PCP: Umbridge Sucks

Gabrielle Klemt - Geological
Posted on: October 28, 2017

“I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses… I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death,” (Rowling, 1997). Who reading these lines can say there is no passion in Snape for his beloved Potions? The definition of a good professor is someone with passion. This definition exists so many places that I can’t even cite it, we all inherently know this as fact. My worthy opponent then, has already lost her debate; where there is passion there will always be good teaching. If there is one thing that can be said about Umbridge without reference to her many distasteful characteristics, it’s that she not only isn’t passionate about teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, she doesn’t care that the students in her class are not learning anything as they sit and teach themselves from a textbook.

Umbridge as a professor lacks passion for her topic, lusts after power and control, is rude to students, tries to torture Harry, and promotes an air of fear, hatred and division throughout the school. Just one of these things is enough to put her down in the books as the worst prof ever, and in comparison with Severus Snape she appears even worse. I’m not even going to touch on the area of the Snape-Lily-James triangle and his whole horrible tortured life, he stands out apart from that as one of the best teachers at Hogwarts. If he was your prof he would be the one you disliked in the moment but were grateful to for their work in preparing you not only for exams but also for life.

We’ve all had that prof, the one whose class you never attended because you learnt more from the text than from the lectures. It was probably in first year and it was a course the prof had to teach in order to get to teach the stuff that actually interested them. Likely you felt from their disinterest in the subject that they resented having to teach you and saw it as a personal punishment. You probably thought they were such a bad prof you didn’t even bother to complete the course evaluation because they weren’t worth your time.

Whatever your personal experience with profs who didn’t care, can you just imagine having to go to class every day and being told to open your books to a certain page and then spend the next hour or two reading in silence with the rest of your class? You would have stopped attending that in the first week. And don’t think about asking questions, Umbridge actively discouraged questions and open class discussion. Try to complain and you wouldn’t get a rebuff, you would get punished either in the form of demerit points to your house or detention.

But hold the phone on the thought of detention, because Professor Umbridge is not your regular professor, satisfied to make her point by giving a student a one-on-one talking to; she needed to make sure every student felt her power over them. Having a prof whose first aim in life is power is probably the worst trait a prof can have. Umbridge exerts her power over her students in the form of detentions where she repeatedly forces them to carve into their own skin a line of her choosing. A line that reminds them forever what she is capable of if she is disobeyed or her authority is challenged in any way.

Snape runs a tight ship, but it’s because he knows his subject is challenging and he wants his students to succeed. He doesn’t tolerate nonsense because he knows success doesn’t happen if a student is lazy, or not paying attention. Snape’s reason for keeping his students in line is to help them do their best and not hurt themselves either, he would never actually harm a student.

Umbridge’s literal goal from day one is to become the school’s Headmistress and get rid of all the teachers with any ideas in opposition to her own. She is rude to students, rebukes anyone who questions her, puts another professor in the hospital, feeds a truth potion to Harry without his knowledge, and attempts to torture him to gain information he doesn’t even have.

Umbridge’s antics end up dividing the school more firmly between the students (really just Slytherins vs. everyone else as per usual) with her creation of the “Inquisitorial Squad”. This group of clearly biased students have the power of Prefects and none of the checks on privilege that come with it. This division of students creates an air of hatred between houses, despite the fact that helping Umbridge is not beneficial to anyone, even if you are in Slytherin.

She uses this “Squad” of students to help her police the rest of the student body by enforcing her numerous “Educational Decrees”. These decrees inhibit student activities and ruin their quality of life, can you just for a second try to imagine the horrible mental atmosphere of a school where all your movements are being policed by your peers? I can’t: school causes me enough stress as it is, I don’t need to be worrying about whether I’m talking to the wrong person at the wrong time.

So there you have it. Umbridge is the worst. Not only the worst professor but also the worst witch. I mean you practically shout “Hurray!” as she’s borne off into the forest by a bunch of angry centaurs and aren’t even upset at the thought that she might be murdered by them. That’s pretty messed up. And I mean she ends up actually working for Voldemort in the end so what more proof do you need?