Professor Minerva McGonagall is a teacher at Hogwarts and member of the Order of the Phoenix. She was the Deputy Headmistress, Head of Gryffindor House and taught Transfiguration whilst Albus Dumbledore was Headmaster. She later became Headmistress of Hogwarts after Harry Potter defeated Voldemort.
We don't know a great deal about Minerva McGonagall's past and out of school activities in the books. She was a member of the original Order of the Phoenix. She is initially seen as a strict teacher by Harry in his first year at school, who was bad news when he was acting outside of the rules. She did not appear to believe Harry's assurances that the Philosopher's Stone was in danger, instead she was more alarmed that he'd somehow discovered its secret, placing her faith in the guards already in place. However, when Harry claimed that Voldemort had returned, McGonagall was one of Harry's supporters and joined the second Order of the Phoenix. She was devastated by Dumbledore's death at the end of Half-Blood Prince. She wanted Harry Potter to take her into his confidence, but, though he refused, she continued to protect him from the Ministry. In the final book Minerva McGonagall stayed at Hogwarts under the rule of the apparently true Death Eater Severus Snape in order to protect the students. She was quick to rally the teachers to defend the school when Harry Potter (now fugitive from the law) surprised her by turning up and asking for time. She was angry enough with the Dark side to use an Unforgivable Curse on a Death Eater. After the Battle of Hogwarts Minerva McGonagall became Headmistress of Hogwarts. She stayed true to her side and the Order of the Phoenix throughout the books.
McGonagall was the first magical person to be seen in the Harry Potter series, when she sat on the wall of Privet Drive in the form of a cat whilst waiting to see Dumbeldore in the wake of all the rumours about the death of the Potters. In 1981 she waited all day, disturbing Vernon Dursley with her not entirely convincing cat-like behaviour as she read a map and a sign. On hearing Dumbledore's plans for leaving Harry with his aunt and uncle, she protested, knowing how Harry would suffer in their hands. However, she relented when Dumledore explained some of his reasoning.
In 1991 Minerva McGonagall was one of seven staff members to create magical protection for the Philosopher's Stone at Hogwarts. When Harry turns up at Hogwarts for the first time, she is the one to let the first years into the castle and introduce them to some of the rules. She is first seen as a teacher you don't want to cross, and gave everyone talking-to in their first ever Transfiguration class. Her teaching is effective with her strict style when she taught them all Transfiguration, and she was quickly impressed with Hermione Granger. Despite her apparent inflexibility when it comes to the rules, when she catches Harry flying without supervision in his first flying lesson his punishment is his immediate acceptance into the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. She even purchases Harry's first ever broom for him, a Nimbus 2000.
McGonagall was less impressed with Hermione when she appeared to have chased after a mountain troll in the hope of capturing it, taking points from her and awarding points to Harry and Ron for her rescue. Later when Draco Malfoy tells her that Harry and Hermione are sneaking an illegal dragon to Romania, she is far less forgiving of what she sees as a trick to get Malfoy in trouble by being out after dark. She gives a heavy punishment equally to Harry, Hermione, Draco and Neville Longbottom (who had tried to stop Malfoy) for their transgression.
When Harry Potter and his friends discover that an attempt to steal the Stone is imminent, they try to warn Professor Dumbledore. Failing him, Harry eventually tells Professor McGonagall out of desperation. Once she recovered from the surprise that they knew the Philosopher's Stone was at Hogwarts at all, she sternly warned them that it was well protected and placed her faith in the spells already guarding it, taking no steps to add to them. When she found that Harry and Ron were hanging around in front of the door to the Stone she lost patience with them and threatened to punish them if they continued to watch it. The trio had to take it upon themselves to stop the thief, and, in the end, they managed to get past the protections themselves, including her contribution of a gigantic chess set. She finished the year with the pleasure of her House finally beating Slytherin to win the House Cup, though sadly not the coveted Quidditch Cup.
Professor McGonagall was not impressed when at the beginning of the year she had to start by disciplining two of her own House for stealing a flying Ford Anglia and nearly revealing the existence of wizardkind to the Muggles. She did not deliver the harsh sentence of expulsion that was intended by Professor Snape, but did give out detentions to both Ron and Harry.
She was also disapproving of her new co-worker, Gilderoy Lockhart. However she soon had more to worry about when the Chamber of Secrets was re-opened. When Albus Dumbledore was removed as Headmaster thanks to the efforts of Lucius Malfoy, she as Deputy Headmistress had to try and keep the school running as normal in the face of the prospect of closure. She was on hand however when Dumbledore returned to the school to meet with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley after their daughter Ginny Weasley was captured. She was present when Harry and Ron returned along with Lockhart and heard Harry's tale firsthand. She managed to recover from the shock of their story enough to leave them distinctly worried about what punishment they might receive for saving the school from a Basilisk.
