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Detention With Dolores

- Chapter 13

"I want you to write ‘I must not tell lies'"
-- Professor Umbridge (OP13)

OP13: Detention with Dolores

Hermione stops the twins from experimenting on first-years, Ron tries to stop unknowing house-elves from taking Hermione’s knitted hats, and Professor Grubbly-Plank teaches Care of Magical Creatures as there is still no sign of Hagrid. Harry serves Umbridge‘s detentions, in which an enchanted quill cuts lines into the back of his hand, and Ron tries out for and makes the Gryffindor team as Keeper.

Calendar and Dates

The chapter begins at dinner on the first day of classes (Monday) during Harry's fifth year. It then continues steadily through the rest of the week, ending as Harry and Hermione go to bed on Friday night. The dates this week covers is the 2nd through 6th of September 1995.

Interesting facts and notes

'Look, you don't understand what it was like after it happened,' said Hermione quietly. 'You arrived back in the middle of the lawn clutching Cedric's dead body… none of us saw what happened in the maze… we just had Dumbledore's word for it that You-Know-Who had come back and killed Cedric and fought you....before the truth could sink in, everyone went home for the summer, where they spent two months reading about how you're a nutcase and Dumbledore's going senile!'

We finally hear an alternate description of the events surrounding Voldemort's return, and an inkling of why the truth is hard for many people to understand.

There was still no light in Hagrid's cabin.

It unfortunately will be out for many more nights after this.

'Yes, but to employ someone who's actually refusing to let us do magic! What's Dumbledore playing at?'

Yet another good question from Hermione. Perhaps Dumbledore, seeing that the Ministry was going to get involved in Hogwarts affairs regardless of what he wanted, thought it would be better if he at least seemed cooperative? --KT

Several looked so shocked to find themselves lying on the floor, or dangling off their chairs, that Harry was sure Fred and George had not warned them what the sweets were going to do.

But of course! Who would volunteer to try the products if they did know?

'You're trying to trick them into picking up the hats. You're setting them free when they might not want to be free.'

'Of course they want to be free!' said Hermione at once.

Has anyone asked the house-elves what they want? They should not be enslaved and mistreated as Dobby had been by the Malfoys. They also, however, should not be prevented or worse hoodwinked by anyone--even a well-meaning Hermione--into working if they are happy doing so. There is surely a middle ground? --KT

'Yes, you too [can pass], Longbottom,' said Professor McGonagall. 'There's nothing wrong with your work except lack of confidence.'

Compare this with how belittling Prof. Snape is towards his students, especially of Neville.

'Maybe he's been messing with stuff that's too big for him, if you get my drift.'

Malfoy walked away, smirking over his shoulder at Harry, who felt suddenly sick. Did Malfoy know something? His father was a Death Eater after all; what if he had information about Hagrid's fate that had not yet reached the ears of the Order?

This is a legitimate possibility. Voldemort has followers and spies everywhere, and Lucius is part of the inner circle. Even if he wasn't directly involved in Hagrid's disappearance, Lucius would most certainly hear about it happening or know who was.

Also, contrast Draco's free access to information (via his father) to Harry's being deliberately denied, when between the two it is Harry whose very survival could depend on having such access.  --KT

Luna was wearing what looked like a pair of orange radishes for earrings, a fact that Parvati and Lavender seemed to have noticed, as they were both giggling and pointing at her earlobes.

They've just come from a class with a living, moving twig with claws, yet radish earrings are what's strange for them?

'people used to believe there were no such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack!'

'Well, they were right, weren't they?' said Hermione impatiently.

This is a world of dragons and other creatures that we Muggles are taught don't exist. Surely they might actually exist too?

'I think we'd better check with Puddlemere United whether Oliver Wood's been killed during a training session, because Angelina seems to be channelling his spirit.'

So much for the team hoping that Angelina would be a calmer team captain than her predecessor.

(And now we know what happened to Oliver post-Hogwarts!)

Now, however, it looked totally unrecognisable. The surfaces had all been draped in lacy covers and cloths. There were several vases full of dried flowers, each one residing on its own doily, and on one of the walls was a collection of ornamental plates, each decorated with a large technicolour kitten wearing a different bow around its neck.

