The Ministry of Magic

chapter seven of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Arthur takes Harry to the Ministry of Magic, where he registers himself and then watches in awe as he passes through the Ministry. After a quick conversation with Kingsley, though, he learns that his hearing has been bumped up, and is quickly rushed in.

Arthur Weasley, by LMRourke

“Simply fabulous,” [Mr. Weasley] whispered, indicating the automatic ticket machines. “Wonderfully ingenious.”


Harry and Mr Weasley Prepare to Descent Into the Ministry of Magic, by Drew Graham

Mr. Weasley folded himself in beside Harry and closed the door. It was a tight fit.


The Fountain of Magical Bretheren, by Drew Graham

A group of golden statues, larger than life-size, stood in the middle of a circular pool.


Sirius B. Ministry Archives, by Patilda

They followed Kingsley along the row and into the very last cubicle. Harry received a slight shock; Sirius’s face was blinking down at him from every direction.

(by Patilda)


Auror Headquarters, by Marta T

“Here,” said Kingsley brusquely to Mr. Weasley, shoving a sheaf of parchment into his hand, “I need as much information as possible on flying Muggle vehicles sighted in the last twelve months.”

(by Marta T)


Kingsley Shacklebolt, by Heather Campbell

Kingsley tipped Harry an enormous wink and added, in a whisper, “Give him the magazine, he might find it interesting.”


A Regurgitating Toilet, by gerre

A memo had just zoomed in through the open door and fluttered to rest on top of the hiccoughing toaster. Mr. Weasley unfolded it and read it aloud.
“‘Third regurgitating public toilet reported in Bethnal Green, kindly investigate immediately.’ This is getting ridiculous …”

(by gerre)


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

To get into the Ministry of Magic, visitors have to enter the right phone booth, and then dial 6-2-4-4-2 – and the reason Arthur seems to be figuring the sequence out on the spot rather than knowing it from memory is because he’s using the keypad to spell a word: MAGIC.

The Wizarding World

There are very few passages in the books that give us as much insight into the broader wizarding world as Harry’s trip through the elevator at the Ministry of Magic. I love hearing the names of all the departments – especially things like the Ludicrous Patents Office and the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee. And little details like the lopsided sign at the Auror office help show the personalities of the various departments as well. Do you think Tonks was the one who knocked the sign askew?

The Power of Magic

It’s fascinating that when Harry sees the Weasley family picture on Arthur’s desk, Percy seems to have walked out. It’s possible that Mr. Weasley could have enchanted the picture this way, but that seems unlikely to me. Instead, I think the Percy in the photograph has decided to walk out, reflecting the real Percy’s estrangement from his family. Which is fascinating, because while Muggle photographs capture a moment in time, it seems wizarding pictures actually change over time to reflect the changes of their real-life counterparts. The richness of the magical world never ceases to astound me.

Something to Remember

The night Harry arrived at Grimmauld Place, Ron mentioned that the Order had been talking regularly about “guard duty,” which Harry of course assumed referred to the people guarding him. But he doesn’t stop to think about the fact that, when he comes down into the kitchen the morning of his hearing, guard duty is still a topic of conversation. The logical conclusion is that Harry didn’t fully understand what they meant, and something is still being guarded – but what?

The Final Word

“[As the books progress,] Everything is on a bigger scale…. It’s symbolic. Harry’s horizons are literally and metaphorically widening as he grows older. There are places in the world that I’ve been planning for so long and thinking about for so long…. It’s great fun.”–J.K. Rowling, September 2000

36 Responses to “The Ministry of Magic”

  1. I so love this chapter – just getting a glimpse of the working of the wizarding government is so cool! And where else could someone walk calmly into an elevator with a fire-breathing chicken?
    Also, I totally love the drawing of the fountain!
    Happy Halloween, everyone!! I’m in my Tonks getup and ready to trick-or-treat!

  2. Very interesting theory about the pictures, that’s the thought that I had when I read it.

    Happy Halloween everyone! :) Is anyone carving any HP related pumpkins? (I haven’t, maybe next year)

  3. What I have always wondered is how the elevator into the Minstry of Magic, which Mr Weasley and Harry squeezed into, was able to take Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna later on? Does it expand??

