Open to comments, even if you had given them before feel free to add input. give opinions and elaborate what was already written.
Umbridge IS a potential Death Eater.
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
J.K. Rowling has bestowed a character of such vileness and malice that we are burned with the knowledge of her literary existence as if it were sliced on the back of our hand with her evil black quill. The character of Dolores Umbridge is the antithesis of Albus Dumbledore. She is ruthlessness, hate, torture, injustice, darkness, and pride all rolled into the image of a toad-like woman. There is no doubt that Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Hogwarts High Inquisitor, Interim Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and ultimate outcast in the world of good and decent witches and wizards, is a potential Death Eater.
There are many character traits Dolores Umbridge possesses that align perfectly with those of Lord Voldemort’s Inner Circle of Death Eaters. These include her hatred for Harry Potter, her lack of feeling or remorse for inflicting pain on others, her hatred for all those who are not exactly like her in beliefs or species (including Dumbledore, Harry, and “half-breeds” such as centaurs OotP pp.754-755), her talents with and readiness to use dark magic (including the Unforgivables OotP pp.746-747), her cunning, deviousness, and ruthlessness, and her belief of knowing what is right for everyone in the wizarding world and doing absolutely anything to achieve those means.
Umbridge’s Hatred for Harry Potter:
It is common knowledge that all Death Eaters hate Harry Potter. He is their undoing in one way or another. He is the one who can bring down the Dark Lord and foil their cause. They would do anything to bring him down and have tried on several occasions throughout the five books. Similarly, Umbridge sees Harry as the undoing of her way of life. She hates him for spreading the news of Voldemort’s return and acts upon this hate by sending Dementors after him. She admits this with pride in OotP (pp.746-747). She tries to “break” him throughout the school year with her “Educational Decrees” and by trying to get him expelled (OotP ch.27).
Umbridge’s Lack of Feeling or Remorse for Inflicting Pain on Others:
Simply put, Dolores Umbridge experiences feelings of joy and satisfaction at the notion of having caused pain on others, especially when it is in the name of furthering her cause. Does that sound like anyone we know in the world of Harry Potter? Indeed. Lord Voldemort himself parallels Umbridge in this trait. Umbridge willingly used a black magic quill that cuts words into the back of the writer’s hand and delights in the winces and yelps of pain (OotP pp. 267-268). She continually uses this quill against Harry (among others) to break them in the same way the Death Eaters and Voldemort use the Unforgivables. They try to break their victims with the Cruciatus and Imperious Curses. Neither Umbridge nor the Death Eaters show any remorse or even a second thought about inflicting torture. Incidentally, Dolores doesn’t seem to find the need to inflict any sort of torture or injustice upon the children of Death Eaters. Rather she finds them to be “trustworthy” (OotP p.617). Does that sound like anyone else we know?
Umbridge’s Hatred for Those Who Are Not Exactly Like Herself:
Throughout OotP, Umbridge demonstrates hatred toward, but willingness to use, anyone who is not like herself. She only supports the students and teachers who (she thinks) think like her, blindly support the Ministry of Magic, and promote the notion that Voldemort had not returned. She absolutely abhors half-breeds, such as centaurs. This fear of the unknown or the different is a quality that wreaks of a potential Death Eater. A Death Eater blindly follows Voldemort’s cause and orders because he/she buys into the whole “pureblood” theory. They fear those who are different such as muggles or muggle-born witches and wizards. It is fear of the unknown and different that links Umbridge to the Death Eaters.
Umbridge’s Talents With and Willingness to Use Dark Magic:
We find out when Harry attempts to cast the Cruciatus Curse on Bellatrix Lestrange that casting Unforgivables is not the same as casting any regular curse. Bellatrix says in OotP p.810, “You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain – to enjoy it – righteous anger won’t hurt me for long…” From this information, we can deduce that Umbridge does mean to cause Harry pain when she prepares and attempts to cast the Cruciatus Curse (OotP pp.746-747). “’What Cornelius doesn’t know won’t hurt him,’ said Umbridge, who was now panting slightly as she pointed her want at different parts of Harry’s body in turn, apparently trying to decide what would hurt the most.” There’s a difference between being able to use an Unforgivable and choosing to use one. Dumbledore is able, but chooses not to. Umbridge is obviously able and willing to use them to achieve her means. In addition, to the use of dark curses, Umbridge uses items that were created with Dark Magic, such as the blood quill used in her detentions. This, too, was used in order to hurt and great pleasure was derived from its repeated uses.
Umbridge’s Cunning, Deviousness, and Ruthlessness:
No one will argue that cunning, deviousness, and ruthlessness are words that describe Death Eaters, but they are indeed accurate descriptions of Umbridge as well. She demonstrates these character traits with her “spies” and decrees that practically limit life at Hogwarts, the Dementor attack she ordered on Harry, the expulsion she tried to inflict on Harry, the actions that she takes for “the good of the Ministry” but without the Ministry’s knowledge, her use of the detention blood quill, the use of Veritaserum slipped into Harry’s drink, and the torture-threatened interrogation imposed in her office. All of these actions are clearly those that a Death Eater would be proud to claim as their own.
