Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

It’s Half-Blood Prince time, folks! I’m finding that as I go on with these “reviews,” they’re becoming less and less content-based and more along the lines of “Omigosh, I love it when… Here’s a quote!” Haha, but that’s okay! Gushing about Harry Potter is one of my favorite things to do, so I’m just going to go with it. :)

If you’re interested, you can catch up with my previous Harry Potter ramblings:

Diving right in:

- We start off with some more of Dumbledore being awesome. I particularly love his comment to Harry about the Ministry of Magic pamphlet on security measures:

‘”Sir – I got a Ministry of Magic leaflet by owl, about security measures we should all take against the Death Eaters…”
“Yes, I received one myself,” said Dumbledore, still smiling. “Did you find it useful?”
“Not really.”
“No, I thought not. You have not asked me, for instance, what is my favorite flavor of jam, to check that I am indeed Professor Dumbledore and not an imposter.”
“I didn’t…” Harry began, not entirely sure whether he was being reprimanded or not.
“For future reference, Harry, it is raspberry… although of course, if I were a Death Eater, I would have been sure to research my own jam preference before impersonating myself.”’

Ha. I love Dumbledore’s sense of humor. I’ve said it before, this is something that I’ve always felt was definitely lacking in the movies.

- This is the book where Snape finally gets to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, as I’m sure everyone remembers, but in my reread I realized that I had some questions about the reasoning behind it. First of all, I’m not sure I fully understand why Dumbledore never let him teach it before. Someone says in one of the books that it’s because he doesn’t want Snape to be swayed back to his old ways and he’s worried that if Snape is given that job it will be too tempting for him to resist, but I’m not sure I really believe that. For one thing, how exactly would teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts tempt Snape? It’s not like he would be learning any more information about the Dark Arts than he already has. Maybe it’s just that being around it all the time and having to talk about it to his students would remind him how much he loves it? Shrug. I don’t know. The other reason I don’t fully buy that is that Dumbledore trusts Snape implicitly.  Absolutely 100%. So I feel like he wouldn’t be worried about such a little thing as letting Snape teach DADA.
Another possible reason for Dumbledore not giving Snape the DADA position that occurred to me (although I have no idea how credible this thought is), is that Dumbledore knew that the position was jinxed after Voldemort tried to get the job and he didn’t want to lose Snape at Hogwarts. Although he could have kept Snape on in another position.
I just don’t know. Does anyone have any thoughts or theories on this? I’m sure there are posts about it in forums and stuff, I just haven’t been bothered to do any research. :P

My second point about Snape finally getting the DADA job is why? Why all of a sudden did Dumbledore decide to let him teach it? (Also, the fact that Dumbledore did let him teach it makes the theory above about him being worried about it tempting Snape lose plausibility. Dumbledore knows he’s nearing his end, if he really thought that the DADA job would cause Snape to cross over, now was NOT the time to give it to him.) A few theories came to mind as I was reading, although I don’t know that any of them are very realistic:
                1. Dumbledore knows that Harry wants to be an Auror and that he won’t be able to take Newt level Potions if Snape is still teaching it, so he lets Snape teach DADA so Slughorn can teach Potions and Harry can continue to study it.
                2. The only class that Slughorn will agree to come back and teach is Potions, so Dumbledore needs to free that position up and has to let Snape teach DADA.
                3. Dumbledore knows he’s dying and that Snape will have to kill him and will be exposed as a “traitor,” so it doesn’t matter anymore if the jinx on the job causes Snape to leave after one year, since everything will be so screwed up anyway.
                4. Dumbledore feels sorry for forcing Snape to kill him and lets him teach DADA as a sort of bribe/apology/compromise/last wish sort of thing.

Haha okay so that last one I kind of just made up. I feel like it’s probably some combination of a few of those theories. It would help my guesswork if I knew the reason that Dumbledore wouldn’t let him teach it in the first place. Ah well. Theorizing and analyzing little details is part of the fun of Harry Potter! :)

- Speaking of Newt level Potions, I absolutely love the scene in the movie when McGonagall calls Harry over to tell him he can take the class and then forces him to drag Ron along with him. Hahaha, she’s so great.

- Now that Buckbeak is back on Hogwarts grounds and living with Hagrid, wouldn’t Draco recognize him? Although now that I think about it I guess Draco has moved on to bigger and better things and can’t be bothered with a stupid hippogriff anymore.

- Harry gets pretty cheeky with Snape in this book. My favorite example:

‘”Do you remember me telling you we are practicing nonverbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“Yes, sir.”
“There’s no need to call me ‘sir,’ Professor.”’

!! He’s got a lot of nerve, saying that to a professor. I’m surprised Snape didn’t give him worse than a detention.

- I adore Ron so so much. And Rupert Grint is fantastic. Ron is one of the few characters that I actually like in the movie just as much as I do in the book. There’s one particularly great scene in this book when Hermione is trying to explain why so many people are trying out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team:

‘”Oh, come on, Harry,” said Hermione, suddenly impatient. “It’s not Quidditch that’s popular, it’s you! You’ve never been more interesting, and frankly, you’ve never been more fanciable.”
Ron gagged on a large piece of kipper. Hermione spared him one look of disdain before turning back to Harry.
“Everyone knows you’ve been telling the truth now, don’t they? The whole Wizarding world has had to admit that you were right about Voldemort being back… And you’ve been through all that persecution from the Ministry when they were trying to make out you were unstable and a liar. You can still see the marks on the back of your hand where that evil woman made you write with your own blood, but you stuck to your story anyway…”
“You can still see where those brains got hold of me in the Ministry, look,” said Ron, shaking back his sleeves.
“And it doesn’t hurt that you’ve grown about a foot over the summer either,” Hermione finished, ignoring Ron.
“I’m tall,” said Ron inconsequentially.’

LOVE him. <3

- The Quidditch tryouts are also hilarious. I just love the fact that so many people came to try out, and some of them weren’t even in Gryffindor! Poor Harry, he was so exasperated.

- Sticking with the Quidditch theme, I really miss Lee Jordan as a commentator. BUT, Luna’s commentary is absolutely my favorite. I’m resisting the urge to quote the entire thing here, but it starts on page 413 of the hardcover edition, so go read it! :) Also, at one point Zacharias Smith acts as commentator, even though he’s a player on the Hufflepuff team. I really feel like commentators should not be team members, because there’s such a strong bias there, it’s clearly not going to go well. Just a thought.

- A couple more examples of Ginny being awesome:

‘”It was an accident, I’m sorry, Demelza, really sorry!” Ron shouted after her as she zigzagged back to the ground, dripping blood everywhere. “I just – “
“Panicked,” Ginny said angrily, landing next to Demelza and examining her fat lip. “You prat, Ron, look at the state of her!”
“I can fix that,” said Harry, landing beside the two girls, pointing his wand at Demelza’s mouth, and saying “Episkey.” “And Ginny, don’t call Ron a prat, you’re not the Captain of this team – “
“Well, you seemed too busy to call him a prat and I thought someone should – “’


‘”YES!” Harry yelled! Wheeling around, he hurtled back toward the ground, the Snitch held high in his hand. As the crowd realized what had happened, a great shout went up that almost drowned the sound of the whistle that signaled the end of the game.
“Ginny, where’re you going?” yelled Harry, who had found himself trapped in the midst of a mass midair hug with the rest of the team, but Ginny sped right on past them until, with an almighty crash, she collided with the commentator’s podium. As the crowd shrieked and laughed, the Gryffindor team landed beside the wreckage of wood under which Zacharias was feebly stirring. Harry heard Ginny saying blithely to an irate Professor McGonagall, “Forgot to brake, Professor, sorry.”’

I feel like such a broken record, but I love this girl.

- A quote from page 239, when Harry is looking through his Potions book:

‘While the wind and sleet pounded relentlessly on the windows, and Neville snored loudly, Harry stared at the letters in brackets. Nvbl… that had to mean “nonverbal.” Harry rather doubted he would be able to bring off this particular spell; he was still having difficulty with nonverbal spells, something Snape had been quick to comment on in every D.A.D.A. class. On the other hand, the Prince had proved a much more effective teacher than Snape so far.’

Oh, the irony. JK Rowling must have been having a good laugh to herself as she wrote certain sections of these books.

- ‘Lupin burst out laughing, “Sometimes you remind me a lot of James. He called it my “furry little problem” in company. Many people were under the impression that I owned a badly behaved rabbit.”