In 1993 Professor McGonagall again had to see Harry Potter before term even began. This time however she was not telling him off, but was concerned after an owl from Remus Lupin (her new colleague) brought word that he had taken ill on the train after a Dementor had searched it. To Harry's indignity she had called on the services Madam Pomfrey the matron but they weren't required. She also gave Hermione a Time-Turner to accommodate her over-full timetable with instructions as to its safe use and told her to keep it secret.
McGonagall started their first lesson of the year with her impressive demonstration of her skills as an Animagus, transforming into a cat infront of the class. However she was quietly disappointed when they were too distracted to applause. After questioning the students she was somewhat scathing when she discovered that they'd been unnerved by their first Divination lesson with Sybill Trelawney, who had foreseen Harry's death. She alleviated Harry's fears by assuring him that Trelawney had predicted a death a year and none of them had come true yet, voicing her disapproval of the subject as a whole.
In the light of the escape of the supposed criminal Sirius Black Minerva McGonagall had to be even harder than normal on students who were possibly putting themselves in danger. When Harry Potter asked McGonagall if he could go to Hogsmeade despite his unsigned permission slip she refused, though she was sympathetic. She also decided that although the Ministry thought that Harry should remain ignorant of Sirius' apparent intent to kill him, she would tell him. He already knew however and when she tried to ban him from practising Quidditch Harry worked on her love of the game and strong desire to see Gryffindor win to make her relent. She did not tell him all she knew about Sirius Black and unfortunately Harry heard the rest (Sirius' friendship with his father and position as Godfather to himself) when he eavesdropped on her and some other teachers along with the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge when secretly in Hogsmeade. Also her love of the game did not prevent her from confiscating the renowned Firebolt broomstick that Harry was sent anonymously for Christmas when Hermione reported it to her. She was very pleased to be able to give it back when it proved safe, however. She sobbed with pleasure when Gryffindor finally won the Quidditch Cup near the end of the year.
Minerva McGonagall came skidding into the Great Hall at Hogwarts at the start of the school year, yelling at Peeves and nearly strangling Hermione as she slipped on water from Peeves' water bombs. The following day new teacher Alastor Moody made an impression after he punished Draco Malfoy by Transfiguring him into a ferret and bouncing him up and down. Minerva McGonagall was shocked upon discovering the scene and immediately raced to Malfoy's rescue, undoing the Transfiguration and sharply informing Moody of the proper procedure for punishing students.
During this year McGonagall worked them all hard as the Ordinary Wizarding Level exams were already casting a shadow. Also with the arrival of students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons she was stricter than normal about students' lack of ability in class or appearance. When the champions were picked for the Tournament, Harry Potter was unexpectedly picked as an unheard of fourth champion. McGonagall was part of a heated debate on what to do, standing up for Dumbledore who was modest in the face of the accusations that he had made a mistake.
Throughout the Tournament she tried to help Harry, whilst still obeying the rules. As McGonagall led Harry to the First Task she was clearly nervous for him, putting her hand on his shoulder and doing her best to comfort him.  In the run up to the next Task she gave Harry a note to use the Restricted Section and later gave Harry, Ron and Hermione permission to use the her Transfiguration classroom at lunchtimes to practise for the Third Task.
After Harry's extremely impressive performance in the First Task she ran to meet him, exclaiming that he had been excellent and sending him to see Madam Pomfrey. She was not as delighted with Harry when he was caught duelling with Ron at the back of her class with some joke wands. She went on to warn the class about the Yule Ball which was coming up. Parvati and Lavender fell to giggles at the idea of McGonagall 'letting her hair down' as she put it. McGonagall also had to inform a horrified Harry that it was the job of the champions to lead the dancing. She herself did dance at the event with Ludo Bagman, whilst wearing a red tartan dress and an ugly wreath of thistles around her hat.
During the Third Task it was McGonagall's job to patrol around the maze, along with Moody, Hagrid and Flitwick. Harry was able to get through without needing their help, however on touching the Triwizard Cup at the end he was transported out of sight. Harry made it back alive, but was quickly spirited away by Moody. Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape followed soon after, and used Stunning Spells to blast down the door and stop him from killing Harry. She tried to send Harry to the Hospital Wing, however Dumbledore stops her saying that Harry needed to first understand. He sent McGonagall to find a black dog at Hagrid's hut who she was to take to Dumbledore's office and inform that he would be with him shortly. She did not question the order, but quickly carried it out.
