|“||Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries. Protect us! Do your duty to our school!||”|
–McGonagall's summoning the suits of armour before the Battle of Hogwarts , Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Madam Professor Minerva McGonagall (b. 4 October, 1935) was a witch and a registered Animagus who attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 1947 to 1954 and was sorted into Gryffindor House. After her education, she worked for two years at the Ministry of Magic and later returned to Hogwarts, where she became Head of Gryffindor House, Transfiguration professor and concurrently, at differing times, Deputy Headmistress and Headmistress of Hogwarts.
McGonagall was also a member of the First and Second Order of the Phoenix. In 1995, she opposed Dolores Umbridge, the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. She also protected the students from Alecto and Amycus Carrow from 1997 until 1998, and as part of this resistance movement, fought in several battles of both wars, including the Battle of the Astronomy Tower and the Battle of Hogwarts (where she led the resistance against Lord Voldemort).
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Early life (1935-1947)
- 1.2 Hogwarts years (1947-1954)
- 1.3 Early heartbreak (1954-1956)
- 1.4 Employment (1956-1970)
- 1.5 First Wizarding War (1970-1981)
- 1.6 Between the wars (1981-1995)
- 1.7 Second Wizarding War (1995-1998)
- 1.8 Later life (1998-2017)
- 2 Physical appearance
- 3 Personality and traits
- 4 Magical abilities and skills
- 5 Relationships
- 5.1 Albus Dumbledore
- 5.2 Harry Potter
- 5.3 Severus Snape
- 5.4 Hermione Granger
- 5.5 Ron Weasley
- 5.6 Neville Longbottom
- 5.7 Draco Malfoy
- 5.8 Rubeus Hagrid
- 5.9 Sybill Trelawney
- 5.10 Hogwarts staff
- 5.11 Lord Voldemort
- 5.12 Dolores Umbridge
- 5.13 Weasley family
- 5.14 The Marauders and Lily Evans
- 5.15 Order of the Phoenix members
- 6 Etymology
- 7 Behind the scenes
- 8 Appearances
- 9 Notes and references
Early life (1935-1947)
Minerva McGonagall was born on the outskirts of Caithness in the Scottish Highlands, on 4 October, 1935 to Robert McGonagall, a Muggle Presbyterian minister, and his wife, Isobel Ross, a witch. She was the couple's first child, and was named after her mother's grandmother, a very talented witch.
Her birth proved both a joy and a crisis: Isobel had given up the use of her magic for her love of Robert, and never told him about her magical abilities as she was afraid to mar the bliss of their wedding. Minerva, however, displayed small but noticeable signs of magic from her earliest hours. As an infant, Minerva had no control of her magic, and thus she inadvertently Summoned toys that had been left on upper shelves to her cot, made the family cat do her bidding, and made her father's bagpipes play themselves which would cause baby Minerva to chuckle happily. Isobel knew she must confess to her husband about their daughter's wizarding abilities and so she did, explaining everything to Robert and telling him that they were bound by the International Statute of Secrecy, and that they must conceal the truth about their magical abilities.
The two parents remained together despite the shocking revelation and had two other sons, Malcolm and Robert Jr.. Both revealed magical ability in due course. Minerva then, as a child, helped her mother conceal from her father the accidents and embarrassments the young wizards' magic sometimes caused.
On Minerva's eleventh birthday on 4 October, 1946, she received her admittance letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, at the time Headed by Professor Armando Dippet. Now free to be with her kind, and to exercise her considerable talents, Minerva saw how her mother sobbed that day; not only out of pride, but also out of envy.
Hogwarts years (1947-1954)
Minerva attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at the age of eleven. During her Sorting, she proved to be a hatstall: the Sorting Hat spent five-and-a-half minutes wavering between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw before deciding to place her in the former.
Minerva was quickly recognised as the most outstanding student of her year with a particular talent for Transfiguration. Minerva's school career overlapped by two years with that of Pomona Sprout, and the two students enjoyed an excellent relationship both then, and in later years.
