Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of J.K. Rowling

Rowling's father was an aircraft mechanic and her mother was a science technician. She was the first of two children and has said that she was a very unhappy teen: her mother suffered from multiple sclerosis and her relationship with her father was strained. She graduated from the University of Exeter in 1986 and then worked as a researcher and a secretary in London. She conceived of the first Harry Potter book in 1990 and began to write immediately. Rowling's mother died in December of that year, and Rowling channeled much of her grief into the novel. Over the next few years, Rowling married, had her first daughter, divorced, and signed up for welfare benefits. She finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1995 and after its publication in 1997, Rowling began her rise to fame. The proceeds from the U.S. auction for the publishing rights allowed Rowling to buy a flat in Edinburgh and over the next ten years, Rowling wrote and published the next six books in the series. She also remarried in 2001 and had two more children. In 2004 she became the first billionaire to make her fortune writing books, though her donations to charity mean that she's since lost her billionaire status. She’s published several crime novels under the pen name Robert Galbraith and has written the screenplays for the films in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
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Historical Context of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

While the Wizarding world is entirely fictional, Rowling draws on a number of historical events and practices to build and expand Harry's world. The rise of Voldemort and his Death Eaters (and in particular, their insistence on promoting a world made up of pure-blooded wizards only) mimics that of the Nazis in Germany in the early 20th century. Rowling has admitted that Cornelius Fudge and the Ministry in this book are modeled after Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of England, in the years before World War II. Like Fudge does with Voldemort, Chamberlain tried to ignore Hitler's rise to power and avoid going to war, ultimately without success. The house-elves’, goblins’, and giants' situations and desire for rights and recognition draws on the history of chattel slavery (in the case of the house-eves) and, more generally, on the historical and current practice of white society discriminating against minorities through both formal and informal channels. It's also worth noting that Umbridge's classroom policies are a representation of real-life state-sponsored education policies, while the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s mimic the SAT and ACT tests in the U.S. and the A Levels in the U.K., all of which control students' access to higher education to varying degrees.

Other Books Related to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

In addition to the original seven novels in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling has written several other works and supplemental stories that fit into the same Wizarding world, including Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Harry's Care of Magical Creatures textbook. There are also a number of novels that play with the idea of secret societies like the Order of the Phoenix, from historical or realistic fiction novels like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows) and Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, to the speculative fiction novel The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Additionally, Rowling's work is often compared with that of J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings) and C.S. Lewis (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and the Chronicles of Narnia series). Rowling has cited the work of Jane Austen (and the novel Emma in particular) as a major influence in her own writing, as well as the work of author and activist Jessica Mitford (Hons and Rebels).
Key Facts about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Full Title: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • When Written: 2000-2003
  • Where Written: Edinburgh, Scotland
  • When Published: 2003
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Young Adult Fiction; Fantasy
  • Setting: Hogwarts; the Ministry of Magic; Number 12, Grimmauld Place
  • Climax: Voldemort tries to possess Harry during the battle at the Ministry
  • Antagonist: Voldemort; Dolores Umbridge and the Ministry
  • Point of View: Third-person limited

Extra Credit for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Fanfiction and More. Thanks to the three-year gap between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, as well as the rise of the internet, Harry Potter fanfiction (fan-created stories using Harry Potter characters that imagines different relationships or storylines) took off in the early 2000s. Harry Potter fanfiction now makes up the majority of fanfiction on most fanfiction websites, and Rowling has been encouraging of those who write it. In addition to these stories, fans have also developed entire religions based on Harry Potter characters—for example, the Snapists believe they're married to Severus Snape on the astral plane and serve him like a god.

Friends Behind the Scenes. Though Imelda Staunton (Umbridge) and Emma Thompson (Trelawney) play enemies in the film version of Order of the Phoenix, the two are actually close friends and neighbors. Staunton has said in interviews that firing Thompson onscreen was something that she'd wanted to do for a long time.