The De-Pinking of Dolores: A Not-So-Happy Birthday for Professor Umbridge

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Aug 26, 2017

Posted by: Kim McChesney | Comments

Birthdays, Book Seven, Character Birthdays, Fun, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Humor, J.K. Rowling, News, Pottermore, Staunton

How do we acknowledge the birthday of one of the most despicable characters in the Potter story, if not all of literature? How about taking this time for a little supposition?

As we’ve been told, Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, former Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, and Harry Potter enemy #2, was carted off to Azkaban after the fall of Voldemort and the reclamation of the Ministry of Magic. Although Umbridge wasn’t officially a Death Eater, she wholeheartedly agreed with their ideologies, and her actions, though hidden behind a sugar-coated smile, were just as heinous as the Dark Lord’s followers’.

The argument has been made that this rosy yet ruthless wizard was a more nefarious villain than even He Who Must Not Be Named. She certainly was more of a real-world antagonist, one whose traits we may encounter on a regular basis in everyday muggle life. She wasn’t as blatantly evil or terrifying in appearance, but a passive-aggressive racist with sadistic tendencies equals a really bad “guy” in our book. Her incarceration couldn’t have been more deserved.

According to our favorite author and creator of this miscreant, even her name comes with baggage; Dolores means sorrow (that she delivers so enthusiastically) and her surname from umbrage or “to take offense”, which she often does with ample retribution. On comparing Umbridge to the Dark Lord, J.K. Rowling has this to say on Pottermore:

“Her desire to control, to punish and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.”

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Rowling has also given us some backstory on this hateful witch of a character, whose entire pureblood belief system happens to be based on a long-buried lie about her lineage. As it turns out, Dolores Umbridge comes from what she would consider pretty common stock. This dysfunctional family unit consisted of an unhappily married father who was a wizard, but never rose in the ranks at the Ministry beyond custodial services, and a mother who was actually a muggle. Eventually Mrs. Umbridge took Dolores’ squib brother and left, which allowed this budding xenophobe to masquerade as a pureblood from that time forward. How ironic is it that she would lead the tyrannical charge under Voldemort’s regime to “purify” the wizarding community?

This exorcism took the form of a procession of Ministry-conducted trials of muggle born witches and wizards overseen by Umbridge. With Dementors present in the courtroom, this malevolent fraud actually accused the defendants of stealing magic from purebloods and sentenced them to life in Azkaban, some of whom perished in custody.

The most memorable of her offenses, however, was during her stint as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. She punished Harry in detention by forcing him to write the phrase “I must not tell lies” repeatedly with a special torturous quill that used his blood as ink and sliced the words into the back of his hand. This reprehensible act made Umbridge the only person aside from Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on our protagonist.

via GIPHY

And what is it about the aesthetic of this devil-in-a-pink-suit that grates on us so? The ribbons and bows and kittens, or the combination of it all iced with that ingratiating grin? We’re gritting our teeth just thinking about it. How is it related to her dysfunctional history? Rowling makes this connection:

“I have noticed more than once in life that a taste for the ineffably twee can go hand-in-hand with a distinctly uncharitable outlook on the world. […] A love of all things saccharine often seems present where there is a lack of real warmth or charity.”

Is Dolores Umbridge inherently evil? Is she a product of nature or nurture? Interestingly, abandonment is a common denominator for her Royal Pinkness and the Dark Lord. No matter how much she despised her mother, this issue could be at least partly to blame for what seems to be a case of acute narcissism underlying her sociopathic behavior:

Narcissism

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

Sociopath

“a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”

That all said, Dolores Umbridge is exactly where she should be today; in a cell behind bars in the highest security Wizarding prison in the land. Even if she’s been allowed to decorate in blush and lace, retain a cat or two, or even scribe a cooked-up memoir, her only birthday companion is the soulless guard on the other side of the wall. And what if, to mark the anniversary of this convict’s birth, even her designated mouth breather has decided to call it quits?

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quillandparchment Date: August 26

 To: Dementor Resources

        Azkaban Penitentiary

 From: Dem 698

         Cellblock P

        5th Floor

 

 

 To whom it may concern:

 I hereby resign my position as guardian of cellblock P Floor 5 of Azkaban Prison. Though I have devoted the entirety of my existence to this institution, I refuse to be subjected any longer to the cruelty inflicted night after night by prisoner Dolores J. Umbridge. She may have been Senior Underwhatever of the Ministry and a big fish at that magic school, but here, she’s just an enormous toad. Every shift I feel her literally sucking the life out of me–a sensation I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Just being in her presence has affected my physical health and plunged me into a deep depression. She is feeding upon my very happiness with her tirades and verbal abuse. She continually taunts me, regularly projects her obviously low self-esteem in my direction and chastises my kissing technique. She remains a totalitarian even behind bars, and overpowering her has become increasingly inconceivable.

I will no longer clean her cell for those invisible kitty litter commercials you’ve allowed her to produce, nor will I continue to be the copyeditor for that load of mindless self-indulgent trash she’s penning. Lastly I am done sprucing and systematizing the exorbitant amount of florid rubbish she surrounds herself with. I quit.  DoloresUmbridge_WB_F5_UmbridgeAtHerDesk_Still_080615_Land

She suffers zero remorse and relishes the fact that she’s more hated than Voldemort. She forces me to talk about her crimes and salivates over the examples. She actually posed this question to me last week,    

“Which of my actions specifically make your grey gaseousness crawl and trigger your gag reflex?”

She is, indeed, a monster.

Once when I tried to discuss redemption she countered,

I’m not looking for forgiveness, sweetheart. We all have some naughtiness in us, it’s just happens to be my forte. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, don’t you think? That’s the difference between you and I, Dem; I may be trapped in these four walls, but you’re out and about and uncomfortable in your own skin. At least I honor who I am and I’m enjoying the solitude. I’ll never believe in my shriveled old heart that muggles and wizards are on the same playing field. So I’ve been gifted a muggle-free world, no matter how isolated. Cheers to me.”

Dementor_OOTP  I reminded her that I’m the only link to the outside world she has at this point and she had the nerve to retort,

  “I can beat you at your soul-sucking game any day, you pitiful creature.”

  This was the final straw. I can bear no more from this inmate. Two weeks notice is beyond my tolerance. Today, August 26, I terminate my employment at Azkaban although it pains me to do so. As I depart, I bequeath some advice for my replacement: the beast once confided in me that being stripped of her excessive niceties would be the most torturous punishment she could receive. She confessed,

“Without my wand, pink is my armor.”

 

 

Azkaban

 

I relinquish these duties in search of a quiet, less stressful, and more monotone existence.

 

Truly disheartened, dispirited and demoralized yours,

Dem 698

Obviously this Dementor was so unnerved by his hateful ward, he couldn’t go on. We wish him the best in his retirement and congratulations on his liberation from pink. Best of luck to Professor Umbridge on her birthday. Maybe she’ll learn to show a little respect for her next hooded sentinel.

The full Pottermore piece on Dolores Umbridge can be found here.





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