Why did the parents allow Umbridge?

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Why did the parents allow Umbridge?

Post  Elanor on Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:57 am

Why did the parents allow Umbridge?

This topic serves as an archive of a thread from the Harry Potter Lexicon Forum as hosted on World Crossing which ceased operation on April 15, 2011. Elanor

Liz Mann - Apr 5, 2008 9:08 am
Edited by Detail Seeker May 22, 2008 2:57 am
Apologies if this has been discussed elsewhere.

I'm re-reading Order of the Phoenix again at the moment and I have to wonder why the parents allowed her. At first I thought they must surely not know about things like the blood quill, which is both child abuse and torture, and that maybe they wouldn't believe their children if they told them. And I thought Fudge probably didn't know either, I mean he's an idiot but he's not cruel. But then we had educational decree number twenty-nine which allowed Filch to use the old punishment methods. The parents must surely have known about that, and Fudge definitely would have. If I were a parent with my child in Hogwarts and I heard about that I'd take them out of school immeditately and teach them myself. That would have been a slap in the face to Umbridge if passing that law led to most of the students being taken out of school, hehe.
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Why did the parents allow Umbridge? (Post 1 to 50)

Post  Elanor on Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:59 am

azi - Apr 5, 2008 10:25 am (#1 of 97)
Photo borrowed from Ardent Photography
I always assumed that parents were just oblivious to what was happening in the school. Towards the end Umbridge was screening everyone's post wasn't she? It wouldn't be a particuarly good idea to express displeasure at Umbridge's practices when she'd find out about it.

There's also the possiblity that Harry was actually treated worse than other students. I always thought she reserved 'special treatment' for him. I mean, we never heard about anyone else but Lee Jordan having to use the blood quill, and even then I don't think it was for as much time as Harry ended up using it.

Of course, all assumptions. I haven't read OotP in a long time!

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Liz Mann - Apr 5, 2008 11:26 am (#2 of 97)

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It's possible that she only used that treatment on Harry. The quill doesn't leave a mark until you've used it a few times. And Harry doesn't have parents to show the scars to.

But still surely they knew about the educational decree?

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azi - Apr 5, 2008 11:40 am (#3 of 97)

Photo borrowed from Ardent Photography
Well, I can't see how they wouldn't have done! Unless it wasn't publicised by the Ministry. Things were getting troublesome at Hogwarts so they may have wanted to avoid questions as to why that decree was necessary. It would be a tad embarassing to admit they couldn't control school children wouldn't it?

Edit - Just thought on. Since Fudge had only just sent approval through maybe there hadn't been enough time to allow it to be publicised? If things had carried on as they were then people would have found out eventually, but other events intervened.

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wynnleaf - Apr 5, 2008 5:35 pm (#4 of 97)

I always assumed that JKR included Harry seeing that another student (was it Lee Jordan?) had been punished with the quill was in order to make the point that Umbridge was using the quill on other kids besides Harry.

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Solitaire - Apr 6, 2008 10:11 am (#5 of 97)

If parents hadn't seen their kids, they wouldn't know about the scars. I'm not even sure if the inclusion of Lee Jordan as having been punished by the Quill means it was being used on others. Both Lee and Harry had defied Umbridge to her face, and I suspect that is why they "got the Quill." I doubt anyone else had talked back to her face--other than F&G, who left Hogwarts rather than put up with her nonsense.

I have often wondered how many parents actually knew about the decrees that were being passed. Marietta's mom surely knew--as she knew other things--because she was working in close association with Fudge and Umbridge, monitoring the Floo Network at Hogwarts. But isn't it possible that other parents were more or less in the dark? I do not see Madam Edgecombe circulating information about Umbridge's rather unsavory practices to other parents, do you? Azi is right that all mail--incoming and outgoing--was being screened. So kids would not be able to communicate any information Umbridge didn't want made public. JM2K, of course ...

Solitaire

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Orion - Apr 6, 2008 10:49 am (#6 of 97)

I agree. The parents were left completely in the dark, and the kids were left to their own devices.

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Michael Franz - Apr 6, 2008 2:08 pm (#7 of 97)

But despite the fact that she had Alan Rickman right there in the school, Umbridge did not "call off Christmas." In other words, the kids still went home for Christmas break — yet, none of them had anything to say? No parent ever uttered the question "So, how is school going, dear?"

On second thought, that's the one question no wizarding parent would ever ask, considering the survival rate for students.

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Liz Mann - Apr 7, 2008 6:34 am (#8 of 97)

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Mail only started being screened when Umbridge became headmistress, and she started using the quill long before that.

Even if the parents somehow didn't know about the Ministry decrees, Fudge must have. Umbridge couldn't pass them without him. And we were never given the impression that Fudge was cruel per say. So why would he allow it?

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Denise P. - Apr 7, 2008 7:00 am (#9 of 97)

Ravenclaw Pony
I sorta get the impression that by this time, parents are ready for a change at Hogwarts because they have bought into the hoopla put out by the Ministry. For that reason, they didn't really kick up a fuss when Umbridge came in. She was chosen by the Ministry, that is surely a good thing, yes? Now, after she has been there, you may have had several students who wrote home to complain about her. It is very possible that parents *were* aware of things but didn't realize at the time they were TRUE.

As a parent, we entrust our children to those in authority at school. We trust that they will not be abusive, mean or harm them. If our child complains about a teacher being harsh or even abusive, much as we love our children and want to believe them, I think most parents would chalk the complaint up to exaggeration, misunderstandings and blowing things out of proportion.

By the time that things had escalated at Hogwarts, where the numerous complaints would have been making an impact, Umbridge was censoring mail so parents had no idea what was going on.

This is just how I read it anyway.

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Michael Franz - Apr 7, 2008 8:08 pm (#10 of 97)

As a parent, we entrust our children to those in authority at school. We trust that they will not be abusive, mean or harm them.

In the Muggle world, we do, because there are laws against it. In the wizarding world, Filch used to chain up kids in the dungeons and beat them with whips. Did the parents complain, or was it Dumbledore alone who stopped it? And, of course, Professor Snape verbally abuses his students all the time. Not even Dumbledore cares about that, so why should the parents?

