- “I WILL have order!”
- ―Dolores Umbridge
Dolores Jane Umbridge is the central antagonist of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She is a half-blood witch and senior undersecretary to the Minister of Magic under Cornelius Fudge, Rufus Scrimgeour, and Pius Thicknesse.
Born to muggle Ellen Cracknell and wizard Orford Umbridge, she had a younger brother who was a Squib. Umbridge disliked her mother and brother and banished them to the Muggle world. At age 11, she went to Hogwarts, and was sorted into Slytherin House. However, nobody liked her, especially her head of house, Horace Slughorn. She never got any positions of power while at Hogwarts.
Career at the Ministry
After leaving Hogwarts, Umbridge went on to work at the Ministry of Magic, in the Improper Use of Magic office. She eventually became the head of the office, due to her ruthless tactics and tyrannical leadership, which she hid with a sweet attitude. In addition, she forced her father, who wasn't as successful as her, to retire, promising him a small allowance in exchange. From then on, she lied about her family, claiming she was a pure-blood and not a half-blood.
Personality and traits
Though she may not look like it, Dolores Umbridge is a cruel, heartless, ruthless, brutal, corrupt, misanthropic sociopath devoid of a moral or ethical centre, who characterises the worst aspects of political power.
She is prejudiced against part-humans (like werewolves, centaurs, mermaids, or giants), calling them half-breeds. Umbridge has no toleration of free speech, dissent, diversity, or multiple points of view, either. Therefore, she represents the qualities of a totalitarian government: she relies mostly on fear, rather than consensus and respect, to maintain control over her co-workers and students at Hogwarts, using any methods available to make people obey her, even if the methods she uses are illegal.
She also has a blind faith in authority, and because of her selfish, power-hungry nature, she mainly sides with people who give her the most authority.
After Harry Potter spoke of Voldemort's return, Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge began a smear campaign against him and Albus Dumbledore, because revealing the truth would endanger the community he worked so hard to put together. When Harry had to go to a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic for performing underage magic when he and his cousin Dudley Dursley were attacked by dementors, Umbridge was present at the hearing. She, along with Fudge and a few others, votes for Harry's conviction. Thankfully, Harry is cleared of all charges.
Fudge appoints Umbridge as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts because Dumbledore was unable to find anyone. She rudely interrupts his start-of-term speech with a speech of her own, which displeases everyone. Harry recognizes her immediately, and he, Ron, and Hermione know that her presence is anything but good. On her first day, she gives the class useless text books. Most students are concerned that they will be defenseless against evil forces and express their fears, but Umbridge ignores and silences them. When Harry opposes the Ministry's claim that Voldemort hadn't returned, Umbridge gives him detention and claims that Cedric Diggory's death was a tragic accident. Harry furiously tells her what really happened, but she silences him and calmly tells him to come to her office later. For detention, Umbridge makes Harry write "I Must Not Tell Lies" with a Black Quill, which cuts the words into his left hand.
After an argument with Professor Minerva McGonagall, Umbridge declares that things at Hogwarts are far worse than she thought, and that Cornelius will want immediate action to be taken. He appoints her "Hogwarts High Inquisitor", giving her powers to address the "seriously falling standards at Hogwarts School". Umbridge then goes around the school, making life difficult for students and teachers; whenever she sees students enjoying themselves or improperly dressed, she spoils their fun and forcefully fixes up their clothes. She also inspects the other teachers, her presence making them feel uncomfortable and angry. The only staff member who takes her side is the grouchy caretaker Argus Filch. She even fires Sybill Trelawney after she fails to predict something for her, but Dumbledore and McGonagall intervene.
That evening, in the Gryffindor Common Room, Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet with Sirius Black, who explains that Fudge is afraid that Dumbledore is building an army to engage the Ministry, and to reduce the risk, Umbridge is only teaching a theoretical-based class. Knowing that Voldemort is really out there, and that Umbridge has no plans to teach practical defensive magic, Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to take matters into their own hands, and assemble a group of students to secretly practice defensive magic, calling themselves "Dumbledore's Army". As they return to the castle discussing possible places to practice where Umbridge isn't likely to find them, Umbridge listens in on them and has Filch post a new Educational Decree, forbidding student organizations. She later interrogates students about illicit activities using Veritaserum provided by Severus Snape, and also assembles an Inquisitorial Squad, consisting of Filch and several Slytherin House students, including Draco Malfoy and his cronies.
When Rubeus Hagrid returns from his top-secret mission to recruit the giants, Umbridge questions him to find out where he's been, but he lies to her, knowing that he's not allowed to speak of his mission. As Umbridge goes back up to the castle, she sprays herself with air-freshener and sprays an X on Hagrid's door, indicating that she is definitely going to sack him.
After interrogating Cho Chang using Veritaserum, Umbridge and her Inquisitorial Squad go to the Room of Requirement where the D.A. is practicing and expose them. She, Fudge, Percy Weasley, Harry, Cho, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and an Auror named Dawlish go to Dumbledore's office, where she confronts him. Harry attempts to take the fall, but Dumbledore stops him and takes full responsibility for the organization. Fudge orders for Dumbledore's arrest, but he escapes with the help of his pet phoenix Fawkes. Umbridge then becomes the new head of Hogwarts. She has Filch remove all the portraits in the castle and gives all the members of Dumbledore's Army detention, making them use her Black Quills. During the exams, Fred and George cause a fireworks show in the Great Hall, eventually unleashing one that turns into a dragon and goes right for Umbridge, causing her to flee in terror. The dragon-firework swallows her whole, and disperses into numerous fireworks that destroy all the Educational Decrees.
As the students celebrate Fred and George overthrowing Umbridge, Harry has a vision of Voldemort torturing Sirius. He, Ron, and Hermione attempt to reach him via the Floo Network using the fireplace in Umbridge's office, as her's is the only one not under surveillance. However, Umbridge catches them and holds them hostage, along with Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood. She calls for Snape to bring Veritaserum, only to find out she used the last of it on Cho. She then attempts to use the Cruciatus Curse on Harry, but Hermione tricks her into looking for "Dumbledore's Secret Weapon." Harry and Hermione lead Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest, to the spot where Hagrid's half-brother Grawp is kept. She then finds out she was tricked. They are confronted by a herd of centaurs, furious with the Ministry for restricting their territory, who fire arrows at Umbridge after she provokes them. She subdues one of them before picked up by Grawp; the centaurs attack both her and Grawp. After accidentally being hit in the arm by an arrow, Grawp drops Umbridge, who begs Harry to tell the centaurs she didn't mean to offend them, but he refuses, and the centaurs grab her and carry her off.
After Fudge sees Voldemort with his own eyes and realizes Harry and Dumbledore were right all along, Umbridge is suspended from Hogwarts, and Fudge contemplates resignation.
Following her suspension, Umbridge goes back to the Ministry, where she continues with her position as Senior Undersecretary.
After Voldemort takes over the Ministry, Umbridge becomes the Head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission, and sadistically prosecutes muggle-borns for the Death Eaters. Prior to this, she confronts Mundungus Fletcher, who stole Salazar Slytherin's locket (one of Voldemort's Horcruxes) from the House of Black, and takes the locket from him, and it strengthens her further. In their quest to find Voldemort's Horcruxes, Harry, Ron, and Hermione sneak into the Ministry, and steal the locket from Umbridge after stunning her. She isn't seen again after that.
Differences from the source material
- Umbridge may have been inspired by villains from other movies, like Hopper, the main antagonist of Disney/Pixar's 1998 film A Bug's Life, who she has some similarities to; both are ruthless control freaks and take pleasure in torturing others.