All of the above-stated character traits and actions demonstrated by Dolores Umbridge clearly prove that she is indeed capable of becoming a Death Eater. Thus, she is a potential Death Eater. One question does remain, however: Why would she become a Death Eater? She has a high standing in wizarding society, power, authority…allegedly everything she craves in life. Ah, but she did have those things! The turn of events at the end of the year changed her situation permanently. Dumbledore has Fudge’s attention and cooperation after the scene with Voldemort and the Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic. Dumbledore effectively ejected Umbridge from Hogwarts, thus dissolving much of her power. That power is now back in the hands of Dumbledore and others she distrusts and hates. She has been humiliated by Harry and Hermione in the Forbidden Forest and spent quite a bit of time recovering (not so privately) from the effects of being held captive by the centaurs. She is not likely to forgive or forget any time soon. Lastly, she had her dignity ripped from her when she was effectively “run out” of Hogwarts with everyone laughing at her. Humiliation three times over can lead to a need for revenge. Who else can offer that chance, but Lord Voldemort himself?! Everyone on the side of the Light hates her. She may still have a position at the Ministry, but there she’ll only be a puppet of the Order; she’ll have no real power or opportunity to exact revenge on Dumbledore, Harry, or the rest of Hogwarts. The answer could lay with Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Yes, Dolores Umbridge is the most potential Death Eater the magic world has seen since the early years of Lucius Malfoy. She has the ability, the character, the circumstances, and the motivation to align herself with the Dark Lord and become a Death Eater.
Umbridge is not a potential Death Eater
Delores Umbridge is a lying, law-breaking, morbid, deceitful human being, and that does not even come close to doing her justice. There is no denying that Delores Umbridge is evil enough to be a Death Eater. However, it takes more than just a horrible, wicked demeanor to get into Voldemorts ring of servants. I intend to prove here that while Umbridge is hateful enough, she lacks the other personal qualities it takes to be a Death Eater. First, I will prove that the Delores Umbridge of book five was not a Death Eater, based mostly on her actions. Then, with her personality and actions laid out, it will be possible to prove that she has no potential at all as a Death Eater whatsoever.
To get a good idea of who Delores Umbridge is we must look at how she speaks, especially when she is upset as that is when she tends to let her true intentions slip. Also we will look at her actual actions for clues into her intentions in book five. If you look at the way she talks about Voldemort when she is giving Harry detention, for example, you will notice that she never refers to Voldemort directly (pg 245 American edition). She speaks multiple times of “dark wizards” in general but never once mentions Voldemort outright anywhere in the fifth book that I can find. This is in contrast to known Death Eaters, who always proudly refer to Voldemort as the “Dark Lord”. Severus Snape (who was once a Death Eater), Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange, Kreacher and even Dobby (who once served a known Death Eater), all call Voldemort the Dark Lord. However Umbridge does not only NOT call him the Dark Lord; she goes out of her way to speak of Voldemort in the third person. She speaks in general of dark wizards as a whole, as if she does not believe that Voldemort exists. This is not the way of a Death Eater, or even a person who has been around Death Eaters. A lot can be said for the way in which a character speaks of Voldemort. Those who are afraid of him say “You-Know-Who”. Those who are not afraid call him “Lord Voldemort”. Those who have been taught to respect him say “Dark Lord”. There for it follows that those who speak of Dark wizards in general without mentioning Voldemort directly, do not believe he exists. How can Umbridge be working for someone who does not exist to her?
In the same argument between Harry and Umbridge, Harry accuses Umbridge of knowing that Voldemort is back and just denying it. Umbridge reacts to this exactly how we would expect her to if she thought Harry was making things up. Umbridge is described as having a blank face at this accusation. She handles the whole thing very calmly, not at all like someone who is really only denying Voldemort is back but really knows the truth. If you compare this to when Dumbledore accuses a member of the Ministry of sending Dementors after Harry, which we know to be true, Umbridge shifted uncomfortably in her chair. It would seem that Umbridges actions in the argument with Harry show that she was telling the truth in this instance; she does not believe Voldemort is back after all.
Another time that an upset Delores lets her true self ring is at the end of the book where she almost performs an illegal curse on Harry. There are many things in this scene that might at first make you believe Umbridge is working for Voldemort, however, after closer observation prove just the opposite. Delores Umbridge is so determined to get information out of Harry that she just nearly performs the Cruciatus Curse on him (pg 746-747). This is indeed a curse most Death Eaters would use, but the whole thing makes Umbridge very nervous. She spends several minutes talking herself into it, attempting to justifying her actions. It is not at all like a Death Eater to justify their illegal curses, in all known cases they have delightfully preformed evil curses without question. But Umbridge is seen “shifting her weight nervously from foot to foot”. She claims she does not wish to perform the curse at all, and only talks herself into it by claiming this is “an issue of Ministry security”. Voldemort would not take this kind of behavior from one of his Death Eaters!