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Solitaire - Apr 7, 2008 9:31 pm (#11 of 97)

The parents probably feel they survived Snape's verbal abuse and all of the wild accidents that happen when one is learning to control magic, so their kids probably will, too. Compared to Umbridge, Snape is an amateur in the cruelty game, IMO. I'm betting the majority of the WW had no clue what she was really like. That sickly sweet front she projected probably fooled a lot of people who didn't know any better.

Solitaire

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Thom Matheson - Apr 8, 2008 10:05 am (#12 of 97)

How many schools have their own hospital? That should be a clue all by itself.

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megfox* - Apr 8, 2008 5:01 pm (#13 of 97)

But it is a boarding school - wouldn't it make sense to have a hospital? I mean, even public day schools have nurse's offices. Colleges, etc, have health centers that are pretty up-to-date - the health center at UNH was pretty much just like the emergency room in the town I used to live in. And if they were really ill or injured, they go to St. Mungo's (remember Katie?).

As for students telling their parents about Umbridge, I think that her public persona, carefully crafted as it was, along with public sentiment about the "seriously falling standards" at Hogwarts, would make parents want to believe she was doing the best things for Hogwarts. When we had a change in administration a few years ago, the public thought our principal was the best thing since sliced bread. We teachers were furious with some of the changes that were made, as were some of the students, but because people outside the school were still in the "dating" phase with the new head of the school, he got away with a lot before people really started to challenge what was going on. I think the same thing applies here - initially, the changes seemed to be bringing Hogwarts back in line with its "philosophy"; but upon a longer, closer examination, you realize the pendulum has swung wildly (and it didn't really need to go anywhere to begin with).

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Madam Pince - Apr 9, 2008 4:08 am (#14 of 97)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
As a parent, we entrust our children to those in authority at school. We trust that they will not be abusive, mean or harm them. --Denise

In the Muggle world, we do, because there are laws against it. In the wizarding world, Filch used to chain up kids in the dungeons and beat them with whips. --Michael Franz

Denise has a good point -- to a great extent, we trust to authority. And Michael's point is well-taken, too, with the additional thought that laws / traditions change over the years even in the Muggle world. For example, corporal punishments such as spankings were common and completely acceptable not so long ago at schools in the Muggle world, and if you go back enough generations, even worse beatings were apparently used without too much concern.

Megfox, we had a similar situation at my hometown's school system not too long ago with a new superintendent (even more authority) and with the added help of a member of the school board who thought the sun shone out of the new super's every orifice (as JKR/Aberforth would put it.) A lot of people put their faith in that school board officer's opinion and some pretty bad stuff went under the rug without the general populace being aware of it until much later. I think that's what happened with Umbridge -- parents were hearing from an authority that they have trusted for ages (the Ministry) that Dolores was the best thing going, so they'd be likely to dismiss any complaints they heard from kids, like Denise said. Then, of course, when it got beyond the pale, the owls were being screened so the real news was not getting to them.

Scary, when you think about it...

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Liz Mann - Apr 9, 2008 6:53 am (#15 of 97)

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In the wizarding world, Filch used to chain up kids in the dungeons and beat them with whips. Did the parents complain, or was it Dumbledore alone who stopped it? And, of course, Professor Snape verbally abuses his students all the time. Not even Dumbledore cares about that, so why should the parents?

Do we know for a fact that Filch used to do those things, or is it possible that they're older punishments that Filch believes in and keeps the equipment that used to be used in case they're brought back?

With Snape, I wonder actually how many students complain about him. Harry and Neville never did as far as we know. Really, how many students do complain about horrible teachers? One of the greatest troubles that children have is that they feel powerless in a world that is run by grown-ups. If a grown-up is doing something wrong then most of the time they probably won't say anything because they don't feel they have the authority or they feel that no one would believe them because it's their word against an adult's. In fact that's one of the feeings that J.K. Rowling very effectively brings across in OotP, the utter powerlessness.

Which, actually, could have stopped students from complaining about Umbridge too.

I wonder how much power the Ministry let the governors keep and whether they knew about this stuff.

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Orion - Apr 9, 2008 7:01 am (#16 of 97)

Well, as a teacher... if I behaved like Umbridge, I'd not even last a week. True, until a few decades ago caning was legal. But things have changed so much, and the HP books are set in the nineties. Are parents who have their children in boarding schools really so far removed from them that they don't know what's going on?

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Solitaire - Apr 9, 2008 7:04 pm (#17 of 97)

One of the greatest troubles that children have is that they feel powerless in a world that is run by grown-ups. ... they feel that no one would believe them ...

As a teacher for 22 years, I can tell you that this is not nearly as true as it once was. I do not seek to diminish the sufferings of those kids who have suffered at the hands of abusive teachers and administrators. There are far too many people in education who do not belong there. However, it should no longer be assumed that all children are innocent lambs. When I was living in southern California during the 80s, a teacher was accused of having molested one or two middle school girls in a private school. The case went to trial before one of the girls finally admitted she'd fabricated the entire story to get even with the teacher. Apparently he had not signed her application to run for cheerleader, SB president or something similar. The accuser wasn't repentant; she just reminded him that she'd promised to get even if he crossed her. The teacher was exonerated, of course ... but how do you ever make people "un-know" such a thing? This is not the only case I know of where kids have lied about a teacher or tried to get a teacher fired. Sadly, when caught, they think it is amusing that they can manipulate the adults in their worlds.

While the kids at Hogwarts may have felt powerless, I do not believe this is universally true of kids anymore. There are kids at every grade level--even very young children--who know the "hot buttons" to push in adults, and there are a lot of kids out there who will push any button if it will get them what they want. They do not care that they are destroying a life by committing character assassination.

Solitaire

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Madam Pince - Apr 9, 2008 9:50 pm (#18 of 97)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
There's something in that. I remember when the movie Dead Poet's Society came out, I was just ranting and raving to a co-worker of mine because I couldn't believe those spineless boys didn't stand up for Robin Williams' character instead of letting him take the fall. (Big whoop, they saluted him in class when there were no other authority figures around and he was already fired -- whoop-si-do ) Anyway, my co-worker (who was about 25+ years older than me) said "But you don't understand how it was in my generation -- I would have been scared to death to speak up! None of us would ever have said a word to flout authority!" (Me being me, I naturally was incredulous... ) Times do change...