By the end of the 1953-1954 school year, her seventh and last year at the school, Minerva had achieved an impressive record: she achieved top grades in her O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. examinations, she had been both a Prefect and a Head Girl, and won the Transfiguration Today Most Promising Newcomer award. She, like Dumbledore, received "Outstanding" in all her O.W.L's and N.E.W.T's. Having learned Transfiguration from Professor Albus Dumbledore, Minerva became, under his guidance, an Animagus, an ability that was duly recorded in the Animagus Registry at the Ministry of Magic. Minerva also played for Gryffindor Quidditch team in her student years; a nasty fall in her final year (a foul during the Gryffindor versus Slytherin match which would decide the Quidditch Cup winner) left her with a concussion, several broken ribs and a lifelong desire to see Slytherin crushed on the Quidditch pitch.
Early heartbreak (1954-1956)
After graduating from Hogwarts, Minerva was offered a position at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement of the British Ministry of Magic. She returned to her family's manse to spend one last summer with her family before moving to London.
During these months Minerva, aged eighteen, met Dougal McGregor, a local Muggle, who was the handsome, clever and funny son of a local farmer. Minerva fell head-over-heels in love with McGregor. The two got to know each other, and eventually McGregor proposed to Minerva on a ploughed field and she accepted his offer. That night, she was unable to tell her parents of her engagement. Thinking about her future, Minerva realised that wedding a Muggle who was oblivious to the fact that she was a witch would mean Minerva would follow her mother's footsteps and live unhappily with her wand locked away, shredding all of her ambitions. Early next morning, Minerva went to tell McGregor she had changed her mind, and could not marry him, aware that if she broke the International Statute of Secrecy she would lose the job at the Ministry for which she was giving him up. She could give him no good reason for her change of heart. She left McGregor devastated and left for London three days later.
|“||Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts. Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned.||”|
–Minerva McGonagall lectures her first-year students., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Dissatisfied with her job at the Ministry, in December 1956, Minerva returned to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this time not to learn but to teach Transfiguration, under the head of department, Albus Dumbledore. She later replaced Dumbledore as Head of Department after he ascended to the position of Headmaster of the school. As a teacher, Minerva was a strict disciplinarian, maintaining control of her students with a stern hand that made her someone not to be crossed. Later on in her career, Minerva was also be appointed the position of Head of Gryffindor House, the house in which she used to reside whilst studying at Hogwarts. Albus Dumbledore would later on in his career also trust her enough to allow her to become Deputy Headmistress of the school and fill in for him on the occasions of his absence. Her lessons consisted of but were not limited to match to needle, animal to water goblet, beetle to button, and mouse to snuffbox transformations, as well as Vanishing, Conjuring, and Switching Spells.
Through her early years at Hogwarts, Minerva remained close friends with her former boss, Elphinstone Urquart. During one visit, he proposed marriage to Minerva at Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop. Surprised, embarrassed and still in love with Dougal, she declined. Elphinstone, however, had never ceased to love her, nor to propose every now and then, until she finally accepted.
First Wizarding War (1970-1981)
After the first rise of dark wizard Lord Voldemort, Minerva took part in fighting back against Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. McGonagall still taught at Hogwarts during the first war.
Order of the Phoenix
In the early days of the First Wizarding War, McGonagall joined the movement against Voldemort, the Order of the Phoenix, led by Albus Dumbledore. Minerva played a vital role in the resistance against Voldemort and his army of followers (Death Eaters), and throughout the war. McGonagall stayed loyal to the Order despite the rise in murders of members. McGonagall got through the war unscathed where others suffered loss of limb or other injuries.
Protection of Harry Potter
|“||They're the worst sort of Muggles imaginable.||”|
–McGonagall discussing Harry's relatives, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
In 1981, baby Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort in his family home at Godric's Hollow, his parents James Potter and Lily Evans (both members of the Order of the Phoenix) were killed whilst protecting their son from harm. The defeat of Voldemort ultimately ended the war and his followers were arrested and those that escaped went into hiding. Minerva travelled to Surrey and there spent an entire day observing the Dursley family seeing whether or not they met the standards of looking after Harry as they were his only living relatives with his parents now dead. She was thus present, along with Rubeus Hagrid, when Dumbledore placed Harry on the Dursleys' doorstep, despite her objections to leaving him with these Muggles, whom she considered to be the "worst kind" of them. She kept a close eye on Harry from time to time during his early childhood, as did other members of the Order of the Phoenix.
