Professor Umbridge

chapter twelve of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry’s first day of classes is a disaster, as Hermione confronts Fred and George about testing their products; Cho seeks him out but Ron drives her away; Snape unfairly gives Harry a zero; Binns and Trelawney are outrageously boring; and Umbridge informs her class that they will not be performing magic and that Harry is a liar – leading to a week’s worth of detentions for him, and a confrontation with McGonagall.

Cho Chang, by Michael Greenholt

“Hi,” said Harry, feeling his face grow hot. At least you’re not covered in Stinksap this time, he told himself. Cho seemed to be thinking along the same lines.
“You got that stuff off, then?”


Divination is Boring, by bluefooted

“What d’you reckon that means?”
“Probably that you’re going to be eaten by a giant marshmallow or something,” said Harry… without interest.


Professor Umbridge, by Leela Starsky

When they entered the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom they found Professor Umbridge already seated at the teacher’s desk, wearing the fluffy pink cardigan of the night before and the black velvet bow on top of her head. Harry was again reminded forcibly of a large fly perched unwisely on top of an even larger toad.


Professor Umbridge, by Laurence Peguy

“As I was saying, you have been informed that a certain Dark wizard is at large once again. This is a lie.”


[McGonagall] stood up, nostrils wide and mouth very thin, and he stood too. “Have another biscuit,” she said irritably, thrusting the tin at him.
“No thanks,” said Harry coldy.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she snapped.
He took one.

Have a Biscuit, by Heather Campbell


Minerva, by deeterhi

Professor McGonagall eyed him closely for a moment, then sniffed, walked around her desk, and held open the door for him. “Well, I’m glad you listen to Hermione Granger at any rate,” she said, pointing him from her office.


about the chapter


Some Things You May Not Have Noticed

It’s interesting that Cho is seeking Harry out to say hi to him even when he’s as unpopular as he’s ever been at Hogwarts. The previous year, when she seemed torn between Harry and Cedric, she seemed like she might be attracted to the glamour of the Triwizard champions. But now that she’s still seeking out Harry, it sheds new light on her interactions with him the previous year, too. For example, Cedric was much nicer to Harry than the other Hufflepuffs were, and even helped Harry out in the Tournament – I don’t doubt that he was a decent guy either way, but I can’t help but wonder if her influence might have had something to do with that?

Another thing I love about this chapter is the last line – when McGonagall tells Harry, “Well, I’m glad you listen to Hermione Granger at any rate.” On first read this sounds like an offhand, sarcastic remark intended to show her displeasure at the fact that Harry didn’t listen to Umbridge’s speech. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that McGonagall really does have a reason to be glad Harry’s listening to Hermione. Hermione’s much more analytical and thoughtful than Harry at this point in their lives, and she’s the one, more than anybody, helping guide Harry in the right direction from day to day. So while McGonagall may be speaking sarcastically, she definitely means what she’s saying.

The Power of Magic

I think of all the many, many lies that Harry hears this year, this one might be my favorite:

“Good-day,” said Professor Trelawney in her usual misty, dreamy voice…. “And welcome back to Divination. I have, of course, been following your fortunes most carefully over the holidays, and am delighted to see that you have all returned to Hogwarts safely – as, of course, I knew you would.”

This from the woman who’s spent the past two years predicting Harry’s imminent death. How does this woman take herself seriously? And for that matter, how can anybody else?

Life at Hogwarts

I can’t help but wonder sometimes what the Gryffindor girls’ dormitory in Harry’s year is like. Harry gets on well enough with Neville, Dean, and Seamus (well, usually anyway), but Hermione is so different from Lavender and Parvati, and we don’t even know who the other two Gryffindor girls are (though Rowling has said she intended them to exist). We get a slight glimpse into their culture when Hermione mentions here that she told Lavender to “keep her fat mouth shut” about Harry, but even when they aren’t at odds, the conversations they have must be interesting. Can’t you see Parvati and Lavender just annoying the heck out of Hermione with questions about boys, not to mention incessant giggling?

The Boy Who Lived

It’s funny that after Snape is extra cruel to Harry in Potions class, Harry bolts out the door by himself, and leaves Ron and Hermione to catch up to him in the Great Hall. It seems like a very rare occurrence indeed that he walks between his classes without his friends, and it’s certainly an indicator of his mood this year. But it’s not hard to envision the eye-rolling look that Ron and Hermione must give each other when he storms out – “ohhh, there he goes again. Guess we’d better go after him.” Harry’s got some pretty special friends to keep chasing after him, that’s for sure.