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Julia H. - Apr 10, 2008 2:03 am (#19 of 97)

Harry and Neville never complain about Snape but this does not need to be typical even at Hogwarts. Neville is afraid of his own grandmother, not only of Snape, and he knows that she expects him to do well and not to complain. (Later of course he is not afraid of anybody, so I guess he is only afraid of Snape because he has not found the hero in himself yet and he may be ashamed to complain.) Harry has no parents to complain to but I think on the one hand, he is too tough to complain and on the other hand, at the Dursleys' he got used to taking a lot of things without complaint. But he certainly knows where to go when he has a serious problem: he talks to Dumbledore about lots of things over the years. The Umbridge year, when he temporarily loses touch with DD, is an exception. (Hogwarts students seem to outgrow their fear of Snape after the first few years: they probably realize that he is not really to be afraid of - especially when they have the chance to compare him to Umbridge - otherwise they would not take his class after the O.W.L.'s, when the classes are elective.)

As for Umbridge, perhaps not every student realizes early on what she is really like (those who dare to defy her will know it sooner) and they may not write letters to their parents often enough to write about the details concerning a teacher they have had no conflict with yet. And with the papers full of DD's "mistakes" and "lies", students may not know what to think before they really get to know Umbridge - and then it is too late.

Soli, that is a scary incident really. I think teachers are totally defenceless against a child like that (worthy of Draco, actually).

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Solitaire - Apr 10, 2008 2:41 am (#20 of 97)

Yes, Julia ... Draco and his cronies are a perfect example of some of the bad apples I described. Consider how the Slytherins badmouthed Hagrid when Umbridge went to observe the Care of Magical Creatures class, which was being subbed by Pomona Sprout in Hagrid's absence. Everyone knew that Draco's injuries from Buckbeak were the direct result of his own misbehavior and failure to follow Hagrid's instructions.

Of course, the majority of kids do not fall into this category of evil, conniving brats, thank heavens! Most of the kids I teach are great--even those who drive me crazy, on occasion (a la Fred and George ... and I have more than a few of them). Those who do qualify, however, are an extremely vocal and dangerous minority who are capable of inflicting a lot of damage.

Solitaire

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Liz Mann - Apr 10, 2008 11:17 am (#21 of 97)

Join us for the Philosopher's Stone Watch-A-Long
I knew some classmates myself who really didn't care how much trouble they gave the teachers. They weren't like the girls you described, Solitaire, unfortunately those people come in all ages. But they have zero respect for the teachers and don't care when they get yelled at or even upset the teacher. You wonder what goes through their heads.

Still, while kids do have more power these days than they used to, a lot of them still do feel powerless to a certain extent. At least a lot of the good ones do. And with Umbridge a lot of grown-ups probably wouldn't have believed it because the Ministry is involved.

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Anna L. Black - Apr 10, 2008 11:53 am (#22 of 97)

When Hagrid was away, COMC was teached by Prof. Grubbly-Plank, not by Prof. Sprout.

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Chemyst - Apr 10, 2008 3:34 pm (#23 of 97)

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up." A.A. Milne
How many schools have their own hospital? That should be a clue all by itself. ~ Thom It was substantially more than a nurse's office, wasn't it?

=======================================
She began the year as just another teacher; a pretty commonplace occupation for a school… nothing to raise an eyebrow over anyway. Before that she was a ministry undersecretary—and who ever pays attention to them?

The uncommon thing about her (to the average parent) was being named High Inquisitor. Wizarding society seems to be characteristically pro-establishment. The Ministry had been fairly successful in controlling the media through the Daily Prophet, and presumably the Wizard Wireless Network (although we are not specifically told that.) And of course, the whole idea behind appointing a High Inquisitor in the first place is to keep the children safe, isn't it? So while all the other teachers are being investigated, parents are further lured into a false sense of trust for Umbridge.

It has already been alluded to, so I won't detail a lengthy paragraph, but Umbridge is going to be very kind to students whose parents could possibly be a threat to her position. Look how she played the Marianne thing when she knew the student's mother had ministry connections. Look how she favored Draco.

And we must not forget her Pink Kitten Subterfuge tactic. Don't you just HAVE to trust someone who places doilies under the flower vases and collects porcelain plates?

Bottom line: Parents allowed it because they were deceived; Umbridge was a two-faced liar.

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Solitaire - Apr 10, 2008 9:05 pm (#24 of 97)

LOL Anna! If you look at the time--it was 2:41 a.m. for me--you will understand why I was a little disoriented. My brain knew it was Professor Grubbly-Plank, as I had the book in front of me. I guess my fingers were "sleep-typing," as they were not picking up the signals from my brain. **yawn**

Solitaire

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Orion - Apr 11, 2008 9:47 am (#25 of 97)

LOL Anna, we urgently need a nitpick smiley indeed! Here is one for you:

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PeskyPixie - Apr 11, 2008 11:04 am (#26 of 97)

Cute little nitpicker, Orion!

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Madam Pince - Apr 13, 2008 1:08 pm (#27 of 97)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
When Hagrid was away, COMC was teached by Prof. Grubbly-Plank, not by Prof. Sprout. --Anna L. Black

And not only that, but Prof. Grubbly-Plank taught it, too!

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Vox Gerbilis - May 20, 2008 6:57 pm (#28 of 97)

Umbridge was shrewd to target Hagrid and Trelawney, the most questionable of Dumbledore's hiring choices. Although both teachers had a small fan base, Umbridge's decision to put them on probation would have helped establish her credibility with most parents.

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Orion - May 21, 2008 2:29 am (#29 of 97)

Yes, that was cunning. When I read these passages, I couldn't help thinking "Well, they are lousy, she's got a point there." It's DD's fault, he has a saving people thing.

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Steve Newton - May 21, 2008 8:06 am (#30 of 97)

Librarian
Actually, while these decisions were shrewd they also told me, at least, that she was competent. Viscious but competent. She was able to pick out the teachers who were less able at their jobs.

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Liz Mann - May 21, 2008 10:35 am (#31 of 97)

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Hagrid wasn't bad at his job though. He just picked the wrong creatures. And though Umbridge may have got it right with Trelawney I don't think she was competant with Hagrid as she didn't really know whether he was good at his job or not, she didn't give him a chance.

