Revisiting Harry Potter: Dumbledore has a purple suit and psychic paper

Oh God, it’s so wonderful to have Hogwarts back to normal. I never realize how miserable Umbridge’s reign at Hogwarts was really making me until I get to the sixth book and McGonagall’s bossing everyone around without a mean toad lady going “Hem hem” at her shoulder all the time. Yes, Snape is teaching Defense against the Dark Arts, and yes, I think that blows and also, isn’t it sort of irresponsible of Dumbledore to keep giving that job to people when it’s plainly jinxed? Like, couldn’t he knock the subject of Defense against the Dark Arts on the head and invent a brand new subject called, like, Nefariousness Prevention, and get around the jinx that way?

I want to call Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince “The Book in which Harry is Right”. I love it when Harry’s right, and usually if there’s a conflict between him and Hermione, Hermione’s going to win. But not in this book! In this book Harry gets to be right on a number of different occasions, and Hermione gets to screw up. It’s not that I don’t like for Hermione to be right — I do! But it’s also good to see that she’s not infallible. She sometimes fails at sneakiness, and she sometimes resists available evidence that points to a conclusion she does not wish to reach. Such as that Harry is right about Malfoy, in particulars as well as just the general thing of Malfoy being Up to Something.

In the ongoing Harry-Dumbledore buddy comedy that is Book Six, Harry ribs his buddy-comedy-buddy for his fashion sense sixty years ago — props, Harry, there’s no reason for anyone of any time period to wear a purple velvet suit while not being Oscar Wilde. Or maybe Dumbledore’s just wearing it to alarm the orphanage superintendent who is so fond of gin. I cannot blame her. I am fond of gin myself, and I do not have daily responsibility for a tiny magical psychopath. If I did, I would probably drink quite as much gin as this lady does after Dumbledore does his psychic-paper spell.

I like the flashback of little Voldemort better than the flashbacks that involve the Gaunt family as a whole. Little Voldemort is just the right amount creepy, whereas the Gaunts are over the top if you ask me. If they’d lived a few decades into the future, I bet they’d have had their own reality show. They could have talked about Mudbloods and hissed at snakes, and all the wizards watching the show would shake their heads judgmentally and talk about what is wizarding television coming to these days.

Do you notice, by the way, that all evil wizards in this world seem to have the habit of doing mocking singsong voices as a sign of disrespect? Is that a thing? Voldemort’s grandfather did it and Bellatrix Lestrange is prone to it too, if you’ll recall. Either this is a thing they teach you in Taunting Class at Durmstrang, or JK Rowling’s sister used to do this to her on car trips and JK Rowling really, really hated it. Fair enough if the latter.

Are y’all fans of the incorporation into this book of hilarious romantic subplots involving Cormac McLaggen and Lavender Brown, whose name I inexplicably keep on typing as “Lavendar”? I AM. Ron’s defense of starting to go out with Lavender when he was supposed to be going to Slughorn’s party with Hermione is hilariously belligerent. In fact everything about the Ron-Lavender relationship is hilarious, from its onset to its eventual demise. Quidditch is apparently a great aphrodisiac in these books — Ron and Lavender are, ahem, not the only couple to start making out in the immediate aftermath of a successful Quidditch game.

I love everything about this exchange:

“But you are normal!” said Harry fiercely. “You’ve just got a — a problem–”

Lupin burst out laughing. “Sometimes you remind me a lot of James. He called it my ‘furry little problem’ in company. Many people were under the impression that I owned a badly behaved rabbit.”

Aw. Harry being loyal; us getting a non-douchey memory of James; Lupin laughing. Bless them.

The Adulting of Harry Potter

1. It rocks that Harry tells McGonagall (and Dumbledore, and everyone) what he suspects about Malfoy after Katie Bell gets attacked. McGonagall was obviously not going to believe him, but still, Harry has come a long way from the early books when he never told anything to anyone.

2. Asking Luna to Slughorn’s party is a delightful thing for Harry to have done. It’s extra delightful that he asks because he enjoys her company. As who wouldn’t, you know? He’s really clear with her about what the invitation portends (nothing romantic!), which is also good. And Luna’s response is so sweet and so completely Luna.

“Oh, no, I’d love to go with you as friends! Nobody’s ever asked me to a party before, as a friend! Is that why you dyed your eyebrow, for the party? Should I do mine too?”

Plus, when they’re at the party, Harry doesn’t ditch her and go hunting for other people to hang out with, as he did when he asked Parvati to the Yule Ball. He stays with Luna for the bulk of the party, and when he’s ducking out to eavesdrop on Snape he’s like, Hey Luna, I’ll be right back, okay? which is fine, because she’s engaged in a conversation anyway. Good job, Harry! Your social skills are coming along in leaps and bounds!

3. The conversation Harry has with Scrimgeour at Christmas might very well be my favorite bit of this entire series. I love how adorably obvious it is that Harry’s using Dumbledore as his model for how to behave with bullies. I love that his criticism of Scrimgeour is biting and on point and pretty calm even when Harry’s getting pissed. And, of course:

“Well, it is clear to me that he has done a very good job on you,” said Scrimgeour, his eyes cold and hard behind his wire-rimmed glasses. “Dumbledore’s man through and through, aren’t you, Potter?”

“Yeah, I am,” said Harry. “Glad we straightened that out.”

