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Defence Against the Dark Arts

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The Harry Potter Canon

"The Dark Arts are many, varied, ever-changing and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible."
"Your defences must therefore be as flexible and inventive as the Arts you seek to undo."
- Severus Snape (HBP9)

"Harry ...didn't get a chance to speak in Defense Against The Dark Arts this morning. Good lesson, I thought, but Shield Charms are old hat, of course, for us old D.A. lags...
-- Ernie McMillan (HBP9)

“Well, there's one good thing ...Snape'll be gone by the end of the year ...That job's jinxed. No ones lasted more than a year... Quirrell actually died doing it... Personally, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for another death..."
-- Harry Potter (HBP8)

"Oh, he (Tom Riddle) definitely wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts job ...The aftermath of our little meeting proved that. You see, we have never been able to keep a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher for longer than a year since I refused the post to Lord Voldemort."
-- Albus Dumbledore (HBP20)

Class for teaching defensive magic to students so they can protect themselves against the Dark Arts. Often simply referred to as DADA class.

The position of DADA professor was cursed by Tom Riddle when Dumbledore refused to let him teach at Hogwarts. Every professor only held the position for exactly one year, and their tenure ended in some drastic untimely way (HBP20).

Defence Against the Dark Arts Classes
1st through 7th years

Classroom
Located on the first floor. It has windows, since the pixies broke them to escape. It also has an iron chandelier, or did until it fell from the ceiling under the weight of Neville hanging by his ears (CS6).

Known Teachers and the effect of the DADA curse:

  • Galatea Merrythought (c. 1895 to c.1945) –  taught 50 years, retired, last professor not affected by Tom Riddle’s curse
  • Quirrell (1991) -possessed by Lord Voldemort, died attempting to take the Philosopher’s Stone from Harry
  • Lockhart (1992) – faked his own skills, obliviated himself with Ron’s broken wand in the Chamber of Secrets
  • Lupin (1993) – popular teacher, forgot to take his Wolfsbane Potion and transformed into a werewolf, resigned
  • fake Moody (1994) – taught Unforgivable Curses, was really Death Eater Barty Crouch Jr. on Polyjuice Potion, soul sucked out by a Dementor
  • Umbridge (1995) – sadistic teacher, punished students with evil quill, carried away by Centaurs after insulting them
  • Snape (1996) – killed Dumbledore in the Battle of the Tower, then fled – returned as Headmaster the next year
  • Amycus Carrow (1997) – taught merely “Dark Arts,” Crucio’d by Harry for spitting on McGonagall, sent to Azkaban

Curriculum and classroom activities:
The teacher for the first year was Professor Quirrell. Hagrid said that he was all right until he took a year off to get some practical experience (PS4). The classroom smelled strongly of garlic, said to be protection against a vampire he'd met in Romania and feared was coming back to get him (PS5). The turban was supposedly given to him by an African prince because he'd gotten rid of a zombie. When Seamus asked him to tell them how he fought off the zombie, he changed the subject. There was a funny smell hanging around the turban, too. It was said to be garlic, but... (PS8). It turned out that Quirrel had actually met up someone scarier than a vampire or zombie: the spirit of Lord Voldemort who joined up with him in Albania, and controlled by him all year, eventually moving into the back of his head.

The Curse of the Bogies, which he supposedly taught them has an effect that's unknown (PS9).

Lockhart was the 'teacher' in Harry's second year. He brought Cornish Pixies to class, but couldn't handle them (the spell 'Peskipiksi Pesternomi' was not really a spell) (CS6). He talked (and wrote!) a lot about the things he'd done, but when it came right down to it, he was just a sham. They did cover the Homorphous Charm, which turns a werewolf back into a person, and the Babbling Curse (effects are not given), but how much they learned is dubious, since he really didn't do anything he claims to have done (CS10).  While Lockhart was involved with the Duelling Club in second year, it was actually Snape who taught Harry one of the most important spells for self-defense: "Expelliarmus," the Disarming Charm, which Snape used in a demonstration against Lockhart (CS11). Harry would go on to use that spell against an Acromantula during the Triwizard Tournament (GF31), in the graveyard against the Dark Lord (GF34), during several battles, as well as the final duel with Voldemort (DH36).

Professor Boggart Snape
Remus Lupin taught them Harry's third year, and from the beginning, he proved himself to be a different breed. They studied Dark Creatures their third year. The first class was hands-on as they battled a boggart (PA7). He also brought a grindylow to class so that they could observe it. They covered hinkypunks, kappas, Red Caps, vampires and werewolves in the year. Lupin was sometimes out of class due to his illness, and Snape substituted, setting them an essay on werewolves (PA9), which Lupin told the class they did not need to write after all. Their final exam was a practical one, an obstacle course with some of the creatures they'd studied (PA16). But the most important defensive measure the Lupin taught Harry was outside of class, the Patronus Charm, "Expecto Patronum" which he used to save himself and his godfather, Sirius Black, from Dementors (PA12, PA21).