  4. Electa, I figured it expands as needed, but only just. That’s why it was a tight fit for Harry and Mr Weasley.

  5. Lizzie, you’re probably right. Sort of funny, though… if you’re going to magic it to expand as needed, why not give people enough space? It is the visitor’s entrance, after all.

    The alternate explanations are much funnier, though. For instance, Mr. Weasley could be HUGE. Or even better, it could just be a regular size phone booth that doesn’t expand, and the six kids all pile on top of each other to cram in, like some kind of college stunt. :)

  6. hpboy13- I considered a Tonks costume, actually, but never got to getting a costume together and just decided to go as a Muggle. Happy (belated) Halloween!
    I’m laughing at all 6 of them cramming into the elevator on top of each other like a ‘college stunt’. Funny image. I’m tempted to draw a fanart of that.
    The other stuff:
    ~ The 6-2-4-4-2 thing was awesome. I love JKR’s creativity when she does little things like that.
    ~ Tonks definitely was the one to knock the sign askew. I wonder exactly how big the Ministry is to have so many little departments everywhere!
    ~ Thanks so much for noticing all these little things I would never pick up on!

  7. Dammit Josie, now I can’t get the image of a Hagrid sized Arthur Weasley out of my head!

    Also, as for why it doesn’t expand the whole way.. magic isn’t always convenient. For example, why must you get covered in ashes when traveling by Floo? Surely they could fix that, but nobody seems to mind too much.

  8. hpboy13: dressed as Professor Sinistra. No carved pumpkins, though. Never had any time.

    Mickey/Josie: I think I *have* seen a fanart of that but, of course, it would have been 4 or 5 years ago and who knows where it is now?

  9. Thank you for the Something You Might Not Have Noticed. Do you think Harry did? Arthur didn’t mention what he was spelling and it’s not necessarily obvious on first glance. I’m pretty impressed with Harry remembering the number almost a year later.

    By the way, the Harry Potter Walk in London stops by the telephone box that was used in the movie.

    Again mentioned in passing: Bode; the corridor.

  10. Harry’s wand was checked by an instrument when he arrived at the Ministry. If this is standard procedure for all visitors I wonder what this device would say upon checking Dumbledore’s Elder Wand?

  11. Would they have checked Dumbledore’s wand? After all, it’s just for visitors (Mr. Weasley doesn’t have his wand inspected) and Dumbledore is there enough/has enough clout that they probably don’t consider him a visitor.

    But I like that you brought up the possibility. Maybe Dumbledore only ever shows up when the position isn’t staffed (I mean, he’d already been there for hours when Harry’s 8 am trial started and we know for a fact someone isn’t there all the time because the six DA members don’t get tested when they show up to save Sirius) or several other roundabout ways of avoiding letting people know about the Elder Wand. :)

  12. Checking the wand is a very interesting possibility, but Dumbledore definitely wouldn’t have been a visitor – he was Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, among other posts whose offices were in the Ministry. And after he got kicked off that post in OP, I doubt he made a habit of visiting the Ministry much.

    Also, he would have had another wand, too, that he presumably saved – the one that “chose” him, and that he used to duel Grindelwald and win the Elder wand in the first place. So he could always have brought that one with him if he needed it to be checked.

    Actually, it’s an interesting possibility in general – do you think he may have switched back and forth between his two wands depending on the circumstance? Surely his own wand would have been better for certain kinds of Transfiguration work, and things like that that he learned with it (and that nobody in the past would have ever used the Elder Wand for), no?

    This is a wand essay waiting to happen….

  13. Josie: I hope you can get to the wand essay sooner, rather than later because I’ve been debating those same thoughts since I replied earlier today and I need someone else to mull the idea over in written form!

  14. A thought on the wizarding photos and how they change over time, what would happen if a wizard had a falling out with his family and died before he could be reconciled, would the family be unable to have photos of him simply because he would have walked out of all the family photos?

  15. In terms of pictures’ ability to adapt to their subjects’ real-life attitudes, wouldn’t it have seemed strange that the picture of the Potters’ wedding party (given to Harry by Hagrid in the former’s first year) shows Sirius standing loyally beside James, despite having supposedly betrayed the couple? Even if Hagrid hadn’t noticed the peculiarity, wouldn’t the person who sent it to him have noticed?

