Episode 111 – OotP 33: Prejudice and Pride

Skillful deception from Hermione leads her, Harry and Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest. But they’re quickly in over their heads and it isn’t too long before arrows are flying! Join hosts Eric, Michael, Alison and special guest author Mindee Arnett as they dodge bat-bogeys in effort to dissect each layer of this complex foray into the forest.

On Episode 111 we discuss…

→ Episode 110 Recap: Understanding Harry; acting versus being the hero; Hermione worship.
→ PQOTW Responses
→ Should Hermione know better?
→ Quasi-necessary Grawp
→ No girl centaurs
→ Rude Harry
Question of the Week
→ Check out the Alohomora! store

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  • Saiyangirl

    Hey guys! Great episode as usual – had no idea I was in some kind of competition with WizardorWhat on last week’s podcast question of the week though xD I really don’t think there was a way for Sirius to survive, but as he is one of my very favourite characters I was heart-broken when he did die. Part of me keeps wanting to blame Snape for taunting him or to attempt to find loopholes, but at the same time, I don’t truly believe it could have turned out differently. Sirius was set on going, and I think Bellatrix would have managed to single him out either way- to me, it seemed she was set on fighting her rebellious cousin who rejected the Black family pure blood mentality and in extent of that, rejected her beloved Voldemort.

    Also, just a random thing to note- but I kept feeling all confused and looking up, thinking someone had called me whenever Mindy’s name was mentioned (as I’m called Nindy it’s, well, very close). Great guest-host though- really curious about her books now! *waves to my almost-namesake*

    Regarding Hermione – I agree with the comment from skgai that got mentioned. Hermione can be a manipulator, and there is definitely a murky area where she seems to reflect an approach also used by the dark side, or, on the supposed good side, she seems to reflect all those times Dumbledore gets lost in those ethically questionable areas for the sake of “the greater good”. She has a fearsome intellect, and sometimes, I believe it runs away with her. There’s the whole thing with her blackmailing Skeeter and having held her captive in a jar, and with the curse she puts on the paper where all DA members sign their name (the damage inflicted on Marietta seems rather permanent to me). Those things seem pretty vindictive to me, and with Skeeter, I don’t see her display any signs of discomfort or regret at the severity of her action. With the DA paper though, she does seem kind of nervous, and semi-guilt strained and embarrassed when the result becomes visible. In her heart of hearts though, I believe Hermione, unlike Dumbledore, is able to overcome this side of her, and become better. But she is still a young girl only just coming into her own- she’ll find a way. She’s too extreme on her stance for house elf rights as well yet at this moment in time, but she’ll learn as she gets older, and become a great advocate for minorities. I think her own muggleborn-status and the experiences she goes through during the wizarding war help her not get stuck in the same pitfalls Dumbledore got stuck in.

    I do feel most of you were being too hard on her on this episode though. Yes, Hermione was over her head taking Umbridge into the forest, yes, she was out of control, and yes, in a way, what she was doing was both disrespectful and even abusive to centaurs. But what choice did she have? Umbridge was about to go Unforgivable Curses level crazy, Sirius was potentially being tortured, and she needed to get rid of Umbridge. What she did was foolish, but at the same time, very brave. Sometimes there is no room to think something through, and Hermione is not the best at making good decisions under pressure. But honestly, what alternatives could she have thought of? She remembered the thing centaurs had said about human children being viewed as “foals”, and deducted that they would not be likely to harm her and Harry, but more likely to harm Umbridge, who would most likely insult them as part-human. And she realised that making a lot of noise in the forest would most likely anger the centaurs, as she knew they do not like intruders to come into what they think of as their forest. Doing what she did was the most logical thing she could think of when being forced to operate on instinct.

    Also bear in mind that Hermione, however amazing she is and however good her intent, is not above bias herself. On the forums on episode 105, Phoenix actually wrote a brilliant comment which brought forth that Hermione does not seem to have a full understanding of centaurs. She refers to them as “horses” when in conversation with Parvati about Divination, and even though this might be a sarcastic quip to shut Parvati up, I agree with Phoenix in that Hermione would not have been likely to use such a derogatory term had she fully understood the nature of centaurs. In a way, I personally believe her lack of understanding of centaurs is related to her hatred of divination and everything a bit too “out there” to bring back to firm logic, much like her ambivalent relationship with Luna. She does not seem to have read up on them as thoroughly as she has read up on other topics she needs to study, which to me indicates that she is reluctant to learn more about them. In a way, centaurs seem to make her uncomfortable. And can we really start blaming her for that? I love that she has these flaws, and still has much that she needs to learn. I disagree 100% with statements made that her foolish behaviour in the forest was out of character, as well as with the assertion that her acting in Borgin and Burkes in book 6 should not have been so bad considering how well-versed she was in lying and manipulating Umbridge here. Those were two completely different situations: Hermione was running on pure adrenaline here, making it up as she went along. In Borgin and Burkes, she was impulsive, not exactly in a life-or-death situation, and just wanted to try something. It was not even close to the level of threat she was under in this scene. It just goes to show that thankfully, under more natural circumstances, Hermione is a good person and a bad liar who is not fit for manipulation. She can only do it when it seems to her to be the only route remaining.

    Other than the Hermione topic, I’m sad that there seemed to be so much Grawp-hate. I really love Grawp as a character, and do not view him as “Hagrid’s monster for the year” – Hagrid, who has been without family since he was 13, has found a remnant of family and is attempting to form a bond. Not only does Grawp save the trio now- in DH, I don’t think the Final Battle would have played out as well as it did at all if Grawp hadn’t been on the Order’s side. Yes, he was a weak, small giant, but a weak small giant is still a thousand times better than no giant at all when you’re faced with a bunch trying to kill you.

    As a complete and utter side-note, but does anyone else reckon Grawp is, in a way, a symbol of intellectual disability? With how Hagrid has to care for him and how simple-minded yet well-meaning he is, and that when he doesn’t understand something, he might act out, but needs people to look beyond that and figure out why he’s overwhelmed at that moment?

    Regarding Harry’s rudeness when Neville, Ginny and Luna want to come along, I think there’s two sides to that. Firstly, it gives Ginny and Neville the opportunity to be Harry’s opposing forces, to stand up to him and show us how pig-headed Harry can be. Harry attempting to cast them aside is reflective of what happens next year, after he’s had time to grow up; he’ll finally view Luna and Neville as both his friends and as cool people when travelling to Hogwarts in HBP. Additionally, he’ll finally acknowledge Ginny is more than simply Ron’s little sister, stop downplaying her strengths, and subsequently, open up to his feelings for her. Other than that, I really believe it’s merely Harry feeling taking others along is a burden, not just because of who they are, but because there are more people to protect and more people who can get hurt. He’s used to being very self-reliant due to growing up with the Dursleys, and it’s very hard for him to allow more people than only Ron and Hermione to get close to him in that way and become part of his inner circle. It’s not because he’s trying to be a jerk – I mean, he *is* being a jerk – but he’s not trying to be one, and he doesn’t realise he is. He just struggles getting out of his comfort zone in that regard.

    I don’t have any theories about why exactly Thestrals are so good at finding the place wherever their rider wants to go (Legilimency experts or something?, or maybe magic similar to owls like was suggested), but I do not think that the usage of Thestrals was far-fetched. Do you really see them getting from Scotland to London on broomsticks? Hermione is terrible at flying, Neville broke his wrist at the first attempt, and for some reason I can’t view Luna as a decent flier either. And the Floo Network is risky, even without Umbridge, as it is something that is Ministry-monitored. I don’t know if that is a 24/7 thing or not, but they might pull some kind of magical alarm if they use the Floo Network to get from Hogwarts to the Ministry, so I feel that would be a very terrible idea. And there they are, the Thestrals, again like Hogwarts does always offer help to those in need. I don’t feel it’s far-fetched at all; sometimes things just “fit”.

