The Lion and the Serpent

chapter nineteen of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The D.A. continues to meet as the Gryffindor-Slytherin Quidditch match draws near. Luna’s lion hat, however, can’t calm Ron’s nerves as the Slytherins mock him throughout the contest; and though Harry catches the Snitch for a Gryffindor win, he and the twins rise to Malfoy’s bait afterward and attack him – and are banned from Quidditch for life by Umbridge.

by Amanda Grazini

“Hello,” said a vague and dreamy voice from behind them.


Luna Lovegood, by Laurence Peguy

“It’s good, isn’t it?” said Luna happily. “I wanted to have it chewing up a serpent to represent Slytherin, you know, but there wasn’t time. Anyway… good luck, Ronald!”


Good Luck, Ron, by reallycorking

“Good luck, Ron,” said Hermione, standing on tiptoe and kissing him on the cheek. “And you, Harry-“


Harry, George, Draco, by glockgal

Harry was not aware of releasing George, all he knew was that a second later both of them were sprinting at Malfoy. He had completely forgotten the fact that all the teachers were watching: All he wanted to do was cause Malfoy as much pain as possible.


“Yes, Mr. Potter, I think a lifelong ban ought to do the trick,” said Umbridge… “You and Mr. Weasley here…. But I am not unreasonable, Professor McGonagall,” she continued, turning back to Professor McGonagall who was now standing as still as though carved from ice, staring at her. “The rest of the team can continue playing, I saw no signs of violence from any of them. Well… good afternoon to you.”

Umbridge Bans Harry and the Twins from Quidditch Foevah, by Heather Campbell

And with a look of the utmost satisfaction Umbridge left the room, leaving a horrified silence in her wake.


by Mudblood428

“I’m sorry,” Ron mumbled, looking at his feet.
“What for?” said Harry.
“For thinking I can play Quidditch,” said Ron. “I’m going to resign first thing tomorrow.”
“If you resign,” said Harry… “there’ll only be three players left on the team.”


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

As the D.A. continues to meet, Harry notices the difficulty of finding a regular night for sessions, but then feels that this is probably okay, as “if anyone was watching them, it would be hard to make out a pattern.” Upon reflection, this is probably more true than even he realized – after all, more often than not, the nights on which the Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff Quidditch teams are all off (and therefore able to attend D.A. meetings) it seems would also be the nights when the Slytherin team is practicing – and therefore when many of the students most likely to be watching are busy outside. It’s certainly one way to keep Draco Malfoy’s nose out of the group’s business!

Life at Hogwarts

The extent to which the Hogwarts professors allow bullying blows my mind sometimes. I realize that many parents and schools today are probably oversensitive to the problem, but seriously – to let a quarter of the school sing a derogatory and degrading song about a particular individual throughout an entire Quidditch match? Bullies are certainly part of life, and that’s certainly a lesson worth learning. But to let the entirety of Slytherin house get away with this seems to me to be sending a very wrong, very brutal message to every student in the school. And if the only reason it’s okay is because Snape is in charge of his students’ punishments, then I think it’s high time that rule is changed, as well.

32 Responses to “The Lion and the Serpent”

  1. Well, when has life at Hogwarts ever been fair? Snape abuses his students regularly, and nothing is done about it (so does Umbridge, btu at least that is sanctioned). Half the teachers are wholly incompetent. Bullying runs unchecked. Student safety is practically non-existant if every wanted criminal an dtheir mother (except Voldy) can get into Hogwarts. Soul-sucking demons are placed around the school. Potential murderers are allowed to go about their business as long as Snape is keeping an eye on them. All in all, not sure it’s a school someone’s parents shoudl want them attending.

  2. When I first read this chapter, Umbridge just got to me. Completely. I just HATED HER! I love Heather Campbell’s drawing once again! :)

  3. You gotta keep in mind this is a school founded a thousand years ago, back when life was a lot cheaper. I think the Muggle sensibilities of the time must have permeated a lot more into Hogwarts than purebloods would like to admit. If someone pointed out that the Slytherins, Harry and George are acting like Muggles, it would be an interesting sight. It’s a racist thing to say, but at least it would get everyone’s attention!

