Chapter Thirteen

Dec 07, 2004 12:24

Detention with Dolores

Exploration of JKR's choice of names for Umbridge, and possible similarities with Hermione, who shares her middle one.

This week's late because the entry I spent all day on yesterday died. I'm ashamed to say I pitched a fit of Harry-esque proportions.
So it's half now and half later, I'm afraid.
Should problems ever occur again, please, let me know if you'd prefer this approach or simply a longer delay.

In which Hermione knows better than those silly slaves what they want; Harry cuts himself to the strains of 'Creed'; and Draco appears, instantly rocketing this chapter to the best one so far. Until the next time.

* 'Don't start arguing again,' said Harry wearily, as Ron opened his mouth to retaliate. 'Can't we just ... let's just do that homework, get it out of the way ...'

Hee. Another switch, from Provocative!Harry to the peacemaker role. Love the 'tired' - poor Harry is run ragged with the efforts of curtailing his aggressive friends.

* Harry kept his face averted from the portrait hole, but could still sense the stares he was attracting.

Don't look at me! I don't like the light!

* He underlined the title, then looked up expectantly at Hermione. 'So, what are the properties of moonstone and its uses in potion-making?'

Remind me again why Dudley, Crabbe and Goyle have scorn heaped upon them for being uninterested in academia, but Harry and Ron's cheating is totally ok?

* Fred, George and Lee Jordan were now sitting at the centre of a knot of innocent-looking first-years, all of whom were chewing something that seemed to have come out of a large paper bag that Fred was holding.

Interesting language here - 'innocent-looking', presumably in juxtaposition with the Twins and Lee.
The constant adverbs in this book are a lot more ambigious - Fred and George at one point are 'ugly' in their anger, Harry 'snarls' constantly, Hermione is 'vicious'.
There's also some dodgy associations about strange men with sweets. Reminds me of CoS and the floating cupcakes (don't get me started!)

* One by one, as though hit over the head with an invisible mallet, the first-years were slumping unconscious in their seats; some slid right on to the floor, others merely hung over the arms of their chairs, their tongues lolling out.

Very graphic, violent imagery - mallets.

* Most of the people watching were laughing; Hermione, however, squared her shoulders and marched directly over to where Fred and George now stood with clipboards, closely observing the unconscious first-years.

Hee, Gryffindor's got such a nasty mentality - love that most people are laughing. Only the strongest survive and all that.
Also the clipboards? Eek, Dr. Mengeles! (If JKR gets to break Godwin's Law and make unsubtle Nazi parallels, so do I!)

* Fred and George, both of whom looked up in mild surprise.
...'We're paying them!' said Fred indignantly.
'I don't care, it could be dangerous!'
'Rubbish,' said Fred.

If it wasn't impossible for Gryffindors, I'd say Fred and George come off as quite spoilt here.
They're used to having their own way (like that bit earlier about the prospect of telling them they can't do every thing they feel like being so frightening to Ron. Or the later smirking and laughing at the idea of someone having the authority to punish them); they think money grants them special privileges (which isn't at all like the real bully ((boo hiss!)) of these books. Nope.); and they like to shut down any questioning of them by mocking the querer.

* A few of the first-years were indeed stirring. Several looked so shocked to find themselves lying on the floor, or dangling off their chairs, that Harry was sure Fred and George had not warned them what the sweets were going to do.


* 'Course it is (excellent) they're alive, aren't they?' said Fred angrily.

Is that the highest objective in all this? No harm no foul seems to be the House motto. (Heh, actually, if they had one, I think it would be something along the lines of 'Necare Barbaros Nos Delectat' but that's neither here nor there.)

* Fred and George looked thunderstruck. It was clear that as far as they were concerned, Hermione's threat was way below the belt.

There is an odd kind of sexism in these books, as I've remarked before, especially regarding the twins.
I mean, I don't think her threatening to tell Arthur would provoke the same reaction, and not just because Molly appears to be the disciplinarian of the family.
It's the idea that a women is in authority over them that chaps them so bad, I think.

* 'Of course they want to be free!' said Hermione at once, though her face was turning pink. 'Don't you dare touch those hats, Ron!'

Or they will, once I carefully explain to them what they feel and why! Which isn't at all as insulting as mistreating them in the first place!

* He passed Seamus on the way to the door leading to the dormitories, but did not look at him. Harry had a fleeting impression that Seamus had opened his mouth to speak, but he sped up and reached the soothing peace of the stone spiral staircase without having to endure any more provocation.