In this scene she also reveals that she was the one who sent the dementors after Harry. She states that “What Cornelius doesn’t know won’t hurt him”, claiming that “Somebody had to act” which implies that in her opinion Cornelius was not acting. She shows nothing but disrespect for Fudge here, something Voldemort wouldn’t tolerate. And not once in this scene does she let any clue slip of her being a Death Eater. Surly if she had been working for Voldemort she would give us some clue at the end, when so many other clues are slipping out of her mouth. Instead she seems to stay loyal to her own agenda. Umbridge believes Hermione when she speaks of a weapon created by Dumbledore for use against the Ministry. She lets Hermione and Harry take her into the forbidden forest in order to see this weapon. If she were truly a Death Eater during this book then she would have known that what Voldemort was concerned with was the prophecy, and yet she is very excited about this weapon. In her excitement she slips out that she believes this is “A weapon you could use against the ministry”. In fact all she talks about during the whole scene is the danger Dumbledore is creating for the Ministry. Not once does she mention any danger of Voldemort, or even of “dark wizards”. She did not once in the book act in the normal way of a Death Eater because she was not a Death Eater during the fifth book!
The only clue we are given to lead us to believe that Umbridge might be working with Voldemort is a red herring, and is in the middle of the book. During one of Harry’s Detentions with Delores his scar hurts and he feels a funny feeling around his midriff. I say this is a red herring because it is entirely explained away later in the book. On page 381 of the American version Harry figures out why his scar hurt on this occasion:
Harry was thinking himself back. He had been looking into Umbridge’s face… his scar had hurt… and he had had that odd feeling in his stomach… a strange, leaping feeling… a happy feeling… but of course, he had not recognised it for what it was, as he had been feeling so miserable himself…
“Last time, it was because he was pleased,” he <Harry> said.
So what might first look to be a clue to Umbridge’s involvement is actually nothing more than a coincidence.
If you compare Umbridge’s actions and personality with that of known Death Eaters you will see that she really has no potential at all of being a Death Eater. For one thing, all of the known Death Eaters speak to Voldemort with respect. They call him master to his face, and when he is not around he is the Dark Lord. They defend him to all extent, even to the point of disbelieving and attacking Harry when he states that Voldemort is a half-blood.(pg784, Harry was attacked by Bellatrix when he made this statement). If you compare this to Umbridge’s actions you will notice a difference right away. She treats all of the teachers, Dumbledore, and even Fudge with nothing but disrespect. She hides things from Fudge, and has him sign Educational Decrees to satisfy her every whim. When Dumbledore is booted from the school Delores Umbridge makes sure that it is she who takes his position as Headmistress. Far from being a pawn for Cornelius Fudge, it would appear that Fudge is HER pawn. Cornelius Fudge may grant favors for people in order to keep in good stride with them (we see this most with Umbridge and Lucius Malfoy), however Voldemort does not! Voldemort would not take lightly to a statement such as “What Voldemort doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” He does not expect his servants to be out gaining power for their own enjoyment, but rather to be showing their loyalty. Voldemort hands out the power, and if you don’t get it from Voldemort you don’t need it.
Notice how Bellatrix Lestrange talks about her position as a Death Eater compared to how Umbridge describes her position in the Ministry. Umbridge accuses McGonagall of wanting to be as powerful as she is (pg 666). She is quotes saying to McGonagall: “You think you’ll be where I am, don’t you: Senior Undersecretary to the Minister and Headmistress to boot!” Now compare this with what Bellatrix says on pg 811: “I was and am the Dark Lords most loyal servant”. Can you really see Umbridge describing herself as a loyal servant? She is hardly loyal to Cornelius Fudge as it is. The only person Umbridge shows loyalty to is herself. The only views that matter are her own.
She is against anything and everything that might threaten her rise to power, or stand in her way. She has showed countless times that she is not afraid to take on Dumbledore. She is not even against setting dementors on a 15 year old boy if he might be threatening her position in the ministry. Therefore, far from joining Voldemort and his Death Eaters, I believe she is not afraid in the slightest to take on Voldemort himself if he begins to threaten her precious position and power. After all Dumbledore is the only one Voldemort is afraid of, and Delores is not afraid to take on him.
If you are thinking that the centaur attack and other events at the end of the book will shift the power away from Umbridge, think again. Fudge did some horrible things in book five as well and we left with him still in charge as Minister of Magic. If Cornelius Fudge can talk himself out of his mess, then there is no reason to believe that Delores Umbridge couldn’t do the same thing.
Lastly if you look at it from the writers’ point of view, you could say that Umbridge is Fudge’s first lady so to speak, the same way that Bellatrix is Voldemort’s first lady. It is a fitting situation to leave as it is. Umbridge in all of her pride would not settle for anything less that Bellatrix’s position beside Voldemort, and that position is taken by a needed character already. Delores Umbridge does not have it in her to be a pawn in Voldemorts game. She must be the Queen.