  4. Oh! I just hated Umbridge in this chapter with her life-long band from Quidditch. It’s funny but the only sport I find remotely interesting is a fictional one, and I think its because of J.K’s detailed descriptions of the games and of course Harry’s passion for it which makes it so appealing to meager muggles like myself. I agree Hogwarts seems like a rather dangerous and brutal school at times but lets not forget this is a school for young witches and wizards, which according to Hagrid, are made of tougher stuff than muggles, at least thats the impression I got in the first book when he scoffed at the idea of the Potters being killed in a car crash. Plus dont forget that Hagrid pulled baby Harry from the remains of his blown up house and the only mark on him was his lightning bolt cut. Clearly wizards aren’t as fragile as non-magical people. As for bullying it is, unfortunately, an avoidable aspect of school and of life. I was bullied at school and my teachers never did enough to stop it from happening, I doubt they were even aware of most of it, kids don’t exactly pick on other kids when theres a chance of getting caught.
    I love the expression on Ron’s face in the first picture, and the third picture with Hermione kissing Ron’s cheek is exactly how I always imagined Hermione’s bushy hair to look like.

  5. We know Hermione is very bright, but the scene with the DA coins gives us a glimpse at just how good and advanced she is when it comes to doing useful magic, which will of course be highly important for DH.

  6. Irene (and everyone): you’re right, it’s very difficult for teachers to stop most bullying because it’s done secretly, quietly, and usually out from under the teacher’s nose. However, I think Josie’s main point was that a hundred students were singing, loudly, in public, in front of teachers, a horribly demeaning song about an individual. I’ve had friends that say that athletes know what they’re getting into when they sign up for sports so they should be able to handle cat-calling or random insults thrown their way, but I personally believe that you should respect each player and expect respect in return. Especially if you’re young and a student in school. And did anyone LISTEN to the Sorting Hat’s song a couple of chapters ago? Yeesh. I always figured this was tolerated because it IS Snape in charge of disciplining his own House and he lets things like that slide–another reason I’m not a huge fan.

  7. JKR has said that Dumbledore allows bullying (especially teacher-to-student bullying) because it’s a “preparation for life”. But I don’t buy that. It’s only a helpful preparation if it gives practice in how to stand up for yourself and deal with the bullies. Students who stand up to Snape always come off second-best, so the grim life-message is: “You CAN’T ever handle a bully.” Not exactly the most helpful message when your goal is to defeat Voldemort!

    My daughter was bullied by her teacher at the tender age of nine. The school principal basically said, “Sorry – nothing I can do about it.” My daughter took on the teacher single-handed, became very resilient and occasionally even won a few rounds. (She was popular, so the other children were cheering from the sides. And at least she was ALLOWED to stand up for herself. Some people take the view that children should never tackle an adult bully because it’s “disrespectful”.) However, some of this teacher’s other victims crumbled and never recovered.

    So I have no sympathy at all for a school that tacitly permits seventy students to taunt one individual for hours at a time. No, George should not have converted his anger to violence, and McGonagall was right to give him detention; but the fate of the ringleading bullies should have beem much, much more severe.

    Afterthought – it’s not a good idea to expel Death Eaters’ children in a time of war. That just encourages them to sign up for the Dark Mark early. So I really don’t know what Dumbledore could have done that would have kept the bullies in Hogwarts yet might have had some chance of reforming them. However, Dumbledore is supposed to be wise… isn’t he…?

  8. Dumbledore is wise when it comes to magic, and Voldemort, and how to fight Voldemort. On a personal basis, not so much. Cases in point: Harry in OotP, Sirius in OotP, Slytherins in SS (really, he had to taunt eleven-year-olds with victory and then say “no, psych!” and hand it to the gryffindors).