Damn Seamus and his constant tormenting and provoking of Harry!
Actually Seamus is making quite an amount of effort to find out the truth about Voldie, asking Harry, paying attention to discussions about the topic, making attempts to become friends with Harry again. Kudos to him. I'm afraid I would be holding a grudge about the insults and wouldn't care by now whether Harry was telling the truth in the original argument or not.

* 'They might not count as clothes. They didn't look anything like hats to me, more like woolly bladders.'
Hermione did not speak to him all morning.

That's what cracks me up about Hermione - she's kind of like Hagrid in a way: all the time in the world for Oppressed Creatures Who Affectionately Demonstrate Their Gratitude to Humankind, and keen to believe that any aggression they show (Buckbeak, Kreacher) is because they're OMG oppressed (I don't think it's a coincidence that both Hagrid and Hermione are part of minorities in the WW. Can we say projection?) but they show very little interest in human beings.
It's very stereotypically British, preferring animals to people - people used to joke about the fact we have a Royal Society to protect animals here, and only a National one for children.

* ...These examinations may influence your futures for many years to come! If you have not already given serious thought to your careers, now is the time to do so.'

Oh, please. If Harry (and possibly) Ron also don't pass all exams and enter Snape's NEWT class; following with either international Quidditch stardom or Head Auror-hood, I'll eat my hat. And I don't even own a hat. That's how sure I am.

* 'I see no reason why everybody in this class should not achieve an OWL in Transfiguration as long as they put in the work.' Neville made a sad little disbelieving noise. 'Yes, you too, Longbottom,' said Professor McGonagall. 'There's nothing wrong with your work except lack of confidence.'

This line really bugs me.
McGonagall, usually strict to the point where she appears disgusted by weakness (her description of Peter, her treatment of Neville in PoA and even GoF when she asks him, basically, not to let on how incompetent he is to the visitors); is suddenly sympathetic and attributes any and all Neville's school failings (and there appear to be a lot) to low self-esteem?
I mean, that's so general it could apply to anyone and anything. Not good at science? Lack of confidence. Bad at sports? Ditto.
It's this idea that there are always excuses made for the 'good' guys (ironic, considering the reputation Slytherin fans have as 'apologists'!) - Harry didn't get picked for sports in primary? OMG, it can't be because he was no good. He's liek rilly fast, it's just that everyone was scared of Dudley.
actually wrote a fascinating essay on Calvinism in this series, which touches on this point.)
Likewise, Neville fails not because he is cowardly (heavens forbid, a flaw!) or untalented, but because he lacks confidence.
And as soon as he meets the standards of Harry and co by succeeding in duelling and hexing as opposed to Herbology which has no value in their eyes; he's suddenly able to accomplish wondrous feats. Aren't you relieved that he wasn't something icky, like stupid? Now he can go around attacking people like the rest of them - KEWL!
But of course, it doesn't apply both ways - Crabbe and Goyle for example? They don't suffer from low self esteem. They're just dumb. Yuck.
And even though it's shallow to judge others by looks (the presentation of Veela for example, or sexualised females in general)? Hermione is actually really pretty. Not Pansy though. Not that it's important to be female and attractive. Just that Pansy isn't, Hermione is.
Convenient, that.
Even Ron, who gets the broadest treatment of the trio, falls under this heading - 'Look, Ron was just intimidated by Fred and George. And Harry's talent. Once they were all gone, it turns out he's really good!'
Again, it doesn't work both ways - Draco's not intimidated by Harry, or Flint, or his father. He's just not as good. Ew.
Nice way of dealing with your character's flaws and imperfections without actually making them objectional in any way. Hermione gets to be arrogant and ride roughshod over others (as does Harry, to be fair) but it's ok, because she's not really arrogant.
So they enjoys all the benefits of behaving badly (in that Their Way is Law) and none of the downsides (alienation, dealing with the consequences of her actions) because they're not really behaving badly at all, she's secretly shy and self-doubting, and he's
Motivations and beliefs are so strong in HP, that they actually overwhelm fact - Hermione/Harry's motivations are good, hence their actions become so in their eyes. Harry self-identifies as a victim and becomes one, as all his recollection are subtly altered to feature him in the best possible light.
They believe so strongly, for example, that Buckbeak is an innocent harmless creature that in their minds, he becomes it; and you'll notice all mention of him post PoA and even during is positive and promotes this impression.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; if all the Gryffindors flaws can be magically erased by authorial intervention, contrivance or excuses (so far we have Neville, Ron, Ginny, Harry and Hermione Winning Something Against All Odds and Doing Something The Slytherins Would While Somehow Escaping Either Negative Consequences or Censure) all the 'Crabbe was secretly clever once he got some tutoring' and 'Draco seemed snotty but was actually a fluffy wuffy bunny who had self-esteem issues' fics don't deserve the fanon labelling and mocking, since they're perfectly plausible considering canon backstory.