Between the wars (1981-1995)
After the First Wizarding War had ended Minerva continued on with her career at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, carrying on teaching the art of Transfiguration. She remained loyal to the Order of the Phoenix and kept watching over Harry Potter as he grew up to keep him from harm.
In the summer of 1982, Elphinstone proposed to Minerva again during a stroll around the Black Lake. Minerva, who had felt freed by the earlier death of Dougal McGregor, finally accepted. Always something of a feminist, she kept her maiden name upon their marriage, to the dismay of pure-blood supremacists who disapproved of her keeping her Muggle father's name. Together they lived in a small cottage in Hogsmeade where Minerva traveled easily to work every day and often hosted her nieces and nephews for visits.
In 1985, three years into their marriage, Elphinstone died from a Venomous Tentacula bite. Minerva, who could not bear to remain alone in their cottage, packed her things after her husband's funeral and returned to her first-floor study in Hogwarts Castle. It is unknown whether Minerva still owns the cottage.
Protecting the Philosopher's Stone
|“||Welcome to Hogwarts. Now, in a few moments you will pass through these doors, and join your classmates.||”|
–Minerva McGonagall to the first-year students of 1991., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
In 1991 friend of Albus Dumbledore, Nicolas Flamel, had the Philosopher's Stone that was keeping him alive moved from his safe in Gringotts to Hogwarts for safe keeping. Minerva contributed to the defences set up around the magical artefact by transfiguring an enormous chess set and animating it to behave as a normal Wizard's chess set would. As part of its protection duty, it required that the person or persons seeking to get past would have to take the place of a piece on the board and play an actual game of wizard's chess, at great physical risk to themselves. Wizarding chess is known to be brutally violent and sacrificial for wizards to have to take part in themselves.
Also in this year, Harry Potter, who Minerva had been watching over for many years would start his first year of education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, unknowingly to him as he was unaware of the fact he was a wizard. Once Harry eventually arrived at Hogwarts, after the delivery of many acceptance letters, Harry was Sorted into the house of Gryffindor which Minerva was head of. Harry was therefore again placed under the watchful eye and care of McGonagall.
Though Minerva often maintained her strict persona in regards to the boy, she was not above bending the rules for him on occasion, such as when she caught him flying on a broomstick without proper supervision. Instead of expelling him, which was Madam Hooch's stated punishment for anyone caught doing so, Minerva instead took him to see Oliver Wood, captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, to comment on his prodigious skill with the broom.
Harry made the team, remarkable for a First year, and became the youngest Seeker in a century. McGonagall made arrangements for Harry to have a Nimbus 2000, the fastest broomstick of the time, for use during games and practices. Towards the end of the year McGonagall and the other teachers protective enchantments down in the Philosopher's Stone chambers would come to test when Quirrell attempted to steal the Philosopher's Stone. Also testing and facing the enchantments were Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. The trio was successful in stopping the stone being stolen and come the end of the school year, Gryffindor had won the house cup after receiving the most house points that year after getting bonus points for the trio's and Neville Longbottom's bravery. McGonagall's house the current house cup champions.
The second opening of the Chamber of Secrets
- McGonagall: "What does it mean Albus?"
- Dumbledore: "It means that the Chamber of Secrets has indeed been opened again."
- — After finding Colin Creevey petrified.[src]
In the beginning of the 1992 school term, Minerva had to deal with Harry and Ron, who crashed Mr Weasley's Flying Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow, due to the barrier of the King's Cross Station that was sealed by Dobby so the two couldn't board the train. This nearly exposed the wizarding world to Muggles, but Minerva was more fair than Snape, the one who brought the matter up in the first place. Minerva ultimately let them off with a mere detention and a letter to their parents and guardians; she did not take any house points as Harry pointed out that term had not started yet when they took the car, and she almost smiled at this remark.
Later, Minerva was present for the re-opening of the Chamber of Secrets. She, along with the rest of the teaching staff, scoured the castle for the Chamber, but to no avail. She also had to deal with the less than helpful Gilderoy Lockhart, who had been hired for the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. McGonagall had little liking or use for the man, and by the end of the year was only one of the many staff who utterly despised him.