  9. Grace has Victory, I can sort of see where Dumbledore is coming from in allowing Snape to bully students; there will always be people with more power than you who are capable of doing it, and you have to get along with them. And as many of you have pointed out, small-scale bullying among students is inevitable (and, to some extent, desirable – you have to learn sometime to deal with people in this world). The reason I brought it up in this chapter is because, as Natalia suggested, it was simply allowed here to get completely over the top. Bullying is one thing; public humiliation is quite another.

    I also bring it up because Ron isn’t the only one getting a lesson from this experience. The Slytherins are all being pretty explicitly taught that this sort of behavior is acceptable, and every single student in the school is learning that, when people are treated this way, nobody will come to their defense (and nor should you come to anyone’s defense when you witness it). It’s a pretty disgusting lesson.

    Irene, you bring up the idea that wizards are “made of tougher stuff,” but while this is certainly true physically, I strongly disagree with the notion that they are therefore also tougher emotionally. Deep down, they’re ultimately people, no different from the rest of us; it’s one of the reasons the books are so appealing, and (in terms of Muggle relations) also, I think, one of the central themes of the books.

  10. Ah, Snape. It’s such a shame that Harry never got to Cruciate that clown like he daydreamed about. Or even get to smash a cauldron over his head. I know he was brave and all that, but each student he bullied deserved to have a crack at him.

  11. Love Luna by Laurence Peguy. And I agree, Hermione’s hair was never bushy enough in the movies. Reallycorking gets it just right.

    As for “Weasley is our King” I suspect the reason it’s allowed is more literary than ethical — i.e. so that the song can be used in the surprise reversal later on when Ron comes through.

  12. hmmm… I think it was this part of the book when I threw it on my couch and refused to read further because “it was stupid” (I was 14 or somthing :P) However, after 2 hours I couldn’t resist and figured that it couldn’t get any worse for Harry…..
    Spoiler: Boy, was I wrong when I read this end…

  13. Actually Josie, one person does come to Ron’s defense – Lee Jordan. He tries to yell over the SLytherins and drown them out. At times, I feel Lee is an unsung hero in this book – he joins the DA to learn DADA from someone 2 years younger than him (that takes a certain measure of humility), and he spearheads the crusade against Umbridge after the twins have left (the Nifflers were genius!) So three cheers for Lee Jordan!

  14. It was my birthday the first, I’m 15 if anyone cares!
    hpboy13- Lee Jordan is awesome. I’ve always thought he was cool, but I never realized all the great things he did. He’s a Gryffindor through and through.

    As for the bullying, yes it will be a part of life, particularly if you play a sport, but I have to agree, this goes beyond the ordinary. He’s not just getting teased. He is publicly ridiculed not only about his sports skills, but also about being poor. The teachers should have something to say about that. You’d think McGonagall would quiet them, at least, but she doesn’t. I understand learning life lessons, but punishment for the Slytherins should also be a lesson for them. There are time where you can turn a blind eye, but this is not one of them.
    Does anyone think it’s sort of disrespectful to the staff? It reminds me of a spoiled kid breaking something in front of their Mom then laughing because they know they’ve done something wrong and won’t get in trouble.
    Well, maybe all the adults have given up on trying to discipline the Slytherins. They act as though the personalities are set when they’re sorted, and the Slytherins are just going to be themselvese so watchagonnado? I think the kids are still young enough to be taught how to behave and be better people. Or at least find some guidance or positive outlets for their ambitiousness and cunning, it that’s possible.

  15. Mickey: I have this wonderful mental image of McGonagall and Sprout looking at each other, rolling their eyes and muttering “watchagonnado?” under their breath.

    Thanks for the laugh!

  16. Before the quidditch game the Gryffindor players make out the Slytherin quidditch team as not being any good and only filled with large, dumb players. . .but until Harry catches the snitch, the Slytherins are winning the game pretty handily. And its not just that Ron isn’t the best goalie in the world, its also because the Gryffindor players can’t seem to get the quaffle close enough down field to score a goal.

