Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 7, ‘The Boggart in the Wardrobe’ (True/False Quiz and Discussion Points)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Chapter 7, ‘The Boggart in the Wardrobe’

Mark True statements with a “T” and False statements with an “F” on your tally sheets at home. I will post T/F Answers tomorrow with responses to discussion point posts and my own thoughts if there aren’t any of yours to which I can respond! Please don’t post your answers to anything except the Discussion Points after the True/False Quiz. If you disagree with my answers tomorrow, please do send me an explanation about where I went wrong. Click on the Category “Chapter Quiz” in the right column for previous quizzes and discussion points.

1. _____ Chapter Seven, The Boggart in the Wardrobe, begins in Potions class where Malfoy enters in bandages. He asks Professor Snape for help with his work on the Shrinking Solution – and Severus makes Harry and Ron do the hard stuff.

2. _____ Malfoy implies Harry is a coward for not hunting down Sirius Black himself instead of being in school. “If it was me,” he says, “I’d want revenge.”

3. _____ Professor Snape takes five points from Gryffindor because Neville’s toad becomes a lizard instead of shrinking properly.

4. _____ Professor Lupin takes the class into the Staffroom for a lesson about changing Professors into boggarts.

5. _____ A real boggart is in the Staffroom wardrobe and Lupin takes this opportunity to teach the class how to defeat the Shape-changer that tries to frighten its antagonist: laughter.

6. _____ Neville’s boggart turns into Professor Snape but he finishes him off with the Riddikulus charm and turning him into a lizard wearing a dress and a funny women’s hat.

7. _____ Ron is afraid of spiders but succeeds in defeating his boggart by using the Riddikulus charm and putting roller skates on its many legs.

8. _____ Lupin’s boggart turns into a “silvery white orb hanging in the air” which he defeats by using the Riddikulus charm and turning it into a cockroach.

9. _____ Harry is upset at the end of class because he wasn’t able to turn his Dementor boggart into anything; the monster scared him so much that he almost passed out before Lupin intervened.

10. _____ The chapter ends with Ron, Harry, and Hermione agreeing that Professor Lupin’s class was the best Defense Against the Dark Arts class they’d ever had. Hermione wishes she had had a chance against a boggart.

Discussion Points: Please tell me what you think about (a) Echoes and differences with the first day of Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts classes in the two previous books, Stone and Chamber, (b) the most interesting elements in this chapter when viewed in the Deathly Hallows rear-view mirror; and (c) the importance of the way Prisoner of Azkaban‘s Hogwarts unraveling of the mystery begins in understanding the meaning of Prisoner and the series as a whole. Please note Draco’s injured arm and loyalty to family, the Neville-Snape exchanges, and the Lupin class that is an antidote to the Shrinking Solution (Diminishing Poison?) Severus gives our friend Longbottom. And watch out for that Boggart and the wheelbarrow Ms. Rowling is sneaking past our lowered guard! I hope someone will say something about that wardrobe…


  1. JohnABaptist says

    Wardrobe? As in closet of anxieties?

  2. 1.T/F, 2.T, 3.F, 4.F, 5.T,

    6.F, 7.F, 8.T, 9.F, 10.T
    #1 is true or false because Malfoy doesn’t ask Severus to help him; he just says he’ll need help. A lot of people miss #s7 & 8 because they confuse the book with the movie version.

    Discussion Point (a): The echoes are, again, life in the always bizarre Hogwarts classrooms (Severus here showing the sadistic side and the self-importance we’ll see again in the Shrieking Shack and in the Castle at story’s end), the Malfoy-Potter antagonism, and Ms. Rowling’s wonderful way of revealing character’s qualities in story rather than naked exposition. If you don’t love and admire Lupin at the end of this chapter, get a check-up. The differences are Malfoy’s baiting about Black to re-establish the mystery and the new DADA teacher.

    (b) In the DH rear-view mirror, I’m impressed by the nice counter-point of Snape’s treatment of Neville and Lupin’s in their respective classrooms. We’re obliged to note this, because Ms. Rowling includes the presence of Severus in the faculty room to highlight the difference in Neville’s treatment. Knowing that without a confident Neville, Harry’s stand-in or faithful double at Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows, Nagini is not beheaded gives this chapter a special relevance. That both Lupin and Snape die in the Battle of Hogwarts, each battling in his way against the Dark Lord and for Harry, is important to remember. Snape hates Lupin and Harry but he has greater loyalties that overarch these failings.

    (c) The importance of the first Potions and DADA classes is setting the stage of Lupin/Snape antipathy that we’ll see in the Shack and in the remaining books of the series. Lupin is impressed by Snape, remember, because of his kindness during Harry’s third year and only the murder of Dumbledore is able to turn him against his childhood enemy.

    And how about the smuggled message that laughter casts out fear? Only the faith in something transcendent allows the relative world and its “dangers” to seem as risible and transient as it is. This comes in under the radar but it’s quite the punch to naturalist conceptions that the relative (energy/matter) is reality.

    And the wardrobe? No one wants to discuss the wardrobe? Okay dokey…

  3. I’ll right, I’ll try to tackle the wardrobe issue. I’m afraid I have only a series of loosely connected thoughts on the subject, and I’ll have to leave it to you, John, to flesh it all out.

