Reflecting on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: It’s All about the “…ism”

There’s not much difference between classicism and racism. Both have the same prejudice in regards to superiority over others when we apply it in social context; and you’ll see a lot of it in this book. Contrary to the film, one slight change in event could change the entire tone of the plot. That’s why I am an advocate for presentation. Don’t underestimate it. It’s everything! The film version turned Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix into a story about friends, family and love as something to be fought for. Whereas in the book, it cleverly mentioned all the “…ism (s)” (i.e., classism, racism, ageism, criticism, sadism, favoritism etc.) that society goes through with seriousness and humor, making it more than just a story about fighting evil. The introduction of Professor Umbridge entering into the series is now and forever engrained in my mind. There is a line between punishment and sadism when it comes to teaching. What a witch!

Looking back at my questions, I am glad some of my questions were answered in this book such as why Harry Potter was given over to the care of the Dursleys and why Voldemort is so fixated on killing Harry Potter. To my surprise, I wasn’t so thrilled to get the answers because Harry Potter sort of reminds me of Oedipus Rex, a play by Sophocles. In the play, the protagonist was prophesized that he would murder his father. Therefore, his father attempted to kill his own son when he was still an infant. Doesn’t it sound just like little famous Harry Potter who lived to tell the tale that he would destroy Voldemort who is terribly afraid of death? Harry Potter is the Chosen One. I often wonder why western media is so obsessed with being the special one? The difference, of course, is that Voldemort is not Harry Potter’s dad, but both are half-blood, which makes them both the perfect opponents for the classic tale between good versus evil. However, what distinguishes Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix from a generic plot is that it emphasizes that the good guys are not always wise.

Albus Dumbledore may be strong and powerful, but he is not immortal. Even wise people make bad decisions, and no one is prone from escaping ageism at his age. Dumbledore even admitted to Harry that he failed in judgment when he asked Snape to put his old grudge away and teach Occlumency to Harry Potter whose thoughts were penetrated by the Dark Lord with nightmares and visions. Snape loathed Harry Potter’s father, James Potter. And it’s in this book, we learned the reasoning behind it when Harry took a sneak peek into Snape’s memory during the Occlumency lesson. Snape was heavily bullied by James and his gang of friends for simply just existing. And to be honest, I was a little disappointed in this section of the book to learn that Snape has a legitimate grudge against James Potter. He is made out to look as if he some sort of weirdo shunned by society because of his obsession with the Dark Arts. For that reason, it’s easy to empathize with Snape, especially coming from someone like Harry Potter who has also been heavily mistreated by his cousin, Dudley. I was turned off by Sirius’ and Lupin’s justification for bullying: they were teenagers who didn’t know any better. Emotional scars don’t heal overnight. Emotional scars in fact rarely heal, which by far is worse than having a cut on your hand. The wound lingers and it stays. Sometimes it subsides but then comes back in waves. Sometimes there are things in life that can be forgiven but NEVER forgotten. His prejudice toward Harry Potter didn’t form out of nowhere. His grudge runs so deeply that he forgets Harry is nothing like his father; even Sirius, his dad’s best friend and godfather, admitted it! Yes, Snape has a reason to justify his hatred toward Harry, but it still doesn’t make it right.

Speaking of prejudice, the house-elves exist to serve their master and we learn a little bit more about their nature by examining the house-elf Kreacher who serves the Black’s family. They are not entirely innocent and deserving of freedom. It is in their nature to serve their master and they are content to serve as long as their masters don’t mistreat them just like we see in Doby with Lucius Malfoy and Kreacher with Sirius Black. I see the author’s point of view: everything has a functional structured hierarchy. House elves are loyal to a fault as long as you treat them well.

This book opens up a lot heavy loaded topics on social issues: classism, racism, and ageism and what I found a little disturbing is the conclusion and justification that come from it (I noticed a pattern in the series: everything falls into place at the end of each book). I don’t know if I entirely agree with the author. Harry Potter as a character is not what I ideally pictured as a hero or someone I can admire. He is kind of too arrogant for my liking. Then again, the book did mention Harry’s Potter weakness is heroism. Also, I don’t like how Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood are portrayed as pitiful misfit characters in comparison to Harry Potter. Far too often writers make jokes about it in a way where it becomes insensitive. In this book, Harry Potter is framed as unstable and a liar by the Daily Prophet, a newspaper for the Witchcraft and Wizarding community–simply because he tried to tell the truth about Voldemort’s return. I find it ironic, considering that such a community is able to define what normalcy is considering that magic is involved because there’s nothing normal about magic. The Ministry of Magic should know better or perhaps this is a weak point of the plot. Mental illness is not a symptom of weakness. It’s an invisible disability. You can’t really expect a maimed person to compete in sport like basketball if they have no hands to grab the ball, or do you? It’s the same the concept with the oddballs. Anyway, that’s beside the point of my analysis and I still got two more books to go to make a final conclusion about Mr. Potter. I want to define the Order of Phoenix as a book about prejudice, but that would simplify it because it’s more than that. It’s more about the abuse of authority. Even the “right authority” (Order of Phoenix) is not immune to failure. And if there is one lesson I took out from this book: be aware of the biases and prejudices when we make a judgement about a person. We are all prone to making mistakes. We are only human, after all.

Now I recalled the time my old boss defended his trusted employees from breaking a company’s procedure. With my own eyes, I attested it; however, my boss was too blind in favoritism to acknowledge it. Tsk…tsk…favoritism can be such a good bad thing. And that concludes my thoughts on this book, the book all about the “…ism”.

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