  17. My issue with the song isn’t so much that Slytherin is allowed to get away with it, but that they ALL sing it. We know Malfoy, Parkinson, etc. all hate Ron, but why does every single Slytherin in years 1-4 and 6-7 hate Ron? Is it because he’s a blood traitor or because he’s in Gryffindor? It also paints Slytherin house of being just plain mean, rather than the “cunning folk” the Sorting Hat says they are. At least Slughorn will finally show us what a “nice” Slytherin looks like in HBP…

  18. I do agree that the song was terrible and it should have been stopped somehow, but I also think it was smart. I don’t think most of the Slytherins sang it because they hated Ron. I think they sang it because they were so ambitious and they wanted to win. When Malfoy wrote that song and showed it to the Slytherins they realized that it would give them a leg up. I don’t think they were all doing it to be mean, although many were. So I think this is a perfect example of the traits a Slytherin has. They will do anything to be the best, even if it involves publicly humiliating someone.

  19. I would beat Malfoy to a bloody pulp as well. Stupid twat

  20. Just wanted to point out something that I just noticed in this chapter: As Harry goes back up to the castle with George to get their punishment from McGonagal (and Umbrdge), he looks down at his right hand and realizes he still has the snitch. The part of the sentence I never paid attention to is this: “…something was still struggling in his right hand, the knuckles of which he had bruised against Malfoy’s jaw…” Which means Harry was clutching that Snitch when he punched Malfoy-AWESOME! It was like he had brass knuckles on his hand when he decked Malfoy! Knowing that Harry is on the slight side, I had always doubted his ability to really punch Malfoy hard enough to cause much damage, even with George helping out, but now I understand why he was able to inflict so much pain. Great little detail there, JKR!!

  21. If you think about it, the entirety of this chapter’s issue of misbehavior and punishments is unfair and skewed. I mean, emotional/phsychological abuse and torment = nothing (shouldn’t Snape know a bit what this feels like?), and one punch = a LIFETIME BAN! come ON, this should be a big clue that some serious changes need to happen with Hogwarts’ disciplinaray system (but I mean, of course, reasonable ones, thought up by McGonagall).

  22. I wonder if Umbridge intervened to stop the Slytherins from being punished. Or maybe Snape did do something about it, like stop by the Slytherin common room and give them a half-hearted berating and then tell the other teachers that he’s sorted it.

  23. @Erica, it wasn’t one punch, Harry and George actually beat Malfoy up.

  24. Yeah Lee rocks. He is mentioned so often in canon but still, JK never really gives im a thought out personality. I actully rally really like him.
    I think that the teachers really could have done something. But who knows-maybe they tried. I can totally imagine McGonagoll going up to Snape and hissing at him furiouly “make them stop singing!” and Snape like “oh i tried it didnt work haha”.

  25. Something I just thought about while reading the comments concerning the bullying by the Slytherins and the lack of proper punishment for such is that it is parallel to Harry’s relationship with Dudley and the way his porcine cousin gets away with his brutish behavior.

  26. As far as Harry not being up to fighting with Draco, remember Hermionie could beat Draco in a fight, she hit him hard enough that he knew better then to hit her back. ( I’m sure he would not have hesitated to hit her back if it was only because he was too much of a gentleman to hit a girl)

  27. @ elizabethauthor That doesn’t change the fact that Malfoy’s reaction was on a par with several footballers (Rivaldo being one, Cristiano Ronaldo being another and Dida being yet another) who pretend to be injured to get an advantage. I also suspect Umbridge was attempting to rig the tournament.

  28. i hope hogwarts disciplinary system changed after the war

  29. MY GOD THIS CHAPTER. You end up hating several characters so badly you want to reach inside the book and pummel them. All the same, I can sympathize with the teachers here. When Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and the Slytherin Captain dressed up as Dementors, McGonagall called them on it and they (presumably) got in a ton of trouble. But here, it’s THE ENTIRE SLYTHERIN HOUSE. Can you punish EVERYONE?? Filch really ends up doing the best job at preventing it by just banning the song.