    One thought on the boggart issue first: I think it’s interesting that Lupin tells the class that the boggart, whose mission it is to frighten and paralyze people, is truly successful only when it confronts someone who is alone. “It’s always best to have company when you’re dealing with a boggart,” he says, explaining that a boggart becomes confused and doesn’t know what shape to take when it faces more than one person at once. In a Christian sense, that seems to be emphasizing the importance of our role as members of the community of believers who need each other and must stand together when confronting the Evil One. Of course, that same concept could easily be interpreted in a simpler fashion, referring perhaps to the power of friendship and the need for people to stick together in order to overcome obstacles. We certainly see this theme played out in all the books, and especially in Deathly Hallows, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to get past their differences and work together in order to defeat Voldemort.

    On to the wardrobe question: The wardrobe in the Harry Potter books could certainly be a reference to the wardrobe of Narnia fame, along with the theme of “smuggling the Gospel.” The purpose of the wardrobe is to conceal, to reveal, and to connect two different worlds. In chapter seven of Prisoner of Azkaban, there is a double concealment: The wardrobe conceals the boggart, and the boggart conceals its own true identity by always assuming a different form when seen. The wardrobe in this chapter is a vehicle which brings the students face to face with their worst fears, and gives them the opportunity to confront and overcome those fears.

    We see another rattling wardrobe in Half-Blood Prince, as Dumbledore shares with Harry his first meeting with young Tom Riddle in the orphanage. Tom has stolen some items from other children, and conceals them in his wardrobe as trophies. As I recall, Dumbledore casts a spell to cause the stolen items to rattle, thereby revealing them. Dumbledore then starts the wardrobe on fire, extinguishes the fire without harm to the wardrobe, and thus reveals his magical abilities to the young Voldemort.

    A second wardrobe appears in Half-Blood Prince, this time in the Room of Requirement. This is where Harry hides the Half-Blood Prince’s potions book from Snape. In order to remember where he hid the book, Harry puts a bust on top of the wardrobe, and places a tiara on top of the bust. The tiara, of course, turns out to be a horcrux, and both the wardrobe and the tiara, along with the piece of Voldemort’s soul, are destroyed by fire in Deathly Hallows. Perhaps Dumbledore’s setting afire young Tom Riddle’s wardrobe of stolen items is a foreshadowing of this event.

    My final thought is that the Vanishing Cabinets are similar to wardrobes, both in appearance and literary function in the Harry Potter world. They’re used to connect one location to another, and to transport people and objects back and forth. Once again, we have a sort of magical connection between two worlds. Fred and George throw Montague into the broken Vanishing Cabinet, and he gets lost in there, showing up sometime later in a toilet. After Malfoy fixes the broken Vanishing Cabinet, he uses the connection with the cabinet in Borgin and Burkes to smuggle Death Eaters into the castle.

    So there we have it. Wardrobes equal concealment, revelation, smuggling, and connections with other worlds. There, I gave it a try! Now we want to hear what you have to say about it, John.

  4. JohnABaptist, I followed your “closet of anxieties” link. It took all my strength to refrain from laughing out loud while proctoring a French test. Now let’s apply those concepts of concealment, revelation, and smuggling to the political realm and the Skeeter media. . . Won’t that be fun!

  5. Mary, the Wardrobe features in two children’s fantasy stories/series that pretty much define the spectrum of meaning in children’s literature, the pre-evangelizing Narnia books and the theocidical Dark Materials novels. In Narnia, the wardrobe is made of Narnian wood or, at least, from a tree grown on earth from a Narnian seed and salvific fruit. It is a pointer to the Tree of Life and World Axis, and, consequently, in the first book (LWW) it acts as a portal between Earth and Narnia. The wardrobe in The Golden Compass is where the heroine hides to overhear the diabolical plans of adults — no magic, just a convenient hiding place or sanctuary in which one can learn others’ secrets (an inversion of the popular saying “coming out of the closet”). Pullman is consciously trying to achieve the opposite of the Narnia books, that is, prepare the hearts of his readers for a life of worldly atheism rather than sacramental theism, and so his heroine finds nothing magical in her wardrobe except for knowledge of good-and-evil, which Pullman offers, contra Genesis and the Tree of Life, as a life-saver.

    Ms. Rowling’s wardrobe, if it, too, is a Tree in the Garden/World Axis image, is another Mirror of Erised, albeit with the difference of showing your greatest fear rather than your heart’s desire as you approach it. Ms. Rowling seems to be siding with Lewis’ image of the Tree as a potential deliverer if, like the hero-child in The Magician’s Nephew, you approach it in obedience and disregard the Serpent/White Witch. The third years who obey Lupin’s instructions and face down their fears are liberated from the Dark Arts and their own boogeys, no one more spectacularly than the haunted Neville, who casts off in one image his overbearing Grandmother and the vicious Potions Master.

    I doubt Ms. Rowling’s choice of a wardrobe was any more accidental than her choice of a Mirror. Both speculum and wardrobe carry profound symbolic meaning, the mirror by nature and the furniture piece by usage in the genre.

  6. Thanks for that wonderful explanation, John. The wardrobe has far greater significance than I imagined! I must confess that I’ve never read the Chronicles of Narnia, and I’m inspired to do it now. My reading list just keeps getting longer and longer! (Any recommendations on a good critical edition of Dante’s works?)

  7. The wardrobe as World Axis/Tree of Knowledge gets a workout in Pullman, Lewis, and Rowling, no? Thanks for asking about it, Mary N! I envy you your first trip to Narnia; if you can, read it aloud to a young person or someone you love. That’s the most fun because you get a lot of the jokes that are lost on the eye’s quick passage.

  8. Thanks for the suggestion, John! Maybe I’ll read the Narnia books to that child of mine who says he was born with nothing to do. 🙂

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