According to the Wizarding World news written by J.K. Rowling:
“Dolores Jane Umbridge was the eldest child and only daughter of Orford Umbridge, a Wizard, and Ellen Cracknell, a Muggle, who also had a Squib son.
During Voldemort’s prime, Dolores was soon enjoying life at the Ministry more than ever. When the Ministry was taken over by the puppet Minister Pius Thicknesse, and infiltrated by the Dark Lord’s followers, Dolores was in her true element at last. Correctly judged, by senior Death Eaters, to have much more in common with them than she ever had with Albus Dumbledore, she not only retained her post but was given extra authority, becoming Head of the Muggle-born Registration Commission, which was in effect a kangaroo court that imprisoned all Muggle-borns on the basis that they had ‘stolen’ their wands and their magic. …………………………………..
………. It was as she sat in judgement of another innocent woman that Harry Potter finally attacked Dolores in the very heart of the Ministry, and stole from her the Horcrux she had unwittingly been wearing.
With the fall of Lord Voldemort, Dolores Umbridge was put on trial for her enthusiastic co-operation with his regime, and convicted of the torture, imprisonment and deaths of several people (some of the innocent Muggle-borns she sentenced to Azkaban did not survive their ordeal).”
However, did she know that she was actually working for him?
Here’s what you need to know….
Was Umbridge working for Voldemort?
#1 She was just Power Hungry
Quora user @MihikaKulkarni states she does not believe Umbridge is a Death Eater. She instead believes JKR particularly created that character in order to add more complexity to a series that would have otherwise been all about those who were Death Eaters and those who were not.
With Umbridge, JKR showed that malice, cruelty, and hunger for power can take more than one form.
Incidentally, given how Umbridge was used to cosying up with anyone in power, she would have equally fanatically adopted the opposite views if it meant her own success.
Just as she faked her connection to the Selwyn family by using the locket, it could be assumed that she would have found a way to connect herself with Muggles in the (unlikely) event that that was the new point of prestige.
#2 She was working towards their standards by implication
Quora user @ClarenceSherrick argues that by implication and association, Dolores Umbridge was at least “in the league” with Voldemort.
Moreover, she was a control freak, exceedingly cruel and highly prejudiced against muggle born(s) and all other magical creatures (except for magic born Wizards and Witches).
These were precisely the characteristics and views held by Voldemort and all his other minions.
#3 A closet Ally
Quora user @AbhinavSisodia paints Dolores as someone who agrees with the ideas but is smart enough not to publicly support them.
Therefore, she may have not been a Death Eater as she was, though an utterly depreciable human being, smart enough not to join the ranks of death eater to paint a target on her back if things go south.
Was Umbridge a Death Eater?
SciFi Stack exchange user @Null states that she is in fact, not a Death Eater, although her ideology and Voldemort’s vision seemed to align almost identically.
Magic is Might – Voldemort and the Death Eaters want to establish wizard power and authority over muggles. Also, they feel that any wizards or witches that are not pureblood, such as Muggle borns and children of werewolves.
“… she drafted a bit of anti-werewolf legislation two years ago that makes it almost impossible for him to get a job.” (pg. 302)
When Sirius was faced with the exact same question, he had the following to say:
“I doubt it, I know her by reputation and I’m sure she’s no Death Eater- … but the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters” (Order of the Phoenix, pg. 302)
Further noteworthy differences between Voldemort and Dolores Umbridge are as follows:
- Dolores Umbridge hates all half-breeds, whereas, though Voldemort does not allow Fenrir Greyback to have a dark mark or be a true Death Eater, many Werewolves and Giants ally themselves with Voldemort’s army.
- Umbridge does not call him ‘The Dark Lord’ as most, if not all, Death Eaters do.
- There is no evidence that she ever got a Dark Mark. Surely in the movie, she did not have one.
- There is no evidence that her opinions or ideas changed from Order of the Phoenix to Deathly Hallows. The Ministry has though, and therefore Umbridge fits much better with the new Ministry’s views.
- She is not present in the graveyard scene or Malfoy Mansion scene, nor does she ever play a part in Voldemort’s schemes (other than by accident, of course).
That being said, Remus Lupin says in Deathly Hallows:
“A mixture; but to all intents and purposes, they’re the same thing now. (pg. 206)”
Did Umbridge know that she was working for Voldemort?
Reddit user @OwlPostsAgain states that After Dumbledore dies and Voldemort starts making inroads into the Ministry, she (Dolores Umbridge) looks at the situation and aligns herself with the side most likely to win.
That meant being a pureblood supremacist and hating Muggle borns.
She clearly did know that the locket (Horcrux) contained a bit of Voldemort, and she might not have known that it had belonged to Slytherin.
If the Slytherin connection had been obvious when one looked at the locket, she would not have been able to pass it off as a Selwyn family heirloom.
Umbridge already likes fussy clothes and grandmotherly possessions. The locket might have caught her eye simply because it looked old and expensive.
There were probably a lot of Ministry employees just keeping their heads down like Arthur Weasley. Some of them might have tentatively aligned themselves with the pro-pureblood cause to keep themselves and their family safe without actually having any ill will toward Muggle borns.
Similarly, there were plenty of German citizens who joined the Nazi party because you would have a giant target on your back if you were not part of the new regime.
You can’t really blame the average ministry employee for just trying to survive in the new political climate!
J.K. Rowling when inquired about the character describes her as “having a desire to control, to punish, and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I (J.K. Rowling) think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.”
Whilst we do not know for certain and can only assume Dolores Umbridge was a power hungry witch and not a follower of Voldemort – Rowling has revealed new details about Umbridge in her Pottermore essay that we covered above.
This includes the fact that Umbridge is a “half-blood”—the daughter of a wizard and a Muggle and that when Umbridge forced Harry, who was in detention at the time, to cut the words “I must not tell lies” onto the back of his hand, she became the only person other than Lord Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on the boy wizard.
You can find out more about why Umbridge is considered to be so evil here.
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