    I recognize that Sirius’ situation is undoubtedly unique, given his inability to clear his own name, but it seems like this characteristic of wizarding photography could be incredibly useful and informative in such cases – it makes me wonder why the MOM doesn’t capitalize on the adaptive nature of pictures/portraits more.

  16. If you’re talking about the pictures adapting to what the subjects think, the Potters *knew* they switched Secret Keepers and that Sirius hadn’t betrayed them, so it makes sense that they’re still happily standing with Sirius in their wedding photo. But I love the thought of wizards bringing these pictures into court as evidence. :)

  17. Is it just me, or did anyone else find it disconcerting at first that the atrium is the highest-up floor (i.e. closest to “ground” level) and then as they travel downwards in the elevator, the floor numbers increase?

  18. Anna, I thought this was confusing too.

  19. The picture doesn’t make much sense. Because I just read that portraits have an impression of the person’s soul. That is why they can talk. And they are aware of the outside world. Picture are not supposed to know what goes on. They people are only in that moment of time. Trapped, if you will. So Percy shouldn’t have left.

  20. I just thought, when Harry and Mr. Weasley get into the phone booth, it says that it’s a ‘tight fit.” Then how the heck *SPOILERS!* did Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna all fit in at once, when they went to rescue Sirius? Did it magically expand for that numeber of people? Hmmmm….

  21. Erica, if you look up at some of the other comments made on this page, we talked about some possible explanations for exactly what you pointed out… some of which I thoroughly enjoy. :)

  22. Sirius may not have been in the picture when Hagrid or the person who sent it looked at it, perhaps the awareness of photos is connected to who is looking at it in the moment. He may have sauntered back in for Harry’s sake and like was stated above, the Potters knew he wasn’t their secret keeper, so didn’t “object”?

  23. I’ve been reading all the discussions over the past week or so after being recommended this site by someone on The Leaky Cauldron. I really love the site and it has given me A LOT to think about. I had also wondered about how Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna could fit into the phone box. That was until I did a scavenger hunt during Freshers fortnight at university. One of the tasks was to take a picture of your entire team in a phone box. Coincidentally there were six of us in our team and we managed to fit in the box. It was a bit tight (especially since we had only known each other for about 10 days) but we did fit. That leads me to wonder how it was a bit tight with just Harry and Mr Weasley? That would have been considerably roomy in comparison.

  24. Anna and GinGin4, I’m quoting from the book here as it’s open in front of me: “The grilles slid shut and the lift ascended slowly…Level Seven…the lift juddered upwards again…Level Six…they clattered upwards again…Level Five…the lift juddered upwards again…Level Two”. Therefore, the Atrium is in fact the lowest floor except for the Dept. of Mysteries, and the numbered floors are reached by ascending to them. It seems to me that the highest floor has the first number and down from there. Levels are given seniority of numbering (1 being the most senior) according to how high up they are. A bit odd, yes, but explicable.

  25. Can someone please explain the whole 62442 spelling ‘magic’ thing to me please?

  26. @elizabethauthor if you look at a phone keypad on each button there is a number and three or four letters. On the button with the 6 there are the letters m, n and o. So 6 = mno, 2 = abc, 4 = ghi, 4 = ghi and 2 = abc. If you take certain letters from each it spells out magic.

  27. @elizabethauthor: Amy’s explanation is best, but I wanted to also mention that texting is based on the system she described (3 -4 letters assigned to each number on a phone keypad). Hope that helps!

  28. About the picture, remember the one with Penelope Clearwater in book 3. Someone spilled tea on Penelope’s picture (on her nose) so she was hiding behind the frame. I think someone (Fred, George or Ginny…) did or said something to the Percy on the picture and he wanted to hide.
    Anyway, I love this site. Since the last book, I take some distance from the books and now that I’m reading them again, I’m really happy to find some new theories and ideas about the books.

  29. Thanks for the explanation. It’s just that apart from on mobiles, I don’t think I’ve ever seen letters on a phone before. And since wizards don’t normally use phones, and certainly wouldn’t use mobiles, would they even know about the numbers-letters thing?