    Lastly, I was saddened by the amount of dislike for OotP on this episode, mainly because it is my favourite book in the series and I genuinely cannot see the flaws you guys mentioned. That’s what’s fun about the show though, it’s all a matter of perspective sometimes, and it opens so many windows for discussion.. and in the end, that’s what we all want I think. Discussing the HP series forever and ever and everrrrr 😀 The one thing that did really hit me was the mention that, starting with HBP, “it was funny again”. There is a tremendous amount of humour in OotP; the twins flying off (“it unscrews the other way”), the McGonagall and Umbridge rivalry (“have a biscuit, Potter”), the awkward teenage moments (“the emotional range of a tea-spoon”). To me, the book was an absolute emotional rollercoaster; it made me laugh the loudest and cry the hardest. And to this day, I love it for that <3

    • The Half Blood Princess

      I agree that OotP gets more hate than it deserves. The Harry Potter series is more than just a whole lot of action and excitement. It’s also about the characters. Here is where we see them get developed, and the fact that Harry is angsty and gets on our nerves makes him overall a more well-rounded character. I loved how we see the whole school (except Filch and the inquisitorial squad) unite against Umbridge, and I think it sets up the battle of Hogwarts really well. We’re also introduced to a lot of new characters, such as Tonks and Luna, in OotP. We learn that James and Sirius were not as great as we once thought. We fully understand how dark these times are. It might not be the most exciting book, but that does not take away from it at all in my opinion, if anything, it adds to it.

    • I also see Grawp as representative of intellectual disability as you said. I see him as Hagrid’s familial connection and another way to show Hagrid as a caring, loving individual who just happens to have Giant blood, so prejudice that Giant blood = beastial is a construct JKR deconstructs via Hagrid over and over again. But yes, I think Grawp is also meant to be viewed as a family member Hagrid needs to take care of even more so because of a “disability”. And not only intellectual but if we’re talking about full giant, he is physically different as well. His story was always really heart wrenching for me because of how horribly he was treated due to his differences. And I’m not sure whether the hosts were correct in saying that the trio left Grawp alone for a long time. Hagrid only left during the Astronomy exam so then a couple days later is the History of Magic exam with Harry’s crisis. If nothing had happened, I imagine they would have gone to hang out with Grawp after exams ended and only a couple days after Hagrid had to leave Hogwarts.

      • The Half Blood Princess

        If Grawp is supposed to represents someone with a mental disability, I think that JK Rowling should have given him better moments. Otherwise, there’s no point.

    • Also, Ditto. I never had an issue with these chapters and Grawp. I think its been WAY overplayed on the podcast.

    • Hufflepug

      Grawp as a symbol for disability is wonderful. If only she had developed that plot a little more to the point where we could see more of those caring moments between him and Hagrid.
      I agree that Hermione isn’t necessarily acting out of character in this book. Rather, she’s growing up and learning about her values and may sometimes be accidentally overdoing it now that she’s realized that breaking the rules is “sort of exciting, isn’t it?” Also Umbridge has kind of made everyone crack by now in my opinion.

      • Saiyangirl

        True, I definitely agree that it would’ve been nice if Jo had put some more development into the Grawp-Hagrid plot. I genuinely enjoy it, but maybe it would have helped especially those who felt it was rather pointless if she had shown us more moments of their ‘brotherly love’ in that regard. Still love the glimpses we do get though, especially at Dumbledore’s funeral in HBP. That really showed how much their relationship had progressed and how much Hagrid had managed to teach his little brother. I’m actually hoping for some more background on Grawp now that Pottermore has started OotP ^^

        And completely agree that Umbridge made everyone crack at this point. How frenzied Hermione is behaving is a testament to how insane Umbridge is being rather than anything else from my point of view.

    • hg

      I completely agree with your post. Hermione’s behaviour is okay (at leats in this situation), because it was actually self-defense. Umbridge wanted to torture Harry. Hermione didn’t have much time to think about a better plan. Would it have been better to do nothing?

      Also, OotP is way underrated. The plot and charactersation in it are much more important for the overall story than the action-packed Goblet of Fire (with the exception of Goblet’s climax, which is of course very important). But all the new characters in Goblet and the Triwizard Tournament don’t mean all that much for the overall plot. Order of the Phoenix is the book, where characters that actually matter get their development (like Snape and Neville and most of all Harry himself, who stops being a flat character and becomes more rounded).

    • skgai

      Holy cow. You covered nearly everything that I was thinking and said it way better I’m sure. It’s always a battle with the hosts on this particular book so it’s nice to come to the comments section and see a few people who agree with me.

      With regards to Grawp representing intellectual disability, I think he is the opposite (or Ring Theory requirement) of the Neville/Neville’s parents relationship. Neville had caring and nurturing from his parents when he was a baby when he couldn’t converse with them. Now Neville has to do those things for his parents despite them not being able to have intellectual interactions. Yet the book clearly shows that the love is somehow still there even though their brains are nearly destroyed.

      Hagrid never knew his brother when he was young, but now that he’s found him he has to raise him like a baby, or a being that doesn’t possess to ability to interact intellectually. Grawp does consciously know who Hagrid is and what Hagrid is trying to do. The moment in this chapter when Grawp calls out for “Hagger” is very touching. It means that Hagrid’s attempts at forming a relationship have not been in vain and that all the suffering was worth it in the same way that Neville’s futile attempts at still talking to his parents are shown to be fruitful. Rowling adeptly fuses two secondary story lines here.

  • Elvis Gaunt

    The King’s Cross scene in Deathly Hallows has nothing to do with scarcrux. When Voldemort used Harry’s blood to resurrect himself, he took in Lily’s blood protection (which is meant for Harry) as well. It ensured that Harry cannot die as long as his blood flows through Voldemort. Thus the famous gleam of triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes.

  • Elvis Gaunt

    I don’t think Hermione was trying to say “saving people thing” was bad. She was merely putting two and two together. She knows Dumbledore wanted Harry to learn Occlumency because Voldemort, learning of this connection, would do something to cause trouble. Harry instinctively does anything in his capacity to help/saves others. Here is a vision which is making Harry think someone he loves is in danger and thus place himself in it. Hermione came to the conclusion that Voldemort must be using one of Harry’s best qualities against him.

    I think the reason why Hermione gave Gabrielle’s example (when Harry had saved quite a few people by this time) is because that was the one time when he perceived someone to be in danger, he did not pause to analyse the situation. As the hosts discussed, Harry had so often seen horrible things happen at Hogwarts that he does not think “it may not/cannot be that bad anymore”. Hermione was merely pointing out that it can be otherwise but she failed to make herself clear and Harry ended up thinking that she was criticizing him.

  • *** Younger readers may want to skip this comment ***
    I just wanted to bring up an interpretation that has been made about Umbridge and the centaurs by lots of folks. Does Umbridge get raped in the forest?? She is significantly traumatized later when we see her and sometimes people play it off as funny but it actually could be viewed as quite serious. This may be a connection to Arianna Dumbledore as well who is typically thought to be raped by the muggle boys her father eventually murders. If we can see both these events as signifying or implying rape, I think addressing the issues is important because JKR obviously thought it is important.

    • RoseLumos

      I always got that vibe in what we hear about Arianna (or something equally terrible) but I don’t think it happened to Umbridge. I always assumed that she was dragged away and possibly brought to the centaur village. I could see her being threatened and maybe taunted but I don’t think they physically hurt her. I think that the shock we see her in later is just from the fear of being captured and the fear that they will come back for her. In the end, we should be happy that justice was finally served and Umbridge got the punishment she deserved, but to be physically violated is to dark. No one, not even Umbridge, deserves that.

    • Hufflepug

      I’ve had this conversation with people in real life before and you’re definitely not the only one who thinks this. I almost want to say Noah or someone mentioned it in a previous episode long ago. It wasn’t the impression I got when I read this book in elementary school but it’s pretty easy to take it that way when rereading it as an adult. We won’t ever know for sure unless JKR says something about it.