* Hermione...successfully vanished her snail on the third attempt, earning her a ten-point bonus for Gryffindor from Professor McGonagall. She was the only person not given homework; everybody else was told to practise the spell overnight, ready for a fresh attempt on their snails the following afternoon.

There's strands of Sue-ism in these books, but the clever thing is it shifts from character to character.
One chapter will feature Ginny, who even Hermione will yield to, who can win Quidditch matches, hex people, do fantastic impersonations, be incredibly popular and even talk down Harry, which no-one else accomplishes in this book.
The next will be Hermione, the smartest witch of her age, the prettiest at the ball and date of an Internationally famous star and Champion, who's not only an intellectual authority but an emotional one, who can
Then there'll be Harry, who feels more deeply than anyone, who is a natural Quidditch star, leader, teacher, who is better at DADA than anyone else both of his age and apparently, in the entire Wizarding World, who's famous and wealthy and popular and whom many girls fancy; who can resist Unforgiveables and has the power to perform them but is too fundamentally decent and sweet to want to.

* ...A loud shout of laughter sounded behind them; turning, they saw Draco Malfoy striding towards them, surrounded by his usual gang of Slytherin cronies.
He had clearly just said something highly amusing, because Crabbe, Goyle, Pansy Parkinson and the rest continued to snigger heartily as they gathered around the trestle table and, judging by the way they all kept looking over at Harry, he was able to guess the subject of the joke without too much difficulty.

All right, a reason to participate in this readthrough other than the company and snark!
Who are the 'rest'? (Whoever they are, they are also described as Malfoy's court and hangerons. Hee, groupies!)

* Hermione's hand shot into the air. Behind her back, Malfoy did a buck-toothed imitation of her jumping up and down in eagerness to answer a question.
Pansy Parkinson gave a shriek of laughter that turned almost at once into a scream...

I thought Hermione had normal teeth now? Did they grow back or are Draco's reactions delayed by years?
Notice how unpleasant girls shriek, snigger, giggle and are generally shrill and superficial? Don't worry if you missed it, it will be repeated. Over. And over. And over.

* 'Oooooh!' said Parvati and Lavender, thoroughly irritating Harry. Anyone would have thought Hagrid had never shown them impressive creatures; admittedly, the Flobberworms had been a bit dull, but the Salamanders and Hippogriffs had been interesting enough, and the Blast-Ended Skrewts perhaps too much so.

I don't want to jump to conclusions, but is it possible that Lavendar and Parvati, silly little girls that they are, don't find lessons in which they and their fellow classmates get painfully injured 'interesting' so much as 'frightening'?
I love that the Blast Ended Skrewts are the only creatures identified as being in any way dangerous, or 'too' interesting; since iirc, they're the only animals that harmed both Gryffindors and Slytherins. Which is clearly a warning sign, unlike frolicsome Hippogryffs which attack when sensing True Evil, which is naturally very 'interesting' and amusing to watch.

* 'They may not look dangerous, but if angered they will try to gouge at human eyes with their fingers, which, as you can see, are very sharp and not at all desirable near the eyeballs.'

I'm afraid I'm going to have to echo Evil People here and say:
"And why would we want to raise them? I mean, what do they do? What is the point of them?"

* 'Where's Hagrid?' he asked her, while everyone else was choosing Bowtruckles.
'Never you mind,' said Professor Grubbly-Plank repressively, which had been her attitude last time Hagrid had failed to turn up for a class, too.

Maybe she genuinely doesn't know?
Or perhaps she's ticked that she's better-qualified and yet Hagrid was promoted over her head thanks to his connections and now she has to cover his class without a by-your-leave and deal with stupid kids who think it's her job to arrange Hagrid's life?
Or maybe she just doesn't care. Go, G-P!

* Smirking all over his pointed face, Draco Malfoy leaned across Harry and seized the largest Bowtruckle.

Oh, the compensation theories.

* 'Maybe,' said Malfoy in an undertone, so that only Harry could hear him, 'the stupid great oaf's got himself badly injured.'
'Maybe you will if you don't shut up,' said Harry out of the side of his mouth.
'Maybe he's been messing with stuff that's too big for him, if you get my drift.'
Malfoy walked away, smirking over his shoulder at Harry, who felt suddenly sick. Did Malfoy know something? His father was a Death Eater after all; what if he had information about Hagrid's fate that had not yet reached the ears of the Order?

Does he? This appears to be a continuing theme - what does Malfoy know? Insider information? How much?
If Lucius or whoever has told Draco anything, he's once again flubbed it up by immediately telling Harry. Unless he was told to, in some kind of cunning double bluff in which to torment Harry with Hagrid's status.
I don't care, I was all <3 OTP!111 at this paragraph.