The fourth year brought yet another teacher, Alastor Moody (ok--Barty Crouch, jr. Polyjuiced). Although they were only supposed to be learning counter-curses (per MoM regulations), Moody covered the Unforgivable Curses, demonstrating with spiders (GF14). This is not normally taught until sixth year, but he said that Dumbledore wanted them to learn what they were like. Moody put the Imperius Curse on each of them in turn until they could fight it off, which ironically helped Harry later when Voldemort tried to put him under the curse in the graveyard (GF34).

In their fifth year, Harry and his fellow students were taught by Dolores Umbridge, who taught theory only with no practical training whatsoever. The book used was Defensive Magical Theory and it discourages anyone from ever using any form of offensive magic spell (OP12). The chapters of the book instead focus on negotiation and states that there is no good use for a jinx. Umbridge did not allow the students to discuss the material and certainly not to disagree with it. The class was a sham and if it weren't for the fact that Harry taught a secret Defence Against the Dark Arts group - Dumbledore's Army - that year, no one would have learned a darn thing (OP18,OP27). In effect, Harry became the real DADA teacher in fifth year. Umbridge was most famous for using her black punishment quill to write in blood on students' hands during detentions, and for dosing students with Veritaserum to learn their secrets. Once she threatened Harry with the Cruciatus Curse as well, which means she probably deserved to get carried away by Centaurs.

In spite of having so many sketchy teachers, Harry received an "O" for Outstanding in DADA on his O.W.L. results at the beginning of  sixth year (HBP5). It probably had less to do with five years of various teachers and more to do with facing Voldemort and the Death Eaters several times, learning the Patronus charm from Lupin outside of class, and teaching Dumbledore's Army everything he knew the year before.

Harry was surprised that in sixth year, Dumbledore finally gave Professor Snape his dream job as DADA teacher, but he took some satisfaction in knowing the job was cursed and that no one lasted more than a year (HBP8). Snape, however, turned out to be a very effective teacher, using an element of shock on the first day by showing the class the results of the Dark Arts: a witch shrieking from the Cruciatus Curse, a wizard emptied of his soul by a Dementor's Kiss, and a "bloody mass upon the ground" that was the victim of an Inferi (HBP9). He also began to teach the class non-verbal spells, which Harry immediately forgot when Snape attempted to jinx him, and he shouted "Protego" to perform the Shield spell, then snarkily made a joke "You don't have to call me 'sir,' Professor," which landed him in detention. Others, however, enjoyed the class, especially Ernie McMillan, who remarked later it was a "good lesson." And although Neville Longbottom had floundered for years during Potions classes with Snape, he never seemed to have any trouble with him in DADA class.

Also during sixth year, Harry had private lessons with Albus Dumbledore in which he watched a series of memories in the Pensieve about the life of Tom Riddle, the boy who became Lord Voldemort. The point was not to teach Harry any new defensive magic, but to give him information he could use to destroy the Dark Lord. Harry learned that Voldemort had split his soul into pieces through the act of murder and created evil Horcruxes that had to be destroyed before he could be vanquished (HBP10, HBP13, HBP17, HBP23, HBP26). The search for the Horcruxes continued when Harry left school the following year.

During seventh year, Harry, Hermione and Ron were not in school, but Neville told them about the DADA professor, Amycus Carrow, who made Umbridge "look tame" (DH29). A racist Death Eater, he was put in charge of punishment, and encouraged pure-blood students to use the Cruciatus Curse on those with detentions, but Neville had refused. He also kept Dumbledore's Army going in the Room of Requirement until the Battle of Hogwarts. When Harry arrived at Hogwarts under the Cloak of Invisibility, he saw Amycus spit on Professor McGonagall during an argument, and Harry angrily performed "Crucio" on him. It was  a lapse of moral judgment by Harry, although McGonagall termed it "gallant" (DH30).   She tied up Amycus and his horrible sister Alecto, the Muggle-hating Studies teacher, and left them dangling in a cocoon-like net in Ravenclaw Tower.

 Textbooks

Year One:

  • The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble

Year Two:

  • Break with a Banshee by Gilderoy Lockhart
  • Gadding with Ghouls by Gilderoy Lockhart
  • Holidays with Hags by Gilderoy Lockhart
  • Travels with Trolls by Gilderoy Lockhart
  • Voyages with Vampires by Gilderoy Lockhart
  • Wandering with Werewolves by Gilderoy Lockhart
  • Year with the Yeti by Gilderoy Lockhart

Year Three:

  • Unknown - possibly the Quentin Trimble Book again

Year Four:

  • Possibly Trimble again, plus...
  • The Standard Book of Spells Grade 4 by Miranda Goshawk

Year Five:

  • Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard

Year Six:

  • Confronting the Faceless

Year Seven:

  • No book name given, Carrow taught only Dark Arts and curses

 

 

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