Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Literary Elements

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Literary Elements

Genre

Fantasy, children’s, adventure

Setting and Context

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, present day England

Narrator and Point of View

A third-person limited narrative that closely follows Harry’s actions and explores his thoughts.

Tone and Mood

At times playful and lighthearted, at other times dark and foreboding, with a sense of impending tragedy

Protagonist and Antagonist

Harry is the protagonist, struggling to protect his world. The antagonists are Lord Voldemort, who wants to seize control of the wizarding world, and Dolores Umbridge, who wants to take over Hogwarts.

Major Conflict

Lord Voldemort has come back to power and many members of the wizarding community, as well as the government, refuse to believe that he is back. Harry must convince his fellow wizards of the danger, while gathering an army of students strong enough to fight Voldemort in the case of an attack.

Climax

Harry has a vision of Sirius Black, his godfather, being tortured by the Death Eaters (Voldemort’s followers) at the Ministry of Magic and rushes off to save him, therefore confronting the Death Eaters head-on.

Foreshadowing

At the beginning of the novel, when the trio help clean out 12 Grimmauld Place, they uncover a heavy, golden locket in Regulus Black’s old room. No one is able to open it, and so they think nothing of it- but the presence of the locket foreshadows the sixth book in the series, when it is revealed that the locket is one of the seven horcruxes which must be destroyed to defeat Voldemort.

When the members of Dumbledore’s Army have their first meeting, they gather at the Hog’s Head in Hogsmede. There it is casually mentioned that the owner of the bar was “grumpy looking… with a great deal of long gray hair and beard. He was tall and thin and looked vaguely familiar to Harry.” (pg. 336), and that the bar itself smelled strongly of goats. The bar owner’s identity comes to light in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when it is revealed that he is Dumbledore’s brother Albus, a man who helps the trio and the students at Hogwarts tremendously during the final battle.

Harry is plagued by nightmares for most of the novel, and those dreams often foreshadow future events- it is a dream that reveals Arthur Weasley’s attack at the Ministry of Magic, allowing other wizards to come to his aid and save his life. While Harry’s vision of Sirius’ torture at the hands of the Death Eaters in the Ministry of Magic turned out to be an illusion, in a way the vision does foreshadow Sirius’ eventual death in the Ministry.

Understatement

Arthur Weasley in chapter 22, when describing his brutal, nearly deadly attack by Nagini (Voldemort’s snake) at the Ministry of Magic: “It’s very simple-I’d had a very long day, dozed off, got sneaked up on, and bitten.”

Allusions

The forest behind Hogwarts is home to a large population of centaurs, which are a nod to classical Greek mythology. In early Greek myths, centaurs are creatures that are half-man, half-horse, and are often lustful and boisterous- with the exception of Chiron, a centaur wildly known for his wisdom and his role in training several Greek heroes, including Achilles.

Professor Trelawney can also be seen as an allusion to Cassandra, a prophetess from Greek mythology, who was cursed to tell prophecies that were true but that no one would ever believe. Trelawney is faced with a similar plight; most of her prophecies are the product of hysteria and are complete nonsense, but she did foretell the great prophecy foretelling Voldemort’s defeat that is introduced at the end of this novel. While this prophecy came true, resulting in Harry and his ability to defeat Voldemort, her reputation of telling false prophecies left many people reluctant to believe her. Trelawney’s first name is also Sybil, which was the name for the high priestess of Apollo in Greek mythology.

Remus Lupin’s name refers to Remus, the mythological founder of Rome who was supposedly raised by wolves, and the word lupine, which means “to have wolf-like characteristics.” Both allude to his being a werewolf.

Sirius Black’s name is a reference to Sirius, the dog of the hero Orion in Greek mythology. Sirius’ animagus takes the form of a dog.
Hermione’s name is a reference to the only child of Menelaus and Helen, also from classic Greek mythology.

Harry himself can be seen, in many ways, as an allusion to the legendary King Arthur- a young man, orphaned as a child, who has been prophesized to vanquish evil from his world and restore order, with a supportive and close-knit army at his side. (In Arthur’s case, the Knights of the Round Table, in Harry’s case, the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army.)

Imagery

In chapter 7, Harry and Arthur Weasley travel to the Ministry of Magic. The description of the Ministry and the actions of the people who work there conjure an image of a modern day office building, with different departments, employers working in cubicles, and memos in the offices. The description is somewhat at odds with the very magical world of Harry Potter, but there are some distinctly magical elements to the description of the Ministry as well.

Paradox

The character of Dolores Umbridge is a direct paradox; she herself is a cruel woman who enjoys tormenting her students and fellow teachers, but she portrays a physical guise of kindness and innocence- she wears pink sweaters and hats, and decorates her office with china tea sets painted with kittens.

Hagrid is also a paradox- he is a physically intimidating presence, standing nearly seven feet high and extremely broad, with a huge beard that blocks part of his face from view, and is also obsessed with dangerous magical creatures (dragons, hippogriffs, giants, etc.), but he himself is a kind and gentle soul, who cares deeply for children and brandishes a pink umbrella as a weapon. While he may appear deadly, he would never willingly hurt a fly.

Kreacher lived for years as a slave of the Black family, forced to complete physically and emotionally demanding tasks. After their deaths he mourns them and constantly attacks Sirius, the one member of the Black family who is kind and humane.

Parallelism

Several parallels are drawn between Harry and his father, James- neither of them was made a prefect in their fifth year, and both of them had tumultuous relationships with Severus Snape.

When first arriving at Hogwarts in chapter ten, Harry and Luna have a conversation about thestrals. In chapter thirty-eight, right before leaving Hogwarts, they have another conversation about the death of Luna’s mother, the reason why she can see thestrals, in response to the death of Sirius.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

Metonymy is used when referring to the Blacks, as well as several other families, who are considered “pure blood”, because they have no Muggle or Muggle-born blood in their genetics. This group believes steadfastly in the importance of preserving wizard bloodlines.

Synecdoche is used when referring to the Order of the Phoenix as a whole, when the Order is made up of individuals who oppose Lord Voldemort.

Personification

In chapter six, 12 Grimmauld Place is depicted as a sentient being that can physical fight back against humans. “In Harry’s opinion they were really waging war on the house, which was putting up a very good fight, aided and abetted by Kreacher.” (pg. 117)

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