Dolores Umbridge

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Dolores Jane Umbridge was the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic, a post she held during the terms of Cornelius Fudge, Rufus Scrimgeour, and Pius Thicknesse. During Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts, she was assigned by Educational Decree Number Twenty-Two to the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and, by Educational Decree Number Twenty-Three, was appointed Hogwarts High Inquisitor, and finally even became Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by Educational Decree Number Twenty-Eight.[1] After her removal from the aforementioned posts, she returned to the Ministry until Lord Voldemort's rise to power, when she was appointed the head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission.[2] After Voldemort's death, she was sent to Azkaban prison.[3]


[edit] Appearances

[edit] Fifth book

[edit] Senior Undersecretary

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge is first introduced as Senior Undersecretary to the Minister during Harry's disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic, on August 12, 1995. She was seated on Cornelius Fudge's right hand side and, like Fudge, was critical of Harry's story about dementors being present when he produced the Patronus Charm on the evening of the second of August. She was among those who voted in favor of convicting Harry. After Harry was cleared of all charges, she, unlike everyone else in the room kept watching him as he exited the courtroom.[4]

[edit] Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher

Through the recently enacted Educational Decree Number Twenty-Two, which states that in case the Headmaster of Hogwarts is unable to find a teacher for a vacant post in time, the Minister for Magic would have the right to appoint a person he or she deems appropriate[5], Dolores Umbridge became the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. During the start-of-term banquet on September 1, 1995, she interrupted Professor Dumbledore's introductory speech to deliver a long and boring but illuminating speech of her own, in which she stressed on discouraging progress simply for progress's sake and adhering to the tried and tested traditions of teaching. It quickly became obvious that the Ministry was interfering at Hogwarts.[6]

Harry's first class with Professor Umbridge took place the following day. Umbridge began by criticizing the students' previous instruction in the class, in her opinion due to the constant changing of teachers, most of whom did not follow what she described as a Ministry-approved curriculum, the only exception being Professor Quirrell. Umbridge went on to explain that she would not be teaching the students any practical magic throughout the school year, only theoretical magic, which resulted in angry comments from most of the class. Umbridge's insistence that the students do not need to learn to use magic because they are not likely to be attacked led Harry to bring up the danger of Lord Voldemort's return. Trying to hide her anger, Umbridge vehemently denied Voldemort's return and described Cedric Diggory's death as an accident, which only infuriated Harry more. The resulting argument led to Umbridge giving Harry detention every night until that Friday.[7]

During detention, Umbridge instructed Harry to write "I must not tell lies" repeatedly with a special quill that she gave him, as many times as it took for the message to sink in. To his horror, Harry discovered that whenever he wrote the phrase on parchment, it was immediately etched onto the back of his hand as if traced with a knife. By his third detention on Thursday night, the scar on the back of Harry's hand eventually stopped fading away.[8]

[edit] Hogwarts High Inquisitor

On September 7, 1995, the Ministry of Magic passed Educational Decree Twenty-three, creating the position of Hogwarts High Inquisitor, which was offered to and accepted by Dolores Umbridge in addition to her teaching post. This granted her the power to inspect the Hogwarts staff and make sure their performance is good enough for the Ministry's standards. Umbridge set to work on her first day. She entered different classes at random with a clipboard in hand, taking notes and asking questions to both teachers and students. While her interrogation of some teachers such as Professor Flitwick and Professor Grubbly-Plank went smoothly, she did meet resistance from the likes of Professor McGonagall, as well as incompetence from Professor Trelawney.[9] Eventually Professor Trelawney was put under probation.[10]

On September 14, 1995, Umbridge received a tip from Willy Widdershins[11] about a group of students including Harry Potter meeting up in the Hog's Head pub in Hogsmeade to discuss forming a Defense Against the Dark Arts group whose aim was to learn defensive spells and practical magic not allowed in Umbridge's class.[12] In retaliation, on September 16, 1995, Educational Decree Number Twenty-four, which banned the forming of any student groups without approval of the Hogwarts High Inquisitor, was put into effect.[10]