* He hurried back around the table to Ron and Hermione... Harry crouched down beside the others and related in a whisper what Malfoy had just said.

Which probably thrilled Draco to death, if he was still watching.
Hermione's actually right (as always!) - all he wants is attention and influence over people/events: specifically Harry.

* 'Dumbledore would know if some thing had happened to Hagrid,' said Hermione at once. 'It's just playing into Malfoy's hands to look worried; it tells him we don't know exactly what's going on. We've got to ignore him, Harry...'

What I love is that it's advice she's completely incapable of following herself.
She has a better record than Ron and Harry in the ignoring-Malfoy department, sure; but even the first encounter in OotP is her saying 'Shut up! Get out!' Not to mention the PoA slap, which has completely rendered me unable to take her seriously when she piously lectures about taking the high ground.

Also, yes, Dumbledore may possibly know, in his omnipotent way how Hagrid is, but how does Dumbledore's knowledge translate into 'Trio's Knowledge? I mean, I get that Dumbledore's being an asshat ignoring Harry et al; but all this plotline does for me is bring home how cosseted and indulged the Trio are, they're so horrified at the idea of being treated like the rest of the plebes.

* 'Yes,' came Malfoy's clear drawl from the group nearest them, 'Father was talking to the Minister just a couple of days ago, you know, and it sounds as though the Ministry's really determined to crack down on sub-standard teaching in this place. So even if that overgrown moron does show up again, he'll probably be sent packing straightaway.'

All right, about time! Good for the Ministry.
I mean, OMG, how evil! Government has no place interfering with privately run schools (I wonder about Hogwarts financial situation and whether they're subsidised by the Ministry in any way. Unless each headmaster happens to be independently wealthy, it appears they must be relying on some kind of fee system/grants, which just makes the whole thing even more hypocritical - it's ok to take people's money, but they get no say in the education of their children?) even when said schools have a history of dangerous teachers who a) abuse students b) drink or c) fail to teach at all. Hey, Umbridge is a step up - she only falls under two of those categories!

* Crabbe and Goyle, who had already been guffawing at the idea of Hagrid being sacked, laughed still harder as the Bowtruckle set off at full tilt towards the Forest, a little moving stick-man soon swallowed up among the tree roots.

Heh, I love Crabbe and Goyle. They're so innocently amused - hee hee, a running stick-man!

* Harry...marched off to Herbology with his hand wrapped in Hermione's handkerchief, and Malfoy's derisive laughter still ringing in his ears.

Rather puts a pin in those 'Harry never notices Malfoy ever and is so above him he's actually amused by petty taunts and is manly and mature enough to ignore him'.
People have stated this before, and better, but he is basically whatever Harry wants him to be - if he needs a big malevolent focus for everything that's wrong, we get a 'more menacing than ever' shadow who hopes people will die.
If he needs to concentrate on more important things, we get a teeny squeaking boy who can't even win a game.
It's not as simple as 'OMG Harry and Malfoy are liek arch-enemies and Harry is soooo scared and threatened and obsessed' but neither is it 'Saint Harry has higher things on his mind than schoolboy rivalries.'

* 'If he calls Hagrid a moron one more time…' said Harry through gritted teeth.
'Harry, don't go picking a row with Malfoy, don't forget, he's a prefect now, he could make life difficult for you…'

But Hagrid is a moron. What is Harry's (or JKR's?) problem with admitting flaws of loved characters?
This reminds me of the Weasley family argument, where everyone's horrified at the nerve and cruelty of Percy saying something which is patently a) true and b) obvious.
I wouldn't mind if it was a blanket attitude: Harry et al doesn't like tactlessness as a trait; but he's comfortable with insensitivity aimed at people he dislikes, which just strikes me as hypocritical.
I don't expect him to be unbiased about people he loves, but the extraordinary lengths he'll go to in order to protect his image of Hagrid are demonstrated all over the books. Hagrid repeatedly endangers not only Harry and the people he loves best in the world (Ron and Hermione) but a wide variety of others; and yet Harry can't bring himself to accept that the man isn't the best teacher in the world, let alone that he could end up getting someone killed sooner or later.

Also, Malfoy's totally taking advantage of his limitless power! Sure, we see Ron threatening to do precisely what he threatens to do; and for carrying through on threats, Hermione's your girl; Harry manages to threaten other students without any kind of official power whatsoever; and even by the end of the book all Draco had done was trip Harry and take about 20 points, but still!
He's on an egomaniacal rampage and Harry could be his next victim!

