Is Dolores Umbridge the weakest-drawn Harry Potter character?



One of many strengths of the Harry Potter collection is the nuance with which its characters are drawn. No-one is all-good or all-bad. The most effective characters have their weak moments, instances once they make dangerous selections, lash out, behave selfishly, use dangerous judgment, behave immaturely, or say one thing hurtful that they remorse. In different phrases, they’re human and that realness makes them relatable and three-dimensional, not cartoonish or picket. It makes it simpler to construct empathy for every character, and to care about them because the storyline progresses.

This potential to really feel empathy, to humanise, is particularly vital for the dangerous guys, the Dying Eaters and different assorted villains who’re the antagonists of the story. Dumbledore helps Harry to see that each Dudley Dursley and Draco Malfoy are much less villains than victims of oldsters who’ve mis-shapened their characters from start. Neither character has an entire redemption, overcoming his upbringing, however each characters present some development, responding to the kindness with which they’re handled by individuals who pity moderately than punish them for the terrible parenting to which they had been subjected. Harry saves Dudley from the Dementor’s kiss in Order of the Phoenix and Draco from loss of life by Fiendfyre in Deathly Hallows as a result of he is aware of it’s the proper assume to do. Regardless of how terrible they’ve been to him, they don’t deserve the fates that might have befallen them with out Harry’s intervention. I admit that each of those scenes made me uncomfortably conscious of my very own shortcomings in empathy and braveness as a result of I couldn’t think about myself saving both of them in these conditions. Not solely out of worry for my very own life in these harmful situations however out of a misplaced sense of justice that each imply bullies had been getting what they deserved after years of cruelty they inflicted on others. I imagine that my emotions of discomfort, my questioning if I might have saved them like Harry did, are a part of the purpose of those scenes and a purpose why the collection is so highly effective. The books make us query our personal character, challenges us to develop extra empathy, extra understanding, extra endurance. That is one purpose why I’ve the quote “It’s our selections, Harry, that present what we really are, excess of our skills” on my front room wall.

Even Voldemort, the psychotic, amoral killer, has a backstory. His conception by deception, his mom’s loss of life and his father’s rejection all wind up eliciting pity moderately than enmity from each Harry and Dumbledore. Harry doesn’t kill Voldemort in revenge for his mother and father’ murders or Voldemort’s different crimes. He as a substitute sacrifices himself to save lots of others from hurt by a person so broken he can’t really feel love. Harry’s love for his pals, and empathy with a fellow orphan, motivates him moderately than a need for retribution towards an enemy and adversary he has each proper to hate and want useless.

We see nuances of character not simply within the realm of excellent and evil (“the world isn’t divided into good individuals and Dying Eaters”) however when it comes to reliability, talent, trustworthiness. Mundungus Fletcher is a weak and unreliable character, a thief. However he does have some loyalty to Dumbledore, regardless of his shortcomings. Sybil Trelawney is in lots of respects the “previous fraud” she is named, and Divination is a “woolly” topic. However she can be a real Seer who makes the occasional correct prediction. Luna Lovegood is initially a bit gullible in defence of her father’s wilder Quibbler nonsense however she later proves to be insightful and helpful at pondering exterior the proverbial field.

Nor can we overlook Argus Filch and Petunia Dursley, who’re each understandably jealous of these with magical powers. Would I’ve behaved any higher if I had been a Squib or had a magical sister? I feel the jealousy would have eaten me alive and in the end destroyed my life, though I hope I might not have taken my bitterness out on harmless individuals the way in which these two did. However as a lot as we might deplore their remedy of others, we’ve got some empathy for them, some understanding of why they behave the way in which they do.


Which brings me to Umbridge. She deviates from the patten of nuanced characters with backstories. We all know nothing of her background past her need to go off the locket as a pureblood household artefact. She is only evil, with no nuance to her character, no depth, no redemption, nothing however malice via and thru. There isn’t a private development, no change in her even after Dumbledore rescues her from being gang-raped by the Centaurs. She is similar evil witch till the second she is thrown into Azkaban, the place one hopes she is incarcerated for the remainder of her life. After all, with out the Dementors guarding it anymore, Azkaban is more likely to be a way more humane jail sooner or later. One assumes there will probably be many reforms to the magical legal justice system, with modernisation of the jail foremost amongst them. She will definitely serve her sentence in a lot better circumstances than these to which she gleefully subjected her fellows when she had energy over them.

The rationale I feel she is essentially the most weakly-drawn character is the collection is as a result of she comes throughout as a two-dimensional comedian e book villain. She is only evil, a sadist with no recognized purpose for her having developed such a hideous, malignant character. She takes pleasure in hurting others. Why? She hates magical non-humans and condescends to them. Why? She tortures Muggleborns with evident delight. Why? She will not be, technically, a Dying Eater initially, however she actually comes into her personal once they take over the Ministry and provides her sadistic cruelty free rein. She is, in a way, worse than a Dying Eater as a result of the wizards caught up in that cult of persona round Voldemort typically had very human motivations for searching for energy and safety and standing. She clearly relishes energy however in a moderately apparent, predictable, cartoonish manner. What motivates Dolores to be so merciless and sadistic? That motivation for evil behaviour and angle is a query we are able to reply about each different character within the collection besides her. When different characters leap off the web page, lifelike and relatable and human, she is inscrutable. Simply pure malevolence personified.

As a inflexible neat freak with extreme, clinically identified OCD, I typically quip that, “Very like Dolores Umbridge, I will need to have order.” However I rapidly comply with that line up with, “…that’s the one factor we’ve got in widespread!” I typically marvel if she has OCD, however I don’t discover it related to her wicked malevolence. OCD emphatically does NOT make one evil, only a bit inflexible in a single’s pondering, which is true of plenty of characters, good and dangerous.

Supposedly the one character based mostly on an actual particular person was Gilderoy Lockhart. However one can simply image many of the different characters being based mostly plausibly on actual individuals, as much as and together with Voldemort…besides Umbridge.

What do you assume? Is Umbridge the least shaped of the Harry Potter characters, a mere two-dimensional comedian e book villain, or am I lacking one thing?


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