Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
How we cite our quotes:
"I don't think private matters between myself and the Minister are any concern of yours, Potter," said [Lucius] Malfoy, smoothing the front of his robes. Harry distinctly heard the gentle clinking of what sounded like a full pocket of gold. "Really, just because you are Dumbledore's favorite boy, you must not expect the same indulgence from the rest of us ... shall we go up to your office, then, Minister?" (9.26)
Lucius Malfoy's words to Harry must be music to Cornelius Fudge's ears, since Fudge is trying to encourage the world to hate and distrust Harry, and Lucius Malfoy clearly already does. What is more, Malfoy's "full pocket of gold," which seems connected to the "private matters" between Malfoy and Fudge, indicates the strong corruption in Fudge's administration. Malfoy's deep pockets are allowed to influence Fudge's policy. What lessons might J.K. Rowling be trying to teach about the dangers of money and influence in politics? What problems do you see in Malfoy's ways of interacting with the Minister for Magic?
Every headmaster and headmistress of Hogwarts has brought something new to the weighty task of governing this historic school, and that is as it should be, for without progress there will be stagnation and decay. There again, progress for progress's sake must be discouraged, for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering. A balance, then, between old and new, between permanence and change, between tradition and innovation ... (11.92)
Professor Umbridge addresses the students and staff of Hogwarts at the Welcome Feast. She uses a lot of abstract and elusive language – what is this "progress" that she might want to discourage? What balance does she want to strike "between permanence and change"? The point is, it doesn't matter what she calls tradition and what she calls innovation. The important thing is that Professor Umbridge thinks she can identify what "must be discouraged" in the running of Hogwarts. She has total confidence in her own abilities, which is dangerous.
"Oh, no," said Umbridge, smiling so widely that she looked as though she had just swallowed a particularly juicy fly. "Oh, no, no, no. This is your punishment for spreading evil, nasty, attention-seeking stories, Mr. Potter, and punishments certainly cannot be adjusted to suit the guilty one's convenience. No, you will come here at five o'clock tomorrow, and the next day, and on Friday too, and you will do your detentions as planned. I think it rather a good thing that you are missing something you really want to do. It ought to reinforce the lesson I am trying to teach you." (13.149)
In Book 4, Harry must confront a villain who is fanatically devoted to a cause. Whatever else you may say about Barty Crouch, Jr., he really, really believes in Voldemort. But in this book, the main antagonist doesn't truly seem to care about Truth, Justice, and the values of the Ministry of Magic – she's all too willing to use Veritaserum to force the truth out of Harry about Dumbledore and Sirius Black, which is strictly against Ministry policy. The only thing that seems to be driving Professor Umbridge is her eagerness to cause people suffering and pain. Her wide smile when she gets to refuse Harry his Quidditch practice is totally self-serving and sadistic. It's this trait that makes Professor Umbridge so repellent: with characters like Barty Crouch, Jr., who truly believe in what they are doing, you can understand why they do evil, even if you don't agree. But Professor Umbridge just seems like a petty, self-indulgent sadist. She appears to be evil for the sheer pleasure and power of it, which is just – revolting.