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Orion - May 21, 2008 11:52 am (#32 of 97)

Umbridge may have been quite good at pitching on faults of other teachers, but she herself was quite a lousy teacher, too. She was probably the worst of all, since she flatly refused to teach her subject at all. Her lessons consisted of avoiding any progress of her students. Even Trelawney did at least take her subject seriously.

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Quinn Crockett - May 21, 2008 9:11 pm (#33 of 97)

"Yes! I'm impugning a continent!"
I don't think it's so much that she "refused to teach her subject" as much as she refused to allow any practical application of it. Which is sort of like trying to teach someone to play the violin by only showing them the sheet music but never letting them even touch the strings.

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shepherdess - May 21, 2008 10:11 pm (#34 of 97)

55 year old mother of 3, step-mother of 2, grandmom to 3, living in Oklahoma
"Hem, hem. Violins away. Sheet music out. Turn to Mozart, page 34, and read. There will be no need to talk."

Yeah, I can see that.

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Julia H. - May 22, 2008 12:15 am (#35 of 97)

LOL!

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Orion - May 22, 2008 3:03 am (#36 of 97)

I'm sure Umbridge taught the way she taught to prevent the students from actually learning something. She was in league with the DEs, although she was no DE herself, and she wanted the students as badly prepared as possible, IMO. She practically fought an embittered war on them, with Filch and the Slytherin squad at her side. That is, she fought against the Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. As if she saw a big fight coming and wanted to remove all weapons from them before the attack.

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Verity Weasley - May 22, 2008 8:11 pm (#37 of 97)

I'm sure any one of the teachers on here could tell you that Umbridge was an absolutely appalling teacher. All her students ever did was to read the textbook and you can guarantee that there would be virtually no learning going on there. Mind you, Professor Binns wasn't much better, from a teaching perspective!

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Hieronymus Graubart - May 22, 2008 11:48 pm (#38 of 97)

I have to disagree, Orion. Umbridge was not in league with the DE's at this time.

The problem with Umbridge was that she is an apparatschik. Like many germans during the third Reich she staid loyal to "the gouvernment" regardless of what the gouvernment and it's politics were. She obviously enjoined what she had to do at Hogwarts and in the muggle-born registration (and to be much more nasty than had been necessary to do it), but even if she had not enjoied it, she would have done "her job".

This is the reason why she never was fired. She is so usefull for any minister for magic and governments cannot work efficiently without apparatschiks. Parts of the rebellion of 1968 were about apparatschiks from the third Reich beeing still or again in official service.

Nevertheless, I hope she was fired by Kingsley, and imprisoned for attempted murder (sending the dementors after Harry). For anything else she has done, she will, of course, claim that this was absolutely legal by the laws of these times.

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Chemyst - May 23, 2008 8:13 am (#39 of 97)

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up." A.A. Milne
She was in league with the DEs, although she was no DE herself, and she wanted the students as badly prepared as possible, IMO. ~ Orion

I suppose that depends largely on how one defines 'in league.' I am inclined to say there was no confederation, and that any association that did occur was filtered through the Ministry. Only insofar as the DE’s were able to influence the Ministry was she “in league” with them. Mostly she had separate but parallel goals; and the reason the goals lined up is because both Umbridge and Voldemort were driven power-mongers and control freaks. Similar goals gave an outward appearance of a league that wasn't truly there.

Now as to poorly prepared students— This is a charge that comes up often in real-world politics. Ignorant masses who are unaware of history and who find it hard to think for themselves are much easier to influence and control. Umbridge would want to encourage a compliant workforce. She was not concerned about their safety; she did not want them to become strong enough to cause trouble for the Ministry.

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Vox Gerbilis - May 23, 2008 6:54 pm (#40 of 97)

I think Hieronymous has it exactly right. Umbridge-type bureaucrats are extremely useful to totalitarian regimes because their main priority is protecting their own position, and they will do whatever it takes to keep their bosses happy. People like that have no ideological commitments, and easily go whichever way the wind is blowing. (Like Capt. Renault in Casablanca.)

Plus, she had a sadistic streak that made her a willing and enthusiastic participant in her bosses' dirty work, whether it was suppressing dissenters who might expose Fudge's incompetence, or persecuting Muggle-borns.

Percy Weasley was in danger of becoming this type of bureaucrat. He convinced himself that his bosses really were great people, because he could flatter himself by thinking that he had been chosen to work for great people. He could readily shut down his conscience if it got in the way of his work. Had it not been for the solid upbringing that eventually brought out his better self, he likely would have become another Umbridge.

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Chemyst - May 23, 2008 8:03 pm (#41 of 97)

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up." A.A. Milne
He (Percy) convinced himself that his bosses really were great people, because he could flatter himself by thinking that he had been chosen to work for great people. – Vox Gerbilis

I agree with that; however, it does not carry across to Umbridge. She knew her boss was incompetent; she viewed herself as more decisive and more courageous than he was and therefore went behind his back to send the dementors after Harry. "What Cornelius doesn't know won't hurt him."

...proving that she did have her own ideological commitments and apparently manipulated Fudge into a symbiotic relationship: He needed her to spy and she needed him to give her 'official' status.

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Quinn Crockett - May 24, 2008 12:24 pm (#42 of 97)

"Yes! I'm impugning a continent!"
..proving that she did have her own ideological commitments and apparently manipulated Fudge into a symbiotic relationship: He needed her to spy and she needed him to give her 'official' status.

I don't know if I would go that far, Chemyst. I agree that she did have her own agenda, but I don't see any reason to believe that she manipulated Fudge in any way. He had already shown that he, himself, was a power-monger (though perhaps less so) and would do anything to protect his position, including using the Ministry for the unfounded persecution of Albus Dumbledore, his erstwhile confidant, along with his supporters.

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Solitaire - May 24, 2008 12:38 pm (#43 of 97)

I'm probably wrong--I frequently am--but I have always seen Fudge less as a power-monger than an inept bumbler who was afraid of losing his job. He hadn't a clue how to stand up to Voldemort, so it was easier to simply deny that Voldemort had returned. I honestly believe this was more "wishful thinking" than anything else. But his fear of acting and taking an independent stand on anything at all left him vulnerable to manipulation by the likes of Lucius Malfoy and others with some "social muscle."