  30. She says before looking at her own house phone and seeing the letters. But it is a fairly new phone and I’m sure my old one didn’t have them. And I don’t recall ever seeing them on a payphone before. Then again I could be wrong about that too.

  31. They have the letters on payphones here in the UK and have for as long as I can remember. The ministry wanted a means of entering the Ministry which wouldn’t attract attention from muggles. They selected a payphone for this task and then needed a number for people to dial to make sure the person was a wizard. Looking at the keypad they would notice the letters. What better word to use than ‘magic’?

  32. elizabethauthor, I’m not sure where you live, but I’m in the US and I think almost every phone I’ve ever seen includes the letters (including the old rotary phones we had growing up). It’s also fairly standard procedure here for companies to give out phone numbers as words – the theatre I work for uses a word for the last four digits of its box office number, for example, to help people remember it. I don’t know that the same is true in Britain, but I would guess that it is.

    I’d also say that as long as the letters are on the phone in the phone booth, it might not matter whether wizards have heard of it before – they could simply figure it out :)

  33. I wonder what would be considered a ludicrous patent. Quick-Quotes Quill? Deluminator? Moody’s magical eye? Quidditch related items?

  34. About the photographs ability to move and connect with reality. We know that the pictures can interact with each other in the same building, and the person can travel between pictures of themselves. So perhaps (since Percy works within the ministry as well) the family-picture-Percy has moved between the pictures of himself in his own office and Arther’s (because come on… cant you see Percy having a picture of himself in his office… with his head boy badge or something?) and could feel the tension between the two family members. So its not that the picture-Percy himself could feel the tension- but he could see it in the offices around him.

    Similarly picture-Percy may have moved between the picture in Arther’s office to a picture at the Burrow and again felt the tension when his family talks about him. (or lack of talking about him!)

    Another random side-note about picture’s ability to move between paintings in the same building… How come none of the more. .. erm…interesting… picture subjects are ever sharing the frame with the headmaster/mistresses in Dumbledore’s office? Is there a level of picture-respect that you don’t enter someone’s frame unless invited?

  35. Jose Lopes says:
    December 2, 2009 at 3:45 am
    Harry’s wand was checked by an instrument when he arrived at the Ministry. If this is standard procedure for all visitors I wonder what this device would say upon checking Dumbledore’s Elder Wand?

    I wonder why everybody is convinced that Dumbledore doesn’t want to have his want checked or even seen. All the instrument would say was that the wand was made from elderwood, right? And we know THE elder wand wasn’t the only wand made of elder. In DH Ron says about elder wands something like “wand of elder, never prosper”.
    The instrument also states the time the wand is in use. This might cause a problem for Dumbledore, because this elder wand has been in use for hundreds of years. Though it is not uncommon for wands to be passed on to others (isn’t Ron’s first wand an old wand from one of his brothers, like his pet?) hundreds of years seems more than a bit unlikely. However, Dumbledore has only been using the wand for a shorter time. So the real question here is: does the instrument say how long the wand has been in use, or how long the user uses the wand? That answer would tell us whether Dumbledore would avoid these instruments or not. On hiding the wand from other people, nobody really knows what ‘the deathstick’ or ‘the elder wand’ looks like apart from its previous owners, right?
    Dumbledore wouldn’t have to hide and switch, but I like the idea that he could switch when performing magic he feels more comfortable doing with his own wand, if any.

  36. The only issue for Dumbledore if he used the wand registration instrument would (Besides the potential issue regarding time of use Nienke highlighted) would be the identification of the core. I know it doesn’t mention it in the books, I can’t remember when but JKR said in an interview the core is a Thestral Hair (What else would you expect for a wand made by death(?)). It is not one of the standard cores used by Ollivander and we know from GoF Ollivander has experimented with other cores, like he mentions Veela hair makes a wand too temperamental. So it definitely would have drawn the curiosity of the security guard and possibly of fans/enemies of Dumbledore who sneaked over to the security desk to read said information about the wand of their hero/enemy. It is possible the unique use of Thestral hair may be what made Elder wand so powerful and Gregorovitch may have discovered this if he had researched the wand longer.

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