Something to Remember

I find it a bit frightening that Umbridge is so convinced that Harry is a liar that she completely disregards every word he says without a second thought. She seems to simply think she’s infallable, and that sounds to me like a dangerous sort of person to be in a position of power….

45 Responses to “Professor Umbridge”

  1. Hi there,

    First post! Great observations on Umbridge–for me, what makes her so frightening is that everything she says and does is more or less (she is, after all, a Ministry employee) on her own initiative. She’s not (as far as anyone knows) possessed by the heir of Slytherin, nor has she been Imperiused. It’s interesting that she (and a certain journalist) almost upstage Voldemort in active villainy!

    It was good hearing what you had to say about Professor McGonagall too. I always assumed that she (probably all Heads of House) was a practicing Legilimens, and that Dumbledore may well have asked her to keep a mind on Harry in particular.

  2. diligentdon, welcome and thanks for posting! I’m curious as to why you “always assumed” the heads of houses were practiced in Legilimency – after all, it’s described as “an obscure branch of magic” and I haven’t noticed any references to Harry feeling x-rayed with McGonagall/Flitwick/Sprout, as is mentioned several times with Snape and Dumbledore. Any thoughts? Are there other folks that have suspected this?

  3. Heather Campbells “Have a biscuit dammit!!” is just hilarious.
    One thing I hate is when people are mean to Cho. When Hermione describes how Cho is feeling after her and Harry kiss, I think Hermione is exactly right. (Mostly because JKR is probably trying to tell us that Cho is NOT ‘one of those girls.’)
    As for the girls’ dormitory, I can only imagine what goes on. It must be incredibly akward to dorm with people for 6 years when you clearly just aren’t friends with them. I can envision them being over-polite and smiling at each other while not-so-secretly wanting to rip each other’s throats out, not to mention some very real arguments as well. 4th and 6th year would be horrible. 4th year would mean constant pestering about Krum and Rita Skeeter’s article. 6th year… well, that’s the worst. Poor Hermione was probably wanting to tear her ears off from squeals about “Won-won,” but that’s for another book.
    Oh, how I wish I had friends like Ron and Hermione. Harry doesn’t seem to reailze how lucky he is at this point.

  4. Oh, and I think McGonagal just knows that Hermione was smart enough to decipher Umbridge’s speech, and would tell Harry and Ron. The way Harry said it also made is sort of obvious that he didn’t understand the speech and someone had told him about it. No Legilimency required, even if she did know how.

  5. Hermione’s relationship with Lavender & Parvati is very interesting. One would think that after sleeping in the same room for 5 years, they would know a lot about each other. This qoute from HBP proves the exact opposite:
    “At once Lavender and Parvati put their heads together to discuss this new development, with everything they had ever heard about McLaggen and all they had ever guessed about Hermione”.
    It seems they never even bothered to get to know Hermione and that they’d rather speculate about her than ask her anything. Of course, it’s not entirely their fault that they aren’t friends with someone thay are sharing so much time with.
    Hermione was quite obnoxious during their first year, then she relaxed a bit but seemed to only need Harry and Ron as friends. In PoA, we see her bonding with Ginny during the holidays, at Hogwarts, she is quite lonely and stressed and she also insults Divination and Trelawney, which Lavender and Parvati take very seriously. During her fourth year, Hermione becomes actively interested in house-elves’ liberation, she probably had a few arguments with her more frivolous room-mates, who can’t believe she is dating Krum (or that she even could get a date) or that she can be “pretty”. In OotP , besides Lavender not believing Harry, they seem to be in good terms, Hermione considers them both trustworthy enough to join DA. Of course, in HBP, all the romantic issues didn’t help their developing friendship and in DH, there is no time for them to be an issue.
    Note that Lavender didn’t know what a Grim was in PoA, so either she is a muggle-born, or a half/pure-blood who, for whatever reason, was raised outside the wizarding world. The magical world is as new to her as it is to Hermione, they could have bonded over their common muggle background early on.

  6. Martin, interesting points for sure – the thing that jumped out at me about what you said, though, was this:

    “In OotP , besides Lavender not believing Harry, they seem to be in good terms, Hermione considers them both trustworthy enough to join DA.”

    Parvati and Lavender may not be best buddies with Hermione, but they certainly seem to respect her opinion. Why else would Lavender do a total about face over the course of a month or two, from buying every word in the Daily Prophet to trusting Harry enough to join the D.A.? It’s an interesting hint at the relationship there.

