The Functions of Colors in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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The use of color in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is prevalent throughout the entire film. One of the ways that color functions in the film is through the use of irony. For instance, light and dark colors symbolize good and evil, respectively. But some of the characters have opposite colors; people on the good side yet have dark colors, or people on the bad side might have light colors. Other colors that could also symbolize good or evil are in ironic areas as well [Pet12]. The fact that colors can be used in all of these ways could suggest a closer look at the characters depicting those colors.

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The character known as Mad Eye Moody is continuously wearing a thick black cloak and is often in shadow, such as in the scene “The Advance Guard,” suggesting that he is a mysterious and potentially bad person. But in reality, Moody is an extremely good person who has been through a lot, but still stands tall and still cares about people. The next scene, “Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place,” has Remus Lupin, who frequently seems mysterious and withdrawn, similar to Moody, as if he is hiding something malicious. He is often in shadow throughout the film and wears dark shabby clothes, which could resemble negative ideas. Remus is, in fact, hiding something bad; however he himself is far from an evil person. Lupin is a form of “Lupus” which means wolf in Latin [Wai08]. Remus’s name symbolizes what he suffers with.

Another set of characters that have the ironic use of color are the horse-like creatures shown in this film, known as Thestrals. Thestrals appear dark and foreboding. The only people who can see them are those that have seen someone die and thoroughly understand what happened [htt12]. So naturally, Thestrals are avoided and shunned. But even though they seem evil, and are connected to death, they are actually gentle and loving, shown in the scene called “Thestrals and Sympathy,” where all they graciously accept Luna’s offerings, as well as her company (See Figure 1). They later prove to be helpful too, as shown in the scene “Fight and Flight,” where Harry and his companions ride the Thestrals to the Ministry of Magic. Kind creatures are generally recognized as beautiful and enjoyable to be around, yet Thestrals are often regarded as awkward and uncomfortable to be around.side, and has a white beard, a color considered to be good, yet is showing a potential dark side to him, could be considered ironic. His anxious and hurried auras in the scenes he is shown avoiding Harry contradict his usual actions toward Harry, and the symbolic color of his hair and beard.

Two characters contradict color together in a scene that starts when Voldemort sends Harry a vision to trick him in the scene known as “O.W.L.S.,” the scene shows Voldemort torturing Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius is on his knees, his face in shadow, while Voldemort is standing above him. Sirius has dark hair, and Voldemort has pale white skin. The fact that Sirius is in shadow and has dark hair could be thought of as portraying him as an evil person, and Voldemort’s pale skin could be considered good, since white is supposed to be a pure color. But in this case the colors are flipped around. Voldemort, with his pale skin, is the evil one, supposedly torturing an innocent man for his own gain. Sirius, even though his hair is dark, and his face in shadow, is a good man (See Figure 2), with good intentions; especially in this case, where he is withholding information that Voldemort wants to know in order to pursue his evil goals.

Similar to the scene showing Voldemort and Sirius, Harry and Lucius Malfoy stand face to face in the Department of Mysteries. Harry has dark hair, and Lucius has pure, snow-white hair. Lucius has malicious intentions in this scene, known as “The Department of Mysteries.” He wants Harry to give him the prophecy, but not for a good reason. He tries to sound compassionate and trustworthy, while in fact he is plans to harm Harry. The reason Harry came to the Department of Mysteries was to save his godfather. The ironic colors of each of these characters stand out with this idea. Harry has dark hair and is on the good side with good intentions, while Lucius has a deceivingly white color of hair and is a Death Eater on the dark side with evil intentions.

A perfect example of the use of color in irony is Dolores Umbridge. She is always seen wearing pink, with a fake smile and an interest in kittens, perceived as innocent and adorable creatures. She often enjoys wearing a “sweet” smile; she pretends to have a giggle that makes her seem like she is “cute and lovely,” and her pink clothes could suggest a pleasant personality too. But her true personality is evil, disgusting, and repulsive. For example, in the scene “Preserve, Perfect and Prune,” she talks about “being friends” with all the “bright, happy faces,” when in reality, she hates all children.

When Hagrid comes back to Hogwarts and takes the Trio to meet his half-brother, Grawp, he immediately seems dangerous. Grawp is tall, large, standing in the shadows of the Forbidden Forest, which naturally looks dark and sinister, and therefore sometimes makesanything dwelling in it seem evil as well. But Grawp proves that he is the opposite. He is actually just a bored, curious oaf. He is basically still a toddler, so he stumbles around, being childish (see Figure 3). But when a behemoth jumps around and tries to play, it seems a little too much, so it looks menacing.

During the scene named “The Lost Prophesy,” Voldemort and Harry are in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic at the same time. This is similar to the vision in “O.W.L.S.” because Harry and Sirius both have dark hair, and they both look all shadowed and rather menacing, while Voldemort is in the light with his pale skin. But at the same time, Harry and Voldemort are not complete opposites, but have similarities, which tie them together. However, their actions, choices and opinions are what pull them apart. If they had each switched paths, and chosen what the other chose, they would have switched roles, which make them similar. The fact that they did not do that is what makes them opposite[Ang12]. That is why more than a quick glance at a person is important in order to truly understand them.

In the scene known as “House of Black,” Sirius says, “…the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” The appearance of anyone and anything may sometimes show who they are, but often looks are deceiving.

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The Functions of Colors in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (2022, Oct 05). Retrieved November 30, 2022 , from

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