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New Information On Harry Potter Character Dolores Umbridge

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Dolores Umbridge was immortalized by actor Imelda Staunton in the Harry Potter series.
Dolores Umbridge was portrayed by actor Imelda Staunton in the Harry Potter movie franchise.

Spoiler Alert: If you have not finished reading the Harry Potter books, this article contains information that may spoil some of the surprises for you.

Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling served up a scary treat to her fans for Hallowe’en last week.

She published a new story chronicling the background of one of her most famous evil villains, Dolores Umbridge.

She published the story on her Harry Potter website, Pottermore.com (which requires registration to use). The story was also published on a news website called Today.com.

In the Harry Potter books, Dolores Umbridge is a mean teacher who punishes Harry Potter and hurts him. Later, she becomes a horrible judge who convicts innocent people. Harry Potter later attacks her and steals a Horcrux from her.

In the new story, we learn many “facts” about Dolores Umbridge which were never revealed in the Harry Potter books.

For instance, we learn that Umbridge has been a judgmental, prejudiced and mean person since she was a teenager. We also learn that she tried to marry one of her bosses, but it didn’t work out, and that many people she worked with at the Ministry of Magic did not like her. We also learn that she used to collect ornamental plates and in her spare time enjoyed “inventing instruments of torture.”

In her new story, Rowling talks about how she created the character of Dolores Umbridge. She based her on a teacher she didn’t like, and who wore jewellery and accessories that seemed as though they could have been “borrowed from a child’s dressing-up box.”

Rowling said the teacher she knew in real-life was not vicious like Dolores Umbridge.

Rowling said she greatly exaggerated the teacher’s characteristics to create Umbridge.

Related Links
The new Dolores Umbridge story.

Information about HP character Celestine Warbeck, published Aug. 18, 2014.

Information about a reunion of Harry Potter and his friends at an imaginary 2014 Quidditch World Cup Finals. Published July 2014.

By Joyce Grant

Writing/Discussion Prompt
J. K. Rowling did a lot of work on her characters, fleshing out their backgrounds, even though most of it was never even used in the Harry Potter books. She did this so that each of her characters would be well-rounded and so that their actions would make sense, based on their backgrounds. For instance, with Dolores Umbridge in today’s article.

Think about one of the characters in your own creative writing. Give him or her a “back-story”—information about where he/she came from, his/her parents, birthplace and early life.

Reading Prompt: Comprehension Strategies
Many news articles, written for adults, assume that adults will understand certain words and phrases—and therefore they are not explained.

This article assumes that students reading it will understand many of the references to the Harry Potter books. Go through the article and circle some of the words or concepts that people who are unfamiliar with Harry Potter might find challenging.

Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Language Feature: Proper Nouns
J. K. Rowling is particularly good at coming up with great names for her characters. Often, their names have something to do with their personality. For instance, “Dolores” is Spanish for “sorrows.” And the word “umbrage” (spelled differently but pronounced the same) means “annoyance” or it can also mean “shadow” in English. Here is what Rowling says about Dolores Jane Umbridge’s name:

Umbridge’s names were carefully chosen. ‘Dolores’ means sorrow, something she undoubtedly inflicts on all around her. ‘Umbridge’ is a play on ‘umbrage’ from the British expression ‘to take umbrage’, meaning offence. Dolores is offended by any challenge to her limited world-view; I felt her surname conveyed the pettiness and rigidity of her character. It is harder to explain ‘Jane’; it simply felt rather smug and neat between her other two names.

Think about these Harry Potter names and see if you can connect their name with their personality.

Sirius Black (Harry Potter’s grandfather)

Remus Lupin (werewolf and member of the Order of the Phoenix)

Fleur Delacour (Bill Weasley’s girlfriend and, later, wife) Hint: her name is French

Bellatrix Lestrange (Death Eater)

Peter Pettigrew (first introduced as a rat known as Scabbers)

If you need a bit of help with this one, here is an unofficial website called “The Harry Potter Lexicon” which gives lots of background on each of the characters in the Harry Potter books. (It is a kid-friendly website but it does have advertising and places to click out of the website so children may need supervision when using it.)