So, without further ado, let’s dive into my re-read of book six – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is a somewhat lengthy one. As warned at the very beginning of this, I have opinions.
I know that a lot of people’s problems (mine included) with Dumbledore stem from the fact that he left a child with an abusive family, and continued to return him to them every year even after they proved themselves to be unsuitable guardians. But at least there’s an acknowledgement of that in the book, and one that’s notable absent in the films. Dumbledore knows he made a mistake. And though he didn’t have the wit, or courage, or imagination, to let Professor McGonagall adopt Harry, for me, this page makes some small degree of amends for that.
Doesn’t make him any less of a manipulative bastard. He screwed Lupin over for a start – but that’s another conversation entirely.
I am absolutely here for Professor McGonagall bashing the heck out of Neville’s nan to boost up his fragile self-esteem. More than that, I absolutely here for Professor McGonagall standing up for her students no matter what. Please can we all strive to be a little more like Professor McGonagall.
Yeah, Hermione, how dare you memorise the entire hecking textbook. Piss off my hero, you miserable man-child.
Ahem. Moving on.
How did this beautifully sass-tastic moment not make it into the film? We were robbed, quite frankly.
Ginny has so much more of a personality in the books, and it physically pains me what was done to her in the name of film adaptation. She was a formidable witch, a talented Quidditch player, a popular and able student. Not Harry’s new surrogate mother-figure. And she absolutely fought against Ron trying to control her, and his hypocracy in doing so. Ginny is my hero – book!Ginny is my hero. Film!Ginny could literally turn into a lamp who ties shoelaces, and no-one would notice.
Thing Number Five Billion on the list of things that should have made it into the films. I think Harry really values Luna’s honesty – he is lied to by so many people, and manipulated by almost every adult around him, that I think Luna’s complete openness is something entirely new for him, and though he’s embarrassed by it sometimes, he feels stabilised by it as well.
I confess to also really loving Luna.
Now this is interesting. The idea of the job of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher being cursed is a running joke throughout the series, but here, as part of a throw-away remark, the curse is very suddenly something to be taken seriously. More than that, if it’s real, it’s an intricate piece of magic – every DADA teacher leaves for different reasons, so the curse doesn’t demand that they all die, just that they all leave.
It’s also a good answer for why Dumbledore never gave Snape the job. If the curse is real, then Dumbledore would have lost his pet Death Eater.
You can’t not see the innuendo here, surely. This is not that long after the line that goes something like “Harry no longer cared about Quidditch. He was becoming rapidly obsessed with Draco Malfoy.” So, you know, take that how you will.
Ron is an A* dickhead in this book, and it’s very difficult to blame all of it on hormones. The only good thing about his behaviour is that it gives Hermione and Ginny a hundred opportunities to verbally slap him down – and they take advantage of every single on.
“An admirably succinct and accurate summary” said the author about her own words. Smooth, Rowling. Very smooth.
Harry can also piss off right now. I mean, how dare Ginny have all these (two) boyfriends, when the Chosen One wants her? How dare she not marry the very first person she kisses? I’m such an unfan of all the misogyny directed at Ginny in this book, and I do wonder what I got out of it when I read it as a kid, because this wasn’t it.
IT’S RIGHT THERE!! He ran right past it! This is so frustrating on a re-read. If only he’d known…
If that “tarnished tiara” is what I think it is (spoilers for book 7) then goodness gracious this scene in the Room of Requirement is an exercise in re-read frustration. IT’S RIGHT THERE!!
I’m beginning to realise how big a theme internalised misogyny is in book 6. The Weasleys and Hermione treat Fleur really awfully throughout, and it’s only here, when there’s a direct question of the strength of her commitment, that Fleur directly stands up for herself. The only justification for her treatment is that she does things differently, and is a strong personality. I love this moment, but I hate that it was necessary.
And to end, a brief consideration of Harry’s treatment of Malfoy. It’s only now, when it’s far too late, that Harry experiences even a hint of sympathy for the difficulty of Draco’s position. Hated by much of the wizard in world because of his family, Sorted into the House that everyone despises, having your disgraces openly celebrated by your peers… I don’t want to try and excuse Draco’s behaviour, but I do want to ask one question: what chance did Draco Malfoy ever really have?
We’ve only got part 5 left for this folks, and I’ll see you next Thursday for that. Otherwise, hope you have a great week!