    • Elvis Gaunt

      Something about the depiction of centaurs in the series makes me think they did not do anything sexual with Umbridge. They are mysterious, aloof, proud and even arrogant, but definitely not bad. If implying rape was JKR’s intention, I’m sure she would have shown us that atleast some centaurs, if not all, are rather unprincipled (the way she did with were-wolves).

      I feel the centaurs had been pushed to the limit in the 5th book, what with Hagrid placing Grawp in the forest and now here is this stubby woman hurling insults at them. They learnt that she was from the Ministry and thus knew someone would come to secure her release. They could then probably send out a warning that they would like to be left alone and even remind the Ministry of the terms of whatever understanding they had.

      • UmbridgeRage

        There is nothing in the text that suggests something sexual went down in the forest and I never read it that way the first time (and I was very much an adult when I first read OotP). The interpretation comes up because Centaurs have a rather bad reputation in classical literature. We know J.K has used her considerable knowledge on the subject to inform her portrayal of other creatures and objects in the series, so it’s possible that, even tho it’s not stated for obvious reasons, that is what went down. The fact that what did happen to her goes unsaid may speak volumes.

        • Elvis Gaunt

          This might be one instance where Jo deviated from the classical depiction of a creature/object. I find it difficult to believe that she would portray a rape victim in such unsympathetic light. But I can see where the theories come from.

        • The Half Blood Princess

          The centaurs in Harry Potter are very different from the centaurs in greek mythology though. The centaurs in greek mythology are more rowdy, kind of crazy, drunken. The only thing they seem to have in common is the fact they’re both half man, half horse and share a name. So I don’t think we should consider what centaurs are like in greek mythology.

          • spellephant

            While I think implying something darker in the text without ever explicitly mentioning it would be something Jo would do, I don’t think Umbridge was raped. For one thing, I do believe Jo would have portrayed the situation more delicately if that had been the case. Also, given the centaurs’ disgust with humans, I feel like they’d probably consider sex with a human to be beneath them. I always interpreted Umbridge’s trauma as being a result of some magical process, perhaps something to do with the forest itself or even divination. There are all sorts of terrifying things in the forest–what other creatures did she encounter? Did she find any information out from their divination practices that would have upset her?

          • Roonil Wazlib

            Just want to point out that rape is more about power than it is about sex. I’m sure the centaurs would consider a sexual relationship with a human to be beneath them, but that’s not what we are talking about here. I think their disgust for humans increases the likelihood that they raped Umbridge to assert their power over her/the Ministry.

          • spellephant

            Very true, rape is a very different thing than sex. That said, I still can’t see this being something the centaurs of JKR’s world would inflict on humans. They certainly do see themselves as more powerful than humans, but it just seems much more like them to kill their enemies rather than torture them. Perhaps Umbridge’s trauma was not a result of anything specific that the centaurs did to her–perhaps she managed to escape them and was just terrified after spending several nights alone in the forest with a herd of murderous centaurs hunting her? Not to mention the giant spiders, half giant, and whatever other horrible things are in there.

            Umbridge’s fate is made light of in the book and movie alike, and while many things that would be traumatizing in the muggle world are presented as funny in the magical one (like Draco being turned into a ferret), I can’t see Jo taking something that is so terrible and realistic in the real world and making a joke out of it. She also does tweak her mythical creatures to suit her story– I think this centaur behavior would be something she decided to leave out. So while I think this is something that you certainly could read into the story, I don’t think it’s necessarily what happened.

          • spellephant

            Also want to point out one more thing. When Harry and Hermione further anger the centaurs, they say the kids “can join the woman.” In mythology, centaurs do rape human women. But this sounds to me like they had the same punishment in mind for Harry, too, who is “nearing manhood.” Whatever consequence they had in mind, I think it was the same for both the kids and Umbridge. There are dozens of terrifying things I can think of happening to them all before sexual assault.

    • SnugglesWithNifflers

      I believe that in centaur mythology, centaurs rape human women. This is due to them having the heads of men and the animal urges of horses. In one legend, centaurs were invited to a wedding and attempted to rape the bride. In another, a centaur is killed while attempting to rape Heracles’ wife.

      Umbridge certainly seems extremely traumatized, and she doesn’t have any huge visible injuries in the hospital wing when they see her. I think that it is definitely implied that she was raped, which calls into question why all the characters laugh about it. Kind of weird, because I don’t think of Jo being the sort who would write all her best characters to not sympathize with a rape victim, even one as horrible as Umbridge. It kind of calls to my mind victim blaming – that girl wouldn’t have gotten raped if she wasn’t wearing that short skirt, dancing provocatively, etc, so it was her fault it happened. Is it fair to say that the rape was Umbridge’s fault, because she’s such an awful person who insults half-breeds? I don’t think so, but that’s what the characters imply, and I don’t like it.

      • UmbridgeRage

        Here’s a thought. Why didn’t Umbridge use her considerable power-gain in DH to extract some kind of revenge on the centaurs? Even if she wasn’t raped and they simply intimidated her, she is the type of person who would want to get revenge. Send a whole squad of Ministry workers to capture the centaurs. I don’t think that centaurs can compete with magic when they don’t have the strength of numbers. My only guess would be that she was waiting for a more favorable time when all rebellion to the regime had been crushed and there were a few more spare workers around.

        • SnugglesWithNifflers

          Maybe, or she may have just been really frightened of them? I suppose she wouldn’t have had to capture them herself, but yeah I’m surprised she didn’t just have the entire herd eradicated.

          Or, maybe she tried and they either hid or ran off the Ministry workers? I’m not really sure if centaurs have their own brand of magic like house elves, or if their magic deals solely with the stars.

          I also wonder about the impact that wearing the Horcrux had on her. Is it possible that the Horcrux encouraged her, in a way, to forget about her other issues and focus on doing what would help Voldemort the most – bringing down Harry.

          • UmbridgeRage

            Not sure a Horcrux can be that specific in how it influences people. I don’t think the locket had any effect on Umbridge as she can out evil Voldemort any day of the week.

          • SnugglesWithNifflers

            Well, in COS the Horcrux definitely had an agenda of its own and was super obsessed with Harry. Not sure if that was just because there was a bigger piece of Voldy soul in it, or if it was because Ginny was so attached to it, but it was definitely influencing things. I know the locket didn’t affect the trio in that way, but they also knew what it was and were on guard. If Umbridge wasn’t, maybe it was making her fixate more on Harry and less on her other problems. Just a random thought.

        • Guest

          By the time Umbridge recovered and had time to plot her revenge, many things had changed. Voldemort was out in the open and Fudge was replaced by Scrimgeour. The Ministry had more pressing matters on its hands than rounding up centaurs. Or maybe, like with the merpeople, she tried and failed.

        • skgai

          This actually lends credence to the idea that she was raped. Many rape victims don’t want to press charges. Some want to hide the experience from existence. This may have happened to Umbridge who wouldn’t want anyone to even have a chance to suspect that something like this was even remotely possible to her.

      • UmbridgeRage

        The kids don’t know what happened to Umbridge as Madam Pomfrey only said that she was in shock, which may be a way around not telling 15 year olds that their teacher had been raped. There is no indication that any of the adult characters know what Ron has been doing to Umbridge when they’re not paying attention. I don’t think we can judge the kids for not being sympathetic when they don’t know anything.

        Your comments on victim blaming are not quite so easily answered tho. It does seem even darker when put in that light. I wish we could ask Jo about this but the fact that young readers are involved and the media lap up any Harry Potter news it becomes problematic for her to answer.

        • SnugglesWithNifflers

          Except that Hermione is most likely well read in classical literature, so presumably she would have known how they were portrayed in mythology.

          And yeah, that would be pretty terrible on a headline, haha.

          • UmbridgeRage

            Would she have? Hermione was only just going on 12 when she entered the magical world and would have most likely stopped reading muggle books.