In the final weeks of that school year, Minerva served as temporary Headmistress of Hogwarts after the Board of Governors, under Lucius Malfoy's influence, suspended Dumbledore for failing to stop the attacks against students. She was also quite shaken and softened up, as when Harry and Ron tried to sneak off to investigate on the matters but was caught by Professor McGonagall, she let them off under the belief that they were trying to visit a petrified Hermione; normally, she would punish them with detention. When Ginny Weasley was later taken into the Chamber of Secrets, where "her skeleton will lie in the chamber forever," Minerva despairingly believed that they were facing the end of Hogwarts. However, once the monster of the Chamber had been dealt with, Dumbledore returned to the school and Minerva returned to her normal duties.
Escape of Sirius Black
|“||Well, Sirius Black is gone tonight, but I think you can all safely assume he will attempt to return at some time.||”|
–McGonagall to her students, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
The summer of 1993 also saw the escape of Sirius Black from Azkaban. When the school year began in September, Minerva had to deal with the effects that the Dementors had on her students, such as Harry Potter. She also authorised Hermione Granger to use a Time-Turner in order to take extra classes, a decision that would prove more useful in future events that year. This year at Hogwarts would prove to be another difficult year with Dementors guarding the castle.
At the start of the year, when McGonagall demonstrated her Animagus form to her first class, she notes how quiet they were. When Hermione explained about their first Divination, McGonagall understood and asked her class which of them would be dying this year. Harry Potter raised his hand. McGonagall assured him that Sybill Trelawney's predictions were a way of greeting her class and that no deaths of any students has occurred yet.
|“||The fact still remains, that Sirius Black was and is to this day... Harry Potter's Godfather!||”|
–McGonagall discussing Black., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
Throughout the year, Minerva assisted in guarding the school, yet nonetheless Black was able to infiltrate the castle. After Black had attacked the Fat Lady, McGonagall tried to tell Harry that Black was after him, but was cut off by Harry, who told her that Mr Weasley had told him, before she could explain, Later in the year Black managed to enter Gryffindor Tower when Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, befriended by Sirius, gave him a discarded list of passwords. When Neville Longbottom admitted to having written the passwords down, McGonagall gave him a detention and wrote to his grandmother. As a result, Neville received a Howler. When Harry received a Firebolt following the destruction of his Nimbus 2000, McGonagall had it confiscated to be "examined" because she believed it to have been sent by Black (and correctly so), and therefore lethally cursed (which was incorrect). This incident caused Harry and Hermione to have a row, because Hermione had alerted Minerva about the Firebolt. It was returned to him later. During the Quidditch match against Ravenclaw, McGonagall caught Draco Malfoy, Gregory Goyle, Vincent Crabbe and Marcus Flint attempting to pose as Dementors to catch Harry off guard. She deducted fifty points from Slytherin and put the quartet in detention. In the spring of 1994, though disgusted by the Slytherin Quidditch team's dirty tactics during the final Quidditch match after witnessing Draco Malfoy grab onto the end of Harry's Firebolt to stop him from catching the Golden Snitch, she also witnessed the Gryffindor Quidditch team win the Quidditch Cup for the first time since Charlie Weasley had played for the team during his Hogwarts education. McGonagall was delighted by Gryffindor's victory, but upset to see its captain Oliver Wood leaving. Later on in the year, three students from her house — Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger — would run into trouble when Sirius Black returned to Hogwarts.
|“||The Yule Ball after all is first and foremost, a dance.||”|
–McGonagall to her students., Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
In the autumn of 1994, Hogwarts hosted the magical schools, the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and the Durmstrang Institute for the Triwizard Tournament. Harry Potter was selected as a Triwizard Champion despite being under age and McGonagall worried for his safety after having looked after him for so many years. Minerva protested with Dumbledore and Crouch to withdraw Harry Potter from the tournament but it was against rules of the tournament and Potter had to continue on, despite it being very dangerous for him to do so.
During the year Minerva more than once exhorted her students to provide a good appearance to their guests at the castle. She attended the Yule Ball with Albus Dumbledore and notably wore her hair down for the first time since Harry started his education at Hogwarts. She also loaned her classroom to Harry, Ron and Hermione so they could practise spells for Harry's preparation for the Third Task, after having walked in on them so many times around the school. At the end of the Tournament, however, Minerva accompanied Dumbledore and Severus Snape in the rescue of Harry Potter from the Death Eater that had spent the entire school year impersonating the Auror Alastor Moody, that year's Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.