When she returned she found that the person she had believed to be Moody all year was in fact Barty Crouch junior, a Death Eater who was thought to be dead. She witnessed his confession under the influence of Veritaserum. He told them how he had been rescued from Azkaban and helped restore Voldemort to a body again by ensuring Harry touch the Portkey.
McGonagall was left to guard Crouch and Snape sent to bring the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, to the room to hear Crouch's story for himself. Unfortunately Fudge feared enough for his safety that he insisted on bringing a Dementor with him into the castle, a creature that Dumbledore abhors. The Dementor immediately administered the Kiss on Crouch before giving him time to testify. McGonagall was furious at this, and was still arguing with the Minister as they went to see Dumbledore in the Hospital Wing where Harry had finally been taken. She lost control as Fudge refused to believe their urgent news that Voldemort was back. Fudge left angrily, and Dumbledore quickly brings the Order of the Phoenix back into action.
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Portrayals within films
Minerva McGonagall is portrayed in all the films by Maggie Smith.
Strict and tall with black hair, often tied up in a bun.
A strict upholder of the rules, she would punish wrongdoers, but was described as fair and didn't favour the subjects of her own House. Amongst her peers she was friendly to most, but would sometimes look down on Hagrid and Sybill Trelawney. Despite that she was still indignant on their behalf when they were fired by Dolores Umbridge and raced to stop her and some Ministry officials attacking Hagrid. She treated both Gilderoy Lockhart and Dolores Umbridge with contempt and revealed her own sense of humour with some of her put downs.
When Umbridge became Headmistress she displayed a rebellious side. McGonagall would often argue with her and quietly aided those who were trying to upset her régime, from refusing to help get rid of Fred and George's fireworks and swamps to even helping Peeves by whispering which way a chandelier should be unscrewed. When it came to Quidditch Professor Mcgonagall would on several occasions forget herself in her passion for the sport and her own House pride.
McGonagall cared about her students and those on her side and would often cry on learning of the deaths of people she knew. She was brave in the face of Death Eaters and was very loyal to Dumbledore, following his strange orders without question. She was against the Dark Arts, but in the final book allowed herself in her anger to use the Imperius Curse on Amycus Carrow who had been abusing her students all year, though only to capture him and his sister.
Magical accomplishments and skills
Minerva McGonagall was very skilled in transfiguration, and taught it for a while at Hogwarts. She became an Animagus to further her understanding and ability in transfiguration and these abilities have proved quite useful.
Minerva McGonagall is a registered Animagus, one of the few in the books. She can transform at will into a tabby cat with distinctive markings around the eyes the same shape as her square glasses. She is an excellent dueller and teaches Transfiguration. She can produce a corporeal Patronus in the form of a cat and can use her Patronus to communicate. Also, she was able to cast three Patronus at a time, although it was not in the presence of a Dementor.
Although she did not practice the Dark Arts, Minerva was able to effectively cast the Imperius Curse on Amycus Carrow, proving that she had some knowledge in this field of magic. She was also skilled in Defence against the Dark Arts, having survived two wars and been able to take on many Death Eater's, and Voldemort himself (with assistance from Kingsley Shacklebolt and Horace Slughorn). What's more, she was able to survive 4 stunning spells to the chest in 1995.
Her wandless and non-verbal magic were also quite advanced, as she was able to make Neville Longbottom's leg reappear when he accidentally made it disappear, with just a wave of her hand. She was also able to turn Draco Malfoy back into a human non-verbally after he was transfigured into a ferret in 1994 by Barty Crouch Jr. (disguised as Alastor Moody). Later, in 1998, she was able to conjure a silver rope and a net both non-verbally and then cast three patronuses at once, without saying a word.
Other than transfiguration, their were also some other subjects which she was capable of using her skills in with ease. For example, in 1992 when Ron and Harry had to eat in Snape's office, she conjured a plate of sandwiches (although this was probably conjured from somewhere as food cannot be created with magic) which was charmed to refill itself. She was also known to be skilled in ancient runes, being able to read them.
Her leadership skills were very good, as she was Head of Gryffindor House (formerly), Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts and became Headmistress of Hogwarts until 1998. She also drove Severus Snape out of Hogwarts and took charge of the school, also being able to order Filch to do things.
She may have also been able to go into Ravenclaw if she had chosen to as she answered a riddle to allow Amycus Carrow into Ravenclaw Tower without hesitating.
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In popular culture
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- ↑ J. K. Rowling, PS 1
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, PS 14
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, PS 7
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, PS 8
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, PS 9
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 J. K. Rowling, PS 10
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, PS 15
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, PS 16
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, PS 17
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 12
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 13
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 15
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 17
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 J. K. Rowling, GoF 20
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 26
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 J. K. Rowling, GoF 31
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 22
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 23
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 35
- ↑ J. K. Rowling, GoF 36
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