    I always got the feeling that Snape would be sitting in the stands with the other teachers just humming the song under his breath while the others were shocked. Also I always suspected that McGonagall, Hooch, Sprout, and everyone guiltily approved of Harry’s punching, and allowed him a few seconds before disciplining him.

  30. I’d like to add that we don’t know what this situation would have looked like pre- or post-Umbridge. Her presence and authority render all other teachers impotent. The closest example of what this might have looked like in other years is, as Sky pointed out, the CoS “dementor” incident. That’s actually a VERY similar situation–students in one house trying to exploit another student’s weak point in order to gain an advantage in the game–just on a smaller scale. And, in that case (without Umbridge present to distort things), there apparently was some disciplinary action taken.

    In this case, Umbridge’s presence seems to have influenced Hogwarts’ whole atmosphere. She, of course, approves of the type of behavior the Slytherins are displaying–she favors bullying as a strategy, favors Slytherins in general, and strongly favors anything that will make Harry miserable. She creates a school-wide atmosphere in which bullying is permitted, approved, and demonstrated by adults, and where teachers with a sense of decency are powerless to intervene. If Snape had wanted to intervene in his own house’s behavior, he still could have (at that point), but he clearly is not motivated to do so. In other years, Dumbledore and other teachers could have brought some pressure to bear on him, but in this year, with Umbridge poisoning everything, they have no chance. We should also remember, as in recent examples in Muggle life, that when bullying is this widespread, school personnel have very little chance of stopping it, even when they’re NOT being deliberately undermined by other school personnel.

    All the same, I wish someone had thought to use a mass Silencio or something on the Slytherins during the game…

  31. Erica above made the excellent point that Snape, of all people, ought to know what it feels like to be publicly mocked. Snape’s bullying-related behavior is a MAJOR flaw in his character (NOT a flaw in JKR’s writing; it’s key to what makes him such a “deeply unpleasant person”). He knows EXACTLY how it feels to be humiliated in public. If anyone should stop the Slytherins from this kind of behavior, it should be him. But not only does he allow it and even encourage it (in this situation and others), he also engages in it himself. It would be one thing if he only bullied Harry–it would still be unacceptable, but a little more understandable due to his history with Harry’s parents. In other words, if Harry were the EXCEPTION to Snape’s usual behavior (if he bullied Harry but not other students), that would be a whole different character flaw. But Harry’s NOT the exception; Snape bullies (at the least) Ron, Hermione, and Neville. Of everyone, his treatment of Neville may be the most revealing–his only reasons for bullying Neville seem to be that Neville is rather timid, and not particularly good at Potions. For those failings, Snape is utterly nasty to Neville, in front of both students and other adults. The only reason I can think of for his treatment of Neville is basic bully behavior–finding the weakest person and targetting them. And, again, Snape of all people knows what this feels like. He SHOULD be the last person to treat someone this way, but his character flaws seem to prevent him from empathizing (which is a great contrast with Harry, whose reaction to seeing Snape being bullied in the Pensieve IS to empathize).

    Snape is a classic example of a person who becomes what he hates.

  32. I love rereading the books and using HPcompanion with all the comments as a critique as I read. Sociologically, there is a human (muggle and wizard) predisposition to stand aside in times of confrontation. We are generally not wired for it. Back in the 50s or 60s there was a famous case of a woman getting raped, beaten and killed in front of hundreds of people (on their front stoops, in front of windows, on the street, in cars….) who did not try to stop the beating or call the police or even for help. They did not want to get involved. The police and lawyers interviewed all of these folks!). So, that can be one reason no one intervened or did a ‘silencio’ charm. The other is, as JKR mentioned, the atmosphere of fear which she patterned after Nazis. During the Nazi regime, people saw atrocious acts and were afraid to intervene, even if they had some authority, like a non-Nazi cop. I think the teachers were afraid of Dolores and MOM. And they likely were thinking, if I get fired for this, how can I protect my students? Or, who will protect my students? Rather shaming. And DD was not there.

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