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Essay: Expecto Quidditch

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While games—mock battles—segueing into genuine battles is a theme throughout the seven-book Harry Potter series, Harry’s third year in school is set apart as the only one in which he plays a complete Quidditch season. Harry grows to see Quidditch—his chief metaphorical war—and learning to conjure a Patronus—something he needs to fight a genuine war—as essentially interchangeable. One contributes to success in the other in an infinite magical feedback loop. After Christmas, Oliver Wood talks to Harry about whether he will be fit to play Quidditch, since Harry fell to Dementors in the previous match. Harry assures him that Lupin is teaching him to ward off Dementors, reinforcing the idea that Harry is training for battle. He specifically frames the anti-Dementor lessons as something to succeed at Quidditch, metaphorical war. During these lessons, Harry must use a happy memory to conjure a Patronus, no mean feat for someone with his history. Lupin tells him that he fears fear itself, but i…

Episode 20: The Order of the Rebel

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How is Order of the Phoenix about a church/state conflict? What links Sirius’s death to Harry crossing the lake with Hagrid in the first book? And why don’t wizards observe Bonfire Night? 
Episode 20: The Order of the Rebel

Watch the Episode 20 video on YouTube

Related Essay:

Bonfire of the Phoenix



EPISODE GUIDE

Essay: Playing the Game

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They made their way back up the crowded street to the Magical Menagerie.As they reached it, Hermione came out, but she wasn’t carrying an owl.Her arms were clamped tightly around the enormous ginger cat. “You bought that monster?” said Ron, his mouth hanging open. “He’s gorgeous, isn’t he?” said Hermione, glowing.
~Chapter Four, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is shaped by the three Quidditch matches he plays during that year, which is the first and last time that he plays a complete Quidditch season. Each match carries symbolic importance to future books in the series, which further reinforces that JK Rowling has not inserted Quidditch or any game into the books frivolously. When she describes a match or when Harry plays it’s for a good reason, and when she pulls back from Quidditch or other games it’s also for a good reason, such as it doesn’t advance the big plot or carry love or war symbolism, or she’s replacing literal games that are met…

Essay: The Devil You Know

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In the first Harry Potter book there are seven obstacles to the Philosopher’s Stone, each provided by a Hogwarts teacher, including Professors Quirrell, Snape and Dumbledore, and each obstacle aligns with one of the books in the series. The obstacle aligning with the first book was Fluffy, who, like the three-headed dog Cerberus in Greek mythology, is guardian of a symbolic Underworld, forcing anyone seeking the Philosopher’s Stone to metaphorically die in order to reach it. This obstacle aligns with the first book because in it, Harry crosses the threshold from the Muggle to the wizarding world. (See Blood Sport or Quantum Harry, the Podcast, Episode 11: Wargames.) The second book aligns with the second obstacle: The Devil’s Snare. The snakiness of the Devil’s Snare is seen in Chamber of Secrets in multiple incarnations: first we have the branches of the Whomping Willow, which is another guardian of an “underworld”—the tunnel leading to the Shrieking Shack. The tree guards the tunnel …