Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Memory and the Past

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Memory and the Past

SIRIUS BLACK: We think Voldemort wants to build up his army again. Fourteen years ago he had huge numbers at his command, not just witches and wizards but all manner of dark creatures. He has been recruiting heavily and we have been attempting to do the same. But gathering followers isn't all he's interested in. We believe Voldemort may be after something...


SIRIUS BLACK: Something he didn't have last time.

You could say that Voldemort's a little bit obsessed with the past. He wants to get his hands on this prophecy so he can figure out his connection to Harry Potter… and why he failed to murder him all those years ago. Seriously: step into the present, Voldy.

SIRIUS BLACK: I wanted you to have this. Original Order of the Phoenix. Marlene McKinnon. She was killed two weeks after this was taken. Voldemort wiped out her entire family. Frank and Alice Longbottom. Neville's parents. They suffered a fate worse than death, you ask me. It's been fourteen years and still a day doesn't go by I don't miss your dad.

HARRY POTTER: Do you really think there's going to be a war, Sirius?

SIRIUS BLACK: It feels like it did before. You keep it. Anyway, I suppose you're the young ones now.

Sirius is pretty wistful about the old Order of the Phoenix, but those were the good old days when his best friends were alive and he hadn't spent twelve years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Of course, there's nothing wrong with looking back if it provides you good intel for the present.

KREACHER: Nasty brat, standing there as bold as brass. Harry Potter, the boy who stopped the Dark Lord. Friend of Mudbloods and blood-traitors alike. If my poor mistress only knew...

SIRIUS BLACK: Kreacher! That's enough of your bile. Away with you!

KREACHER: Of course, master. Kreacher lives to serve the noble house of Black.

SIRIUS BLACK: Sorry about that. He never was very pleasant, even when I was a boy. Not to me, anyway.

One thing Sirius is not wistful about—his childhood. He can't stand the ancient house elf that looks after his family house. The feeling seems to be mutual. Kreacher is just as racist and awful as the Black family who used to live in this house. Guess everyone who lives at 12 Grimmauld Place is stuck in the past.

SIRIUS BLACK: This is the Black family tree. My deranged cousin. I hated the lot of them. My parents with their pure-blood mania. My mother did that after I ran away. Charming woman. I was sixteen.

HARRY POTTER: Where did you go?

SIRIUS BLACK: Round your dad's. I was always welcome at the Potters'. I see him so much in you, Harry. You are so very much alike.

Sirius has awful memories of his family, but remembers only good things about Harry's dad. We have to wonder if he's giving Harry the honest story here. Is he remembering things like they really were or just thinking of his best friend with rose-colored glasses because he's gone?

HARRY POTTER: This connection between me and Voldemort... what if the reason for it is that I am becoming more like him? I just feel so angry, all the time. What if after everything that I've been through, something's gone wrong inside me? What if I'm becoming bad?

SIRIUS BLACK: I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You're not a bad person. You're a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are.

Harry wonders if what's happened to him in his past is going to change him for the worst, but Sirius doesn't think so. Sure, bad things have happened to him, but Harry has a choice. He can be a good person or a bad person if he wants to be. Basically, our past doesn't dictate who we become.

NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM: Fourteen years ago, a Death Eater named Bellatrix Lestrange used the Cruciatus Curse on my parents. She tortured them for information, but they never gave in. I'm quite proud to be their son. But I'm not sure I'm ready for everyone to know just yet.

HARRY POTTER: We're going to make them proud, Neville. That's a promise.

Another tragic backstory. Like Harry, Neville doesn't have any parents—except his aren't dead. Just tortured into insanity. Which is worse? That past is back to haunt Neville now that Bellatrix has broken out of Azkaban and is on the move.

JAMES POTTER: Come on, Moony, Padfoot. Snape. Expelliarmus.

SIRIUS BLACK: Nice one, James.


JAMES POTTER: Impedimenta.

CROWD: Snivellus Greasy. Snivellus Greasy.

JAMES POTTER: Right. Who wants to see me take off Snivelly's trousers?

CROWD: Snivellus Greasy. Snivellus Greasy.

SEVERUS SNAPE: Enough. Enough. Your lessons are at an end.



This is actually a really sad scene. Harry is so convinced of his father's goodness but then he gets a peak into Snape's memory and he sees that James Potter and Sirius Black weren't all that nice as fifteen-year-olds. In fact, they were full on bullies. No wonder Snape hates Harry's dad. No wonder Snape hates Harry…

LUCIUS MALFOY: Haven't you always wondered what was the reason for the connection between you and the Dark Lord. Why he was unable to kill you when you were just an infant? Don't you want to know the secret, of your scar? All of the answers are there, Potter, in your hand. All you have to do is give it to me, I can show you everything.

HARRY POTTER: I've waited fourteen years...


HARRY POTTER: Think I can wait a little longer.

These are pretty tantalizing questions about Harry's past. Actually we think we'd like them answered. Maybe you could just hand over the prophecy Harry and we could get a little bit of backstory here. No? Okay, fine…

SIRIUS BLACK: Nice one, James!

Sirius says this to Harry right before he dies. It's a powerful beat as he and Harry are in the midst of fighting Death Eaters and Sirius is clearly caught up in the excitement of the "good old days." Harry barely has time to process this though because within a few seconds Sirius is dead.

DUMBLEDORE: It was foolish of you to come here tonight, Tom. The Aurors are on their way.

VOLDEMORT: By which time I shall be gone, and you... shall be dead!

This is how you start a rumble. When Dumbledore calls Voldemort "Tom" right to his face, he's calling on their past relationship as teacher and student. It's like Dumbledore is telling him, "You may think you're this fancy "Dark Lord" but to me you'll always just be little Tommy Riddle." Dumbledore is also emphasizing Voldemort's humanity, something he's lost since he's become a cold-blooded killer who looks more like a snake than a man. In any case the gloves are off and the wands are out. It's go time.

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