Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Power

By J.K. Rowling

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In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix we're introduced to a new evil character: Dolores Umbridge. Professor Umbridge isn't in love with a particular belief system or an ideology. We mean, yes, she does believe that humans should be at the top of the magical hierarchy. But besides that, she doesn't seem that committed to a single idea. What she is in love with is power. There is nothing she enjoys more than demonstrating her power over other people. The thing that's interesting about Professor Umbridge's love of power is that she doesn't even have to work for Voldemort. By struggling for authority, she becomes so selfish that she empowers people like Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle, who are more closely connected to Voldemort. Professor Umbridge may not actively support Voldemort, but does that matter? Her persecution of Harry and Professor Dumbledore because they are threats to her power does Voldemort's work for him.

Questions About Power

  1. Professor Umbridge likes to show her power by humiliating weaker people, like Professor Trelawney and Hagrid. How do other characters in authority – people like Dumbledore and McGonagall – choose to exert their power? How are they different from Professor Umbridge?
  2. How does Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, try to compensate for his concerns about diminishing power? What does he do to try to save his authority? What political or philosophical commentary about power might J.K. Rowling be making with her depiction of Fudge?
  3. Besides Professor Umbridge, what other characters abuse their power in this novel? Compare and contrast these abuses: do they share goals? Do they have strategies in common? How does government abuse of power (e.g., Fudge, Lucius Malfoy) compare to personal abuse of power (e.g., Sirius with Kreacher, the Dursleys with Harry)?

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