That morning, Umbridge intercepted a letter that Harry's owl, Hedwig, was carrying to him from Sirius Black, briefly asking for a meeting that night in the Gryffindor House common room--though the letter was written in a way as not to give away who had sent it or any details on the meeting. That night, using Floo Powder, she attempted to interfere in the meeting, but she was unsuccessful.[10]

After the first Quidditch match of the season, Umbridge announced the passing of Educational Decree Number Twenty-five, which gave the High Inquisitor supreme authority over punishments, sanctions, and removal of priviliges. She then proceeded to ban Harry Potter and Fred and George Weasley from the Gryffindor Quidditch team due to what she described as violence.[13]

Later that night, after Rubeus Hagrid returned to Hogwarts, having been absent since the beginning of term, Umbridge paid him a visit in his hut to introduce herself as High Inquisitor and to attempt to get him to divulge where he'd been and what had caused the injuries he was sustaining. Hagrid merely said he'd fallen off a broom while on vacation for his health in the South of France. Umbridge did not find his story convincing, and warned him about his upcoming inspection before departing.[14]

Two days later, on Monday, Hagrid's first inspection took place while he was teaching a fifth-year class, which included Harry Potter, about Thestrals in the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid being a half-giant, and Umbridge being prejudiced agaist half-breeds of any kind, she was predisposed to being critical of him, and it was apparent from her arrival that she did not get a good impression of him; she criticized his crude behavior and pronunciation, as well as his choice of course material, since the Ministry defined Thestrals as dangerous. She then went on interrogating students, either picking students who shared her dislike of Hagrid such as Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson, or twisting the words and intentions of students who were supportive of him, such as Neville Longbottom, before leaving the class and a horror-struck Hagrid.[15] Umbridge later on proceeded to put Hagrid under probation along with Trelawney.[16]

After the escape of ten high-security prisoners from Azkaban in January 1996, Umbridge, ordered the passing of Educational Decree Number Twenty-six, banning teachers from speaking to their students about anything not related to course material, in an attempt to stop people form discussing the breakout, which was embarrassing for the Ministry. The incident had also made her more determined than ever to have Hogwarts under her control; consequently, she started attending every single Care of Magical Creatures and Divination in order to decide whether or not she should ban their respective teachers.[16]

To add to Umbridge's troubles, the March 1996 edition of The Quibbler came out, and it included an interview that Harry Potter had given to Rita Skeeter in Hogsmeade a few weeks earlier[16] regarding his confrontation with Lord Voldemort in June 1995[17], an incident which the Ministry had been attempting to deny for months. Infuriated, Umbridge took fifty points from Gryffindor, banned Harry from visiting Hogsmeade, gave him another week's worth of detention, and passed Educational Decree Number Twenty-seven, which banned The Quibbler from Hogwarts. This did not, as she had planned, decrease readership of the interview, but instead managed to increase it, with students smuggling copies using various undetectable methods.[18]

Later that week, Umbridge caused a scene one evening when she finally decided to sack Professor Trelawney. She confronted her in the Great Hall in front of most of the students and attempted to get her thrown out of the castle, but Professor Dumbledore interfered and reminded Umbridge that while she was allowed to sack teachers, she had no authority to force them to leave the Hogwarts grounds. To further foil Umbridge, Dumbledore declared that he had found a replacement for Trelawney. Umbridge said that by Educational Decree Number Twenty-two, the Ministry has the right to appoint a teacher; however, Dumbledore also reminded her that that would only happen if the Headmaster was unable to find a candidate in time, except this time, he had. He then proceeded to introduce Trelawney's replacement: the centaur, Firenze.[18]

