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Posted on 18 October, 2022

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Lord Voldemort is back, and a dark atmosphere surrounds even the Muggle world. When Dementors attack Harry Potter and his cousin Dudley, he fends them off with a Patronus and thus is expelled from Hogwarts. But before he faces his hearing, a group of known wizards called the Order of Phoenix takes him to a safe place. He arrives at 12, Grimmauld Place: it’s the Black family house, where Sirius lives.

Harry Potter and The Order of Phoenix, the fifth chapter of Joanne K. Rowling‘s saga, was published by Bloomsbury in 2003 and released at the same time in UK, USA and Canada. Within the first twenty-flour hours it sold five million copies and the same year it won the American Library Association Best Book Award for Young Adults. David Yates directed the homonymous film 2007; the same year Electronic Arts released also an action-adventure video game based on the story. Jim Kay realized an illustrated edition, that will be released in October 2022.

Harry Potter and The Order of Phoenix, the fifth of Joanne K. Rowling‘s saga, was published by Bloomsbury in 2003 and released simultaneously in the UK, USA and Canada. Within the first twenty-four hours it had sold five million copies and the same year it won the American Library Association Best Book Award for Young Adults. David Yates directed the homonymous film 2007; the same year Electronic Arts also released an action-adventure video game based on the story. Jim Kay also produced an illustrated edition, that will be released in October 2022.

Dreams and prophecies of a dark year

The Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, refuses to believe in Voldemort’s comeback and runs a smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore. So the headmaster establishes the Order of the Phoenix, a secret organization to fight dark wizards. Besides Hermione and the Weasley family, many of Harry’s acquaintances are part of the Order: Lupin and his wife Tonks, Moody, Fleur Delacour, and his beloved godfather, Sirius. From them, Harry hears that Voldemort is looking for something he didn’t have prior to his defeat.

Meanwhile, Dumbledore defends Harry during his hearing and he returns to school. There he met Dolores Umbridge, the new teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts. She is a Ministry employee, always dressed in pink, and as her chief she doesn’t believe in the return of Voldemort. Moreover, she thinks that students shouldn’t be able to defend themselves, and teaches no spells. But Harry, Ron and Hermione organize clandestine defense classes for a small group of people. They sign a secrecy contract and call themselves Dumbledore’s Army.

One night, Harry dreams about an attack on Arthur Weasley. After the nightmare turns out to be true, Dumbledore suspects the Dark Lord could take advantage of this bond; so he asks Professor Snape to teach him Occlumency, the art of closing ones’ own mind. But the dreams become more and more intense, and when Harry has a vision of Sirius being tortured, he escapes with his friends to save him. His dream was a trap, though: the Death Eaters attracted Harry to the Department of Mysteries to steal a prophecy about him and Voldemort. When the Order of Phoenix arrives to save the young wizards, a great battle starts. The prophecy smashes on the ground, and they pay dearly for their safety: Bellatrix Lestrange, one of the most cruel Death Eaters, kills Sirius in front of them.

Places to establish a resistance

As the Death Eaters’ ideology has some points in common with dictatorships, in the wizards who oppose Voldemort can be seen as references to WW2 resistance. The Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army are anything but magic world partisans. Opposed to over-ambitious evil and his followers, they express the importance of standing against a powerful force, and even the government, if necessary.

You don’t understand – there are things worth dying for!

Dumbledore’s Army resembles many other partisan students; people like Milton in Beppe Fenoglio‘s A Private Affair, or Marc Rothemund‘s characters in the movie Sophie Scholl – The Final Days. They are all young people who had to abandon their studies for a greater aim. Hogwarts students make a different choice, though: they remain where they are to fight the situation from the inside. But to do so, they need a safe place from which to do battle.

Shelters have a kind of focal relevance in Harry Potter and The Order of Phoenix since the beginning. Wanted by the Ministry, Sirius hides in Grimmauld Place and offers his house as headquarters for the Order. Powerful spells protect the building, making it invisible to whoever doesn’t know the code word; even its front is invisible from the streets, hidden by other buildings. When Dumbledore’s Army needs to practice, Dobby suggests Room of Requirements. It’s a very special room, whose door appears only if someone really needs a safe place, and changes according to what one desires. A custom-made refuge to feel home, rather like the ones the Baudelaire children build in Daniel Handler’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Anytime the Baudelaires are in danger, or sad, they improvise a small refuge where they can feel safe; similarly, students shape the Room of Requirements based upon their needs.

No predestination is real

Prophecies have always been a recurring element in magic, and in ancient times people attached great importance to them. They were central in myths and legends, as in Homer’s Iliad: Achilles faces Hector knowing he will die because he received a prediction as a baby. While on the other side of that war, Cassandra expresses true prophecies, but nobody believes her due to a curse.

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…

Sybill Trelawney formulated the prophecy before Harry’s birth, predicting that a child with the power to defeat Voldemort would have been born by the end of July. Indeed, the prophecy could talk about either Harry or Neville Longbottom, who was also born in July from Voldemort’s opponents. In Harry Potter and The Order of Phoenix, differently from ancient myths, predictions are not ultimate truth, and free will has always the last word. As William Shakespeare‘s Macbeth wrote his destiny spinning the prophecy to his advantage, Voldemort himself made most parts of the prediction true, deciding to kill the Potters.

We can’t choose our fate, but we can choose others. Be careful in knowing that.

What bonds enemies

Voldemort is a personification of pure evil, an archetype that can be found in many fantasy tales and legends. Even though Rowling’s novels offer glimpses on his past, showing the events that made him the dark wizard he is, he is wicked just for the sake of it. During Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts, a new kind of enemy enters the scene: Dolores Umbridge. She is not an outlaw like the Death Eaters, but works for the Ministry. She appears immediately different from Voldemort, as he is always dressed in black, while all her clothes are in shades of pink. But more than that, she is the kind of opponent anyone can meet in everyday life, representing another side of evil. Stubborn, autocratic and willing to do anything to pursue her goals, she scares partly because she seems real. Her personality has much in common with Voldemort’s, but she is much more concrete.

Although Harry considers Voldemort his fierce rival, they have some things in common. As the prophecy expresses, they’ll be bonded until one of them dies. Since the Dark Lord is resurrected thanks to Harry’s blood, in their veins runs a magic bond created by Lily’s love.

Love has had a great importance since the beginning of the saga, but in Harry Potter and The Order of Phoenix it plays an even more concrete role. Sacrificing her own life to save Harry, Lily infused the most strong protective spell in his blood. Her love is more powerful than any wizardry, becoming a shield against misfortune. Being pure evil, Voldemort can conceive nothing of the kind. He also has no idea how deeply he and Harry are tied to each other; therefore, he underestimates how much the blood they share will affect their destiny.

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