  7. I love bluefooted’s depiction of the divination classroom.
    As always, Heather Campbell has exceptional skill in paraphrasing a scene to get to the heart of the matter. XD

  8. I think the artowkr in this chapter is my favorite out of all the chapters you’ve posted, it’s all so good! Particularly love “have a biscuit” – it made me burst out laughing. I think that Hermione and Lav/Parvati have a live-and-let-live policy most of the time – HBP being the obvious exception (kinda feel sorry for Parvati during that one).

    As for McGonagall’s comment, she knows Harry and hse knows Hermione, and she’s intelligent. I think it was fairly obvious, though that line makes me laugh each time.

  9. First post – I love this site!

    I remember that in their first DADA class of this year, Parvati expresses the concern that she’ll be going to her OWL exam without having practiced any of the spells. Hermione probably remembers this when she invites Parvati and Lavender to the meeting. (In the Hog’s Head, Michael Corner also mentions OWLs as a reason for learning more defensive magic.)

  10. I noticed that the Astronomy professor was shortly mentioned in this chapter, which got me thinking. We know that the trio takes Astronomy, but we never hear much about that class. Of course the Astronomy Tower plays an important part in both this book and the next, but the class itself must not be very important.

  11. Astronomy seems to be the only academic, non-magical subject offered at Hogwarts. (Astrology is taught as part of Divination, but not as part of Astronomy.) Since the students don’t seem to use any of the material they learn in Astronomy, I wonder why the subject is taught at all.

  12. Hi Josie (and hi to all others who commented),

    Thanks for your comments! It took me a little while to organize myself to respond, but here ’tis–it’s actually Occlumency described as an “obscure branch of magic”(Chapter 24). I don’t think anything is said about Legilimency. I just thought it seemed like a good skill for the Heads of House to have, strictly for their own students.

    As for McGonagall, my theory about her possible use of Legilimency was guesswork. More likely she used it on Hermione, and then she recognized Harry’s using a (slightly mangled) synopsis of what Hermione said. My theory there was that each Head of House would be responsible for knowing the essentials of how their portion of the student body was coping during the year. Another possibility was that Dumbledore parcelled out the responsibility of knowing Harry’s thoughts (admittedly a big one) between himself and Professor McGonagall.

    I was rather sickened with how Snape (outside of the Legilimency/Occlumency “classes” later on) used his abilities to his own embittered ends, to put Harry down. Reminded me of some toxic teachers in my past… Thanks for reading, and THANKS TO JO ROWLING FOR THIS SERIES–it’s the LORD OF THE RINGS of the new millenium.

  13. Hi,

    a quick PS to my last–please see Chapter 17, p. 359 (hardcover); this is another plank in my “Professor-McGonagall-is-using-Legilimency” platform.

    Of course, she could just be guessing what’s going on, too. :)

  14. Diligent Don, I don’t think I have the same edition as you, what moment are you referring to with McGonagall?

    I guess I just don’t buy Legilimency as being a commonly used thing. It would totally change the nature of the wizarding world in a way that I just don’t see much evidence for. Dumbledore and Snape both have much more than circumstantial evidence indicating that they’re using Legilimency – frequent descriptions of “x-raying” and things like that that Harry never feels from any other character.

    Also – I know it was Occlumency that was described as “obscure,” but if Legilimency were as common as you’re suggesting, surely lots more people would learn Occlumency to combat it, right?

  15. It’s funny you mention the girls Dormitory: The question that immediately sprung up in my mind was: “can you imagine the Dormitoy of the girls in their 6th year, when Ron starts to date Lavender??” Mickey and some others seem to have the same idea :)
    Love Heather Campbell. Her art is hilarious: she manages to make fun out of a chapter that isn’t even that funny. (no offence to JK, you can’t have only fun-chapters)

  16. For that matter, I wonder what the Gryffindor girls’ dormitory must have been like once third-year and the Divination classes came around, in light of Hermione’s conviction that Divination is absolute rot and Lavender and Parvati being keen on that class!

  17. I’m a little confused concerning the situation in the girls dormitory. Why do there HAVE to be five Gryffindor girls in Hermione’s year? I mean, aren’t there five boys in Harry’s dorm because that’s simply how many boys happened to be sorted into Gryffindor that year? So, isn’t it possible that only three girls became Gryffindors that year?