- Dobby and Kreacher following Malfoy for Harry is one of my favorite things ever. I wish the house elves had a more prominent role in the movies. I can totally picture the two of them trying to sneak around after Malfoy, peering around corners and shoving each other, Malfoy looking back suspiciously every now and then... But at least we got that scene with Dobby and Kreacher bringing Mundungus back to Grimmauld Place. That was definitely great. Here's a little snippet of the Malfoy tracking report from the book:

‘”Master Malfoy moves with a nobility that befits his pure blood,” croaked Kreacher at once. “His features recall the fine bones of my mistress and his manners are those of – “
“Draco Malfoy is a bad boy!” squeaked Dobby angrily. “A bad boy who – who –“
“Yeah, we don’t need to hear about you being in love with Malfoy,” Harry told Kreacher. “Let’s fast forward to where he’s actually been going.”
Kreacher bowed again, looking furious, and then said, “Master Malfoy eats in the Great Hall, he sleeps in a dormitory in the dungeons, he attends his classes in a variety of –“
“Dobby, you tell me,” said Harry, cutting across Kreacher. “Has he been going anywhere he shouldn’t have?”’

- There are several times when Slughorn calls Ron by the wrong name, and at one point he calls him ‘Rupert.’ A little nod to Rupert Grint from JK, maybe? I’m choosing to believe it is, anyway. :)

- There are lots of things I don’t like about the way they chose to do the big climactic scene in the movie, and one of the huge ones is that Dumbledore doesn’t immobilize Harry in the film, therefore making it look like he could have possibly done something to try and prevent Dumbledore’s death, and yet he just stood there. I love that in the book Dumbledore knows Harry so well, and he knows that Harry won’t just stand there if there’s anything in his power to help, so he has to immobilize him.

- I love the detail of Dumbledore’s conversation with Malfoy on the tower, another thing largely missing in the movie. Dumbledore offers to make it look like Draco is dead, offers to hide his whole family… Draco could have so easily switched sides at this point.

- The agony on Snape’s face as Dumbledore pleads with him to kill him is heartbreaking. (‘Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.’) Can you even begin to imagine being asked to do something like this?

- Yet another thing missing from the movie is the huge fight at the end. In the movie, they all just walk out. Um, what? No. Come on. It’s so anticlimactic. I love Harry telling Ron and Hermione to be on their guard, I love the reactivation of Dumbledore’s Army, I love the fact that Harry gives them the rest of his Felix Felicis, and I love the whole fight scene itself. That would have been awesome to see on the screen.

- Another Oh-my-poor-Snape-in-such-agony moment:

‘”Kill me then, panted Harry, who felt no fear at all, but only rage and contempt. “Kill me like you killed him, you coward – “
“DON’T – “ screamed Snape, and his face was suddenly demented, inhuman, as though he was in as much pain as the yelping, howling dog stuck in the burning house behind them – “CALL ME COWARD!”

This scene is even more heartbreaking to me when I remember the epilogue, and Harry telling Albus Severus that Snape was probably the bravest man he ever knew.

- Okay, the last thing (I promise), is Fleur telling Mrs. Weasley that she is good-looking enough for both herself and Bill. Hahaha, oh Fleur. Don’t ever change.

And the jacket illustration:

Oy, these posts just keep getting longer and longer. Sorry about that! The next one will be shorter, I think. :)


  1. I've always just thought Dumbledore didn't give him the job because he knew it was jinxed. He quoted that no one had been in the position longer than a year after he refused Voldemort the position. So I think he gathered as such that it was jinxed and didn't want to risk putting Snape in that kind of situation. But I could be wrong!

    Anyway, gosh I love reading your thoughts! I don't tell you this nearly enough :P Man, I was so peeved when the battle wasn't in the movie! And I also really would have loved to see more of the memories (particularly the Gaunts).

    I feel the same about Ron!! Rupert is just so perfect for the role. I love both book and movie Ron <3 I also agree about Dumbledore. I wished movie Dumbly-dorr had more of that quirkiness that I love so much in the book version. I've never been a big fan of the way Gambon portays him.

    But nooooo. You're almost to an end with your book thoughts! This is another sign J.K Rowling must write a Marauders series! Andie's posts need to go on forever :D

  2. Excellent review. I love this book. ginny gets so cool in Book 6.


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