          • SnugglesWithNifflers

            Maybe, but this is Hermione we’re talking about 🙂 I’d almost think she read lots of high level books at a young age.

          • SpinnersEnd

            But Hermione likes things that are based in cold hard fact. Mythology is just that, myth. She doesn’t seem like one to read about things that don’t actually exist.

        • Elvis Gaunt

          Professor McGonagall seemed rather unsympathetic towards Umbridge as well (she expressed regret over not being able to join the crowd booing Umbridge because Peeves had borrowed her walking stick).

          • UmbridgeRage

            Maybe only Dumbledore knows. Maybe only Umbridge and the centaurs know. This isn’t something you tell people. IDK, the more we discuss this more I’m thinking that it didn’t happen and it’s the fandom’s overactive imaginations.

      • Roonil Wazlib

        I agree that the text implies that Umbridge was raped, and given how traumatized she is, it’s the only explanation I’ve seen that makes sense. The scene where Ron is triggering her on purpose is extremely troubling, and again I agree, full of victim blaming. Like because Umbridge is a horrible person she deserved to be raped. No one deserves that! Ever! Rowling’s handling of the situation surprises me. She didn’t have to make Ron trigger Umbridge; she didn’t have to make the kids laugh at Umbridge’s trauma. Those were specific [very troubling] choices that Rowling made. I wish that she’d chosen to show at least Hermione and Harry feeling a little guilty instead.

    • Silverdoe25

      I always thought that was the implication. I feel as though it was presented in this manner so as to be appropriate for younger readers. Same with the Dumbledore/Grindelwald relationship.

    • SpinnersEnd

      I had always thought Umbridge’s reaction was due to Post Traumatic Stress. PTS can stem from almost any distressing situation, no rape need occur.

    • Luna LoveDuck

      The discussion on this topic has been amazing! All my opinions on this matter have already been discussed by the other awesome people talking about this, so instead of restating anything I just wanted to give all of you a big high five for being awesome. I was hoping that this would come up in conversation during the podcast, because if nothing else the implication/suggestion/possibility has to be acknowledged. But I could see this being possibly considered a little too dark for the listening audience. I’m hoping that the hosts will be encouraged by the fact that this has been such a topic of discussion online and at least mention it. If nothing else, it could come up again in later chapters when we get to the way that the kids react to Umbridge in the hospital wing. Just super disturbing, the implications cannot be denied! Anyway, thanks for bringing this up Hufflepuffskein, and kudos to everyone else for running with this idea!

      • UmbridgeRage

        Is there anyone under 18 listening to the podcast? I know it is for all ages and Harry Potter is YAF but I don’t think I’ve come across any comments from younger listeners. Most appear to be from the “Potter Generation” or older. At the very least this topic will come up again when we get to DH as the situation with Dumbledore’s sister. The implication is more overt there.

  • ** This comment is not necessarily related to my previous. ** Reading the forest encounter with the centaurs just made me think of colonial contexts and interactions among colonizers and indigenous groups. Umbridge has a formal (read western here) bureaucratic system behind her with laws and regulations so she feels she has the authority to control (read subjugate here) those “outside the law” or those “other” that do not fit (and do not want to fit) into the bureaucratic system. I’m not saying it’s a perfect representation of colonial situations by it just really struck a cord. Further, there are a wide variety of colonial viewpoints: Umbridge with the most brutal perspective saying unless you submit to us you will be killed; Hermione with the well-meaning but extremely ignorant view (re: Saiyangirl’s explanation of Hermione’s thoughts on centaurs); and Harry with the just let them be, I’m not really bothered to understand them but they still have a right to do want they want. Not in this situation but you also have Hagrid who is generally willing to work with the centaurs (until they get too territorial) and will attempt to befriend them. Further, you have perspectives like Dumbledore to “integrate” them (I.e. Frienze). I’m not saying Dumbledore’s perspective is necessarily the best especially in actual colonial situations. But colonialism is a reality of our world and it seems of the wizarding world as well.

  • The title of the chapter is interesting too. Fight AND flight just makes you think of Fight OR flight as in survival responses to either stay and fight or leave the situation. I think this chapter clearly shows that Harry and the Dream Team respond with Fight (funny that almost all of them are Gryffindors …). Even Ginny, Luna, and Neville who could just walk away choose to come and argue their position to be able to fight. We’ve got a bunch of fighters lead by Harry who just instinctively chooses to fight and perhaps this ties into the questions about his hero complex.

    • Hufflepug

      Great point! It’s also part of the reason Hermione acts without thinking things through in this chapter – she’s just got her survival mode on.

    • skgai

      Also I love that “Flight” refers to the physical act of flying away, but towards even more danger. So not only is it a twist on the phrase, but it is now a completely one-sided phrase creating an opposite meaning of the original intent.

  • AccioPotassium!

    In the beginning of the podcast, the opening discussion about the similarities between the Dark Lord and the brightest witch of her age is very thought-provoking. This is because it raises some unclear questions about the mental intentions of some of the main characters. To what extent, is Lord Voldemort accountable for his manipulations? In the seven novels, it seems to become quite clear that Voldemort might be suffering through some kind of mental disorder. If the master of riddles is really a psychopath, is his manipulating personality uncontrollable? His awful actions are objectively wrong, and having a personality disorder does not necessarily give justification for his actions. For one, being a psychopath does not mean you will become a murderous dictator, and being a psychopath does not mean you’re incapable of having morally right decisions. However, in the case of Voldemort, his inability to care about other people seems to allow his deadly behavior.

    One of the hosts of the podcast brought up the nature vs nurture argument to find difference between Hermione and Voldemort. The nature vs nurture debate is rather false because in actuality, it’s a mixture of both when determining the personality of a person. Voldemort’s childhood could have been definitely better, and a better childhood could have prevented his murderous activity. Although, Voldemort’s dark personality could deeply depend on his personality disorder, and this mental disorder could be largely responsible for his actions.

    I find it to be interesting to wonder if Hermione’s manipulation is slightly more justifiable, or is it slightly worse because she doesn’t have a personality disorder. Voldemort could be unable to prevent his manipulation in his daily life. In return, Hermione should be able to understand the wrong behind her manipulation. Does knowing an action to be wrong, make the decision to do the action even worse? We see in this chapter, Hermione’s manipulation could have led to the death of the headmistress. Dolores Umbridge is a rather awful human being, but does that give suitable justification to lead her to an angry group of murderous centaurs?

    • There’s just no comparison between Hermione and Voldemort when considering motivation. Umbridge was clearly unstable at that point and capable of who knew what. Unforgivable curses come in a variety pack – it’s a small step from “Crucio” to “Avada Kadavra”. I don’t blame Hermione one bit for leading Umbridge away from the school and into the forest. She knew she was leading Umbridge to danger, although I will admit she probably didn’t realize the extent of it. Hermione’s decision to do this marks the beginning of her ability to make tough decisions in the face of adversity, and to follow through on them. She later wipes the memories of her own parents, and aims a disfiguring hex at her best friend. There are probably other things I’m not thinking of, but those are just two examples I can think of in this moment. The point is, her primary motivation in the situations I’ve cited was to protect others, while Voldemort’s primary motivation is usually to destroy others. In this regard, she is every bit as much into “saving people” as Harry is, and very unlike Voldemort.

      • AccioPotassium!

        I would have to agree with you here. I don’t believe that Voldemort and Hermione Granger have similar personalities or very similar actions during the course of the seven novels. Hermione’s questionable actions do not come even close to the amount of horrific occurrences of the Dark Lord. I was mainly commenting about the questionable behavior of Hermione in the last two chapters, and the mental state of Lord Voldemort. Hermione’s manipulation of Umbrage in these chapters does seem to have similarities to the young Tom Riddle, but this doesn’t mean she is anywhere near as awful as the Dark Lord. Although, I do feel what Hermione did to Umbridge is still wrong regardless of how dreadful the old toad was the last two chapter.

