The ramblings of a freelance writer, novelist and avid reader.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

HP Monday (In Theory) – Book 5: A Hogwarts Education

To learn or not to learn
We’ve talked some about the importance of an education coming across in book 5 – although I think you can argue that the book is also telling us completing said education isn’t that important at Hogwarts. I agree with both statements and thus think the dichotomy in book 5 is really quite brilliant. We spend the book consumed with O.W.L preparation and test taking (so much so that I had to look ahead in book 6 just to see how Harry, Ron and Hermione faired) but we also see some of these tests getting messed up with no real consequences (Harry even passes his Astronomy test amidst severe distractions). George and Fred should be even more nervous for their N.E.W.Ts, yet they leave school, never taking their tests nor completing their Hogwarts education.

I’m not sure what the wizarding equivalent of a GED is, but maybe the Weasley twins (and for that matter Harry, Ron and Hermione who don’t return for their last year at Hogwarts) take it. I’m not telling all of you that school isn’t important (nor is Rowling) because it really, really is. I think what she’s saying – and me too – is that the real reason for school is more than just an education. It’s a social experiment guided by a bunch of adults who mold and shape young minds (Did every teacher reading my blog just want to hit me for a second there?). The reoccurring lessons in friendship, trust, and defiance may outweigh Astronomy, Divination and History of Magic for Harry.

Teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts
I DO think of Harry as a teacher in this book as well (as Mara pointed out in her comments a few posts ago). His lessons in the DA Club are inspiring. I can see why so many missed these get togethers in the next book – even with the Slug Club. Alas, even Harry as DA teacher can’t last more than a year. I love that we find out in the next book Dumbledore’s reasoning behind the Dark Arts teacher curse. Voldemort wanted the job and since he didn’t get it so long ago – no one has held it for more than a year. Voldemort's curse effecting Harry too creates yet another link between them. Book 5 gives us a good cross-section of DA classes – pitting Harry and Umbridge against each other. Her read-the-book-and-don’t-ask-questions approach vs. his practice-makes-perfect lessons give us both ends of the spectrum – placing Harry above Lupin in the amount learned (in my opinion). I’m not sure if I think Crouch as Moody was a better teacher (and what does that mean?!), but Harry’s insightfulness is inspiring (Yep, I’m harping on Expelliarmus again…just you wait till book 7).

End of the book thoughts
Well Harry and Voldemort meet again and another one of Harry’s parental figures pays the ultimate price. Dumbledore is there to save the day - again with fire; but really it’s that whole love thing that wins in the end. Yes, I still want to hit Harry at the end when he’s railing against Dumbledore – even though I get it and may have acted much the same way. I do appreciate the scene in Dumbledore’s office almost more than any of the Ministry stuff. Although really professor, don’t you think you could have explained just some of this stuff before? Not the prophecy stuff per say, but some of the cloak and dagger was a little much for you. You are better than that. At least, unlike Lost, the questions that do get answered in this book don’t bring up 50 more questions. I appreciate that – and the protective bonds of friendship that exist at the end of the book. Way to follow through on a theme.

What do you all think? Did I miss a theme from book 5 you thought should be mentioned and discussed? Do you agree or disagree with my musings this week? Comment, post, write about it.

Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently. We really will start book 6 next week. I promise I’ve been keeping up with the reading at least. I’ve finished book 6 and now have about 16 ideas down for upcoming blog posts.

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