Hello everyone! I’m hpboy13 and I’ll be analyzing Nymphadora Tonks (soon to be Lupin, I hope!) and her mother, Andromeda Black Tonks. Nymphadora (referred to as Tonks after this) seems to have an awful lot of action in the books for a character that was introduced so late. What role does she have yet to play? I’ll attempt to figure this out by analyzing various aspects of her character, such as her name, Metamorphmagus abilities, practicality, boldness, ingenuity, skill in battle, and her status as a Hufflepuff. But, most intriguingly, I will look at the influence she’s received from her family and the possible future significance of her mother in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. As the Andromeda galaxy is the faintest thing we can see with the human eye, it is also the largest galaxy in our local group of galaxies (about thirty-five of them).1 Perhaps the character of Andromeda is the same - she is one of the faintest characters, one we know very little about, but like the galaxy, I suggest she is of more significance than it would seem.
Andromeda Black Tonks
In Greek mythology, Andromeda was the daughter of the king and queen of Ethiopia.2 This brings to mind Sirius’s statement: “my parents […] convinced that to be a Black made you practically royal.” 3 So far, we have a match – both Andromedas come from “royal” families.
Princess Andromeda of Ethiopia had significant family trouble. Her mother offended Poseidon by boasting about her own beauty, so Poseidon sent a sea monster after their country. In those days, children often suffered for their parents’ folly, and Andromeda was to be sacrificed to the monster to stop its killing spree. Andromeda’s parents offered her up without a second thought. She was heartlessly abandoned by her family to save themselves. In Harry Potter, Andromeda Black abandoned her family and their ideologies, leading to her being disowned.4 So that’s family problems for both Andromedas, two for two.
When Andromeda in mythology was to be sacrificed, she is chained to a rock to await the monster. She is saved by the hero Perseus, who frees her, slays the monster, and eventually marries her. In this case, Perseus is an equivalent to Ted Tonks. We can say that Andromeda Black was metaphorically chained to her family and their pure-blood mania, where she was to wait for a pure-blood to marry. However, when Muggle-born Ted came along, she broke free of those chains, and married him instead.5 All in all, our Andromeda fits rather nicely with the Andromeda of Greek mythology.
According to the Black family tree,6 Andromeda Black is the younger sister of Bellatrix Lestrange, and the older sister of Narcissa Malfoy, and was born between 1952 and 1954. The Lexicon has Tonks’s birth circa 1973,7 which means she was in the same year at Hogwarts as Charlie Weasley. This puts Andromeda’s age between 19 and 21 when she gave birth to her daughter. While this seems really young, we should keep in mind what Mrs. Weasley says in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: “It’s all this uncertainty with You-Know-Who coming back […] It was the same last time he was powerful, people eloping left, right, and center.” 8
Dumbledore says they’ve had “precious little to celebrate for eleven years” 9 in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which takes place in 1981. This means Voldemort was powerful from 1970 to 1981, and Tonks was born during this time period. Therefore, it is fitting that Andromeda started a family at a very young age, just like Lily and James Potter. Also, Tonks may have been affected by growing up during the reign of terror perpetrated by Lord Voldemort. We don’t know if Tonks, or her family, was directly affected by Voldemort (well, Regulus was killed by the Death Eaters, but I’m not under the impression that they were particularly close), but perhaps this was one of the motivations behind her choice to become an Auror.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sirius describes Andromeda as his “favorite cousin.” 10 This is quite an interesting quote actually – why would Andromeda be Sirius’s favorite cousin? If it was a popularity contest between her and her sisters, then that’s understandable; however, Sirius has a multitude of cousins. Surely there were a few decent ones among them? Andromeda was between four and seven years older than Sirius, thus for him to view her as his favorite cousin means that she was likely an exceptional person who shared many of his views of the world.