I agree with Chemyst that Umbridge is manipulative, as well. She really is a power-monger, if you ask me. She certainly does not seem to have the magical talent of a McGonagall or a Flitwick, either. Her biggest weapons were intimidation (although she didn't succeed too well against the kids or the staff with that, did she?) and torture. And there is something creepy about both Fudge and Umbridge and their "relationship" with the Dementors. No one "normal" seemed to be able to stand them.

Solitaire

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Vox Gerbilis - May 24, 2008 2:12 pm (#44 of 97)

Building on the last three postings, I agree that Fudge was not so much a power-monger as a manifestation of the Peter Principle, a mediocrity who managed to climb in the organization without merit. We're not given any information about how Fudge became MoM, but given the strong similarity between the Wizarding World bureaucracy and its Muggle counterpart, I assume he got there by making the right connections, polishing the right apples, etc. Like Soli points out, when faced with a crisis that was far beyond his ability, he dealt with it through a campaign of denial. Umbridge was able to exploit this to her advantage, in the ways already described.

In DH, didn't Umbridge rely on a Patronus when she was in the presence of the Dementors?

Referring to the contrast between Percy and Umbridge that Chemyst raised, I'm modifying my position on Percy. Whereas Umbridge wanted power, I think Percy was more motivated by ego.

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Solitaire - May 25, 2008 2:02 pm (#45 of 97)

I agree about Percy, Vox. He was offended by his dad's implication that his rise in the Ministry was due less to his own merits and more to the Ministry wanting to spy on Arthur and the Order through him. Here he was so proud of his achievements, only to be told that he was just being used by the Ministry. His ego was completely bruised!

When it came to Umbridge, he just "mouthed" the PR about her that was being put out by the Ministry. He couldn't have known what she really was, IMO. Even Fudge and others were fooled by her.

Solitaire

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Julia H. - May 25, 2008 4:14 pm (#46 of 97)

Interesting discussion. I agree with the picture of Umbridge as a bureaucrat willing to accept and serve any ideology (and possessing some sadistic tendencies as a "bonus") but I don't think it is in contradiction with Umbridge manipulating her weak boss.

Percy: I am thinking about my husband's opinion of Percy. (He is reading HP now with our children and they are half-way in the books.) He feels sorry for Percy because he seems to be lonely among his many brothers but he also says it is unlikely that someone coming from a family upholding the values the Weasleys uphold will become this kind of careerist bureaucrat. He is probably right because Percy will eventually return to the family values...

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Choices - Jun 1, 2008 5:10 pm (#47 of 97)

*Completely Obsessed With Harry Potter*
Vox - "In DH, didn't Umbridge rely on a Patronus when she was in the presence of the Dementors?"

If I remember correctly, Umbridge used her Patronus - a cat that patrolled in front of her - to seperate her from the Dementors during the court trial scene when Hermione (as Malfalda Hopkirk) was there.

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haymoni - Jun 5, 2008 6:16 am (#48 of 97)

We never had an answer for why Fudge was able to hang out with the dementors - I wonder what Fudge's Patronus would be?

Maybe a male mallard duck - a green head to match the bowler hat??

It isn't lime-green though. Mmmm...

Wasn't Jo allergic to cats, like Hagrid? Perhaps that's why she gave the Cat Patronus to such an awful character.

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Potteraholic - Jun 5, 2008 8:20 am (#49 of 97)

"Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent - and a nice thirst to prove yourself ..." (PS/SS)

Jo must like cats at least a bit, since Minerva's animagus form is one, and old Minnie McG is quite the opposite of Toadie.

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PeskyPixie - Jun 5, 2008 5:44 pm (#50 of 97)

Yes, McG's is a cool cat, while Toadie's are prissy high maintenance cats.
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Why did the parents allow Umbridge? (Post 51 to 97)

Post  Elanor on Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:00 am

Quinn Crockett - Jun 30, 2008 9:03 am (#51 of 97)
"Yes! I'm impugning a continent!"
The movie of OP has been on HBO lately and one thing that struck me in seeing it again is how the Daily Prophet had the headline "Parents Support Change" or something like that, referring to Umbridge taking over for Dumbledore. I think this little detail goes rather a long way to explaining why, in the book, the parents never seemed to have a problem with her "medieval methods".

The book is focused on Harry and his struggle with everything that's going on around him - particularly being ostracized. So I don't think it's always apparent just how strongly influential Fudge's control of the media and denigration of Dumbledore really is for the average wizard on the street. We get sort of a tiny sense of it from Seamus's confrontation with Harry.
That is, for the average Hogwarts parent, they would only know that "a student was killed last year during the Tri-Wizard Tournament" but they wouldn't necessarily be that invested in the particulars of how it happened. Then when the Headmaster suddenly (to them) starts bandying about the name of the most feared dark wizard ever, the parents probably started to think, "What's wrong with this guy? And why is he in charge of our kids?"

All this is to say that I can imagine that, in this fictional world, the parents probably appreciated having a Ministry official right there to kind of monitor things. They might even have thought that her "medieval methods" were a small price to pay for a greater sense of security about their children.

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Skrewt - Jul 8, 2008 3:52 pm (#52 of 97)

Perhaps the parents did know about how Umbridge disciplined their kids, but thought of it as a rite of passage. If you go against authority then you will be severely punished until you learn to go with the flow without question.

Many parents would have attended Hogwarts when Filch was a little more content with the punishment, and so maybe complaints about that sort of thing were frowned upon. Some parents might even have taken the [extreme] view taken by Filch, and thought it was a good thing.

In British boarding schools when caning was legal, many who were punished had to shake the hand of the man who did it to them to say thanks. Could be a 'stiff upper lip' thing.

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Solitaire - Jul 8, 2008 4:05 pm (#53 of 97)

I seriously doubt that most kids who were punished by her got The Quill. We know Lee Jordan did, but I don't remember anyone else getting it. One of Draco's buddies (Goyle?) had lines with her ... but I wonder if she gave Slytherin kids The Quill. Goyle, after all, was one of her Inquisitorial Squad, wasn't he?

