UP!–The PHOENIX: No Ordinary Bird…

Cover - PhoenixWhen I first began reading the Harry Potter series, back in the summer of 2001, the only rule I’d set for myself was that I wanted to be sure to read each book prior to its corresponding movie release. I couldn’t easily be buying them all in hardcover, so I had waited ’til each one was released in paperback, that is UNTIL—I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix! When I finished that book I knew that as soon as Book 6 was released my greedy, anxious little hands would be on that hardcover before it hit the shelves!

Many people have described Harry’s snappy, irritable behavior in “Phoenix” as “teenage angst.” Honestly, I’ve never seen it that way. I mean, really—after, at the end of his 5th year at Hogwarts, having witnessed Cedric Diggory die at the hands of Voldemort, then narrowly escaping death himself, to then be kept in the dark for most of the summer by everyone including his friends, he had good reason to feel more than resentful. Add to that an attack by two dementors, the threat of expulsion from Hogwarts and his wand being broken, the false reporting in The Daily Prophet turning nearly everyone against him, some “girl” trouble, being tortured by Dolores Umbridge, ignored by Dumbledore, having Quidditch ruined for him, the pressure of O.W.L. exams, and horrible nightmares which weren’t really nightmares, but a connection to Voldemort, anyone would be a bit “touchy,” don’t you think?

On the UP! side, he got to spend some time with his godfather, Sirius (and Kreacher, the Black Family elf), Hermione, Ron and the Weasleys, all of them staying at Sirius’s home at 12 Grimmauld Place that summer. Also being its headquarters, Harry learned about the Order of the Phoenix and met many of its members (as did we), like Tonks, and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Upon their return to Hogwarts, Harry also met for the first time (one of my favorite characters), the “Quibbler-reading, radish-earring-wearing Luna “Loony” Lovegood. Then, seeing how the students, under the “tutelage” of Umbridge, were no longer learning anything in their Defense Against the Dark Arts class, due to Hermione’s brilliance and persistence, Harry ended up as “teacher” when they set up the D.A. In order to do so, they needed a secret place to practice and Dobby was the one to tell them about the AMAZING Room of Requirement. OH, how I want that room!

Phoenix - clip art through WordDuring this reread (sparked by Sheila at Book Journey), one thing that really struck me even more so was how symbolic the phoenix was throughout the series. It had me looking back through my notes to refresh myself on the many times Fawkes made an appearance and why. The first time Harry saw Fawkes was in Dumbledore’s office (pg. 206, CoS), he’d witnessed the bird burst into flames and turn to ashes. Dumbledore explained…

“Fawkes is a phoenix, Harry. Phoenixes burst into flame when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes. Watch him…

“It’s a shame you had to see him on a Burning Day,” said Dumbledore, seating himself behind his desk. “He’s really very handsome most of the time, wonderful red and gold plumage. Fascinating creatures, phoenixes. They can carry immensely heavy loads, their tears have healing powers, and they make highly faithful pets.”

From “Sorcerer’s Stone,” the very first book of the series we were subtly introduced to the phoenix and its important place in the story, Harry having learned it was a phoenix (Fawkes) who’d contributed its tail feathers to serve as the core of only two wands: Harry’s and Voldemort’s. In “Goblet of Fire” we got to witness the effect these cores had when he and Voldemort dueled, producing the protective web of light (Priori Incantatem) with the soothing, strengthening song of the phoenix filling the air when it happened, having made Harry’s heart feel as though it swelled to twice its size. Fawkes had come to Harry’s aid in “Chamber of Secrets,” supplying him with a weapon (the sword of Gryffindor), then having been punctured by the poisonous fang of the Basilisk, saved Harry’s life with its healing tears.

It is no wonder that this legendary bird—a symbol of strength, faithfulness and rejuvenation through its rebirth—represents the Order. It is no wonder that Dumbledore, a man of great power, strength and integrity, was the only human who had ever earned Fawkes as a pet. (I say “earned” because a phoenix isn’t exactly a bird one could purchase from a Pet Store.) It was in my wondering how they’d met, that I found that information through a link to a J. K. Rowling interview on the Harry Potter Wiki site. It seems to me that Dumbledore’s very nature was kindred to the phoenix, his own patronus having taken the shape of one.

D.A.In “Order of the Phoenix” it was, in fact, Dumbledore having held to Fawkes’ tail feathers that enabled him to quickly flee Hogwarts as the Ministry closed in after the D.A. (Dumbledore’s Army) had been discovered. Despite the Ministry’s insistence that Voldemort had not returned, we witnessed more grave injuries and steadily increasing threats, fear and tension throughout the entire wizarding world due to the very fact that he had. He and his Death Eaters do whatever it takes to gain power, and through Voldemort’s shrewdness, Harry and his friends were lured into an extremely dangerous situation in which at least one more cherished life was lost. Our hearts again ache, deeply, and we ask how much more Harry can bear; we become more horrified—and compelled—than ever. Book 6 could not arrive soon enough!