Additionally, Andromeda is also described as having a knack for cleaning spells, as opposed to her husband, Ted. Tonks says, “Very clean, aren’t they these Muggles? My dad’s Muggle-born and he’s a right old slob. I suppose it varies, just like with wizards?” 11 While Tonks says she takes after her father in her lack of tidiness, and describes the Dursleys’ house as “too clean,” 12 this quote is surprisingly discriminatory. Her father is a Muggle-born wizard, yet she compares him to Muggles, and then groups him with Muggles instead of wizards. That’s something we’d expect from Draco and it demonstrates a subconscious pure-blood bias. As her mother defied all those pure-blood principles and married a Muggle-born it seems an odd thing for Tonks to do! Yet Tonks clearly considers Muggle-borns different from pure-bloods and half-bloods. We do not know if Andromeda carried some of the Black family prejudices with her (perhaps passing some to Tonks) into her marriage to Ted, or if she truly rejected them completely. But we do know that her bravery and independence is reflected in Tonks’s actions in the stories. Let us see what other things Tonks may have inherited from Andromeda.
Tonks’s Name Origin and Metamorphmagus Abilities
Tonks’s name is Nymphadora. A nymph was a female spirit of nature in Greek mythology.13 Nymphs were able to blend in and move through the natural world with near invisibility; they changed their appearance to match their surroundings. A Metamorphmagus is a witch or wizard who can change his or her appearance at will. “Dora” means “gift” 14 and it is interesting to note that is Greek in origin as well. This means that Andromeda or Ted, or both of them, considered their daughter to be a very precious gift. Perhaps she is considered such a gift because Andromeda and Ted had to go through many trials and tribulations, such as abandoning Andromeda’s family, before finally being able to be together. However, this could be related to another gift: Tonks’s abilities as a Metamorphmagus. Though her parents would probably not have known this at her birth, it is Jo Rowling who named her, and this name could reflect the gift of changing one's appearance at will.
Interestingly enough, Tonks really hates the name Nymphadora.15 Why this is, we’ve yet to find out. As nymphs were one with nature, one possible reason is a subconscious rejection of the idea of blending into the natural world, as can also be seen in her pink hair. She may be simply rebelling against the idea of blending in and, instead, is subconsciously attempting to stand out. Also, nymphs were often pursued by men, perhaps as the object of male fantasy. Tonks is never shown to care much for her looks. She could easily make herself as beautiful as Fleur, yet she chooses not to. I believe this is because she wants to be respected for other things that she works hard for. Therefore, rejecting her name might represent the rejection of placing importance on superficial beauty.
It is also apparent she does not care much about the looks of others. Despite what fangirls may think, Lupin is not that good-looking. Besides being poor (and consequently dressing shabbily), the werewolf curse does not do much towards improving his appearance. When we first meet him, we are told that his hair is flecked with gray,16 and Ron says, “He looks like one good hex would finish him off.” 17 After his werewolf episodes, he has dark shadows under his eyes18 and his face is lined19 – not exactly the epitome of handsomeness. The werewolf is one of the least respected and most feared members of the wizarding world. Yet Tonks loves Lupin anyway, which implies that she doesn’t care about looks or money, and that she especially does not care about social prestige. Andromeda must not have cared much about social standing either, or she’d have stayed with her well-connected “royal” family instead of disowning them. It seems that the mother and daughter are quite alike.
Tonks says that Metamorphmagi are born and not made.20 This brings up the question of why we have not met any at Hogwarts. Among such a multitude of students, surely there would be several Metamorphmagi? However, there are none that we know of, so it appears that Metamorphmagi are really rare. Moreover, it would make sense for Metamorphmagus abilities to be hereditary, instead of it being like a random lottery. In which case, we can guess that Andromeda may also be a Metamorphmagus.
A popular theory that’s going around is the two-book rule. This states that a key element introduced in one book becomes important in the book after next. For example, the concept of the Animagi is introduced with McGonagall in Sorcerer’s Stone but is a key element in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Polyjuice Potion is introduced in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets but becomes essential to the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Prophecies were first introduced in Prisoner of Azkaban and we learn why they are so important in Order of the Phoenix. Lastly, the Pensieve is introduced in Goblet of Fire, and becomes central to the story during Half-Blood Prince. Fans speculate that the Metamorphmagus ability introduced in Order of the Phoenix will somehow be important in Deathly Hallows. As the element being used when first introduced is always used in a different circumstance in the future book, this argues that the important Metamorphomagus is not Tonks. Metamorphmagi are rare and inborn – this could be inherited, so why not Andromeda? I believe that Andromeda will, indeed, be the Metamorphmagus we’re looking for. Who knows, maybe we’ve already met her and don’t even know it.
