor Flitwick pressed a box of squeaking sugar mice on him at the end of Charms, said "Shh!" and hurried away; and Professor Trelawney...announced to a startled class...that Harry was not going to to suffer an early death after all, but would live to a ripe old age, become Minister of Magic, and have twelve children.
As is true with the previous four Potter books, our heroes find themselves in the library quite often doing research and finishing homework. Nasty librarian Madam Pince makes two appearances in this volume, both times being her negative self.

Harry found Ron and Hermione in the library, where they were working on Umbridge's most recent ream of homework. Other students, nearly all of them fifth years, sat at lamp-lit tables nearby, noses close to books, quills scratching feverishly...the only other sound was the slight squeaking on one of Madam Pince's shoes as the librarian prowled the aisles menacingly, breaking down the necks of those touching her precious books.
Later, when Ginny brings a chocolate Easter egg, sent by Mrs. Weasley to Harry, Madam Pince chases them out of the library "her shriveled face contorted with rage...And whipping out her wand...caused Harry's books, bag, and ink bottle to chase him and Ginny from the library, whacking them repeatedly over the head as they ran."

Most libraries have given up on the "no eating" policy. But I guess there's no telling what trouble a bewitched Fizzing Whizbee might wreak in a book of spells.

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