Review: Pottermore's Dolores Umbridge
The familiar feverish excitement rippled through the internet as Book 5: The Order of The Phoenix opened on Pottermore, and along with it were some fresh new back-stories written by J.K Rowling herself. If for nothing else, Pottermore is worth joining for these glimpses into the lives of the side characters that don’t get as wide of a story as we would like. The main new story that has had the internet all a-buzz is a short essay on Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge. If you think that maybe this will give a glimpse into why she is like, the worst person ever, you’ll be very disappointed. She has retained her title as worst-person-ever for another year.
Through this essay we firstly learnt that her wand is eight inches long with a dragon heartstring core, and that (shocker) she never married. It was also revealed that during her Hogwarts years she was a Slytherin. I had never considered a teenage-Umbridge before, for me it was as though she just sprung onto the earth as a bitter middle aged woman. Her placing in Slytherin of course makes sense with her ambitious and cunning nature.
One of the most interesting things learnt was that the quill she used during Hogwarts detentions; the one that cut the words into the back of the students hand and used the blood to write with; was of her own making. This makes more sense than if it had been something that actual people sold in actual shops. I couldn’t imagine her walking into Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop and asking for ‘one super evil torture quill’ please. Although, it wouldn’t exactly look out of place in Borgin and Burkes. But it’s very interesting that she made this, and apparently other torture devices, herself. I can imagine Umbridge sitting listening to Christina Warbeck on the wireless in her sitting room, inventing tools of torture while surrounded by cats.
We also discovered that she is surprisingly of half-blood descent, and to further the plot twist, has a squib for a brother. Her father wasn’t too fond of this fact, and it seems that even from a young age, Umbridge was anti-muggle, and it wasn’t long before her and her father left her muggle mother and squib son, the latter two of which went off to integrate into muggle society. You would think that having a muggle parent would bring about some compassion in her towards muggles, but it seems to have only fuelled the hatred. Not that she was so fond of her father despite the fact that he was a wizard. He was unambitious and content in remaining stagnant in his lifelong job, and when Umbridge began to get some height at the Ministry, she forced him into early retirement and sent him away so that no one would ever find out they were related. Apparently working in The Department of Magical Maintenance wasn’t cool enough for Umbridge.
It has often been wondered why Umbridge stayed at the Ministry while Voldem- I mean, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, was in charge of the Ministry, since she never presented herself as a Death Eater. Well, this essay explains why. She (like the Malfoys) was only ever interested in power, and she gave no thought to how she got it, or who gave it to her. Being surrounded by Death Eaters meant that finally now she could be open about her anti-muggle leanings and she no longer had to receive side-glances for her skewed political views, including her hatred of anything half-human. Since there was no one around to stop her, she was therefore able to roam free and enact any anti-muggle or anti-part human laws she liked, with no consequences. None of this really explains why Fudge and Scrimgeour let her away with so many of those Educational Decrees in the first place though. Perhaps she is just very good at manipulation, or maybe they had more important things to be getting on with.
The question of what happened to her post-books was also finally answered. It seems Kingsley Shacklebolt, the new Minister of Magic, stepped up to the plate and put her on trial for all of her wrong-doings. It is assumed she went to Azkaban for a really long time. I wonder if she decorated her cell with frills and cat plates.
The general consensus seems to be glee that JK Rowling didn’t try to explain Umbridge’s behaviour away. She really is just that horrible. Everyone is glad though, because He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was always the big bad we hoped we would never have to face. But Umbridge stood for the prejudice we meet every day. She is the teacher that abuses her power, she is the government that refuses to see the truth. She is the perpetrator of hate crimes that we feel powerless to prevent. In all sense of the word, it is Umbridge, not Voldy, who is the truest form of evil.