      • spellephant

        I completely agree. What Hermione does is a far cry from what Riddle does during his school years. She manipulates Umbridge for defense, not personal gain. Did she think through her plan and all its possible consequences? No, but she came up with this plan in about a minute under severe circumstances, trying to keep Harry from being tortured.

    • The Half Blood Princess

      As you said before, Voldemort’s obvious mental disorder does not justify his actions. As Dumbledore says, it matters not who you were born but who you choose to be. Voldemort murders hundreds of people, and nothing can justify that.

    • Hufflepug

      Voldemort is the poster child for antisocial personality disorder. That being said, he seems to understand that his actions harm others and are therefore considered wrong, but he just doesn’t care. This is why he was smart enough to put on a facade of being a great student at Hogwarts while secretly planning his dark future. I think Hermione would have thought through her actions in a less dire situation and would have determined them to be potentially harmful, but in the context of this chapter she doesn’t have time to think through that and just goes with the option that is most likely to lead to safety for her and her friends. Pretty much everyone is guilty of manipulation at some point in their lives, but Hermione is mentally healthy and does not have a twisted ideology in the way that Voldemort does. She doesn’t make perfect decisions all the time and was being very reactive in this chapter, but again it’s more justifiable for her partly because she’s working on the good side and partly because she hardly had a choice in the matter, as opposed to Voldemort who is always actively seeking to manipulate people and does not flinch at putting others in harm’s way.

    • Elvis Gaunt

      I don’t think Hermione meant to hurt Umbridge. Like one of the hosts said, I think she thought the centaurs would scare her away. When she saw them take her captive, Hermione panicked, lost her head and made the mistake of telling the centaurs that she wanted them to get rid of her.

      • AccioPotassium!

        If Hermione believe that the centaurs would only create a diversion so they could escape, why didn’t Hermione direct Umbridge to Hagrid’s little brother in the forest? Going to little Grump would have been faster, and the small giant would have been just as frightening as a group of centaurs. Hermione Granger’s decision to led Dolores to the centaurs seems to have some level of predictable violent consequences. In chapter 30, we get a direct warning from the centaurs, which seem to indicate that they are willing to kill any magical person. We also get additional commentary from Hagrid that seems to imply that the social relationship between the races is unstable. Hermione would have also known that the old toad is in an unstable state of mind at this moment and she is extremely prejudiced towards half-breeds. It seems possible that Hermione was thinking that the centaurs would somehow remove Umbridge by force, and the centaurs would leave both of them unharmed because they are children.

        I would have to agree with Hufflepug’s comment, that Hermione didn’t have a large amount of time to come up with a plan, and she chooses this method because it would protect Harry from being tortured. It could be argued, that the Dream Team was under life threatening circumstances, which could give justification for Hermione’s potentially dangerous trap. Regardless, this trap could have ended up killing Dolores Umbrage.

        • spellephant

          I think it was just Hermione thinking about who would be more likely to cause a big enough diversion. If she did bring Umbridge to Grawp, he was tied to a tree (as far as Hermione knew). He was also “just” one giant. Umbridge could have tried to curse him, or cursed the kids, or just stepped back from Grawp to where he couldn’t reach her. There was also no guarantee that he would even grab for Umbridge and not Harry or Hermione.

          Despite how quickly the encounter with the centaurs escalated and how dangerous it became, I don’t think death was what she had in mind for Umbridge. She saw them as the only ones who might be able to “drive her off.” Not necessarily kidnap her or kill her. Yes, she probably should have known that this was an extremely dangerous and risky plan, but to be fair she had so little time to think it through, I really doubt she thought about the consequences that could come from it. Harry and Hermione have that in common at times–they both dive headlong into extremely dangerous plans without really thinking about what might come of it.

          Also, in regards to what the hosts said about Grawp’s injuries being Hermione’s fault–I think that’s a bit unfair. She had no way of knowing that he had gotten loose and would be stumbling around the forest looking for Hagrid. If we blame Hermione for Grawp being hurt, we could just as easily blame Hagrid for bringing him there in the first place or blame Harry for Sirius dying, since his actions bring Sirius to the ministry. Whether any of them deserve the blame is up for debate, I suppose, but for me their intentions matter. Hermione had no idea that Grawp would get hurt–it was completely unintended and unforeseen.

    • SpinnersEnd

      I think it comes down to having a similar kill set. Voldemort and Hermione both posses the ability to manipulate people.

      And I do believe that Hermione is a fairly apt manipulator. We see her in Philosopher’s Stone lying out right to Professor McGonagall about the troll that got into the castle. We see her in Prisoner on Azkaban hiding her Time Turner all year.
      In Half Blood Prince, Hermione is reluctant to believe that Malfoy is actually doing anything evil and when she goes into Borgin and Burkes to see what Malfoy was looking at, she totally botches the job. But I feel like she almost did this as a way to placate Harry.

      • spellephant

        I actually think we see several characters on the light side with these qualities, including Hermione, Harry, and Dumbedore. Dumbledore is, of course, a world class manipulator. Harry recognizes Riddle’s manipulative abilities in Slughorn’s memory precisely because he is so good at it himself. And Hermione is actually a pretty good liar when it matters. To an extent, I think they all have to be good liars and manipulators at times. The difference between them and Voldemort is what they do with their skills. Voldemort uses them to gain personal power and slaughter hundreds of people, whereas the other characters are typically just trying to prevent horrible things from happening.

  • There have been quite a few comments made during various episodes of the podcast denigrating our hero for being “Rude Harry” or “Angsty Harry”. I think we forget what he’s been through in the very recent past.

    While still a young teen, he returned to school and was immediately put into a very dangerous situation, one far beyond his capabilities as a wizard, by an authority figure whom he thought was his trusted teacher. He had to survive three violently traumatic challenges, the last of which involved abduction, the murder of a school mate at the hands of the same wizards who betrayed and killed his parents, and being held captive while his blood and therefore the loving protection of his dead mother was taken from him against his will. He suffered very nearly the worst kind of violations a child can suffer at the hands of adults.

    After that, someone sent dementors after him, and he had to endure the indignity of a trial for daring to defend himself and his cousin. Then, he is kept separated from one father figure, and the other one isn’t speaking to him, for reasons he cannot discern. At this point, the stress, anxiety, and sheer terror are quite a bit more than anyone has a right to expect a now-15-year-old to endure, yet endure it he does.

    We have to remember also the years prior to this, the trials he has been repeatedly put through during each school year, the brutality of his life before that, his upbringing by people who treated him like dirt and loathed him enough to make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs.

    On top of all this, he’s carrying around a piece of Voldemort’s soul in his head

    By rights, Harry should have grown up to be a psychotic sociopath. He should be so foul and ruthless by now, he’d make Voldemort look like Cinderella’s fairy godmother by comparison. Instead, he not only has Lily’s eyes, he’s got her personality, too. He is mostly kind and concerned about others, and wants to protect them. Against all odds, he grew up to be a decent human being who feels responsible for the effects of Voldemort’s obsession with him on those around him.

    I think the spell that Lily cast upon him, wrapping him up in the protection of parental love, not only kept him from physical harm, but from psychological damage as well. He SHOULD have grown up to be a serial killer. Instead, he’s a bit “grumpy”, “angsty”, “emo”, and “rude”. Fine by me.

    • spellephant

      Though at times I want to smack OotP Harry, I also tend to be forgiving in this book. I know ring theory links book 5 with book 3, but to me book 5 has always been linked to book 6. Both portray Harry reacting to a death (and experiencing another one at the end). Both portray Harry’s relationship with the dream team. Both also contain some romance. They feel like mirrored opposites–the same concepts, but completely different reactions. Harry’s little speech to Dumbledore in the Weasley’s broom cupboard in book 6 about dealing with Sirius’s death contrasts with how he reacts to Cedric’s death all through this year. His insistence that Neville and Luna are “cool” friends on the train directly opposes his wish in book 5 that he was sitting with cooler people. Even his romantic life has matured. To me, this is Harry’s major “growing up” book. He is a (traumatized) teenager and acts like one, but he learns a lot from this year, and it goes a long way into developing and maturing his character.