Solitaire

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Madam Pince - Jul 12, 2008 6:11 am (#54 of 97)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
That was one of the problems I had with the movie OotP, Solitaire. The movie has a scene with a whole roomful of kids, including Fred and George, getting "the Quill" -- you can see the writing being etched into their hands while Umbridge smirks at the front of the classroom. (I think this is right after the DA is discovered -- Cho is waiting outside to speak to Harry and he ignores her.) Of course, this is movie and thus not canon. It just bothered me that they did this.

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Solitaire - Jul 12, 2008 6:54 am (#55 of 97)

Madam Pince, I would need a whole thread to myself to discuss all of the things about the movies that annoy me! LOL Actually, this movie annoyed me a lot. I hate it when things are left out of the movies ... but I accept that it is necessary. But to insert things that were never even IN the books makes me incredibly angry when I see it! Do you think I am a bit obsessed, or is this a natural HP fan response?

Solitaire

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Madam Pince - Jul 12, 2008 7:29 am (#56 of 97)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
It's a natural HP fan response.

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shepherdess - Jul 12, 2008 10:41 am (#57 of 97)

55 year old mother of 3, step-mother of 2, grandmom to 3, living in Oklahoma
And I agree with it 100%, Soli. That's the exact same thing I've said several times.

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Madam Pince - Jul 12, 2008 8:34 pm (#58 of 97)

The eyes are the windows to the soul...
Except for the moving stairs. I thought they were really cool. And I liked Draco's line "I didn't know you can read." But other than that, I'm right there with ya!

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Julia H. - Jul 16, 2008 11:36 am (#59 of 97)

All of you are right. It may be off-thread but I must grab the chance to tell you how much certain things in the movies (and especially in OP) annoy me. I understand that they cannot put in everything and I may even understand that they put in things that are not in the books but I am annoyed when they change the original logic of the books. E.g., Cho being the traitor: it is bad enough but then it turns out that she is not "another Marietta" because she does not betray them voluntarily but under the influence of Veritaserum. Now, since even movie-Harry knows that this is a very powerful substance, not trying to make up with her when he learns what really happened is cruel and unjust. (I know Harry does not have time for that in this movie but I suspect he will not bother in the next one either...) On top of that, it makes Snape look like he is cooperating with Umbridge, which is again totally against the internal logic of the books.

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Solitaire - Jul 16, 2008 11:43 am (#60 of 97)

Julia, this is one of my biggest gripes. I watch the movies, but as far as I am concerned, they not only pale in comparison with the books, but they actually change "the logic," as you put it. When important events are removed or changed--or when things which didn't even happen are inserted--then other events that are connected to the changed/removed events don't seem to make sense. The movies must be seen as separate from the books. They just aren't the same.

Speaking of Umbridge ... I hate her little giggle. I was expecting a true "hem! hem" from her ... a sort of cough or clearing of her throat. I know it is supposed to be cough-like, because McGonagall offers her a cough drop for it! LOL I will agree, though, that she is certainly nasty enough.

Solitaire

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Orion - Jul 16, 2008 1:38 pm (#61 of 97)

Julia, take a peek into the OOTP movie thread.

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Solitaire - Jul 16, 2008 7:50 pm (#62 of 97)

I posted on that thread today, too. I got so mad watching OotP this afternoon ... grrrrr!

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TomProffitt - Jan 5, 2009 2:30 pm (#63 of 97)

Bullheaded empiricist
While we're griping about movies, the one that bothered me the most was GoF.

In that book Jo had a sub-plot masquerading as the main plot (the tournament) and the main plot masquerading as a sub-plot (what's going on with the weird stuff at the World Cup, Mr. Crouch, etc?), but in the movie it was all about the tournament and Harry wasn't even picking up on any of the main plot things.

back to the thread

An opinion I've voiced on occasion that has never received much support (but I'll throw it out there again in vain hope) is that the Wizarding World views physical injury and suffering in a much different light than the Muggle world.

Wizarding children (and adults) are much more resilient than Muggles (e.g. just about anything that's happened to Neville (or Harry playing Quidditch for that matter)). Teachers being tough on the students? Good for them, it'll toughen up my child. Blood Quill? Hah, in my day you'd have been happy to get the Blood Quill. Turned into a ferret? Hah, in my day ...

Anyway, I think it's a combination of that and a bit of poetic license on Jo's part.

And a side note on the "children's ability to retaliate against teachers thing." When I was 22 I student taught 17 year olds and in every class I had at least one girl with a crush on me. I was terrified of them, because I knew what one well placed lie could do.

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Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 5, 2009 9:07 pm (#64 of 97)

Tom I agree that the wizarding world views suffering and injury differently. I think they can because they have magic to fix things. No big deal to regrow bones.

In the book Umbridge is a classic bully, she isolates her victims. They feel like it is a personal battle so they don't complain. The students that would complain (Draco) she gets on her side.

I also think Jo has a slapstick quality about her writing. It adds a lot of humor and reminds us this is fiction not real life.

You were right to be afraid. I teach and sometimes I think the "inmates are running the asylum." LPO

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Solitaire - Jan 5, 2009 10:28 pm (#65 of 97)

I teach and sometimes I think the "inmates are running the asylum." LPO

They are.

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PeskyPixie - Jan 6, 2009 3:12 pm (#66 of 97)

"In that book Jo had a sub-plot masquerading as the main plot (the tournament) and the main plot masquerading as a sub-plot (what's going on with the weird stuff at the World Cup, Mr. Crouch, etc?) ... "

Beautifully put, TomProffitt. We must remember it when we get to GoF in the series read-along.

I teach and sometimes I think the "inmates are running the asylum." LPO

Oh yes, they most certainly are. Well, from what my mom tells me, their parents are.

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Solitaire - Jan 6, 2009 10:08 pm (#67 of 97)

Oh yes, they most certainly are. Well, from what my mom tells me, their parents are.

Trust me ... the parents are included in "the inmates." Not all parents, of course ... I have some great parents. But I also have a few who are worse than their inmate children.

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Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 8, 2009 9:11 pm (#68 of 97)

I agree Solitaire! Some of those parents sure make you cease to wonder why the child behaves the way she/he does. LPO

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Solitaire - Jan 8, 2009 10:11 pm (#69 of 97)

Yes, we teachers often leave the first meeting with the parents of a challenging child saying, "Now I understand ... "

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Chemyst - Jan 12, 2009 8:46 pm (#70 of 97)

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up." A.A. Milne
So, if Umbridge could have had a parent/teacher conference with James, do you think she'd be more understanding of Harry? ... ... nah.

