The Most Forgotten Details of “Prisoner of Azkaban”
Last month, I wrote about some of the most underappreciated characteristics of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Now, I turn to the book that solidified my love for the wizarding world, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This third installment holds a special place in my heart and is the favorite of many Potter fans. The story takes a turn for the darker as we’re introduced to the soul-sucking Dementors, the tragedy of the Marauders, and the terror of the wizarding community under Voldemort’s first reign. Still, amid this darkness, the kindness of Remus Lupin and the strength of Harry’s friendships “turn on the light.”
It is so easy to be swept up in the excitement and drama of this book, and as a result, some important moments are forgotten just as easily. Here are some details of Prisoner of Azkaban that fans most often overlook.
1. The Quidditch Cup
The weather was getting colder and wetter, the nights darker, but no amount of mud, wind, or rain could tarnish Harry’s wonderful vision of finally winning the huge, silver Quidditch Cup” (144).
The high-stakes Quidditch Cup subplot perfectly complements the main story’s intensity. A Dementor attack results in a costly loss to Hufflepuff and the destruction of Harry’s broom. The team must work even harder than before to keep their promise to Oliver of winning the Cup before he leaves Hogwarts. Malfoy and his gang resort to desperate deceptions – which backfire hilariously when Harry sends his Patronus after their “Dementors.” The final match comes down to a matter of points, and Harry swoops in at just the right moment with a spectacular catch to secure their victory. Harry never wins another Quidditch Cup for his team, but just this once, the Quidditch subplot comes to a satisfying conclusion.
2. The Characters’ Mental Health
Ginny, who was huddled in her corner looking nearly as bad as Harry felt, gave a small sob” (86).
Harry is acutely aware of how close he came to death in his last encounter with Voldemort and spends the year struggling under the weight of the Dementors, even hoping for their attack if it means hearing his parents’ voices again. Ginny is still recovering from being possessed by Lord Voldemort for most of the last year, and the Dementors surrounding the school bring the whole experience back. Hagrid’s brief time in Azkaban clearly still weighs heavily on his mind, and his disastrous first lesson and anxiety over Buckbeak completely drain him. Hermione was recently attacked and Petrified by the Basilisk, and perhaps in response to that scare, she takes on far more work than she can handle and begins to crack from the strain, which is further amplified when her friends abandon her. Meanwhile, Sirius Black’s escape must be particularly painful for Lupin, who has to confront his friend’s betrayal all over again while dealing with the crushing guilt of not telling Dumbledore the truth and the ever-present fear of being outed as a werewolf.
3. Neville’s Boggart
Harry glared at Snape; it was bad enough that he bullied Neville in his own classes, let alone doing it in front of other teachers” (132).
The moment Neville forces boggart Snape into his grandmother’s clothes is an iconic one, but the circumstances around it deserve more attention. This book uncovers the deep animosity between Snape and the Marauders. The bitterness of that feud is what Snape takes out on his students, except his students don’t have the option of drawing their wands and fighting back in response to his insults. Lupin chooses Neville to demonstrate the Boggart-Banishing Spell in order to empower him against Snape’s cruel bullying. In doing so, he empowers all of his students to stand up to those who would tear them down, be they Dementors, giant spiders, the concept of complete failure, or a spiteful professor.
4. Hagrid’s Kindness
… but I gotta tell yeh, I thought you two’d value yer friend more’n broomsticks or rats. Tha’s all” (274).
Hermione takes on more than she can handle with her schoolwork by using the Time-Turner and is slowly wearing herself out. Her opposition to Divination alienates her roommates, Crookshanks causes all sorts of problems between her and Ron even before Scabbers is apparently eaten, and her caution concerning the Firebolt turns even Harry against her. Hermione takes to visiting Hagrid often, and he offers her kindness when she feels isolated and overwhelmed. Even as he struggles with his new job and Buckbeak’s trial, he remains a true friend to the trio.
5. Ron’s Loyalty
You won’t have to do all the work alone this time, Hermione. I’ll help” (292).
When Buckbeak is sentenced to execution, Ron takes it upon himself to do all the research for his appeal, taking that burden from Hermione. He devotes all his spare time and energy to this research, trying to make up for abandoning both Hagrid and Hermione in their time of need. Ron makes many mistakes when it comes to his friends, it’s true, but at the end of the day, his love for them is never truly diminished.