* 'Wonder what it’d be like to have a difficult life?' Harry said sarcastically.
Ron laughed, but Hermione frowned.

Magpie saw this as a joke, hence the sarcasm and Ron's reaction, but I presumed Harry meant it seriously.
Hermione's reaction appears to back this up - she frowns presumably because she's more Sensitive and Thoughtful than Ron and sees through Harry's facade to Teh Truth and Pain Behind the Words.

* ...'And don't say that Grubbly-Plank woman's a better teacher!' he added threateningly.
'I wasn't going to,' said Hermione calmly.

I would have. Get some balls, Hermione!
Also what's with the 'threatening'? Maybe Hermione's going to get hurt if she doesn't shut up?

* 'Because she'll never be as good as Hagrid,' said Harry firmly, fully aware that he had just experienced an exemplary Care of Magical Creatures lesson and was thoroughly annoyed about it.

I could tell G-P was good when she gave Hermione lots of points and complimented her. (Which is also why McGonagall rocks. Or something.)
People should totally kill Harry with kindness, it works well (or not, as intended), which we also see with Umbridge.

* The door of the nearest greenhouse opened and some fourth-years spilled out of it, including Ginny. 'Hi,' she said brightly as she passed.

Even the briefest of brief Ginny mentions prompts me to say: Shut up! See how friendly and not-shy she is now? Cause Ginny is cool.

* Luna was wearing what looked like a pair of orange radishes for earrings, a fact that Parvati and Lavender seemed to have noticed, as they were both giggling and pointing at her earlobes.

Did anyone not pick up that Parvati and Lavendar are superficial and care only for appearances and romance? Don't worry, there won't be a mention of them that doesn't feature this in some way.

* 'Well, they were right, weren't they?' said Hermione impatiently. ‘There weren't any such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack.'
...'Oh, for heaven's sake, Harry, you can do better than her,' said Hermione. 'Ginny's told me all about her; apparently, she'll only believe in things as long as there's no proof at all. Well, I wouldn't expect anything else from someone whose father runs The Quibbler.'

Heh. 'Didn't you hear, Ginny heard that she only believes things she's heard? How dumb is that?'
Love the little value judgement there - we're not slumming it by associating with people who believe us if they're not good enough. Which they won't be if they're not us.
So with the subcategories of Gryffindor: Good, Other Three Houses: Bad; we know have People Who Believe Us Outside of Gryffindor: Tolerable but mockworthy. Certainly nothing as unfashionable as gratitude.
And what's with the 'her father does X so she must be Y'?
I love how this and 'His whole family have been in Slytherin for centuries, hence he must be Evil Incarnate' are acceptable assumptions, but it's liek total racism to judge Hermione herself on her parents status and blood type.

Of course the whole 'No-one should believe in these creatures cause everybody says they don't exist' contrasts with 'People should be encouraged to have beliefs that don't necessarily align with the rest of societies'; much as 'OMG Umbridge is restricting knowledge' is a reason for Hermione to detest the woman, whereas Dumbledore hiding things is fair and just.

* 'I want you to know, Potter,' he said in a loud, carrying voice, 'that it's not only weirdos who support you. I personally believe you one hundred per cent. My family have always stood firm behind Dumbledore, and so do I.'

Which is not at all like doubting Harry because your family says to.
Ernie is the pureblood who at 12 can assert his families history over several centuries, hexes others happily and is suspicious of anyone who might be 'different' in any way - sound familiar at all? Of course not, he's a goodie!
I love that the people who believe Harry have just as stupid reasons to as the people who doubt him, yet we're supposed to warm to them because they're on 'our' side.

* Ernie's words had certainly wiped the smile from Lavender Brown's face and...Harry caught Seamus’ expression, which looked both confused and defiant.

Huh? Lavender wasn't even laughing at Harry. What, is this 'punishment' for her having the temerity to smile while Harry angsts so hard?
And why is it anyone who challenges Harry/his 'side' must immediately be silenced and look stupid (Draco, Pansy, Zacharias, Seamus, Lavender) whereas their own taunts are treated with scorn? It's so unrealistic.

* Tired and smelling strongly of dragon dung...the Gryffindors trooped back up to the castle an hour and a half later, none of them talking very much; it had been another long day.

Gryffindors appear to disintergrate as a group in times of strife rather than band together (the points loss in PS; the arguments between the Trio and now Seamus and Lavender; them not talking in stressful times such as now) - could be part of their 'might is right, only the strongest survive' macho image; could be an effort on behalf of JKR in order to show how independent they all are unlike the Slytherins who present a united front because they're sheep presumably; but to me they're coming off as fairweather friend types who only show loyalty to winners.