Never ever EVER gets old. Of course it is wonderful when Harry defends his belief and his people. But it is huge extra piles of awesome that he’s so consistently been a person who Will Not Abide with Your Bullshit, and now he’s the grown-up version of that person. Yay. I love Integrity Harry!

28 thoughts on “Revisiting Harry Potter: Dumbledore has a purple suit and psychic paper

  1. I would watch the hell out of a Gaunt reality show.

    I am so happy for the new mature-er Harry. I know we had to have the angsty stuff for growth and whatnot but still. I’m glad it’s behind us and he’s all hanging out with Luna and not ditching her.

  2. “Nefariousness Prevention” — Love it.

    So great that Harry was super clear about the nature of his date with Luna. With any other YA writer we’d get 8 chapters of confusion and sadness where Luna believes she’s Harry’s girlfriend and Harry is to befuddled to set it right.

  3. Oh, I just loved your post! Made me miss HP so much. It’s funny – just yesterday I was helping a customer at my library to find a book in the HP series (people are always confused when they can’t find #5, because 5 and up are in the YA section, not the children’s area). The customer was in her 40s and was reading the series for the first time. I felt so envious of her! And then I was thinking it might be time for me start at the beginning and do another reread. Revisiting HP’s world is like snuggling into a favorite blanket. Your post has clinched it. Harry, here I come! Thanks.

    • Ooooh, that is confusing! I’m a bit jealous of your customer, but mostly not because although she gets the fun of discovering them now, she doesn’t get the fun of waiting and being part of all that excitement.

  4. I especially enjoyed that Dumbledore’s suit was described as ‘flamboyant’. And STILL no one knew he was gay? I do love that his and Harry’s relationship has finally gotten to the teasing level, rather than being at the aloof/absent level.

    And isn’t it GREAT that Harry tells people things now?! No more ‘oh, they won’t believe me’ or ‘I don’t have any PROOF!’, just good old telling everyone everything in case they can possibly help in some way. Nice work, HP.

    • Hahaha, I know! Oh Dumbledore. I too love the relationship between him and Harry in this book. It’s fun for them to interact in a way that’s slightly more a relationship of equals (even if it’s not at all a real relationship of equals).

      It is SO GREAT how Harry tells people stuff. And it’s also great how he refuses to tell people stuff (like Scrimgeour). Woo for Harry! Curating information more skillfully!

  5. I just love how dogged Harry is re: Draco because he’s just so HILARIOUSLY INSISTENT and everyone else is like, That is kind of dumb, please knock it off, and even *I* am like, Seriously Harry, but then LO. We all have egg on our faces.

    • Hahaha, we don’t really have egg on our faces. JKR has let us in on the secret that Draco is indeed up to something. So all through the book I’m like DAMMIT Hermione, would you get on to researching this? Harry can’t figure shit out for himself!

  6. “I am fond of gin myself, and I do not have daily responsibility for a tiny magical psychopath.” I may have peed myself a little. And you’re SO RIGHT that we would ALL be watching the Gaunts on reality TV. And I don’t even watch reality TV. Oh yes! The conversation with Scrimgeour! I meant to bring it up but lost my post-its at some point and forgot it. Harry handles that FANTASTICALLY and actually manages to not be overtly rude, which is pretty impressive for him.

  7. There is everything that I love in this post: Harry & Luna (I never shipped them but I wholeheartedly wished that Harry and Luna were better friends).

    Gaunt Reality Show? That is comedy gold, my friend. Comedy gold.

    Harry’s emotional development has come SO FAR in this book. He and Hermione are almost on par, which leaves Ron’s emotional/maturity range of a teaspoon more readily apparent.

    re: evil wizards and mocking voices: I sincerely think you’re on to something. it probably comes somewhere between world dominion and evil monologuing.

    • Okay, to the evil monologuing thing: I always thought it was super silly, because WHO WOULD DO THAT?, but recently I was a co-conspirator in a plan (a nice one), and when All Was Revealed, I seriously could not stop telling everyone how clever I had been. I couldn’t stop. I could feel them being like “Okay okay okay, we get it, you fooled us, you did stratagems,” but I still couldn’t shut up about all my stratagems. So I think evil monologuing is probably a real thing that would happen. It sucks if you’ve been really clever and your whole plan is worked, and nobody appreciates it.

  8. I also wondered that about Defence Against the Dark Arts. Why not a re-brand? It just cries out for a little attention from authority in any case. And as for the mocking singsong voice, I think that is such a good call about the little sister and car journeys. It has to be. You must be right, and should offer your services as J K Rowling’s biographer immediately.

  9. Yes, but doesn’t EVERYONE hate singsongy voice? (I seem to remember an incident with one of my children, and Daddy, and a singsongy voice, that all ended very badly.)

    (Also, was this the stratagem which ended in much family rejoicing? Or the one that ended in Tiger Babies Strike Back? If the latter, that WAS extremely clever.)

  10. Pingback: “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling | Zezee with Books

  11. I have finally read this! And now on to Book 7. Finally. And yea, too bad I don’t even have to wait for it. (but do know that I had to wait extremely long for book 6. so even if I’m not waiting on publishers to publish or JKR to write it, I did stick to my goal of only borrowing and having each thrust into my hands or be made available on bookmooch so it was *almost* like waiting with everyone else on the original time line.

    I’ve had book 7 on my shelf for a year.

    • Yay! Although your waiting experience is indeed not exactly the same, I agree with you that it’s an adequate simulation of the experience.

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