Tonks’s Practicality and Boldness
Tonks is shown to be one of the most practical characters in Harry Potter. In Order of the Phoenix, she is the youngest present at Privet Drive the night the Order retrieves Harry, yet she’s the only one to sensibly turn on the light, saying, “Why are we all standing in the dark? Lumos” while everyone else stands in the dark saying “Is that you?” 21 Tonks is also the only one who will stand up to Moody, when all of her older fellow Order members won’t:
“We’re not going through clouds!” shouted Tonks angrily. “We’ll get soaked, Mad-Eye!” 22
“ARE YOU MAD, MAD-EYE?” Tonks screamed from the front. “We’re all frozen to our brooms! If we keep going off course we’re not going to get there until next week! We’re nearly there now!” 23
Tonks is also shown to be bold, and not afraid to say something that’s on her mind. This is most evident in her dramatic declaration of love to Lupin:
“You see!” said a strained voice. Tonks was glaring at Lupin. “She still wants to marry him, even though he’s been bitten! She doesn’t care!”
“But I don’t care either, I don’t care!” said Tonks, seizing the front of Lupin’s robes and shaking them. “I’ve told you a million times….” 24
I think that Andromeda must have been bold, as well, to renounce her family. The ironic part is that boldness is very uncharacteristic of the nymphs after whom Tonks was named. Perhaps this is the reason she dislikes her name so much.
I think this boldness will surface again in Deathly Hallows. Harry will undoubtedly want to start out on his quest alone, or with Ron and Hermione by his side if he must. Tonks will be the one to tell him it’s utterly ridiculous for three teenagers to try to defeat Voldemort by themselves. Harry will not want to go back to Hogwarts. Tonks will tell him he can’t expect to defeat Voldemort if he hasn’t even had a full education yet. Harry will protest. We know that Ron and Hermione won’t stand up to him in these cases, as was shown in their cautious treatment of Harry in Order of the Phoenix. He won’t need anyone’s permission, he’ll be of age. The only thing that can help is someone who’s not afraid to tell him he’s being a total twit, and I think it’ll be Tonks.
As often seems to be the case in Harry Potter, funny characters also turn out to be very clever (e.g. Fred and George Weasley). Tonks is a very good example of this. She’s shown to be very resourceful right off the bat:
“Lucky, ha!” said the violet-haired woman. “It was me that lured them out of the way. Sent a letter by Muggle post telling them they’d been short-listed for the All-England Best-Kept Suburban Lawn Competition. They’re heading off to the prize-giving right now…. Or they think they are.” 25
I noticed you hadn’t left the train and I knew you had that cloak. I thought you might be hiding for some reason. When I saw the blinds were drawn down on that compartment I thought I’d check.26
So Tonks might be the one to figure out a way past some of the protections around the Horcruxes. Or better yet, she’ll lure Nagini to Harry, just like she lured the Dursleys away from Harry. She’ll be the one to come up with something like “Why don’t you bring your snake along, or are you losing your touch with them?” to get Voldemort to let Nagini out into the open, so Harry can un-Horcruxify Nagini. Nagini will probably be kept very close to Voldemort in the utmost safety, as one of his Horcruxes and the creature he is most fond of. So, unless Harry intends to invade Death Eater camp somehow and hope to get to Nagini without alerting anyone (a feat just short of impossible), Nagini will have to be lured out, and Tonks is just the woman to do it.