* More weary, victim!Harry (stung by teh injustice!) And another interpretation of events that somehow manages to make him look saintly - he got a detention for telling the truth. Why, he's like a freedom fighter!

* Hee, I actually quite warmed to Angelina in this chapter. She's still a musclehead jock Gryffindor who thinks everyone else should respect athletics as being more important than anything; but the part about Harry remaining on the team won me over.

* I love that Harry's convinced he can talk his way out detention. Liek, OH NOES this teacher won't make special exceptions for me!

* Ooh, Umbridge's office is overtly, stereotypically feminine and tacky. Another great reason to hate her!

To clarify, for me, Umbridge doesn't bother or annoy me as a character; and that's saying something, since you may have noticed, I'm not keen on many!
I understand how and why someone could be irritated, even upset by reading her: she has no apparent motivation apart from cruelty, presumably; no backstory; she's neither a Death Eater nor on the good side; she's mundanely "evil" in a way that's very familiar to most people - she uses rules and bureaucracy rather than weapons; she's ugly; she's a minion for Fudge; she advocates conformacy; she's hypocritical; and of course, she hurt Harry. Lots of great reasons. However, for me to dislike a character, I need a reason. Those are all great ones, however, none of them are unique to Umbridge and haven't already appeared in other, more sympathetic characters in the HP!verse.
What I mean is, if the author/text wishes for me to dislike Umbridge because, for example, she is malicious; I need a reason why I should hate her for this and not say, Hermione for taking pleasure in Marietta's pain, or Harry for taking pleasure in Draco's or Snape's or Bellatrix's...
I get that a lot of people have much more emotive reactions to characters and that there's no need for everybody to want or need consistency - there are certainly many laudable qualities that Harry, Hermione and all the positive characters possess that Umbridge lacks, which certainly make them better people (and more interesting characters.)
However, I feel Umbridge isn't a character at all, really.
There's no realism to her whatsoever: she's merely a projection for hate; and one that doesn't even make much sense, which is an issue that crops up time and time again in JKR's villains.
The author is so keen for the audience to dislike them and to establish their negative qualities that said traits begin to clash against one another, so you have an Umbridge who embodies both negative sides of politics for example: she has the conservatism JKR so clearly detests (but interestingly, invests more subtly in almost all of her main characters; perhaps even subconsciously) and the Dursley-esque 'Bring back the birch' traditionalist beliefs; juxtaposed with the, also unwanted, more liberal 'nanny state' insistence of inspections, standards and teacher responsibility: her questioning of the injuries in Hagrid's class, for example, puts her in the position of bleeding-heart (whatever her actual motives, which were undoubtedly not rooted in sympathy) standing against the old-fashioned unquestioned authority of adults over children, teachers over pupils.
Or the Slytherins, who are detested for their house qualities of cunning and ambition but also repeatedly demonstrate how simple and basically uncunning they are; which is also presented as a good reason to loathe them.
I can hate a character, I'm not bothered by a cardboard cut-out, voodoo doll like Umbridge.
Especially since it's unresolved actions that upset or frighten me most.
The Slytherins, the Death Eaters, Umbridge...why worry about them (and the comparably miniscule number of fans they have in the audience) when their questionable actions are recognised, dealt with (not all of them face personal responsibility for every deed, but it's fairly certain they will by the series end; and the very simple 'They're bad -> people hate them' cause and effect chain is in itself a responsibility most of our lead characters haven't yet encountered in any kind of realistic fashion) and punished (usually well beyond reason).
It's Harry and the Twins and Hermione's and Ron's rewards for similiar actions that bother me. I mean, what do people who loathe say, Umbridge want from the text's resolution that they didn't get? She hurt your babies, she gets gang raped by centaurs. Aren't you satisfied? Do you really want more?