  18. Girls Dorm situation is very intresting indeed. We know a few things for sure: 1. Hermione obviously isn’t friends with the other 2 girls because she never talks about them and they aren’t invited to DA. 2. She is close enough friends with Parvati and Lavender to invite them to DA. I assume that her relasonship with them is pretty much like Ron’s relasonship with Seamus and Dean. They talk about casual stuff but they aren’t going to be best friends.

    I really doubt that McGonagall is using Legilimency. I think you can FEEL when someone is reading your mind. Harry says it about Snape all the time. It is probally a very difficult thing to master and takes a lot of effort. Snape has to focus on Harry when using Legilimency. And the main argument I have is Occlumency is an obscure branch of magic. Why would Subject A he obscure and Subject B wouldn’t; especially considering they are related. And if it was common wouldn’t Ministy officials use it. It would be a very simple tactic to convict criminals ect ect.

  19. Yusra, Rowling has said in interviews that she intended there to be five Gryffindor girls. We’ve also seen a page from her notes in which she plotted out all of the students in Harry’s year, which made it fairly clear that there were five boys and five girls in each house.

    I just posted a little more information about this, including links, on the bottom of the page for PS7:

  20. In my original UK copy of the book, the only one I have, this chapter is entitled “Professor Umbridge”. What gives?

  21. Huh, Rtozier, you’re right – the US editions are the same. Guess I just messed that one up and nobody caught it for eleven months….

  22. I’ve got so used to your site now that seeing it as “Professor” Umbridge is taking some getting used to :)

  23. I loooove the biscuit picture!!!

  24. The biscuit picture made me laugh out loud. :D

    The other reason why I don’t think McGonagall could be a Legillimens is that if she was why would Dumbledore get Snape to teach Occlumency to Harry instead of her?

  25. Oh, and this is another chapter that really frustrates me on Harry’s behalf.

  26. Who agrees that Umbridge is the kind of villain who fits in seamlessly and smoothly with the everyday action in Harry Potter? The world that is presented in the main part of the series is one of people in funny cloaks running around being small minded. Rather like mimesis with a bit of fantasy embroidery. Umbridge is the kind of villain one expects from such a world. Voldemort is too melodramatic for the context shown, he gives the impression of having got lost on his way to a supervillain convention or maybe even an epic fantasy.

  27. Someone mentioned that since Lavender had never heard of a Grim that she must be Muggle-born or raised away from the Wizarding world. But WHY? Why would she know what that is? I doubt wizards talk about it at home. I suppose Ron knew about it because of his Uncle Bilius but just because Lavender has never heard of it doesn’t mean she’s not a normal half/pure blood. Anyway she can’t be Muggle-Born b/c she stayed at Hogwats during DH.

    Same with Colin and Dennis Creevey. This is a mistake I’ve actually never seen pointed out: The Creevey brothers stay at Hogwarts during DH (McGonangoll reprimands Colin shortly in one scene). But Colin is Muggle-Born, he says so in CS and he is attacked by the Basilisk. Did they fake their family tree or what?

  28. Colin wasn’t initially mentioned when the trio first entered the RoR with Neville, so I don’t think he was there yet, he came later along with everyone else. I never realised before the significance of Lavender being there. Jo’s notebook says she’s a pureblood, but there are other deviations from canon on it too, and I always thought she was Muggle-born, though I can’t remember why now. I’m looking it up and can’t find anything that said she was Muggleborn. I think it must have been an assumption from that scene in PoA. Harry, Dean and Lavender were the only ones that didn’t know what a Grim was and Harry and Dean both grew up in the Muggle world, so people assumed Lavender did too.

  29. I’ve just realised, Terry Boot was also in the RoR and Jo’s notebook says he’s Muggleborn. So either Lavender is pure/half blood and Jo changed her mind and made him pure/half too, or they’re both Muggleborns who returned to Hogwarts sooner than everyone else because that’s how much they wanted to be involved in the DA.

  30. To me it seemed a lot like Colin had been at school the whole time because he was sitting at the house table and everything. And I somehow doubt Aberforth would’ve let someone who is so CLEARLY not of age go through the portrait. My personal opinion is that they have a witch mother who left them when they were babys (remember Colin only said his Dad was suprised about the Hogwarts letter). But then when all the Muggle-Borns were being rounded up, she chose to step in and prove they were her children. But I write Fanfiction, so I always have some outlandish, thought-up excuses so I can write whatever I want :)

    As for JKs notebook…well she has made lots of changes over the years. My bet is that Lav and Terry are both pure/half blood.

