Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is known for being one of the most interesting books in the series as it tackles a lot of different elements. The only book in the series with time travel in it, it is also a strong narrative of confinement and wrongful accusation that causes captivity. Sirius Black’s struggle is a very sad one, but is that of power because he eventually escapes without changing much from a place that is very difficult to escape from. Furthermore, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have a lot to figure out as the plot thickens with every emerging detail.
I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.
One of the most popular quotes in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the phrase one has to say for the Marauder’s Map to show itself on an otherwise empty parchment. The Marauder’s Map was designed by James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew to commemorate their escapades around the Hogwarts castle, and to serve as a guide to future adventurers.
By claiming beforehand that they are up to no good, anyone using the Marauder’s Map is aware they are breaking the rules set by an institution or structure. But that is what the map stands for. While there are always going to be rules and regulations set by an institution, there is sometimes a necessity to bend the rules a little, be a pioneer, a maverick who not only breaks the rules but also shows the world why those rules are wrong and why things need to change for the better.
This rebellion is what asserts the reality that not all establishments are good establishments, and despite being up to ‘no good’ Harry used the Marauder’s Map very well, first to spot Peter Pettigrew on the map despite his supposed death and to go to Hogsmeade, which although wrong according to many elders, is fair for Harry because he was wrongfully denied permission to have a happy Hogsmeade trip.
You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly in times of great trouble?
These lines are uttered by Professor Dumbledore when he and Harry are discussing the Patronus that Harry conjured to save Sirius and Harry’s past self from the dementors. Harry was under the impression that it was Harry’s father James who came there and conjured the Patronus until Harry himself traveled to the past and had to make a split-second decision and conjure the Patronus himself to save Sirius from the dementors.
When Harry looked dejected about it not being his father and claimed that it was stupid of him to expect to see his father when he knew that he was dead, Dumbledore makes the aforementioned claim that the dead never really leave us and that we recall them more clearly in times of great trouble, just like Harry did. Despite not being alive, our memories, experiences, and existing affection for the person never dim down just because they are gone.
Wrongful Accusation and Imprisonment
I want to commit the murder I was imprisoned for.
If there is one theme that this book very subtly yet aptly touches on more than any other, it is the theme of wrongfully accusing someone of a crime they didn’t commit and punishing them for it. Sirius Black was accused of killing Peter Pettigrew and several other people despite being innocent and Peter being the actual culprit. So, when he finally comes face to face with Peter, he exclaims the aforementioned lines out of the frustration that has compounded over the years from being wrongfully accused.
He is so frustrated with the law for having treated him wrongly that he has no choice but to want to perform the very crime he never committed but did time for. Furthermore, it is a very bold statement portraying how much of a struggle it must have been for an innocent man like Sirius to spend his time in a place like Azkaban prison.
Causality and Time
The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.
These lines are uttered by Albus Dumbledore when Harry discusses with him about what happened after he and Hermione travelled back in time. Harry also brings up Professor Trelawney’s prophecy about how Voldemort would return because his servant would go back to him. To this, Dumbledore calmly says that it might just be true.
Harry feels guilty that he is the reason that Pettigrew escaped, to which Dumbledore utters the aforementioned words and suggests that there is no real way to tell whose actions cause what consequences, despite it seeming so and that there is no way to predict the future based on our understanding of the present or the past, because our actions and their resultant consequences are very complex.
Fear and Hope
What you fear most of all is —fear. Very wise.
These lines are told by Professor Remus Lupin when he and Harry meet at his office. Harry is a little dejected that Professor Lupin did not allow him to face the boggart in class. To this, Lupin says that he didn’t stop the class because he thought Harry was weak, but because he didn’t want the boggart to take the form of Lord Voldemort which he assumed was what Harry was most afraid of. But when Lupin realizes that Harry is scared of Dementors, even more, he is happy and says the above lines.
Dementors are a representation of fear and their presence around a person sucks out all the hope there exists for fighting the fear. Therefore, if someone fears a dementor, they fear the idea of fear itself, and not anything else. Lupin finds that idea amusing because fear is an emotion that comes out of the vulnerability one feels when there are no means to fight back a peril. But if all you fear is fear itself, it becomes quite straightforward to deal with and can be overcome by fighting back fear with hope.
What is a Dementor’s Kiss?
A dementor is a being that sucks out all the hopes and happiness that a person has. A dementor’s kiss is the final punishment that dementors render where the soul of a person is ripped apart from their body forever. Dementors guard the prison of Azkaban and are kept there to make life miserable and difficult for its inmates and can sometimes perform the kiss on the inmates too.
How did Sirius Black escape Azkaban?
Sirius Black is a very strong wizard and was waiting for the opportunity to spot Peter Pettigrew for the thirteen years he was in Azkaban. So, when he saw the photograph of the Weasleys in Egypt along with Ron holding Scabbers, who has a finger missing, Sirius transformed into his Animagus form of the black dog and escaped the prison. Dementors can only sense complex beings like humans because of their thoughts which is why he couldn’t be spotted by the dementors.
How did Crookshanks know how to stop the Whomping Willow?
Crookshanks had befriended Sirius’ black dog form and had accompanied him to the Shrieking Shack which is when Sirius had to touch a specific knot on the bottom of the willow to make it stop writhing. Crookshanks had recognized this knot and used it when Hermione and Harry were attacked by the Whomping Willow.