The major theme in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix‘ is probably institution and rebellion against its controlling nature. However, there exist several other themes that make this book a very interesting read and an even more challenging piece of literature to decrypt. Be it Harry’s inability to get Voldemort out of his head, Neville’s battle of hiding the truth about his parents from his friends, or even Cho Chang’s confusion and guilt after Cedric Diggory’s death, there exist so many struggles and battles that seem to never end in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.‘
Furthermore, there are a lot of real battles that occur in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,’ which themselves are caused by these innate battles that the characters face within or amongst each other. The battle between Voldemort and Dumbledore is long overdue, as Voldemort refuses to come out to the public, but when he does, Dumbledore misses no chance of retaliating. ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix‘ is, therefore, a very ‘driven’ book despite its long length.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Themes
Institution and the Retaliation Against it
Institutions are usually there for a reason and do tend to favor ordered and obedient behavior, especially from its members in lower power hierarchies. However, when they become too draconian and strict, to the extent that morality and ethics tend to take a back seat, it is usually necessary for forces outside the institution to set up a balance by intervening. In this case, despite repeated claims by Harry and Dumbledore that Voldemort has returned, there is no meaningful response from the Ministry of Magic to help them fight this possibility. Instead, they are ridiculed and declared as making false claims.
Furthermore, Dolores Umbridge takes over Hogwarts in calculated steps till she is in control of every aspect of the school. She forces students to be obedient and also not practice any real magic or train in defensive moves under the assumption that there is no danger ‘out there. This institution is retaliated by Harry and the ‘Dumbledore’s Army’ by training in the defensive spells that will help them counter possible attackers. It eventually turns out to be a very good decision as their bravery and perseverance to learn these skills end up outing Voldemort’s return to the whole magical world.
Occlumency and Legilimency – Minds
Another theme that J. K. Rowling explores, both metaphorically and literally, is the concept of the mind. Although these magical skills are used to control minds from being read and read minds, respectively, Occlumency and Legilimency are both potent skills, yet apt descriptions of a deeper metaphor at hand – that of influence and the nature of the mind. Even if it weren’t where the connection between Harry and Voldemort’s minds, there are still a lot of effects that Voldemort and Harry have on each other for separate reasons.
It is this effect that Rowling metaphorically explores in this book. People around us influence us no matter how hard we try to thwart it. Sometimes it can be for the better, but when it isn’t, it is very difficult to deal with it. Rowling tries to portray how even these woes can be overcome by grit and sound practice. With time, one can actually learn how to train the mind to both, not let another influence them or influence another.
Another important theme that is explored several times in the story of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix‘ is the shattering of pre-existent beliefs. It’s no surprise that Harry idolizes his father a lot and is constantly told by acquaintances and friends of his father that they are a lot alike. However, it is very shocking when Harry finds during one of his Occlumency lessons with Snape that Harry’s father bullied Snape a lot in their childhood. He is totally taken aback by this revelation and doesn’t know how to react to it.
Another instance of this theme occurs when Harry, Ron, and Hermione see Neville’s parents at St. Mungo’s Hospital. Neither of them is aware of the condition that Neville’s parents are in, and when they see them, it comes as a surprise. Neville himself never talked about it to any of them, and despite it bringing them all closer, it comes as a shock for all of them because they never thought of Neville’s parents or what might have happened to them, except Harry, who saw Barty Crouch Jr. getting arrested for torturing them in Dumbledore’s Pensieve.
Analysis of Key Moments in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Dudley and Harry are attacked by two dementors at Little Whinging.
- Harry is escorted by a group of aurors to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, which is Sirius’s house and the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.
- Harry attends his hearing, and he is let go without any charges after Dumbledore and Mrs. Figg testify.
- Harry and the others are quite surprised when they find out that Dolores Umbridge is their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. She rewards Harry with detention for ‘spreading false rumors’.
- Dolores Umbridge is appointed as the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts.
- Harry, Hermione, Ron, and several others gather at the Hog’s Head pub to form the Dumbledore’s Army.
- Hagrid finally returns after being absent since the beginning of the school year. He explains to Harry, Ron, and Hermione that he had been sent by Dumbledore to parlay with the giants to join their cause instead of Voldemort.
- Harry has a dream at night where the snake of Voldemort, Nagini, attacks Mr. Weasley. Dumbledore immediately makes the necessary arrangements to transport the Weasleys through portkey and sends Harry with Snape for Occlumency.
- Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet Grawp, Hagrid’s half-brother, a giant whom Hagrid wants to be kept company when he is thrown out of school by Umbridge.
- The Dumbledore’s Army is discovered by Umbridge, and she takes them to Dumbledore’s office. He claims full responsibility for this and suddenly vanishes in thin air before the aurors from the ministry can arrest him.
- Harry has another dream where Sirius is being tortured by Voldemort. Umbridge catches Harry when he tries to contact Sirius through the Floo network. He and Hermione dupe her in the guise of showing her Dumbledore’s secret weapon and instead take her to the jungle, eventually abandoning her with some angry centaurs whom she provoked.
- Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna go to London by Thestrals and enter the Ministry of Magic, where they end up dueling the death eaters.
- The Order of the Phoenix arrives and starts dueling the death eaters, but Sirius is killed by Bellatrix.
- Harry meets Voldemort, but before they could duel, Dumbledore appears and duels Voldemort. Eventually, Voldemort flees the scene but not before several members of the ministry, including the minister himself, see him in plain sight.
Writing Style and Tone
The writing style and tone of the novel are very similar to the previous Harry Potter books, especially Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Since ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix‘ is the longest Harry Potter book ever written, it does contain a lot more material than the rest of the books.
Analysis of Key Symbols in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The prophecy is perhaps the most important thing in the book ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix‘. It tells what exactly was predicted about Harry and Voldemort by Sybill Trelawney when Albus Dumbledore went to interview her for a position as a teacher in Divination. However, it is believed that it was wrongly interpreted by Voldemort, which is what led to the death of Harry’s parents and the vanishing of Voldemort. Therefore, he wanted another chance to hear the prophecy completely so that he could act accordingly and defeat Harry.
However, it is his very actions, including this one, that helped him realize this prophecy. It is crucial to understand that none of these things would have probably happened if Voldemort did not act upon stopping Harry after hearing the prophecy.
What is the Prophecy in Order of the Phoenix?
To quote Sybill Trelawney, the prophecy is as follows – “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.”
Does Sirius actually die or is he behind the veil?
According to the events of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix‘, Sirius Black does, in fact, die. However, there is a possibility that Sirius may not be gone forever, in the sense that the veil that he vanishes into is a metaphor for what one’s belief is about the afterlife. For those who believe in the afterlife, there are voices coming from behind the veil, which implies that there are people who still exist there despite being considered dead. Therefore, Sirius could be still alive in a very broad sense for those who believe in his afterlife.
Was Severus Snape bullied by James Potter?
Severus Snape was, in fact, bullied by James Potter when they were in their early years at Hogwarts. Snape tried to run away from getting bullied, but he eventually became subject to James’ taunts and, finally, James’ Levicorpus spell that makes one hang upside down in thin air. Snape was also teased by the marauders as ‘Snivellus,’ and therefore, it is very clear that he was bullied by James Potter and his friends.