  • RoseLumos

    I know there is a lot of Hermione love and hate in this week’s discussion, but let’s be real – how much time did Hermione actually have to make this whole plan? Maybe 30 seconds before Umbridge was about to torture Harry? Yes, the plan wasn’t the best and had some major flaws but for the amount of time and resources Hermione had I think it was pretty great. I like to think ahead to Deathly Hallows when the trio were in a bad situation. They were captured by the Snatchers and had to give them names. Ron said he was Stan Shunpike, which was a bad idea because we know he is already somehow involved with the Death Eaters. He than says he is a Weasley, which proves that he is associated with the other side. Harry gives a fake name which almost works and would have given them some time until the Snatchers actually checked the name. Then brilliant Hermione says that she is Penelope Clearwater, who happens to be half-blood and actually looks a bit like Hermione. It’s amazing that she is able to come up with such a good and convicting lie. Even though it doesn’t work, this shows that Hermione definitely is better at lying and coming up with last minute plans than Ron and Harry. So, going back to Order, if Hermione did not make this plan to go into the forest, is clear than neither Harry or Ron would have come up with anything nearly as clever. So please, don’t give Hermione so much hate. She at last tried and it at least partially worked. Give her another minute and she would have not only solved their current problem but she would probably also solve world hunger and world peace. Give her another day and she would have also figured out how to put a man on Mars.

  • IceBender07

    Another amazing show, pre the norm. Loved all the great discussion. I have to state that this is the chapter that I think to movie did better in because they got it sum it down to all the best parts and put in my favored lines in the movie that wasn’t in the book.

    One is when Umbridge begs Harry to tell the Centaurs she means them no harm and Harry tells her with a straight face, “Sorry Professor, but I must not tell lies.”

    Then theres also Luna’s line, “We fly of course!” Loved it.

    • RoseLumos

      I loved those lines also. I had a lot of problems with the movie but those were two lines I actually enjoyed. I also thought it was a good choice in the movie to make Cho the one to rat out the DA. It got to the point a lot easier than introducing a new character, especially since there would be no time to really develop her character. However, I hate that detention scene. Just more stuff to discuss on the movie podcast!

  • Hufflepug

    Great episode! I laughed when you were joking about “The World According to Grawp” – I’m actually reading Garp right now and keep accidentally reading it as Grawp because of Alohomora, haha.

    Seeing Harry act so rude to Neville, Luna, and Ginny is hard, especially to us since we already know how great each of those characters turns out to be. And seriously, Harry, you would rather be with ANY other members of the DA? Let’s see how you’d do if they were replaced with Zacharias, Marietta, and Colin Creevey then. Harry has gone through this whole year being upset that people don’t trust him, but he won’t turn around and trust these three people who have shown great skill in Dumbledore’s Army and who show their support for Harry without hesitation.

    • RoseLumos

      I was thinking about that too. I can understand Luna and Neville but Ginny always seemed to be one of the better students. I think Harry’s protests against her have to do with how he currently views her: as Ron’s little sister. Even the first few times reading this I too always saw Ginny as a little girl and not a 14 year old. I think her speech about being as old as Harry was there to remind both Harry and the reader that Ginny is in fact a teenager and just as competent as the others to do this mission.

      • Hufflepug

        Oh yeah, I totally see what Harry’s thought process was but it’s just so frustrating that he acted rudely to such great people without thinking things through first.

        • Roonil Wazlib

          Totally agree about Harry’s thoughts on Ginny. BUT ALSO by the time the DA got busted, Neville was learning and progressing faster than anyone other than Hermione!! I think Harry glossed over that fact since Neville has never been super great at anything except plants. But still! So rude, Harry. So rude.

  • SnugglesWithNifflers

    I don’t know that it was so out of character for Hermione to misjudge what would offend the centaurs. Although she is very supportive of magical creatures’ rights, she often doesn’t fully grasp the nuances of their cultures, and therefore offends them. For example, Hermione is also accidentally rude to house elves, and they force her out of the kitchen and stop cleaning the Gryffindor common room in retaliation. Although she has good intentions, she has little understanding of their culture. I think the centaurs are another example of this. She has had less exposure to them than Harry, as she didn’t meet them in her first year and she didn’t have Firenze as a professor. She doesn’t intend to offend them. She thinks that thanking them is the kind thing to do. However, she misjudges the centaurs’ nature, and ends up with some very angry centaurs instead.

    • spellephant

      Very true about Hermione not really grasping the nuances of other cultures. She comes at other creatures’ societies with a very human perspective, such as with the house elves. I think her later career in magical law would open her up to other cultures and ways of thought as she began working with other magical creatures. Perhaps this would result in a change in her approach.

  • Matilda McMorrow

    Thanks for a great episode, I found the discussions on this chapter really interesting. Here are a couple of things that occurred to me:
    You all seemed to agree that Hermione not being able to cry real tears when tricking Umbridge showed she wasn’t heartless and evil, but they could equally be proof of the opposite. To actually cry would need her to channel emotion, and maybe not being able to do so demonstrates a certain distance from her feelings which makes her closer to Voldemort’s psychopathic tendencies.
    My other thought was about Sirius. Harry would never have been able to live with him even if he’d survived! Harry needed to live with the Dursleys due to the magical protection passed on from Lily. The charm protects him as long as his home is with her blood relatives, and as Sirius is not related to them, moving in with him would break the charm.

  • ChocolateFrogRavenclaw

    I just wanted to emphasize something you guys touched on in the episode. And it has to do with Grawp….. The fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione forgot/neglected to do what they had promised to do for Hagrid makes me crazily upset every time I read this book. Yes – they are busy students who aren’t really fond of babysitting a giant, but they did promise Hagrid. I think this is the real point of Grawp in the book as a whole. Teenagers forget things and ignore instructions all the time, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. The trio underestimate how much they need Hagrid – from not taking his class to not taking care of Grawp. They really do just use him when they need him and that infuriates me for many reasons, the biggest being just how realistic that is. There is not enough time in the day for the trio to do everything that is expected of them and, unfortunately, it always ends up being Hagrid that falls to the end of the list. Grawp embodies this. While I do not doubt that the Trio love and value Hagrid, it is obvious that they do not think of him or his requests as a priority. This whole “thing” just makes me appreciate Hagrid more. No matter what the trio does, Hagrid is always there for them. He is truly their family, and even when they act like total teenagers and neglect to do what he asks, he still loves them and cares for them and looks out for them.

    also – this kind of sounds like I think the Trio doesn’t like Hagrid but I definitely do NOT think that… All of them (especially Harry) really do value Hagrid and respect him

    • Elvis Gaunt

      The hosts had pointed out in one of the previous episodes that Hermione does try to help Hagrid whenever she can. In PoA she does all she can to help him with Buckbeak’s trial. In this book she unsuccessfully tries to plan Hagrid’s lessons for him. Its Harry and Ron who always put him at the end of their priority list. Babysitting Grawp is not something Hermione can do all by herself; and Harry and Ron were not keen on lending a hand. So she too had to break her promise.

  • AccioPotassium!

    There seems to be a false idea floating around that there was a broken promise between the trio and the keeper of keys. After doing some investigation of the last three chapters, it becomes quite apparent that the trio didn’t break their promise to take care of little Grawp. In chapter 30, we get the major dialog over the finer details of Hagrid’s proposal of teaching the small giant. In this conversation, Hagrid seems to be implying that when he leaves his slightly questionable teaching position, he would appreciate the trio teaching English to his little brother.
    Hagrid didn’t leave Hogwarts until the end of chapter 31, thus leaving Grawp alone for lest then 24 hours before the giant vs centaur death battle the next day. Harry, Ron, and Hermione didn’t have any reasonable amount of time to meet with Grawp, especially after Harry’s fake dream fiasco. The only evidence that would imply that the trio broke their promise would be their reaction after given the slightly insane prospect of giant-sitting, but both Harry and Hermione seem committed keep their promise regardless.