  31. The scene with McGonagall and Harry is one of my absolute favourites, this and the one later with Umbridge, I think this and that scene show how much she cares for him, enough to be one of the few who visibly show and sound out her grief when he’s “dead” in book 7

  32. Miss Campbell, your pic had me rocking in my chair. that’s just how i imagined it!

  33. Hermione’s differences with Lavender and Parvati is probably yet another reason why we alwasys see her in the library or the common room aside form the obivious reason that she’s always studying. I know if I were Hermione, I would not be able to stand all the giggling and girl talk when I’m trying to figure things out whether it was that night’s homework or another Harry problem.

  34. Wevl, JKR has stated that Colin was not at Hogwarts for the year 1997-8, but that he sneaked back for the battle.

    As for Lavender and Terry, I think it’s safe to say that they didn’t want to go with the Snatchers and that they would have sneaked their way back into Hogwarts if they possibly could. We don’t know how they managed it, but Terry is a smart Ravenclaw, so he’d have thought of something. As for Lavender, anyone with a surname like Brown could have faked a plausible genealogy.

  35. Billie, the only practical use I’ve seen wizards getting out of Astronomy is the ability to read those watches and clocks with the planes all along their sides (which are actually introduced in the very first chapter of the series). Harry seems to be able to read this type of watch easily by the time he acquires one. He never thinks to himself “too bad I won’t be able to use this” so I can only assume Astronomy has helped him very much here. I’ve always wondered though, how one reads this type of time-piece. I’d love to know how for myself!

  36. whoops, I meant planets* and I suppose Astronomy helps in Divination, not just Astrology, but it does seem to be a more Astrology class.

  37. The conversation about the occupants really makes me think about the sorting hat, the numbers in each year and etc. What if there had been 10 Gryffendor boys that year? or none at all? Does the sorting hat keep a tally so that the houses are even-ish? I could just see one year there being only 1 slytherin or ravenclaw in that year and how would that affect classes? so many questions!

  38. I think the really interesting thing about Hermione saying that Lavender thinks Harry’s lying is that Parvati isn’t mentioned as thinking the same, and Harry doesn’t seem to care. Even after (presumably) reading the Daily Prophet lies and her best friend’s beliefs and Harry standing her up at the Yule Ball and all of that, she still believes him. Harry is sure that Lavender and Parvati just stopped talking about him when he enters the Great Hall, but doesn’t it seem they just stopped ARGUING about him?

  39. I have to agrre with Trelawney when she says that if you don’t possess the “Seeing Eye” getting good grades in this class won’t matter.

    The second cource aim in Umbridge’s class: “Learning to regonize situations in which defensive magic can legally be used.” Things are messed up when you can be sent to jail for acting in self-defense.

  40. I love Heather Campbell’s picture. I laugh every time I see it.

  41. Ihave also given some thought on how many students there are in Gryffindor in Harry’s year. We never hear of any other girls than Hermione, Parvati and Lavender, and even if there were two more girls, it’s unlikely that there would be five girls and five boys every year in each house, isn’t it? Or, maybe, this explains why Peter Pettigrew was in Gryffindor – the other houses were full ;)
    No, seriously, I just don’t see how there’s the same amount of students every year. What happens if there’s just two girls one of these years? What dormitory would they be in? Where would they put the boys that can’t fit in the boy’s dormitory…? So many questions…

    While on the subject of dormitories, I’ve given the layout of the Gryffindor tower some thoughts as well. The common room is shaped like a circle, as is the dormitory rooms (at least Harry’s), and there would be at least fourteen rooms if every year has their own one, boys and girls. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Gryffindor tower has the actual common room in the tower itself, then four smaller towers on top, each with four towers on THEM. Otherwise I don’t know how to make it work… unless the dormitories are stapled on eachother like in this picture:

  42. Am I the only one thinking why the heck was McGonagall INSISTING on the biscuits? She didn’t ask Harry if he wants one, she just made him eat two… Why? Was that just because she tried to be nice and all or because of something else?

  43. I’m not a Cho hater, but nevertheless I’m convinced that her sudden interest in Harry originated mostly in her need to learn something about Cedric’s dead. Not that she doesn’t like Harry, but she is essencially still grieving. Under normal circumstances, she most likely wouldn’t have started dating so soon again, but she thought that Harry would give her some closure. The whole relationship is pretty messed up overall.

  44. I like the picture with Mcgonagal throwing a biscuit at Harry

  45. Hi, I know this comment is late but I just had to say that Lavender is Pureblood. The Brown family is one of the 30 Pureblood families that Jo has listed.

    Love this site!

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