Have you read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? Where does it stand with you in the series? And do you have any thoughts on the phoenix itself, and its place in the books?

 

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28 thoughts on “UP!–The PHOENIX: No Ordinary Bird…

  1. Excellent post! Yes I often think how Harry’s Hogwarts years have never been easy, horrifying in fact, yet each year he looks forward to returning…lol What does that say about his home life? 🙂 I enjoyed reading your thoughts about the Phoenix as well. JK really did put a lot of thought into placing this magnificent bird throughout the entire story line… from Harry choosing his wand, to saving Ginny with it’s tears, and so on….

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  2. Order of the Phoenix and the Half-blood Prince are my two favorite books in the series, probably because Sirius and Snape are my two favorite characters. I’ve read the entire series three times, twice out loud to my family, and we’ve watched the movies multiple times. Such incredibly good books. Nothing compares.

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  3. I thought the order of the phoenix was a pretty good entry in the series. Particularly, the battle of the Ministry was great and Sirius’s death was another unexpected twist that left a deep impression on the reader.

    However, the best books for me in the series are the chamber of secrets and the deathly hallows.

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    • Hello, Richard and welcome! 🙂 I’m very curious as to why Chamber of Secrets was one of your best in the series. I ask only because it seems to be the most common choice as being lower on the “faves” list, so I’d love to hear it if you care to explain.

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  4. Hello Donna 🙂 I think The Chamber of Secrets is very well constructed in terms of plot. Except the last two books (and may be the first one and to some extent The Goblet of Fire) others seemed to me somewhat episodic, though they were all very entertaining no doubt. Also, the concept of a memory hidden in a diary, the Basilisk, and the Chamber of Secrets itself seemed very innovative and appealing. What’s your view of the book?

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    • Hmmm…I’m one of those people who loves all the books, though “Chamber” isn’t at the top of my list, possibly because of the spiders and basilisk! lol I’m not one for bugs and slithery things. I’m a big fan of the Ford Anglia though 😉 I’m not as moved in the 2nd book as much as I am in all the others, I think. I also see the plotting in all the books as really good, especially how they each stand alone so well, yet all 7 books have one giant arc with many subplots that all have to get tied up. I see the entire “puzzle” of it so well-constructed.

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  5. Wow, what a detailed and thoughtful post, :Donna Marie! The introduction of Luna Lovegood in this book is fantastic. She is a favorite character of ours, as well. Great series. I’m going to have to re-read it in the future. Have a super week ahead!
    ~The Gang

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  6. You write a very convincing argument for reading the series. I must be one of the few who haven’t read them all yet. I have to admit that I read only the first. I enjoyed it, but reading the rest is not high on my list of to dos at the moment. I do enjoy reading your thoughts about them though. You help me understand their appeal. And as for teenage angst, I can’t imagine anyone coming through such a difficult time unscathed! 🙂

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  7. I hadn’t really considered the phoenix much unless it was in terms of progressing the plot, it is very interesting therefore to read your post. I got the first four books one Christmas and then really looked forward to book five, how you could wait that long between release date and paperback release date is beyond me! I do remember getting this book, it is really vivid the whole journey to get it, which is rare for me.

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    • The waiting wasn’t so difficult since I was so busy with so many other things and it wasn’t ’til I read Phoenix that the burning for the books became that much more so. I’m glad you found the phoenix aspect interesting, Ste J. I know I do! There is so much symbolism throughout the series and pretty much everything of this nature usually carries with it a purposeful reason. Yep, J.K. Rowling is quite the author 😀

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  8. You inspired me to reread the Harry Potter books — but this time I’m listening to the audiobook version — and it is wonderful yet again! It’s very indulgent being read to as an adult. Just sitting on the couch and listening to the books is amazing. It makes me feel like a kid. I’ve just finished the first one and will start the second one soon.

    Thank you for the great post and the inspiration to reread (or listen) to Harry Potter again!

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    • Tiffa, you made my day!!! I LOVE that I had that effect 🙂 You know, I’m not typically one for audio books (only nonfiction), but I’ve heard so many people rave about the audio Harry Potter versions, if I’m inclined in the future, that will be the way I’ll go, I would think. Which version are you listening to? Jim Dale or Stephen Fry?

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  9. Donna, you bring up an excellent point as to why Harry might be a little touchy in Phoenix! It’s been such a long while since I’ve read these books-I really do need to re-read! I’ve gotten so behind in my re-reading due to ARCs, etc. But I somehow manage to squeeze them in somehow. The HP books are wonderful in that many of their themes are timeless and I think they will be popular for many years to come!

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    • Hey, Katie! 🙂 I don’t know if you were able to read any of my previous posts on the other books so far, but you’ll see I’m very happy I was nudged by Sheila’s ReRead-along. Rereading these books so many years later is proving to be more than enjoyable. Tiffa commented and said she was inspired to reread and is doing it through audio. I do think that, when the time comes sometime in the future, when I get the desire to revisit these wonderful books, I may finally try audio 🙂 (And wait ’til you see my post on HBP! lol Quite the gusher! 😉 )

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