In April, Umbridge received information from a member of Dumbledore's Army, Marietta Edgecombe, about a meeting that was taking place in the Room of Requirement; Marietta was not able to divulge more information due to a hex that Hermione Granger had previously performed on the list of members taking effect and spelling out the word "SNEAK" on her face. Umbridge quickly deployed her Inquisitorial Squad, but the members of Dumbledore's Army had fled the scene. However, Draco Malfoy was able to catch Harry Potter using a Trip Jinx, and Pansy Parkinson found the list of members, which gave Umbridge all the evidence she needed. She took Harry to Professor Dumbledore's office, where Albus Dumbledore, Cornelius Fudge, Kingsley Shacklebolt, John Dawlish were waiting already, and they were later joined by Marietta. In order to protect Harry, Dumbledore claimed he, not Harry, was responsible for the meeting, and a timely Memory Charm placed on Marietta by Order of the Phoenix member Kingsley Shacklebolt allowed her to corroborate that claim. As Fudge moved in to arrest Dumbledore, the latter struck the room with a series of spells that wrecked the office and knocked down the Ministry employees. They awoke without being aware that they had been knocked out, but Dumbledore had already gone.[11]

[edit] Headmistress of Hogwarts

After Albus Dumbledore's escape from Hogwarts, Educational Decree Number Twenty-eight was passed overnight, declaring Dolores Umbridge as his replacement. She quickly exercised her authority over the school, by means that include giving the Inquisitorial Squad the power to remove House points, and winning the loyalty of the caretaker, Argus Filch, by promising to pass a decree that would allow him to punish students as harshly as he liked. She also called Harry Potter to her office, and, after offering him tea laced with Veritaserum[19], which, unbeknownst to her, he did not drink, she asked him about the whereabouts of both Dumbledore and Sirius Black, to no avail.[20]

Umbridge's reign as Headmistress was met with defiance from both staff and students. The catalyst was an incident caused by Fred and George Weasley, who set off enchanted fireworks of their own creation, called the Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-Bangs, all over the school. Umbridge, assisted by the incompetent Filch, attempted and failed to stop the onslaught of sparks and fireworks shaped like dragons, Catherine wheels, rockets, and even swearwords; satting them with brooms set the brooms ablaze, hitting them with spells caused large explosions, and attempting to Vanish them only made them multiply by ten. The fireworks caused a lot of chaos that day, but teachers didn't mind them, since they found them a good excuse to keep Umbridge busy and exhausted, and to make her first day as Headmistress as terrible as possible.[20]

Umbridge also attended Harry Potter's career advice session with Professor McGonagall, where she criticized Harry's choice of Auror as his career, due to his temperament, what she referred to as his "criminal record", and his poor Defense Against the Dark Arts grades in her class. McGonagall then reminded her that he'd been cleared of all charged and that he'd gotten excellent marks with every other Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and implied that Umbridge was incompetent. This led to a tense moment between the two, in which McGonagall swore to assist Harry in his ambition whatever the cost.[21]

Fred and George Weasley' attempts to sabotage Umbridge's reign were not over; that afternoon, in an attempt to distract Umbridge so that Harry could sneak into her office, the twins turned a corridor into a swamp using another Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes product, a Portable Swamp. After being caught and cornered, they summoned their confiscated broomsticks from Umbridge's office and, after stopping to give a surprisingly obedient Peeves the poltergeist one last request--to give Umbridge hell--flew out of the castle spectacularly and to huge applause.[21]

During Harry Potter's Astronomy Ordinary Wizarding Level examination, Umbridge led a group of Ministry of Magic employees, including John Dawlish, down to Hagrid's hut. Eventually a fight broke out which spilled out onto the grounds, Hagrid using his fists to fight off Umbridge and her company, whose spells were ineffective seeing as Hagrid was part-giant. Professor McGonagall attempted to interfere and stop the fight, and was met with no less than four Stupefy spells to her chest. Enraged, Hagrid knocked out two of his attackers and fled the Hogwarts grounds.[22]

On the last day of the Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations, Umbridge received information from Ronald Weasley that Peeves was wreaking havoc in the Transfiguration Department, which clashed with her previous knowledge that he was smearing the school telescopes with ink. Furthermore, Stealth Sensoring Spells placed on her office door told her that someone had broken in. She quickly gathered her Inquisitorial Squad and headed to her office, cacthing Hermione Granger and Harry Potter, the latter of whom had his head in her fireplace, attempting to communicate via Floo Powder. The Inquisitorial Squad caught Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood, who were keeping people away from the corridor outside the office, as well as Neville Longbottom, who was trying to protect his fellow DA members. Believing Harry was trying to communicate with Albus Dumbledore, she tried forcing the truth out of him through Veritaserum, only to find out that Severus Snape had run out. Desperate, she almost used the Cruciatus Curse on Harry, but Hermione caved in and told her that they were trying to find Dumbledore to tell him that a certain weapon was ready.[19]

