Saturday 26 September 2015

Harry Potter #re3 2015 - Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Take your time reading Half Blood Prince, I told myself after reading Order of the Phoenix. Take your time. You have over three months to read two books in this series reread.

And I lasted one read. Barely a week before I started Half Blood. Barely a week! My Harry Potter obsession hasn't kicked up a gear. Nope. Not at all!

Like I said in my write-up of Goblet of Fire (that blogpost is here!), this was the second book in the series I was the most excited to read. I think it's because I have such mixed feelings over this book. After the darkness of Goblet and Order, this is quite light - we deal with teenage romance mostly. Yes, we do tackle dark subject matters in this book - Voldemort's past, Professor Slughorn, Dumbledore and Snape's relationship and Snape's character as a whole. But it feels more like a lighter book.

But there was a few things I spotted that made me stop and go "oooh".

My main thing happened in the very first chapter, The Other Minister. There's a lot of prejudice from Fudge towards the Muggle Prime Minister and the previous Prime Minister. There is a tiny section that goes thus:

Fudge fixed the Prime Minister with a rather stern look.
"Of course they were," he said. "Surely you've realised what's going on?"
"I..." hesitated the Prime Minister. 
It was precisely this sort of behaviour that made him dislike Fudge's visits so much. He was, after all, the Prime Minister, and did not appreciate being made to feel like an ignorant schoolboy. (page 10 of the UK children's Hardback).

I have always read it that the Minister of Magic is the magic equal to the Prime Minister, but Fudge's attitude is not as an equal. Fudge treats the Prime Minister like a child. Fudge, like most witches and wizards, believe that they are superior to Muggles. If you are not a witch or wizard, you are behind them, belittled, treated as a "Other".

We see this happen time and time again through the course of the series - Malfoy called Hermione "Mudblood" in Chamber of Secrets, Fudge's reaction at the end of Goblet of Fire when Dumbledore told him that the Ministry must talk to the Giants, Umbridge's reaction to the centaurs in Order of the Phoenix and wizard's reaction to character's blood status. But it seems to be in this book that this creeps forward, but is lost underneath the fluff of young love.

For example, in The Other Minister, the Prime Minister remembers Fudge's visits to him over the past few years and how, with each visit, the visits getting shorter and shorter. The previous visit was so short that Fudge, according to my read, never left the Floo Powdered fire. He still had a foot in it as he said that there was a mass breakout from Azkaban. He gave the Prime Minister no information.

We see Trelawney getting angry at Firenze staying at the school as joint Divination as, on several occasions, she calls him "usurping nag" and "Dobbin", renaming him to a name used for donkeys. When Malfoy confronts Dumbledore near the end of the book, he uses the term Mudblood and Dumbledore asks Malfoy not to use the term, but Draco laughs.

But the time prejudice really hit me - barring The Other Minister - was in the chapter Elf Tales, when Hagrid is taking Harry and Hermione back to the Gryffindor dormitory after they saw Ron in the Hospital Wing (due the poisoning in the previous chapter) and Filch catches them and threatens detention. When Hagrid says that they won't and Filch questions this (obnoxiously), Hagrid shots back "I'm a ruddy teacher, aren' I, yeh sneaking' Squid!". Now, seeing as Hagrid has be persecuted most of his life because he is a half-giant, it's shocking to read that Hagrid throws the term Squid at someone like an insult.

You can't help but wonder if there is a hint of bigotry within the wizarding community towards anything or anyone they deem as "Other"...

There were other little things I missed - we hear and meet Umbridge again. Why did I, on my first read, not notice Umbridge in this book and that she was still working for the Ministry? She still has a fear over centaurs - which is making wonder what exactly happened to her in the last book.

Also, in one of Dumbledore's lessons, we meet a character called Hepzibah Smith. Is she related to one of Harry's fellow classmates, Zacharias Smith? And if that is the case, is he related to one of the Hogwarts's founder, Helga Hufflepuff? And, at Slughorn's Party, Luna talks to Professor Trelawney about the Rotting Conspiracy and Professor Trelawney "seemed sincerely interested". Why would Trelawney be interested in this? I found her and Luna's interaction fascinating to read and wished for more.

While I didn't come away from this book with the same reaction as Goblet of Fire, am nearly at the finish line! ONE BOOK TO GO, PEOPLE! ONLY ONE BOOK TO GO!!!

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