U = Umbridge, Dolores (A-Z Challenge)

“…the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter.” — Stephen King.

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Dolores Umbridge is the most reprehensible fictional teacher to come along, ever, not just in the Harry Potter universe. She is mundane evil, an awful person without being twisted by anything other than her own prejudices and jaundiced world view. She is not evil in the way that Voldemort is — he was born different, strong, strange, and evil. His strength and upbringing twisted him into the vile creature he became. He was the person with so much power that those beneath him were inferior. He lacked all empathy. He was the bad seed.

Umbridge was none of these things. Her magic was not strong, she was not beautiful, she was a full blood witch, and she was — for a witch — totally normal. What she was, however, is worldly, common, and mundane. She was the housewife who disowns her child for being gay; she was the woman who lobbies for harsher prison terms for misdemeanors, the bully, the woman who deprives a worker of sustenance for an imagined slight, the woman in front of you in the grocery store who puts her ice cream bars in the magazine rack and verbally attacks you for giving them to the cashier with a sigh. Worse than that, she is judge, jury, yet not executioner. She keeps her hands generally cleaner than that.

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The most frightening thing about Dolores Umbridge is her convictions. She is fully, totally convinced that she is right and will see those convictions through to the end, whatever the means. She is the woman who drowns her children, not through insanity or unfathomable sadness, but because she believes it is right, that the word is too unkind to allow the innocent to live.

She is the person who knows better. No question. And she will do whatever it takes to make her dreams of right come true, up to and including physical cutting, lies, punishment, humiliation, bullying, and torture. Any means justify the end. Any.

DoloresUmbridge_CROPPED

She made Harry scar his own hand. She stripped all clubs. She banned Harry from his one outlet for peace and happiness — Quidditch — for life. She is so convinced of her “truth” that she refuses any contradicting proof. She empowers bullies to act without censure. She is a racist and a bigot. She advocates torture, something she could be imprisoned for life for, to reach her goal.

Her handiwork.

Her handiwork.

Nothing is more frightening than someone with nominal power, no morals, a plan, and a total lack of scruples to see them to the end — even up to and including rounding up “Undesirables” and revoking their rights to magic, love, and life. She designed to make the Muggle Borns, people with a different ancestry than the “pure” wizards and witches, lesser in every way possible. To strip them of their magic. To single them out. To take away their homes and rights. To imprison them, just for being born a different “race” of witch or wizard. The parallels to Nazi Germany are indisputable.

Most of this last came about in Deathly Hollows, the last, darkest book of all the Harry Potter novels. But it is cannon, and it is terrifying. Umbridge, who was debatably beaten and raped by centaurs, deserved nothing less. Her eventual fate, while not death, is suiting. But there is a part of me, the part that is terrified of abuse of power and status, which thinks maybe, just maybe she didn’t get enough.

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Then again, perhaps death would be too kind.

Alternate letter considerations: Uganda, Underwater.

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~ by Darren Endymion on May 24, 2014.

2 Responses to “U = Umbridge, Dolores (A-Z Challenge)”

  1. She is the epitome of evil in the most human way.

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