What a contrast between not only the previous professors, but with the nastiness of the occupant's personality!

'I think it rather a good thing that you are missing something you really want to do. It ought to reinforce the lesson I am trying to teach you.'

And that lesson, it seems, is to not spread any more "evil, nasty, attention-seeking stories."

'Hand,' she said.

He extended it.

'Tut, tut, I don't seem to have made much of an impression yet,' she said, smiling. 

Her enjoyment of cruel and unusual punishments might yet make her friends with Argus Filch, who when taking Harry out for his first detention commented

'It's just a pity they let the old punishments die out... hang you by your wrists from the ceiling for a few days, I've got the chains still in my office, keep 'em well oiled in case they're ever needed.' (PS15)

He was not really sure why he was not telling Ron and Hermione exactly what was happening in Umbridge's room: he only knew that he did not want to see their looks of horror; that would make the whole thing seem worse and therefore more difficult to face.
Harry writing standards for Professor Umbridge.

It might be easier for him to handle in the short-term, but in the long-term his friends would surely want to know what's being done to him? This is another example of Harry not wanting to rock the boat for fear of upsetting those he cares about.

He also felt dimly that this was between himself and Umbridge, a private battle of wills, and he was not going to give her the satisfaction of hearing that he had complained about it.

Umbridge is in for a rude awakening if she thinks that our protagonist will easily give in to her rules or cow in the face of her detentions.

Harry had never before considered the possibility that there might be another teacher in the world he hated more than Snape, but as he walked back towards Gryffindor Tower he had to admit he had found a strong contender.

Indeed, Umbridge ranks number one on many fan quizzes and lists of worst villains in the Potter universe.

He was not going to go to Dumbledore for help when Dumbledore had not spoken to him once since June.

What a reversal from his previous school years. Too bad that he makes this decision when the stakes have never been higher.

he had never had a worse first week of term at Hogwarts.

It's only been a week? Phew!

'Harry, I did it, I'm in, I'm Keeper!'

Finally something good for the Trio to think about!

'last year your scar hurt when nobody was touching you, and didn't Dumbledore say it had to do with what You-Know-Who was feeling at the time? I mean, maybe this hasn't got anything to do with Umbridge at all, maybe it's just coincidence it happened while you were with her?'

Hermione's instincts are once again on the money. What was Voldemort pleased about this time? Did he perhaps take delight in Harry's pain and suffering?

Exceptional character moments

Hermione threatening to write to Mrs. Weasley about the twins' product testings.

Harry being 'thoroughly annoyed' that he had a wonderful Care of Magical Creatures lesson.

Luna and Ernie publicly announcing their support for Harry.

Angelina telling Harry to do whatever it takes to get out of detention, even lying to Umbridge that he made things up.

Umbridge getting twisted enjoyment out of seeing Harry's skin get further and further injured from her quill.

Harry stubbornly refusing to confide in Dumbledore despite Ron and Hermione's concern.

Memorable lines

[Ron, talking about Hermione's hats] "They might not count as clothes. They didn't look anything like hats to me, more like woolly bladders." Hermione did not speak to him all morning.

'Wow, I wonder what it'd be like to have a difficult life?' said Harry sarcastically.

Ernie might be pompous on occasions like these, but Harry was in a mood to deeply appreciate a vote of confidence from somebody who was not wearing radishes in their ears.

'I think we'd better check with Puddlemere United whether Oliver Wood's been killed during a training session, because Angelina seems to be channelling his spirit.'--Harry, after being told to do whatever it takes to make Quidditch practice

On one of the walls was a collection of ornamental plates, each decorated with a large technicolor kitten wearing a different bow around its neck. These were so foul that Harry stared at them, transfixed, until Professor Umbridge spoke again.

Words and phrases

Characters Introduced


The detention scene is reminiscent of Act 1, scene 5, of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe: Faustus cuts his arm in order to write with his own blood a deed promising his soul to the devil. After writing the document, Faustus realizes that a cryptic inscription has appeared on his arm. --BB

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Harry writing standards for Professor Umbridge.  

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