Hermione and Harry then led Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest to show her the location of the weapon. It was there that they ran into centaurs, who, ever since Firenze was assigned Divination teacher, had been growing more and more aggressive towards the human inhabitants of Hogwarts. Umbridge proceeded to insult them by calling them "creatures of near-human intelligence" and "filthy half-breeds", and attempted using spells against them, which angered them even more and caused them to drag her away into the forest.[23]

[edit] Sacking

The very next morning, after the battle at the Ministry of Magic between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters, which ended with Voldemort's return finally being acknowledged by Cornelius Fudge, Umbridge was removed from Hogwarts at Albus Dumbledore's request.[24]

Umbridge was mysteriously rescued from the centaurs by Dumbledore and was placed in the hospital wing until she recovered from shock. She remained paranoid of anything related to centaurs. The day before term ended, Umbridge attempted to sneak out of Hogwarts undetected, but she was intercepted by Peeves, who chased her out of the grounds while hitting her with a walking stick and a bag of chalk, much to the delight of most students and staff members.[25]

[edit] Sixth book

Not much is known about Umbridge, but Rufus Scrimgeour does mention that she was still working at the Ministry of Magic.[26]

She later appeared at Albus Dumbledore's funeral, wearing a black velvet bow and an unconvincing expression of grief, and still scared of centaurs; at the sight of Firenze, she gave a start and scurried to find a seat far from him.[27]

[edit] Final book

After Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters took over the Ministry of Magic in August of 1997, Umbridge resumed her post as Senior Undersecretary to the new Minister, Pius Thicknesse, and she was also appointed head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. As such, she was responsible for the trials of all Muggle-borns who, under Voldemort's regime, were accused of stealing magic from true wizards. Most, if not all, of those trials ended with the Muggle-borns being arrested for crimes they never committed.[28]

One day, while in Diagon Alley, Umbridge ran across Mundungus Fletcher, who was selling stolen magical objects. She asked him if he had a license to do so, and was going to fine him until she spotted a locket which she liked. She took it in return for letting Mundungus off that time. Unbeknownst to Umbridge, the locket was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, which Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger were looking for in an attempt to destroy Voldemort once and for all.[29]

In September 1997, during a trial for the Muggle-born Mary Cattermole, she was attacked and Stunned by Harry Potter, who was disguised as Albert Runcorn. Hermione Granger, disguised as Mafalda Hopkirk, then stole the Locket and replaced it with a fake one using the Geminio spell.[28]

[edit] Portrayals within films

Dolores Umbridge was portrayed in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 by Imelda Staunton.

[edit] Characterisation

[edit] Outward appearance

Dolores Umbridge is, at first glance, toad-like in appearance. She is very short and squat and has a flabby and pallid face, with a wide mouth and bulging eyes. She also has short, curly, mouse-brown hair, and very little neck. She speaks in an uncharacteristically soft, sweet, girlish voice.[4]

[edit] Personality

Despite her organized appearance and falsely sweet voice, Umbridge has a very sour personality; she is cruel, intolerant, and sadistic. She would stop at nothing to gain and maintain power and order, be it at the Ministry or Hogwarts. She is easy to anger, though she rarely shows it; instead, her voice only grows sweeter and her demeanor even more falsely pleasant the angrier she gets. Despite this, her wrath is terrible to face, for her punishments are nothing short of inhumanely cruel, as she takes pleasure in other people's pain.

She is extremely prejudiced, showing disdain and hatred for any creature that is not a pure-blood witch or wizard, including Muggle-borns, whom she oppresses during her time as Head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission, werewolves, against whom she has passed a series of legislations that made it difficult for them to acquire jobs, as well as half-giants, centaurs, merpeople, and all forms of beings she deems "half-breeds".

