The Burrow: PoA and How it Scores on the Scary Meter

by Sylvie

Although it is not my favorite book of the series, Prisoner of Azkaban has got to be the scariest. Yes, I know that Harry is face to face with a newly revived Lord Voldemort in Goblet of Fire, and that not only does he have to fight a team of Death Eaters, but he also has to deal with the constant risk of having his mind invaded by our favorite villain in Order of the Phoenix. Why you ask, do I factor the events in Prisoner of Azkaban to be more bloodcurdling? There are many new things that Harry learns in this installment and most of them can be considered quite frightening. He has to deal with so much and the only way I can find to explain the level of fear he experiences is by using what I call the Scary Meter. I will be adding a notch to this meter as I go through the different overwhelming challenges Harry faces throughout Prisoner of Azkaban.

Notch #1

Out of the many ordeals Harry has to live through in this volume of the story, in my opinion none is worse than the feeling that there is someone new out there who is determined to get him. By his third year, he has gotten somewhat used to the idea that Lord Voldemort wants to kill him, but how do you cope with the information that his supposed “right-hand man” is following in his footsteps. Not only does this new guy want to kill him, but he also broke out of the most infamously impermeable wizard prison in order to do so. That has to be worthy of a notch on the scary meter don’t you think?

Notch #2

Oh, but wait, that’s not all! Because of this crazed killer on the loose, the Ministry has sent to Hogwarts these creepy cloaked creatures that feed on misery and suck out all of your happy thoughts so that you relive your worst memories. As we all know, the dementors affect Harry most of all because of his horrific past, so their presence causes him much more distress than any of the other students. Once again singled out, Harry now has do deal with an escaped murderer out to get him, as well as these other creatures that seem to enjoy a little Harry-feast every once in a while. Harry’s worst memory is one he can barely remember. In Philosopher’s Stone, it’s described that Harry had tried very hard to remember the night his parents were killed but could only see a large flash of green light. Because he was only one year old, he cannot consciously dig up that memory, but it is in fact still there. I can say this with confidence since he starts to relive those lost memories when there are dementors around. I cannot imagine how terrifying it would be to hear your dead mother pleading for her life to be taken in order for your’s to be spared. Throw in some screaming and cackling laughter and you’ve got yourself a good reason to pass out.

Notch #3

Just when you thought a 13-year-old could handle no more, WHAM! Harry finds out that this fugitive was not only his parent’s best friend, and his godfather, but is also responsible for his orphaned childhood. This in itself is not all that scary, but what it does is create an unbearably uncomfortable environment at Hogwarts for Harry, (like he needs more of that!). Everyone seems to know that Harry is at risk and some don’t hesitate to identify him as a fainting drama queen. On top of it all, because he has Divination as a new school subject, he has to endure the continuous death omens and predictions from Professor Trelawney. Even if she is seen as a fraud by most of the class, (*cough* and the school) one can’t blame Harry for letting this get to him. Being told that you are going to die a horrific death on a constant basis, combined with the fact that you are aware that there are a few wizards out there that have just that in mind for you, cannot be what makes for a brave Gryffindor.

Notch #4

Along with Trelawney’s fake predictions, she throws in a real one! Before Harry leaves his Divination exam, she makes her second valid prophecy (according to Dumbledore) that states, “The Dark Lord will rise again, with his servant’s aid, greater and more terrible than before.”(PoA). This is in fact made possible after the first time the gang comes out of the Shrieking Shack. As Brandon, who writes The Underground Lake column would put it: “the wheels are in motion” once Harry stops Sirius and Lupin from murdering Peter. By doing this, he has granted the one who will assist in Voldemorts return to power, his freedom. This is quite disturbing for Harry, since his choice to save Peters life may in fact lead to his own downfall and you know that deserves another notch. But somehow, after all this, Harry manages to hack it through his third year fairly unscathed, but how?

Moving On…

Without further ado, I announce one of the most important characters introduced in the third book (in my opinion at least), Remus J. Lupin, our beloved third year DADA professor and favorite lycanthropist! Professor Lupin is singlehandedly responsible for Harry’s magical progress throughout this book. He was an amazing teacher and saw the necessity of teaching the students proper ways of defending themselves. Of all the DADA professors, he has been the most helpful. We all know and love the boggart lesson and how entertaining he made it. Even though this was made to be a funny class activity, there was much more than joking going on. Harry and the rest of the class were now able to recognize the boggart and knew how to get rid of it. They were also taught that their worst fears are not undefeatable. This was a very important lesson for our hero to have learned early on, since he will soon have to deal with his worst fears face to face (graveyard scene anyone?).

All in all, I found that this book gave me the most shivers of them all. Along with all the scary stuff came a lot of magical development on Harry’s part. J.K. Rowling is definitely showing us in Prisoner of Azkaban that Harry’s powers are much stronger than we could have imagined and that he will be able to put up a good fight against the Dark Lord and his followers. What this also shows us, is that if we try hard enough, we can also find ways to fight our fears no matter how big they may seem. Ah! Don’t you love it when she throws in some of that moral stuff?

Anyway, how about I actually tackle the topic of this month’s Burrow? I couldn’t decide if I wanted to answer the dementor or the boggart question, so I will be doing both.

Dementor Attack

If I were to be in the presence of a dementor, first of all I would probably run like heck to get away, but if I were to have to fight it, my Patronus would take the shape of a sea turtle. I’m not sure if it represents me, but I think they are very special animals. They are majestic, strong, and mysterious creatures. Sea turtles also have the incredible ability to navigate through the ocean by using the signals projected by the magnetic fields of the earth. I believe that these qualities make it the perfect choice for a Patronus and I would definitely want it as my protector. As for what happy thought I would use to conjure it, it would have to be the memory of when my best friend asked me to be her son’s godmother. I am very close to her and her family and have known them for 12 years. Her eldest is now 12½ and she is like the little sister I never had, so it was more than an honor to take the role as her brother’s godmother. There are so many happy memories that I could use for this spell but this one would probably be the most powerful.

Boggart in the Wardrobe

As for the boggart question, that one is harder. I have so many fears and it could take the shape of any of them, but since it has to be what I fear most of all, I had to do some serious soul searching. I came to the conclusion that my biggest fear would have to be if I was to severely disappoint any of my loved ones. There are certain people in my life that I feel deserve my utmost respect and loyalty and I have an undying fear of doing something that would lead them to be disappointed with me. Not just some silly mistake that makes them upset for a day or so, but something that would change their feelings towards me forever. Because these people are so dear to me, it would be torture to know that I have done something to hurt them, whether it is because of a choice I’ve made (and we all know how important those are) or of actions I’ve taken.

I know it sounds superficial to fear how others see me, but these aren’t just any old people, they are the most cherished people in my life. A few examples of this elite group would be my parents, my boyfriend Jeremy, and some of my closest friends. They are the people I go to for support, guidance, and approval when I’m not sure what to do and the thought of doing something that could permanently change those relationships sends shivers down my spine (that would be notch #1 on my Scary Meter). If I had to visualize how the boggart would look while representing my greatest fear, I guess it would take turns (a la Mrs. Weasley) showing them with angry looks on their faces waving their index fingers and turning their backs on me. The Riddikulus spell I would use to get rid of this awful sight would be to visualize them all laughing because it was just a joke. They would all have these deviant looks on their faces like as if they had just played the best, but most evil trick on me.

Fear is such an important theme in the books and I am certain that they will play a very important role in Harry’s fight against the Dark Lord. Whether or not he is able to overcome his fears will be, in my opinion, one of the crucial elements that will decide who will be the one who survives while the other does not.

Thanks for taking the time to read my lengthy entry and I invite anyone to contact me at nitwitblubberoddmenttweak at hotmail dot com if they would like to discuss this editorial or anything else Potter-related.