In the second half of this review, essays that focus specifically on issues raised in Order of the Phoenix take the spotlight. Spoilers abound within discussion of the following essays, so you have been warned. Review of the following essays are here:
*Disillusionment in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Donna C. Woodford)
*”You Survived to Bear Witness”: Trauma, Testimony, and the Burden of Witnessing in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Heather Debling)
*Is Seeing Believing? Truth and Lies in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Marla Harris)
*>Harry Potter and the Freedom of Information: Knowledge and Control in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Jennifer Flaherty)
*From Books to Battle: Hermione’s Quest for Knowledge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Karley Kristine Adney)
Disillusionment in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Donna C. Woodford)
A strong essay by Woodford kicks off the Order of the Phoenix focus on the second half of the journal. Based on the premise that disillusionment is part of a necessary process for growth, Woodford takes the reader through each example in clear and concise fashion, without dwelling unnecessarily long on any one thing. It does presume clear reading of the entirety of Order of the Phoenix. While the essay does not point this out, it is important to realize that the process of disillusionment actually starts before Order of the Phoenix – as Cedric’s sudden death at the end of Goblet of Fire brings. No longer is the fantasy world the safe haven from the world of Muggles as Harry has come to believe – indeed, the wizard world has dark and deep problems that come to light in sharp fashion. As Woodford points out, the process continues, stripping away the layers of fantasy involved in looking at how the wizard world is run, the media, Hogwarts, and even Harry’s family. She wraps up with a discussion of how this brings about examination of what Jung would call the “shadow self”, or “everything the subject refuses to believe about himself”. By the end of Order of the Phoenix and this essay, Harry’s flaws are brought to light, explained clearly, and even Dumbledore is exposed as not being completely infallable. A highly recommended essay.
“You Survived to Bear Witness”: Trauma, Testimony, and the Burden of Witnessing in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Heather Debling)
For those unfamiliar with the concept, Debling spends a short amount of time at the beginning of the essay explaining the concept of “witnessing” – in other words, taking responsibility for “truth” and speaking it. Debling focuses on the trial Harry undergoes, the role of the media, Luna Lovegood, and Marietta Edgecombe’s tattling about Dumbledore’s Army. A short essay, it really picks up at the end, but is not as personally compelling to read as some of the others.
Is Seeing Believing? Truth and Lies in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Marla Harris)
Harris constructs her essay by taking the labels applied to Harry at the beginning of the Order of the Phoenix and showing how by the end of the novel they have been cleverly turned around and placed upon other people. With a thorough examination of labels such as lies, stories, madness, and censorship, Harris uses examples throughout the series and shows how they come to full fruition over the course of Order of the Phoenix. With a definitive conclusion that Rowling encourages the reader to become more critical in thinking, this multi-layered essay is a solid read and thought provoking as well.
Harry Potter and the Freedom of Information: Knowledge and Control in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Jennifer Flaherty)
The essay examines how the lead up to the second war with Voldemort largely takes place over the access to and control of of information. In fact, the whole element of ‘the weapon’ is a heavily veiled reference to the concept of information. Both Harry and Voldemort spend the entire book looking for information, although the book and therefore the essay focus on Harry’s journey for knowledge. The essay is balanced and well rounded, drawing in Dumbledore’s focus on the consequences of secrecy as well as Harry’s realization that knowledge is not an end, but instead a beginning.
From Books to Battle: Hermione’s Quest for Knowledge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Karley Kristine Adney)
Girl power is addressed, by finishing off the collection with a look at Hermione and her role as a heroine. Adney also addresses several common and earlier arguments about Hermione, and uses examples from Order of the Phoenix to counter them. Using a book series in progress to define a character is a difficult task, as each subsequent book provides more information and thus makes arguments based on earlier books easier to address and dismiss due to having access to more information. While a small weak spot in the essay, Adney does not dwell here, instead relying on Hermione’s struggles with S.P.E.W., Dolores Umbridge, and even Rita Skeeter to make a point.
Who is this issue of Topic aimed for? The casual Harry Potter fan? Most certainly not. The highly devoted fan will get a kick out of this issue, and for that reason it is definitely worth a read.
Topic, Issue 54 is available from college libraries or for those of out out of school, by order only.