Fifth Year Harry Is Allowed to Be Angry, and So Are You

When Ron looks into that tea cup in their third-year Divination lesson, delicate flowers painted on the side, and sees a sun and a cross, he tells Harry that he’s “going to suffer, but [he’s] gonna be happy about it” (PoA). And isn’t that just a perfect allegory for how Harry is treated throughout the series? Born into trauma and grief, Harry spends 11 years in an abusive household, before having the weight of the wizarding world dropped on his spindly little shoulders. And is he allowed to be mad at this? To ask for help or simply be kept informed? No. No, of course not. Don’t be silly.

 

A still from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of the Azkaban showing Harry and Ron in their Divination class

Harry and Ron in Divination

 

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry has a reputation for being ‘angsty’ and whiny. When Hermione tries to convince him to tell Dumbledore about Umbridge’s detention torture, he lashes out at her. When Ron tries to comfort him after the argument with Seamus, Harry shouts at him, telling his friend he just needs to be left alone. The crux of Harry’s anger spills over in Dumbledore’s office. He’s just awoken from a dream in which he attacked Mr. Weasley, and he stands, sweating and breathless, in front of his hero and leader, being ignored. It’s like he’s not even there. After Dumbledore ignores him several times, he snaps, shouting, “Look at me!” (OotP).

 

A still from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, showing Harry in Dumbledore’s office

Harry in Dumbledore’s office

 

So yes, there are examples of him being angry in Order of the Phoenix. But minimizing this down to him being a whiny, annoying teenager, plainly ignores all of the warring factors around him.

Indeed, Harry has every right to be angry. Just a year previously, he witnessed a friend die mere moments after Lord Voldemort returned from the dead. And no one even believes him. The Ministry of Magic labels him a liar. The Order tells him he’s “just a boy” (OotP) and that they’ll sort it out. And Dumbledore? The man he so admires has locked him out, refusing to talk to him and forcing him to figure it out on his own. The world around Harry is crumbling around him and its rocks are heavy. Yet, he’s expected to be fine. To react normally.

There are a lot of parallels between ‘angsty’ Harry and the young people of today. The majority of those in their teens and twenties have experienced two financial crashes, a pandemic, and threats of a third world war. On top of that, they live under a government intent on making surviving on anything more than paycheque to paycheque impossible, and with the knowledge that climate change is almost irreversible. In short, it’s more than rough out there. A lot of them are, rightly so, struggling to come to terms with the world they have inherited. Like Harry, they’re trying to navigate a society and a government that keeps fighting back against them.

And also like Harry, they are ignored and scoffed at. Young people do not have a good reputation within wider society. They are called disrespectful, annoying, and impossible. How many times are they called lazy? Told that they don’t want to work, they just want everything handed to them? Told that they’re too sensitive and that they should just get on with things?

Young people of every generation have always been caught in the cross-hairs of cultural change. They’re the ones who lead the protests and who fight for change toward a fairer world. Usually, they have to scream to be heard. And so they do. They point out injustices and they organize themselves to lobby for change. This generation especially has begun to gain a reputation for not standing for bigotry. Just as Harry was tired of being expected to carry on like nothing was happening, young people in the Muggle world can snap too.

 

Photo from a protest showing support for trans witches and wizards

Young people protesting for Trans Rights

 

All this to say, like Harry, you’re allowed to feel angry. You shouldn’t have to scream to be heard; you should be listened to regardless. And yet, the valid emotions and viable reactions from young people are often minimized by adults and by governments. It didn’t work for Harry, and it shouldn’t work for you. So just know, you’re allowed to be scared and uncertain and you’re allowed to scream about it. It might even help.

 

 

Talitha Stowell

If you met me at age 13 I would’ve been reading Harry Potter fanfiction and arguing with absolute fervour that Harry should have been MORE angsty in Order of the Phoenix. And at age 17. And apparently age 21.