Umbridge was perhaps fortunate that Sirius had to stay in hiding though. If he'd been able to walk into Hogwarts freely, he'd probably have stood up for Harry and left her with very little doubt as to why Harry was the way he was.

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Solitaire - Jan 12, 2009 10:57 pm (#71 of 97)

Well, being the sneaking, corrupt TOAD that she is and was, I think she understood perfectly why Harry was the way he was. She had tried to have him "kissed," and then attempted to have him kicked out of Hogwarts and put in Azkaban for using magic to save his and Dud's lives, something she was responsible for making him do. When he tried to speak the truth, she muzzled him and gave him detention with the Evil Quill.

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Ludicrous Patents Office - Jan 13, 2009 8:16 pm (#72 of 97)

I like that plan Chemyst!

A large portion of the Witch and Wizarding community followed Voldy because of his believe in pureblood status. Umbridge was probably supported by parents because of her prejudices. LPO

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Solitaire - Jun 15, 2009 8:07 pm (#73 of 97)

You know, I just reread the part of DH where she makes another toady appearance. Also, Dung said she got the necklace away from him, but he didn't say when. I'm betting that happened back during HBP, when Harry was in school and Dung had easy, unfettered access to 12GP. So ... was the toad ever disciplined for sending those Dementors after Harry? If not before Voldemort's death, then was she disciplined afterwards? Enquiring minds want to know!

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Orion - Jun 16, 2009 5:55 am (#74 of 97)

JKR said something in an interview to the effect that Umbridge was never held accountable for her crimes, sadly, and that she continued to work in the Ministry for some reason or other. Just like in real life really.

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mona amon - Jun 18, 2009 9:08 am (#75 of 97)

Orion, I don't know where to look for it, but I think JKR said Umbridge was tried and imprisoned for crimes against Muggleborns. It's the Malfoys who managed to wriggle out of trouble, just like in real life.

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Solitaire - Jun 18, 2009 1:47 pm (#76 of 97)

I am still wondering why she wasn't punished following the Dementor business and her misdeeds at Hogwarts. She was still in the Ministry at the beginning of DH. Was nothing done until Shacklebolt came to office?

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Puck - Jun 23, 2009 3:15 pm (#77 of 97)

Mommy, Queen of Everything
Oh, she was likely thought of as a little toad in a big pond, and they were looking for the big old snakes.

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Solitaire - Jun 23, 2009 4:32 pm (#78 of 97)

I often wonder just how many parents knew about the Blood Quill. I also wonder what Molly thought about Umbridge's attempt to use the Cruciatus curse on Harry and her request for Veritaserum ...

Did we ever find out what happened to her at the Ministry? Remember that Harry had Stupefied both her and Yaxley in the dungeon, and the Dementors had started to go for Mary Cattermole, at which point Harry cast his Patonus. We know that Yaxley came out of the spell, because he caught onto Hermione as they apparated out of the ministry ..., but what about Umbridge? What if she were still there in the dungeon with the Dementors? Tsk! Tsk! ...

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Julia H. - Jun 23, 2009 5:21 pm (#79 of 97)

It would be like a version of Azkaban... Good idea.

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HungarianHorntail11 - Jul 5, 2009 1:11 pm (#80 of 97)

The heart sees deeper than the eye.
I wonder if there also wasn't a lack of communication betw. the school and parents. I am at my children's schools every day, yet things happened that I was not aware of until after the fact, such as a bomb threat to all of our schools on 9/11/01 in the morning. (I found out after 2pm) So, I can see something such as the Blood Quill and other acts by Umbridge getting passed up.

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Solitaire - Jul 5, 2009 1:27 pm (#81 of 97)

I can't see the Blood Quill getting passed over, really. That is, IMO, a Dark Artifact. I'll bet McGonagall would have had a cow if she'd known. Even Fudge, I think, might have had a hard time justifying it. Umbridge operated on a "need to know" basis. She did not think Fudge needed to know about the Dementors or the Quill.

I can't believe there wasn't some sort of hearing for her after her time at Hogwarts. That would have been the time for the Blood Quill to come out. Harry was not the only one to have been sentenced to it, apparently. Didn't Lee Jordan also have a go with it?

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HungarianHorntail11 - Jul 5, 2009 3:16 pm (#82 of 97)

The heart sees deeper than the eye.
I can't see the Blood Quill getting passed over, really. . .I'll bet McGonagall would have had a cow if she'd known. . .Umbridge operated on a "need to know" basis. ~ Solitaire

Right there is my point - the knowledge never reached the parents, or any level of authority where it would be dealt with appropriately.

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Solitaire - Jul 5, 2009 3:45 pm (#83 of 97)

HH, I am talking about after she left Hogwarts. I find it hard to believe that her use of the Quill didn't come out once she had left. Her behavior in other respects brought censure from Fudge, so some people talked!

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HungarianHorntail11 - Jul 6, 2009 1:08 pm (#84 of 97)

The heart sees deeper than the eye.
I'm not sure. . . too many distractions, perhaps? She definitely slipped between the cracks.

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Solitaire - Jul 6, 2009 4:22 pm (#85 of 97)

Yes, that is kind of how I feel ... and it really annoys me!

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shepherdess - Jul 7, 2009 9:03 am (#86 of 97)

55 year old mother of 3, step-mother of 2, grandmom to 3, living in Oklahoma
Me too, Soli. I worry about abused kids reading this book and having the idea that abusers don't get punished reinforced. Seems to me like this would only encourage them to not speak out about what they're going through; to believe that there's no point--that they're trapped.

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Solitaire - Jul 7, 2009 2:30 pm (#87 of 97)

Every time Harry holds up the back of his fist to Scrimgeour, I wonder why the man doesn't address his comments ... or talk to him about Dodo. But he blows off Harry's comments and concerns and focuses on what he wants from Harry. Too bad ... if Harry had not felt completely disenfranchised by the Ministry, he might have been more willing to work with them (up to a point).