Although her loyalty appears to be to the Ministry of Magic, due to the fact the she remained fiercely loyal to the Minitry under the rule of Cornelius Fudge, Rufus Scrimgeour, and Pius Thicknesse, her true loyalties are to herself and to her own beliefs and thirst for power. She has no problem breaking wizarding law, or acting against her superiors when it serves her purposes, such as when she sent dementors to Little Whinging to attack Harry Potter, or when she tried to use the Cruciatus Curse against Harry in order to get him to tell the truth. It seems she was only loyal to the Ministry due to the fact that it kept her in a position of power, and she enjoyed herself most when the Ministry was at its worst and most prejudiced, such as during its oppression of Hogwarts in 1995 and 1996, as well as during Voldemort's reign in 1996 and 1997, a time in which she seemed to enjoy herself most because she was allowed to exercise her prejudice against Muggle-borns to its full extent, punishing them simply for their blood status.

[edit] Magical accomplishments and skills

Umbridge was not a particularly powerful witch, as demonstrated by her inability to contain much of the mischief that broke out during her reign as Headmistress; for example, she was not able to get rid of Fred and George Weasley's Portable Swamp when her fellow teacher Filius Flitwick was able to do so quickly.

She does, however, seem to be powerful at offensive and defensive magic, despite the fact that she encourages her students not to use practical magic in class. She can produce a Patronus Charm powerful enough to hold back several dementors, fueled by her joy from causing pain to Muggle-borns. She also seems to have enough aggressiveness in her to cast Unforgivable Curses.

[edit] Possessions

  • A collection of ornamental plates decorated with kittens wearing bows
  • A quill that writes with the user's blood and carves the words on the back of their hand
  • Alastor Moody's magical eye, which was in her possession for no more than two months (Moody having died in July 1997 and the eye being stolen from her office at the Ministry in September 1997)
  • Salazar Slytherin's locket, which she acquired in the summer of 1997 and was also taken from her in September 1997

[edit] Family

Not much is known about Umbridge's family; however, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she at one point mentions being related to the Selwyn family, though that may have been a fabrication to strengthen her status as a pure-blood.[28]

[edit] Reception

Dolores Umbridge is at the same time one of the most hated and yet most well-received characters in the Harry Potter series. As a character, and due to her villainous nature, she is despised by characters and fans alike. However, as a literary creation, she is one of J. K. Rowling's most popular characters, due to the fact that she is a very realistic and dangerous antagonist.

Noted authot Stephen King once referred to Umbridge as the "greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter".[30]

[edit] Additional Canon

[edit] References

  1. J. K. Rowling, OotP
  2. J. K. Rowling, DH
  3. [1] J. K. Rowling Web Chat Transcript
  4. 4.0 4.1 J. K. Rowling, OotP 8
  5. J. K. Rowling, OotP 15
  6. J. K. Rowling, OotP 11
  7. J. K. Rowling, OotP 12
  8. J. K. Rowling, OotP 13
  9. J. K. Rowling, OotP 15
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 J. K. Rowling, OotP 17
  11. 11.0 11.1 J. K. Rowling, OotP 27
  12. J. K. Rowling, OotP 16
  13. J. K. Rowling, OotP 19
  14. J. K. Rowling, OotP 20
  15. J. K. Rowling, OotP 21
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 J. K. Rowling, OotP 25
  17. J. K. Rowling, GoF 32, 33, 34
  18. 18.0 18.1 J. K. Rowling, OotP 26]]
  19. 19.0 19.1 J. K. Rowling, OotP 32
  20. 20.0 20.1 J. K. Rowling, OotP 28
  21. 21.0 21.1 J. K. Rowling, OotP 29
  22. J. K. Rowling, OotP 31
  23. J. K. Rowling, OotP 33
  24. J. K. Rowling, OotP 36
  25. J. K. Rowling, OotP 38
  26. J. K. Rowling, HBP 16
  27. J. K. Rowling, HBP 30
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 J. K. Rowling, DH 13
  29. J. K. Rowling, DH 11
  30. [2] Stephen King's review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix