I think Order of the Phoenix is dealing mostly with the mind and the heart. How do we make choices taking both into account, and are there times to make one inferior and the other inferior. There are also examples of knowing what is right – assenting intellectually – but not acting in right ways and having that cause problems in the long run. There are examples of thoughts put upon us affecting how we think of ourselves and either succeed or fail – Ron’s performance as Quidditch keeper comes immediately to mind.
So many examples in this story of thinking clearly, judgement clouded by emotion, thinking overset by emotion, and emotion saving the day when thinking would have ruined it. The story was full of wickedness running amuk in insidious fashion and of good struggling with itself. We see that even the wisest character in the books, Dumbledore, struggles with what is wise and how he should proceed in order to best protect Harry – does he go with his heart or his head and what is the outcome?
I found this book to be decidedly darker than Goblet of Fire (with the exception of the end of GoF, which was similar.) The darkness here, however, was rarely allieviated. Hope was seemingly extinguished over and over and it was impossible to see how good would triumph.
While the darkness was unrelenting, at times it felt as though it dragged on to no purpose and I struggled to make myself continue on. Other times the action was so engaging, I didn’t want to stop. The narrative was unevenly paced in this way, and is the reason for the 4 star review.
I can’t wait to read this aloud with my children and discuss it. It will bring about much fodder to help them with some of these internal head/heart debates.
As Snape says, “the mind is a many-layered thing.” Rowling has done well at exposing some of those layers.