- Dumbledore: "What has happened? Why are you disturbing these people? Minerva, I'm surprised at you -- I asked you to stand guard over Barty Crouch"
- McGonagall: "There is no need to stand guard over him anymore, Dumbledore! The Minister has seen to that!"
- — Minerva losing her temper in what Harry considered a first time.[src]
She was instructed to guard Crouch Jr. after he revealed his part in the rebirth of Voldemort, but was unable to prevent the Dementor brought by Minister Cornelius Fudge from giving the Death Eater the Dementor's Kiss. She was intensely furious at Fudge for this blunder, and screamed more than Harry had ever seen before. Thus, when the Minister refused to believe Dumbledore and Harry Potter about the return of Voldemort, Minerva nonetheless stood in support of her superior and her student. In the return of the Dark Lord, Hufflepuff student Cedric Diggory was carelessly murdered and a memorial feast was held at the end of the school year. The Second Wizarding War had now begun, despite the Ministry trying to hush up any claims of this.
Second Wizarding War (1995-1998)
Once the Second Wizarding War had begun, Minerva rejoined the Order of the Phoenix and spent much of the summer of 1995 doing work for the Order. She would come and go from 12 Grimmauld Place wearing a Muggle dress rather than her robes, which Harry thought made her look odd. Though these duties took up much of her time, Minerva would face even greater challenges at Hogwarts. Because Dumbledore was unable to find a new professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts, the Ministry of Magic appointed Dolores Umbridge, a senior Ministry official and stout supporter of Fudge, to the Hogwarts staff. Minerva saw this appointment as an affront to the school itself and did little to hide her disgust.
High Inquisitor at Hogwarts
When Harry Potter crossed Umbridge, earning a detention in his first class with her, Minerva was sympathetic but warned him that Umbridge was not to be trifled with and that he should keep his head down. McGonagall did all she could to circumvent Umbridge's authority without risking her own security as Deputy Headmistress. Indeed, she treated Umbridge with as little credence and respect as possible while Hogwarts was under investigation by the Ministry of Magic, and even gave Peeves tips on how to unscrew a chandelier when he was trying to cause havoc for Umbridge. McGonagall also managed to put aside her dislike of Professor Trelawney for a time in the face of Umbridge's persecution of Hogwarts' inhabitants. It is shown she brings Trelawney back to Hogwarts after Umbridge dismissed her.
After Umbridge's appointment as High Inquisitor, Minerva was forced to endure the other woman's presence during her evaluation of Minerva's teaching. Minerva kept her temper under control, maintaining an icy exterior and yet still unleashed a dry and pointed wit on Umbridge. The encounter did serve to cheer students like Ron Weasley who heartily disliked Umbridge. Still, darker times lay ahead.
Despite Minerva's best efforts to thwart the Ministry's influence at Hogwarts, things continued to grow worse. After Dumbledore was ousted from the school, Umbridge was appointed Headmistress over Minerva. When Umbridge invaded the career advising of the 5th-year students, Minerva finally lost her temper. During Harry Potter's session, when Umbridge kept interrupting the conversation and declaring that Harry would never be an Auror at the Ministry, Minerva declared to Harry that she would help him in any way necessary to achieve his goal. The atmosphere at Hogwarts continued to devolve under Umbridge's leadership.
St. Mungo's Hospital
- McGonagall: "How dare you! How dare you!"
- Hermione: "It's McGonagall!"
- McGonagall: "Leave him alone! Alone, I say! On what grounds are you attacking him? He has done nothing, nothing to warrant such —"
- — McGonagall moments before Umbridge orders her attack[src]
During the O.W.L. examinations, events came to a head. When Dolores Umbridge and several Aurors attempted to evict Hagrid from the grounds of Hogwarts, Minerva sought to intervene on behalf of her colleague. However, before she could even draw her wand, Minerva was promptly hit with four Stunning Spells in the chest, which required that she be moved from Hogwarts Hospital Wing to St Mungo's for treatment.
