Returning to Hogwarts: The Prisoner of Azkaban

16 February 2015

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Return to Hogwarts: Rereading the Harry Potter series

Book 3: The Prisoner of Azkaban

Ok. So whereas The Chamber of Secrets was not my favorite, The Prisoner of Azkaban is a part of the series I hold in a different regard. It’s like we’ve been able to meet part of the core ideas and characters of the book, watch them grow a little, and now we get to this bit of a turning point. And I feel this way about the movies too — which, yeah, not here to talk about the movies right now, but this one was very amazing.

So, as per ushe, Rowling introduces more characters: Lupin, Trelawney, Wormtail*, Crookshanks, and of course, Sirius Black. We’ll get to the human people, but I so associate Hermione with Crookshanks that I completely forgot that she doesn’t even adopt him until this book. He’s a huge, somewhat grumpy, but very loyal cat. He’s smart, and tend to know what’s up. Now, to the * and HUGE spoiler alert to anyone who hasn’t gotten this far into the story: Wormtail’s been there all along. Makes you sort of think twice about any animal that’s been in your life for a super long time…

Now Trelawney, and just the whole treatment of divination as a sort of “lesser” magic, is sort of interesting. This is the first time we really see Hermione fail at something, and she does not take it well. But of course, given her course load, I’d also just say that she’s expensing so much energy elsewhere that of course she’s not going to handle failing a course she thinks is a blow off course well at all. It’s sort of insult to injury. As the book goes on, you do see how her number of classes and all their work has effected her. This is the year that you sort of wonder why Hermione wasn’t put in Ravenclaw — because you’d think if any student could petition to get a time turner and take all the classes, it would have been a Ravenclaw. Anyway, quickly getting back to Trelawney: there are a lot of theories out there on her predictions. I won’t go into any of them now, but maybe at the end of the series we’ll take a look back and see if, how, and what played out like she thought it would.

Of course, we have the revolving door that is the professor of the Defense Against the Dart Arts position — this time being filled by Remus Lupin. He’s warm, he’s fun, he’s encouraging, and most of all he seems to be an amazing teacher. Oh. And he’s a werewolf. His lesson with the bogart is such a good opportunity for us to get some slight peaks into some of the other characters we don’t know too much about by learning their fears. Also, Neville’s bogart as Snape in his grandmother’s clothes: one of the best visuals in a while. (And Alan Rickman in this part was so fun.) But more importantly, Lupin was one of Harry’s father’s very close friends.

I sort of like the progression in how Rowling reveals our knowledge of Sirius Black. You get bits and pieces, each one building on the other. You find out he’s dangerous. He’s out to kill Harry. We’re told he was aligned with Voldemort. That he’s one of the worst wizards out there, aside from You-Kn0w-Who. And it all builds and culminates with discovery by Harry that Black was his dad’s best friend. Now this is where I need to stop comparing the movies to the book. But honestly, that moment when Harry finds this out and yells “He was their friend!” was so emotional. I feel like you get the shock of it all in the book, but not that raw emotion. However, it’s still a huge thing.

Of course, though, we find out eventually that Sirius is not the bad guy we all think he is. Scabbers aka Wormtail aka Peter Pettigrew was the one to betray Lily and James Potter’s location to Voldemort. However, I’ve got to say though, we do learn that young James, Remus, and Sirius are all these fab, amazing people we sort of hold them up to be. I mean, hear me out: Snape might not have been Mr. Popular or anything, but you know, this group of guys weren’t kind to him. Rather than just ignore him, they tease and sort of bully him. It gets revealed that Sirius has sort of lured Snape into the Shrieking Shack were Werewolf Lupin was pinned up for safe keeping. Thankfully James saves him, but still, amazingly cruel thing to do to anyone. Even Snape.

Anyway. Fast forward to this current cycle in the Shrieking Shack, we’re finding out all this rich history and all these truths about what really happened, but of course, Snape is knocked out. Only Lupin, Harry, Ron, and Hermione know the truth about Sirius — and given Lupin’s condition, and the impressional youthfulness of the other three, no one with the authority to do anything is really going to believe them. Thus, Sirius is still considered a criminal.

Other things that need attention:
» If you know the series you know exactly the most feel good moment of the entire series — when Hermione hit Malfoy. Of course, in the book it’s just a slap. In the movie it’s a punch. Regardless, as Hermione put it, that felt good.

» When Sirius tried to go after Ron (but really Scabbers/Wormtail), there’s a really good passage that needs highlighting:

For the first time in his life, people were paying more attention to him than to Harry, and it was clear that Ron was rather enjoying this experience.

This is a big thing, and a rather telling thing. I know Harry didn’t ask for his celebrity, but happened, and it’s going to factor into his friendship whether they realize it or not.

» And then lastly, just something I find amusing… Snape as a Quidditch fan. I mean, I love McGonagall as a fan too, but this is just great. The idea of him teasing her, taunting and rubbing in the Gryffindor/Slytherin rivalry? It’s just too good. It’s just a fun, human side to him that our filtered view through Harry we don’t really get to see.

Anyway, there are so many thoughts still… I think once we get past the next book, I might break some of this into themes and whatnot. There’s just so much Harry Potter stuff to talk about!

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