* Angsty cutting scene ensues. Rather gory violence. I'm not sure what JKR's intent here is. It comes across almost unsophisticated and childlike - ooh, look at the blood! Is she building sympathy here, or trying for horror?
I'm uncomfortable with either, really, since her violence can be extremely mixed - pain felt or inflicted upon negative or minor characters is a source of comedy in this series. Draco's ferret bouncing, Dudley's choking, Vernon and Petunia's gradual mental disintegration, even Eloise's Midgen's acne and nose are all played for laughs; and indeed, the entire Wizarding World gives off the impression of a tough, warrior culture, with no time for mollycoddling children; especially since most of their injuries can be cured almost instantly.
So it seems slightly disingenous and hypocritical to expect the audience to suddenly fret and worry now that our titular hero is doing the suffering.
Of course, a lot of the above examples brought their pain on their own head, Draco with his cowardice and malicious attempts at hexing, Dudley with his greed, Vernon and Petunia with their cruelty, and even Eloise's attempts at vanity.
Likewise, in a different book, or from a different perspective, so did Harry - a more flattering interpretation of course, is offered (and could, I suppose, be argued for say, Malfoy, since his crime was fairly similiar to Harry's actions in OotP, which once again somehow leave Harry as the victim; this time of unfair punishment and insults against his family. Indeed, an attempt to defend womenfolk could be viewed as chivalrous, although I note even JKR doesn't try that one in Chapter Nineteen.)
It's as if Harry cannot suffer any misfortunes of his own making, so even Umbridge presents his detention as unfair, an exercise in stopping him spreading what she presumably knows to be the truth (although there's an interesting point for you - does Umbridge genuinely believe Harry to be lying or not?). Indeed, even Sirius' death; the closest Harry has ever come to being 'punished' for any of his more serious actions; is presented as Harry blaming himself myopically, excluding all others who bear responsibility, giving in to his "hero complex". Basically, it's a Hagrid-esque 'Don't you pity and admire him for admitting mistakes?' when of course, like Hagrid, Harry will almost certainly be reassured of his own superiority again, and of course, like Hagrid, there's still 9 million, more serious mistakes that are never resolved or questioned, since they only result in the pain of inconsequential people, who "deserve" it.
I find it extraordinarily difficult to sympathise in this scene for these, and a variety of reasons: I feel manipulated by the text into sympathy for events that would be presented as humorous were they not occuring to the main character, which just cheapens the whole use of violence. The writing comes across as heavy-handed, like a fanfic written by a teenager listening to Evanescence and cutting themself. And speaking of, I feel as if I'm being expected to feel sorry for someone who has chosen to inflict pain upon themselves rather than lose face (which is an issue I often find with this series. For instance, Harry's death-defying feats in previous books are always presented as utmost bravery - he will literally risk his life for what he believes in. Hugely admirable if what he believes in is that he can't let Ginny die, or Voldemort take over the school; less admirable when what he believes is that he really, really wants his team to win the Quidditch Cup.
Seriously? You'd risk your life, plummet hundreds of feet and break limbs? It's that important to you that you win (or that you're not seen to lose, I suppose)? That's approaching psychosis, for me.
Or the much discussed Forest scene, which comes up again in OotP, as Harry recalls Malfoy's cowardice (whether he remembers his own freezing in fear, or whether it's all just a blur to the strains of "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias, is never mentioned ;) - seriously? You'd rather have died than ran from something that wants to kill you? I can't help but imagine Gryffindors engaging in Monty Python style tests of bravery, like jumping out of a window armed only with a sword, or
In fact, while a lot of the scenes I used as examples above were doubtlessly at least partially self-inflicted, I note that at least Malfoy and Dudley, whoever annoying and ill-advised they are in all other aspects of their life; didn't actively court the exact same result: you don't see Malfoy lipping Moody, or aiming any more hexes at people's backs. In fact, he makes it a point to avoid the man? Cowardly? Maybe. Sensible? Yes. Does it make him more sympathetic than Harry, who appears to want detentions? To me, totally!
Likewise, never again do we see Dudley accepting food from wizards, or even stealing it from his family; as he did before (there's an interesting theory for you - did the toffee experience bring on some kind of eating disorder, or alternately, the impetus he needed to get healthy?)
I mean, really. I get about how it's a "battle of wills" for Harry, and how he doesn't want to let Umbridge win, but really? She is. He's probably her dream student: too proud to admit to anyone what she's doing, wouldn't dream of missing a detention or even avoiding one in case she thought he was scared. Why not just lie down and let her wipe your feet on you?
I mean, jesus, imagine you get stabbed, and instead of calling out for help or for the police (which I presume would be the coward's way out in HP!land); you silently suffer your wounds, so the mugger doesn't know how much he's affecting you. W.T.F?
Umbridge knows how much she's affecting him - he's writing in his own blood, for godssake!
Apart from all this, what kind of message is that to send to kids reading?
If you're abused by an adult, don't tell anyone, you'll be a coward and then the adult will know they've gotten to you, and win?

* I'm unclear - do the marks disappear before eventually scarring Harry permanently or not? Are they there at the end of the book?
And why would Umbridge hope they permanently stay - surely she realises having kids walking around with physical evidence of her abuse is not the best idea?

* Harry ran away. Oooh...

* McGonagall has a point later, when she says that those detentions are completely failing to teach Harry to control his temper. I wonder what would.
I guess nothing, since most of the time his anger is "proved" to be a self- righteous one, and usually ends up benefitting him.

* Harry's scar, and randomly, midriff hurts. Is this ever resolved?