Madam Pomfrey said that it would be very difficult for Minerva to be hit in broad daylight, and would have resigned in protest because of this cowardly attack if the students' well-being was not placed as her priority; many students were also outraged with this attack, to the point of ignoring their Astronomy exam, and even the proctor Professor Tofty expressed aloud his fury.
Return to Hogwarts
|“||Well, I think Potter and his friends ought to have fifty points apiece for alerting the world to the return of You-Know-Who - that's fifty each for Potter, the two Weasleys, Longbottom and Miss Granger. Oh--and fifty for Miss Lovegood, I suppose.||”|
–Professor McGonagall rewards the participants of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries for confirming the return of Lord Voldemort., Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Minerva did not return to Hogwarts until after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, when she promptly gave the six students involved in the Battle at the Ministry 50 house points each for "alerting the world to the return of You-Know-Who" when Snape was needling Harry about Gryffindor having 0 house points. She also watched with some happiness when Peeves chased Umbridge from the school, commenting that she would've joined Peeves in chasing Dolores away, but Peeves had appropriated her walking stick. After her recovery at St. Mungo's, Minerva resumed her duties within the Order of the Phoenix as well as her teaching duties when the school year would begin again after summer.
Battle of the Astronomy Tower
Later in the school year, she participated in the Battle of the Astronomy Tower in 1997 after Draco Malfoy sneaked Death Eaters into the school through the Room of Requirement. She was stuck on the level below Harry and Dumbledore and couldn't pass on the stairs to reach them, however Snape could and pushed past her.
After the battle, she was devastated to learn of Snape's murder of Dumbledore, the man whom she had known nearly her entire life as a teacher, mentor, and friend, and whose murderer she had let pass. After the murder was committed the Dark Mark, which was already cast into the sky, shadowed over the school grounds, McGonagall led the respectful wand raising to rid the sky of the dark mark from the late Dumbledore's body. After the death of Dumbledore, McGonagall held the Funeral of Albus Dumbledore at Hogwarts and in the final days of the school year she took over Dumbledore's former position and became Headmistress of Hogwarts, though she was stripped of this position in favour of Snape once Voldemort took over. McGonagall tried to comfort Harry about the death of Dumbledore but her efforts fell short, as she herself was devastated at the death of her beloved teacher.
Voldemort's control of Hogwarts
As the war continued, Minerva remained at Hogwarts, even when it was taken over by Voldemort, most likely to make sure as little harm came to students since she could act as an insider so that that the Order of the Phoenix was informed on what was going on at Hogwarts. Even when Severus Snape was appointed Headmaster and Alecto and Amycus Carrow were given free rein in the school, Minerva did as much as she could to protect the students. The rebel alliance Dumbledore's Army founded by the students reformed, and McGonagall helped to keep their meetings a secret.
Battle of Hogwarts
|“||You're acting on Dumbledore's orders? ...We shall secure the school against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named while you search for this — this object.||”|
–Minerva McGonagall to Harry Potter after his return to Hogwarts., Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
With help from Harry and Luna Lovegood, she incapacitated the Carrow siblings in the Ravenclaw Common Room. Realising that a battle was upon them, Minerva gathered Filius Flitwick and Pomona Sprout and together the three Heads of House banished Severus from Hogwarts, Minerva even calling him a coward as he fled the school. Harry informed McGonagall of a quest that Dumbledore had left him, and she, in respect for Dumbledore's wishes, offered to hold Voldemort and his army back for whilst Harry fulfilled this quest. She then proceeded to animate the castle's suits of armour and statues to help her defend the school. Shortly before the battle Minerva ordered Neville Longbottom to destroy the Wooden Bridge so that the Snatchers could not sneak into the school.
After ordering the evacuation of younger students through the Hog's Head, Minerva began to help fortify the castle against the coming attack, with the assistance of her fellow teachers, Order members, and even the older students who had stayed behind to fight. When Pansy Parkinson suggested they take the deal offered to them by Voldemort — that of their lives in exchange for Harry Potter — Minerva ordered the girl and all those not willing to fight to leave.