Tonks in Battle
Despite her ever-present clumsiness, Tonks seems to be quite formidable in battle. And she’s fast too. During the Ministry battle in Order of the Phoenix: “Malfoy turned and raised his wand, but Tonks had already sent a Stunning Spell right at him.” 27 Lucius Malfoy is one of Voldemort’s best Death Eaters, and the leader of the entire mission, yet Tonks manages to take him out. She then proceeds to hold her own against Bellatrix before being eventually defeated. We cannot hold this against Tonks, she is just fresh out of Auror training and Bellatrix is arguably Voldemort’s best Death Eater – she is the only one to escape the Ministry battle. So Tonks is a very powerful battler, and I’m sure Harry will need her battling prowess now that he no longer has Dumbledore.
Tonks, the Hufflepuff
In Jo’s most recent FAQ, she confirmed that Tonks was in Hufflepuff House.28 Hufflepuff’s defining characteristics are loyalty and hard work. I think it’s safe to assume that Tonks did work quite hard while at school, because you need very high marks in many subjects to become an Auror.29 It is also shown that Tonks is very loyal. She is loyal to Lupin and wants to be with only him, despite the fact that he is poor, a werewolf, and has rejected her numerous times.30 It’s a good thing Tonks is loyal, because Harry will definitely need some loyal allies on his side for the final battle.
Andromeda may be a Metamorphmagus; I believe we will meet her in Deathly Hallows and that she will indeed turn out to be important to the conclusion of the story. Judging by Tonks’s character, she is a perfect candidate to influence Harry, perhaps she will convince him not to go on his quest alone and/or to return to Hogwarts. Also, based on Tonks’s previous ingenious actions, I think she might be able to hatch a clever plan that would help Harry get to Nagini. And it’s most likely that Tonks will prove a powerful ally to Harry in the battle against Voldemort – she’s been in every major battle thus far and there’s no reason to exclude her now. Also, am I the only one hoping for wedding bells for Tonks and Lupin in Deathly Hallows? We could use another nice wedding, besides Bill and Fleur’s, to take a break from the Horcrux hunt! In less than a month we will know what happens to conclude the Harry Potter series. I hope that at least some of my predictions for Andromeda and Nymphadora will prove to be correct!
1. Reader’s Digest, Children’s Atlas of the Universe, 82–3.
2. Wikipedia, s.v. “Andromeda (mythology).”
3. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 111.
4. Ibid., 113.
5. Ibid., 50.
6. Lexicon, s.v. “The Black Family Tree.”
7. Ibid., “Nymphadora Tonks.”
8. Rowling, Half-Blood Prince, 93.
9. Ibid., Sorcerer’s Stone, 10.
10. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 113.
11. Ibid., 50.
12. Ibid., 51.
13. Wikipedia, s.v. “Nymphs.”
14. Baby Names World, “Name: Dora.”
15. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 49.
16. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 74.
17. Ibid., 75.
18. Ibid., 185.
19. Ibid., 187.
20. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 52.
21. Ibid., 47.
22. Ibid., 56.
23. Ibid., 57.
24. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 623–4.
25. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 48.
26. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 158.
27. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 801.
28. Rowling Official Site, “FAQ.”
29. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 662.
30. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 624.
Baby Names World. “Name: Dora.” http://www.babynamesworld.com/meaning_of_Dora.html (accessed 17 May 2007).
The Harry Potter Lexicon, s.v. “The Black Family Tree.” http://www.hp-lexicon.org/wizards/blackfamilytree.html (accessed 17 May 2007).
———, s.v. “Nymphadora Tonks.” http://www.hp-lexicon.org/wizards/tonks.html#timeline (accessed 17 May 2007).
J.K. Rowling Official Site. “FAQ: What houses were Tonks and Myrtle in?” http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/faq_view.cfm?id=117 (accessed 17 May 2007).
The Reader’s Digest. Children’s Atlas of the Universe. China: Toppan Printing Co., 2000.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.
———. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000.
———. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.
———. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003.
———. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.
———. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1997.
Wikipedia, s.v. “Andromeda (mythology).” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andromeda_%28mythology%29 (accessed 17 May 2007).
———, s.v. “Nymphs.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nymphs (accessed 17 May 2007).