* Umbridge says "It hurts, doesn't it?" Rubbing it in, or has she ever experienced it herself, I wonder?

* Why is Harry so uncurious about Ron's obviously concealment of his activities?
It's odd, he veers wildly from being self-centred and myopic, the boy who forgot Ginny's possession; who had no interest in Hermione's secret date in GoF or disappearing acts in POA; who doesn't even wonder about Cho, the girl he apparently prefers above all others; and now shows it's not just a gender thing by being completely uninterested in Ron, to an almost prescient awareness of people around him, from whom he can divine innermost emotions and secret motivations. And for a boy with his upbringing, or even a regular child, he has an almost innate ability to read people - witness his presents for his friends, or the way he instinctively reassures Ron about his family's poverty when they first meet.
Or for example, in this chapter, from being completely unaware of Ron, it's then described as Harry's one "bright spot" that he gets to watch try-outs.
It's one extreme or another, and neither come across (to me, anyway) as particularly realistic.

* I love the part where Harry's irritated as to why Ron is tired, when he less reason to be than Harry. Heh.
Also, Ron appears to have very little faith in either his best friend or (perhaps more understandably) his brothers; immediately assuming that they'll all mock him. Rather a change from PS, when Ron was willing to confide the innermost desires of his heart, including all his high ambitions; without even considering that Harry would "take the mickey".
I'm sure that's just Ron's mistake, though, rather than any reflection on Harry's character and friendship.
I also really like the "bitter" wish Harry expresses about try-outs.
'I wish I was going to see you try out. Did I mention I don't get to because of my horribly angsty detentions I'm too heroic to complain about? They've tired me out so much I simply can't stay and celebrate with you. After all, you're just a crummy Keeper in your fifth year, unlike the youngest seeker in a century. Liek, Quidditch is so over, anyway. Try pulling your weight by fighting evil instead, cause I'm tired of doing that alone.'

* Ron gets Wood's robes? Ouch. More and more handmedowns. I actually assumed named robes were a movie!fanon thing, but nope.

* Did anyone else get the impression Hermione and Ron were drunk?

* Ew. Is Hermione macking on Harry with her "tempting" offer of erotic hat-making and shiny face?

* Why is suddenly not rude of Hermione to leave Ron's celebration early because Harry did first? Because as long as Harry's being an example in Shitty Friendship, it's okay for her? I know Harry's my role model in situations demanding etiquette and manners.

* Despite their constant bickering and apparent preference of Harry to each other, Ron seems rather invested in Hermione's opinion, to the point that he appears angrier with her lack of excitement than Harry's. Perhaps he knows Harry has 'more important things' to think about, or perhaps he's used to it. Or maybe he just has double standards, and Hermione has to work harder to impress him. Or perhaps he loooooves her. I don't know, I lost interest.

* The Twins haven't stopped their product testing, they're just concealing it from Hermione. Brave.

* More comparisons of hate. Harry hates Umbridge more than Snape now, equally later, as Snape edges up the league table, by the end eclipsing all peer rivals.

* Harry describes Umbridge as "evil" and "twisted", presumably because she enjoys inflicting pain upon him.
Funny how he finds that "brilliant" or "deserved" when it's anyone but him.

* I love how nepotism is perfectly fine when a Gryffindor player is joining the team.

* Hermione is horrified that Harry might doubt that Dumbledore Loves Him Best. No, Harry! Don't doubt the favouritism! People are biased towards you, they are! Not that you want them to be!
Imagine if we had a scene in which Malfoy is bemoaning that despite appearances, Snape actually doesn't give him any special privileges anymore; and is only interested in how in his position as son of Lucius, he can best benefit Snape himself, and tell me how much you'd care and whether you'd be eating your heart out in sympathy for the poor little mite who's gravy train had come to an end.
(And actually, that analogy's fairly flawed anyway, since Draco has never, in all his whiny, rich-boy, entitled, spoilt brattiness, even come close to the amount of privilege Harry recieves just from Dumbledore - not even including every single other member of staff and indeed, the entire Wizarding World.)
And sadly, all Harry's worst expectations are fulfilled as the end reassures us that, in the midst of death, the most important thing is that Ron (and indeed all the prefects) rilly don't have any qualities Harry lacks, and in fact just has more time on his hands than Harry, who has more important things to think about. Silly, superficial Ron!
And the beautifully touching moment in which Albus confides that he would let any amount of cannon fodder die, just to assure Harry's "peace of mind"; while we celebrate that Albus is, once again, in charge of all those unknown people's lives again. Brrr...

* I feel bad for Harry that in an emergency, the only/best person he has to turn to is Sirius.
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