Honoring the Heroine: Nymphadora Tonks

There is no sugar-coating it: The sixth book is the weakest of the entire Harry Potter series. But not because it spends its time mostly with romance and exposition. The true reason why it doesn’t work that well lies in a decision JKR made early on.

The Harry Potter books are mostly written from his perspective. There are a few exceptions. In the first book she describes the Quidditch games partly from Ron and Hermione’s perspective, later she adds dream sequences which Harry only has a vague memory off and in this book she adds some sort of prologue in order to describe a scene involving the British Prime Minister. But overall, she is pretty much stuck with Harry’s perspective.

Which works fine in the first four books, since Hogwarts is the centre of action. It works to a certain degree in the fifth because there is at least some sort of conflict in Hogwarts. But in the sixth book, everything of importance happens elsewhere. Oh, sure, there is some sort of mystery going on at Hogwarts, too. But it is incredible transparent for the most part. I suspect that JKR thought that after five books full of red herrings, she could plant the true culprit right in front of the nose of the readers and they would automatically look elsewhere, but it doesn’t really work. There is so much evidence that Draco is up to something that Ron and Hermione’s constant insistence that Harry is imagining things is really, really odd. At this point they should have learned the worth of constant vigilance. The reader certainly has.

All in all, the book is weak (though I actually did enjoy the romance). The movie is just plain awful! I have ranted a couple of times about the way romance is portrayed in it, but that is not even the main problem. No, the main problem is that this director didn’t trust the audience to sit through a Harry Potter movie without having some sort of action scene thrown into the middle. For all the problems the book has, the movie could and should have concentrate on building up an atmosphere of dread. Instead it just burns down the burrow.

Look, I understand that movies can’t be exactly like the book. I understand that they have to adjust certain aspects. But this scene has no purpose whatsoever and in addition creates a lot of problems because in the next movie, the burrow is magically whole again. And even though it should be easy to add all the important aspects of the book into the movie, it blissfully skips some core events. Mainly everything connected to Bill and Fleur (whose marriage in the next movie comes out of nowhere as a result), the role the ministry plays in the book (because politics are apparently boring) and a chunk of the explanation what horocrux exactly are and how Harry should find them.

I had a pretty hard time to find anything about the movie I liked better than the movie. I finally settled on Cormac throwing up on Snape’s shoes. Not only fits it my opinion of this movie, it is also a very funny scene which would have worked in the book, too. But let’s talk about Tonks.

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I won’t do a “best scene” list this time around because honestly, Tonks has all her best scenes when she gets introduced. She is a really fun character. She is clumsy, but one shouldn’t underestimate her abilities, considering that she managed to graduate as an auror. She could turn herself into whatever she wants, but instead she spends her time changing her nose just for fun. I really appreciate that at no point in the book he uses her abilities to make herself more beautiful, instead she uses it to display her quirky personality.

But she is also under-utilized. In the fifth book she gets introduced and then more or less vanished from the story until she is needed in the battle of mysteries. In the sixths book she is regularly around, but only so that Harry can notice multiple times how out of character she acts, and the big revelation, that she is basically love-sick, is one which annoys me a little bit. JKR introduced this bad-ass auror, just to stuff her into the role of the love interest (in the last book she is mostly absent, instead Remus is constantly talking about her) and then to kill her off nearly immediately after she got her baby.

To be honest, I was really struggling if I should write about her or not. But then, she is a stand-in for all the female characters which are “in the margins” of the books. Characters which are fun to read about, but who never became more than supporting characters, though they had one or two scenes which made me smile.

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Professor McGonagall comforting Professor Trelawney when she is thrown out of the castle, even though it has been established beforehand how much distaste she feels for Divination and overdramatic displays, countless female characters who are reigning over their respective domains with a lot of competence, delightful antagonists like Rita Skeeter and outright villains like Dolores Umbridge and Bellatrix Lestrange. They all stick out, one way or another.

The frustrating aspect about Tonks is that it feels like she could take a more active role in the war, but the only thing she is allowed to do is getting killed. Not even in a dramatic moment like Fred, but off-screen. It is such a waste. But at least a lot of fanfiction writers have treated her character with more love.

Quote: “Don’t call me Nymphadora!”

Yeah, this article is a little bit of a half-rant. And I will top this with another rant: Back when those movies were on, the Harry Potter DVD’s got worse with every release. The first two were made with a lot of love and interesting bonus material, the later ones feel more and more hastily thrown together. By the time the sixths came around, the only good thing about it were the deleted scenes…kind of. It was a source of anger, too, because I discovered that the one truly good scene in the whole movie (the moment shortly before Hogwarts is attacked) was cut out of the final release. I never bothered with the last two DVD’s, because I didn’t feel that it was worth the money. But should you own the DVD’s, well, take a look at this scene. It is beautiful.

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8 thoughts on “Honoring the Heroine: Nymphadora Tonks

  1. Interesting. I like both the 6th book and movie mainly for the Half Blood Prince and Snapes storyline. But I’m not nearly as picky about my Harry Potter as you or other hard core fans.
    I like Tonks and I liked her romance with Lupin. It felt very genuine to me and when they died how heartbreaking. But each their own I suppose.

    • I just wanted more of this character. If there is one thing which annoys me about Harry Potter is that none of the married witches are portrayed as working mothers, and every working woman seems to be a single or a spinster.

  2. It is true that their jobs were never specified in the books, but it has been confirmed that Hermione became a lawyer, Ginny became a professional Quidditch player and a sports writer and Luna became a biologist. And as for Marietta, my point was not about her, but about that her mother had a job. And so did Hermione’s mother too, when you think about it.

    • Since Marietta isn’t really portrayed as a good person, it kind of implies that her mother didn’t do a good job with her. And Hermione’s parents are the reason why I specified that there aren’t any positive examples of working mothers in the wizard world. Hermione’s parents are muggles.

      I don’t think that it was intentional, I still wish that they had at least mentioned that Fleur was still planning to work at Gringotts after her marriage.

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