    • RoseLumos

      Great point! Really, the only reason Harry is so sleepy during his History of Magic exam is because he spent the night before staying up talking about Hagrid’s incident.

    • Snatch The Snitch

      Thanks for pointing that out. I never caught that myself

  • Snatch The Snitch

    Since everyone was so critical of Hermione’s plan in this episode, I’d like to asks the hosts what they would’ve done? Given the time she had, on top of Harry being in danger and the risk of him revealing any secrets, I’d love to hear a better plan (not from a writing standpoint but from a character standpoint). It was likely either that or watch Harry suffer. And I don’t think it was really a plan, more like her improvising.

    Michael you brought up the group using brooms, that were close by, to get to the Ministry..but how would they know where to fly? The whole point of using the Thestrals was because they would know how to get to the Ministry. Regarding their sense of direction, I always tied into being similar to owls. Thestrals know where to go, just as an owl knows where to find the person a letter is intended for.

    I never really liked Grawp, but I liked Mindee’s point about him being the monster that Hagrid has in most every book. I never really thought of it like that, and it makes more sense rather then him just being thrown in as a random character that never really goes anywhere. In SS Hagrid has Norbert/Fluffy, CoS it’s Aragog, PoA is Buckbeak, GoF I guess Blast-Ended Skrewts, and OotP it’s Grawp. The last two books I guess it’s abandoned eventhough Aragog does make a reappearance.

  • skgai

    One of the best episodes for comments! Fantastic stuff everyone. I came to the party late so I have just one thing to add.

    What is the moment in these books where you, as a reader, love the Harry/Ginny relationship?

    Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any. None ever create much of a memory for me. I remember the kissing scene in the Half-Blood Prince movie. The movie actually tried to do Something, but I just don’t think the writing is up to Rowling’s usual levels here. Especially compared to the Ron/Hermione relationship or even the Strike/Robin relationship in her other books. The Harry/Ginny relationship is so barren that I’ve come to hardly recognize it. Rowling’s new writing on Pottermore during the 2014 Quidditch World Cup is actually the scene that first comes to my mind now. Even though they aren’t together in that scene the moments when Rita Skeeter and Ginny argue about Ginny’s family makes me respect their relationship so much more than any moment in the book.

    • Snatch The Snitch

      You’re right, there aren’t many I can think of off the top of my head. It’s funny, because when I’m in the process of reading the books I know there are many scenes between the two I do enjoy. My first time reading through I didn’t like the pairing but now I kind of like it. The only scene I can think of is their kiss at the Burrow in Deathly Hallows. I actually still remember the first time I read that book and for some reason that stands out to me. I’m not sure how great a moment it was or whatever, but I did feel strong emotions. Also, I don’t like the Ron/Hermione relationship but I definitely like the idea of Strike/Robin.

    • RoseLumos

      I’ll admit, I was a Harry/Hermione shipper for a while. But, the moment in HBP when Harry had the jolt when he sees Ginny and Dean kissing was enough to convince me. I remember thinking that they actually would make a great couple. I think Harry and Ginny’s first kiss is what solidified it. Ever since then I was on the Harry/Ginny ship.

      I can see how a lot of people would be upset about how little time Ginny and Harry spends together, and I agree, but I see why it is necessary. Harry really isn’t an average teenager. Although he does spend some time thinking about Cho, in general he had a lot more on his mind than girls. I think a great price of symbolism is how his dream about Cho gets interrupted by his vision of Mr Weasley being attacked. It shows how little of a real teenager he can be, how even an innocent dream can get hijacked by Voldemort. Ginny is a strong character. She doesn’t need the constant attention that Cho did. She seems to understand what Harry is going through and accepts that he has a lot on his plate to deal with.

      Honestly, I think Jo’s decision to have them spend so little time together really is so unique in the young adult fiction universe. This isn’t a romance series. Sure, romance is involved but that is not the point of the series. I think if Jo did spend too much time on it she may have lost some of her audience. In fact, if I had to describe the series in just a few words, I would say that it is a series about love and death. It is about many different types of love, and to condense it down to an average teen romance series would mean losing one of the main themes of the entire story.

      • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

        Really like your last point, RoseLumos. That helps me accept the under-development of their relationship a lot more.
        While I see how Ginny and Harry are right for each other, I never felt invested in their relationship or in Ginny as a character. We’ve talked a lot about how the tiny flaws that Jo brushes into Hermione’s character make her all the more lovable – maybe Ginny is lacking those little flaws and that is part of the reason why she seems so lackluster to some of us readers? Is she too “perfect”?

        • RoseLumos

          I never saw her as too perfect. We see her have a very hard time adjusting to Hogwarts in her fist year to the point where it seems like she spends more time writing in the diary than overarching with others. Later we see that she has anxiety talking to Harry, so much so that she never speaks in front of him. Moving forward, it didn’t seem that she is made a prefect in her fifth year, making that everyone else in the family except for her and the twins. I wonder if that means she had been in too many detentions or if her grades are not the best. To me, she seems about average, although much braver than I would ever be. However, when I think about too perfect characters, I always think of Bella from Twilight and I think we can all agree that Ginny is a much better character than her, even if we don’t see much of her.

          Btw, great username! I’m also a Ravenclaw.

          • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

            Thanks! All good points you make, as expected for a Ravenclaw! After her initial youthful awkwardness, though, I always felt that she was sort of the archetype of a “perfect” teen girlfriend (using quotes again here because of course she is not absolutely perfect, but has attributes that could be seen as stereotypical of an ideal girlfriend character). She is clearly attractive, given the seemingly endless parade of guys who want to date her, and that she never seems to struggle with her looks the way Hermione does. She always has the perfect response when in conversation with Harry – I notice this cited a lot on the podcast as support for why she is perfect for Harry, because she calls him on his craziness with just the right note of sarcasm that somehow manages to make her seem smart and sassy yet not snobby (note how many times in the text Ginny responds “cooly” to Harry). Again, just too “perfect” for me. Maybe I just envy her because I tend to blank in conversations and only think of the perfect response later on, when I’ve reflected (total introvert!).

            I actually like Bella and see her as more flawed (if we’re talking books here, not movies), but yes, Ginny is a better character.

          • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

            Commenting on my own comment (someone probably would have said this anyway): this is Ginny’s character arc – she blossoms from the shy, awkward little sister with a crush into a pretty, self-confident young lady who, once she comes into her own, can be herself around Harry and in that way spark his interest. Right. But I do wish that even after her character develops in this way, we would still see moments of vulnerability or mistakes, like we do with Hermione.

          • spellephant

            I think I’m in the minority when it comes to the Harry/Ginny relationship, in that I love the way their relationship developed. I’m not a huge fan of romance, and there has always been just enough of it in the books to keep me satisfied without turning me off them. I like that we only see glimpses of their relationship, and that a lot is left to our imaginations. Whenever I read book six, I just picture Harry and Ginny spending hours by the lake, growing closer and falling in love. Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The bits we do see of them clearly show two people who care a lot about each other and who are comfortable with one another.

            While I think most complaints about Ginny or her relationship with Harry are perfectly valid and a matter of opinion (such as that she’s not super developed), I do wonder if some of the Ginny-hate comes from a place of misogyny. Yes, Ginny is smart, strong, witty, popular, brave, and athletic. But why can’t a woman be all these things? Fred and George also have all of these traits and don’t really have any major flaws–they are very popular, successful, brave, funny, etc. I actually see Ginny as quite a lot like them. But I’ve hardly ever heard the twin boys described as too perfect or unrealistic. Typically, we would expect a hero’s love interest to be more developed, probably to the extent that Hermione and Ron are. But I never saw the Harry Potter series as being solely about romantic love–Ginny is an important part of Harry’s life, but is not necessarily as crucial to the story as other elements are. To say that she is not as well-developed as other characters is valid, but to say that she has too many good qualities, without criticizing other characters for the same thing, seems a little unfair.

          • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

            Oh dear, no! Never would I want to suggest that a woman cannot have all of those traits or that having so many good traits would make her “too perfect.” I am a feminist – so much so, that I actually pondered whether my own comments were anti-feminist as I was writing them! I do apologize if they could be construed as having any taint of misogyny. But I wanted to ask the question anyway, with respect to her *character* – would it (let’s use that pronoun rather than *she,* which more suggests that we are talking about a real person or woman in the abstract, which I am not) – would the character seem more developed if she had a few little quirks (maybe a better term than flaws, although that term is commonly used when discussing how to write literary characters)? Usually quirks or flaws make a character more interesting and gets a reader more invested. Also, one could make a feminist argument from the other angle – why must a hero’s love interest have only positive qualities? Aren’t the women in the novel entitled to their flaws, just as Harry, Ron, etc. certainly have theirs? I certainly don’t “hate” her character; she’s fine, just less interesting to me than many of the other characters. I’m not totally sure why I feel the way I do about Ginny’s character, so mainly, I wanted to pose the question as a spark for discussion that might help me to sort out my own ideas. And I thought it would be interesting in light of the ongoing conversation about Hermione’s quirks.

            As to the development of the Harry/Ginny relationship, I’m starting to think you are right that it was better that she under-played it. Too much of focus on it might have detracted from the narrative or altered the tone of the books, making them too “teen romance-ish.”

          • spellephant

            That’s a good point – putting women on pedestals in fiction isn’t much better than making them useless. I also aree that a few more quirks would have gone a long way into developing Ginnny’s character.

            I sometimes wonder if JKR has an aversion to writing happy romance scenes, or if she felt that they would detract from the book. There’s so much more conflict in the other teen romances, and a lot of what we get of Harry and Ginny is him being conflicted over her because of Ron and later Voldemort.

    • Hufflepug

      It’s important to remember that Ginny and Harry were really only dating for about a month before the events at the end of the sixth book took place and they had to separate so she would be safe. I’ve always thought of it as a more realistic relationship: before they get together they like each other on and off but have their other friend groups. I think in literature we come to expect that the people who spend the most time together are the ones who end up together, when in real life there’s usually a separation between friends and significant others. And when Harry and Ginny finally get together they spend a whole ton of time together – I’m thinking of a scene in HBP when Harry is sitting with Ginny and his friends in the common room and she’s joking about Harry having a tattoo. If I remember right there was also one of those fast-forward montages that JKR writes when nothing pertaining to the conflict is happening. If we had seen more of those little moments between Harry and Ginny before they had to split up, more people might be on the ship. I agree that maybe she should have added more clues early on though.

  • Elvis Gaunt

    I forgotten how they showed the centaurs in the movies and I just noticed the picture above. Why the hell are they so dirty. I had the impression that they were well-kept while reading the books. Parvati calls Firenze gorgeous and a snow-white centaur is mentioned in this chapter.

    • Snatch The Snitch

      Because the movies can’t get much of anything right

  • loony_lauren

    When you guys were talking about whether or not Sirius “had to die”, I thought about Harry’s fatherly figures and their deaths: obviously his own father, Sirius, and Lupin. That makes 3 out of 4 Marauders, and when I thought about the 4th one, Pettigrew, I realized that all four of their deaths were very similar. They basically all died to save Harry in some way. James sacrificed himself to hold Voldemort off obviously, Sirius died when he came to the ministry to try to save Harry and his friends, Lupin died in battle, but this battle was caused because Harry needed into Hogwarts and what not, and it allowed Harry to willingly walk to his death, but that may be a bit of a stretch. Pettigrew died in Malfoy Manor because he owed Harry, which then allowed Harry to escape, therefore saving his life.

  • loony_lauren

    Would a bat-bogey hex work on Voldemort since he doesn’t have much of a nose? Hmmmm…

  • loony_lauren

    You guys were discussing how Harry and Ron were both thinking that they would not want Ginny, Neville, and Luna to accompany them to the ministry out of the other members of the DA if given the option, and you were all surprised and upset about that comment. I admit that I had this same reaction while rereading this chapter today, until I thought more about it. Up until this book, Neville has been this awkward, loud, and clumsy kid that was not particularly talented. It was not until this book and onward that Neville came out of his shell and with Harry’s help, began to practice spells more in the DA and he improved drastically. Because this was so recent, I can understand why Harry would not choose Neville out of everyone, however cruel that is, as Neville is awesome. Harry has grown up with Neville the last 5 years, and 4 out of those 5, he has not been very talented. I can also understand why he would not choose Luna. We barely know Luna by this point, Harry just sees her as this mind-wandering and illogical girl. Everything she says is questionable and silly. We also do not know much about how talented of a witch she is. In Ginny’s case, I do not believe that it is a question of her talent, but Harry and Ron are worried about her safety, as she is Ron’s younger sister. We all questioned this because this is the Dream Team, but at this point, they are not the Dream Team. This is the moment when they first come together as one, before Harry has seen what they can all achieve together.

  • Sheetlebug

    So you discuss how Hermione was in waaaaay over her head, and winging it something chronic throughout the entire forest ordeal… And then are shocked and annoyed that she said something dumb in the heat of the moment?

    Sure. x}

    She may have finally gotten a moment to breathe, but she definitely hasn’t had a chance to straighten out her thoughts. She isn’t always the most tactful and she doesn’t deal with magical creatures and their cultures well, so it is unsurprising to me in this situation that she’s put her foot in her mouth.

    • Snatch The Snitch

      This annoyed me as well

  • HomeAtHogwarts

    I know you guys have talked about Thestrals a lot, but I have one more question about who can see them. Obviously, we know that if you see any other human die, you can see Thestrals. We can also infer that seeing something like the death of an insect would not let you see Thestrals. What if you see your dog or cat or any other pet that you had a serious emotional connection with die? What if you see a magical creature die? I’m inclined to say you still wouldn’t see Thestrals, but what if you saw Lupin die? He is technically not human, so would you not see the Thestrals? Where do you think the line is drawn for magical creatures?

    • RoseLumos

      I think it has to be human or near human. I don’t think a dog would count but a centuar or a houself might. Really, we only see three real examples people who see them with explanations on what they saw. Harry saw Cedric, Neville saw his grandfather, and Luna saw her mother. So the only evidence we have based on the text are humans. And, of course, you have to be able to process the death. Harry probably saw Lily die but he was so little he had no idea what was going on. I am thinking that near humans would count because are equals. Besides, if animals counted where would the line be drawn? Would butchers or fisherman be able to see threstrals based on their career? Would a cow count but not a fish? Than we get into a discussion about animals intelligence and rights but this isn’t really the time or place.

  • DisKid

    Hated this chapter?? I loved this chapter! I’d been waiting the whole book for somebody to give Umbridge the ride she deserves and she gets it here. I only wish it had traumatized her even more, she unfortunately recovered in the 7th book. I hate that the movie doesn’t show her being traumatized after as I was hoping when I read this that she didn’t die, but was now traumatized for life. Maybe that would teach Umbridge what Draco learned: never insult a creature with hooves! I know, it’s mean to say but even if Hermione meant to get Umbridge hurt I don’t really care. She’s one of the few people in the world that really deserved it. “Use your words”, “talk it out”, and “treat others the way you would like to be treated” is suspended when it comes to Umbridge unless you’re Pollyanna.

    • Elvis Gaunt

      Couldn’t agree more. Give a break to political correctness. Jo was clearly having fun here and so should we. 🙂