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wynnleaf - Jul 7, 2009 8:53 pm (#88 of 97)

I worry about abused kids reading this book and having the idea that abusers don't get punished reinforced. (sheperdess)

I think JKR worried about it as well. It was after OOTP that JKR reiterated the importance of kids telling people when they are bullied. I don't think she was solely referring to the instances of bullying by kids mentioned in OOTP, but also thinking of Umbridge.

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shepherdess - Jul 7, 2009 11:23 pm (#89 of 97)

55 year old mother of 3, step-mother of 2, grandmom to 3, living in Oklahoma
But how many kids are going to read it and never know that she said that? I think if she worried about it, she should have written some kind of justice into the books.

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mona amon - Jul 8, 2009 12:28 am (#90 of 97)

Perhaps the message is, Harry didn't tell, so Dodo (! ) didn't get punished for it. If you want someone to get punished, you'd better tell. Not sure how many kids will get it, though.

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Julia H. - Jul 8, 2009 2:36 am (#91 of 97)

Well, at least it is not in the books that she did not get punished either. Children can always imagine that after the war there was justice (unless they hear what Jo says).

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Solitaire - Jul 8, 2009 6:05 am (#92 of 97)

Kids need to know that their authority figures are held to some sort of accountability.

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wynnleaf - Jul 8, 2009 10:25 am (#93 of 97)

But how many kids are going to read it and never know that she said that? I think if she worried about it, she should have written some kind of justice into the books. (sheperdess)

I have read many blogs where readers felt that there were numerous situations in the HP series where the kids reading should have been shown that a certain behavior was wrong. In other words, places where characters do particularly wrong things that are not punished, or they there's no, well, I guess "come-uppence" (how do you spell that??).

On the other hand, a number of British readers have pointed out that the trend in children's literature writers in Britian is to write many situations where the good guys do wrong things, or where other characters do things that are never specifically stated to be wrong or where characters do wrong things and are never punished, and the reader is supposed to be discerning and come to see that this is like in real life.

This kind of view would include, for instance, Harry's repeated use of Unforgiveables which is never shown within the series to be wrong. However, when questioned about it, JKR said that Harry used Unforgiveables because he was flawed. Yet we're not shown that his use of them in the books is wrong. You're just supposed to read it and figure it out for yourself.

I'm not sure whether or not I agree with this trend of writing. It's okay if parents are reading the books as well and talking to their kids a about a lot of these sorts of things, like the abusive teachers or bullying issues and whether or not to "tell" and what happens if, in real life, someone seems to get away with quite wrong things. But I imagine that a great many kids aren't discussing these particular issues. Or they never "get" the message. I've read enough fan fic to see that many of the young writers in particular assume that a lot of what the non-Death Eater characters did in the books was okay if the books never addressed it as specifically wrong.

Of course, we do see Umbridge acknowledged in OOTP as particularly cruel and her behavior as very wrong indeed. But we aren't shown anywhere that it was really a wrong decision of the kids to not tell anyone.

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Quinn Crockett - Jul 8, 2009 3:54 pm (#94 of 97)

"Yes! I'm impugning a continent!"
Of course, we do see Umbridge acknowledged in OOTP as particularly cruel and her behavior as very wrong indeed. But we aren't shown anywhere that it was really a wrong decision of the kids to not tell anyone. - Who were they going to tell? Harry was a direct and ongoing target of a smear campaign by the Minister of Magic personally. Even Seamus Finnegan, one of Harry's good friends, turned against him, let alone a large percentage of the entire Wizarding World. Who was going to believe him?

Yes, Dumbledore, surely would have. But what could he have done, really? Umbridge's primary tactic was to accuse people who opposed her as being opposed to the minister and by extension the ministry. Dumbledore would only have found himself in the same position he was in after the reveal of the DA.

I think McGonagall gave Harry the best advice, which was essentially to shut up and keep his head down and stay out of Umbridge's line of fire until they could figure out a way to get rid of her.

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Chemyst - Jul 9, 2009 5:54 am (#95 of 97)

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up." A.A. Milne
Every time Harry holds up the back of his fist to Scrimgeour, I wonder why the man doesn't address his comments ... ~ Solitaire

Umbridge is completely malevolent. She proved to be just as deceitful in her dealings with Fudge as she was with Harry. I think Scrimgeour, even with all his auror training, is scared of her.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
...the trend in children's literature writers in Britian is to write many situations where the good guys do wrong things, or where other characters do things that are never specifically stated to be wrong or where characters do wrong things and are never punished, and the reader is supposed to be discerning and come to see that this is like in real life. [...] ...many of the young (fan-fic) writers in particular assume that a lot of what the non-Death Eater characters did in the books was okay if the books never addressed it as specifically wrong. ~ wynnleaf

A lot of people don't "see" the effects of teaching evolution as fact in science classes, but the effects are showing up in literature! When students are taught that they evolved as random chance, they develop a very transient morality with ethics that also change by chance or by situation.

C. S. Lewis showed in his Chronicles of Narnia series that only with an Intelligent Design are there moral absolutes where good is always good and evil is always evil. The HP series lacks definition on this point. Rowling gave some of her characters a Judgment Day finish but skipped it with others.

In that respect, HP follows the ethics of Mount Olympus where good vs. evil is important but not consistent.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Back to why did the parents allow Umbridge…
Even though the Umbridge we saw in OotP seemed to be mediocre in magic ability, we do know she collected magical objects to enhance her power—the quill, and later the locket, and even Moody's eyeball. We saw her try to rely on Veritaserum. I think it is logical to assume she has some sort of "Parent Thwarter" device as well.

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HungarianHorntail11 - Jul 9, 2009 6:44 am (#96 of 97)

The heart sees deeper than the eye.
If not, then I suppose she needed to pay a visit to the Weasley twins' shop!

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Solitaire - Jul 9, 2009 10:27 am (#97 of 97)

I recently read a fanfic where Umbridge received a most satisfying comeuppance! LOL I found it interesting that the locket did not faze her, as it did the Trio (especially Ron). I think this is a pretty good indicator of the depth of evil within her. I like the idea of a "Parent Thwarter" device!

Chemyst, your theory on how teaching evolution affects morality is interesting. I've never heard the two connected, although the idea certainly makes sense.
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