Minerva fought skilfully in the first part of the battle, and stood defiant in the lull. She stood among many students in a crowd when Voldemort himself walked into the Hogwarts grounds. It was only when Minerva saw Harry Potter's body being carried by Rubeus Hagrid that she began to despair, letting out a scream terrible to anyone who heard it, equal to that of Ron, Hermione, and Ginny's together.
Nonetheless, Minerva continued to fight when the battle resumed after the attack by the Centaurs on Voldemort and the Death Eaters. In the final moments of the battle, she duelled with Voldemort alongside Horace Slughorn and Kingsley Shacklebolt, though they were blasted aside by his fury when Bellatrix Lestrange was killed in a duel with Molly Weasley.
They might have resumed the duel but for the fact that Harry revealed himself, insisting that he himself must duel Voldemort one final time. After Voldemort was finally killed by Harry, she, along with everyone else, hugged Harry in an uncharacteristic display of great emotion.
Later life (1998-2017)
With the conclusion of the war, Minerva returned to the position of Headmistress of Hogwarts and remained there until at least 2008 as she gave permission for Dumbledore's notes on The Tales of Beedle the Bard to be published. It is possible she was responsible for the employment of former Gryffindor student Neville Longbottom as the new teacher for Herbology. Minerva had retired by 2017, when Harry's second son began attending Hogwarts.
|“||The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. She had a very stern face and Harry's first thought was that she was not someone to cross.||”|
–Harry Potter's first impression of McGonagall., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Minerva McGonagall was first described as a tall, rather severe-looking woman, and later as a "sprightly" seventy year old. She often wore emerald green robes or her favourite tartan pattern. She also wore a pointed hat cocked to one side, and always had a very prim expression. She rarely let her black hair down and the majority of the time had it combed back into a tight bun. Minerva was a fan of tartan print and would often wear it to Quidditch games along with a woolly hat covering her ears. Minerva wore square spectacles that matched the markings around the eyes of her Animagus and Patronus: a silver tabby cat.
Personality and traits
Minerva almost constantly exuded magnanimity and sternness and was held in great respect (and some fear) by nearly all students and staff. Used to having her way, she tolerated neither audacity nor silliness from her pupils, and was known to turn cold towards people who said or did things in front of her that were stupid, or if she thought they were trying to be funny. Despite her strict demeanour, however, Minerva did exhibit a dry sense of humour which usually came out when times were tough.
True to Gryffindor, she valued bravery and loyalty highly, thinking cowardice a heavy flaw. Despite her loyalty to her house, though, and a fair-minded person, McGonagall was known for docking points from students in her own House when she saw it must be done so.
Minerva was not afraid to speak her mind and showed quite a sharp tongue, especially during arguments. For the most part, though, she usually maintained great emotional composure, without being indifferent. Although she was not always particularly personable, she was a huge supporter of Harry and trusted the likes of Dumbledore, Sprout, Flitwick, Pomfrey and Hagrid. She could be very warm and supportive during times of trouble or loss and cared a great deal about her students, both personally and academically.
Minerva enjoyed needlework, correcting articles in Transfiguration Today, watching Quidditch, and supporting the Montrose Magpies. She has showed a great fondness for taratan patterns and love for cats.
As the devoted instructor of Transfiguration classes, Professor McGonagall highly respected the specific branch of magic, and considered it to be more complex and sophisticated than all others, though she respected most others just as much; she became an Animagus to further her study in the magic. On the other hand, she has very little patience with Divination, due to its impreciseness and rarity of true Seers.
As well as this, she has a temper that can reveal itself on occasions when she is angrily flustered
Magical abilities and skills
|“||As if one of them could have Stunned Minerva McGonagall face-on by daylight!||”|
–Poppy Pomfrey on Minerva's magical abilities., Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Underage magic: As an infant, Minerva was able to manipulate the mind of her family cat, summon her baby toys to her cot, and make her father's bagpipes play on their own. This indicates that she had a notable level of control over her magic right from birth, which was a rare skill.
- Transfiguration: Minerva was taught Transfiguration by Albus Dumbledore, and showed a particular talent in the subject even at a young age. As stated below, she eventually became an Animagus in order to enhance her research on the different branches of Transfiguration. She later took over Dumbledore's position as the Transfiguration Professor, a post that she held until she became the official Headmistress of Hogwarts. She came to consider her subject to be amongst the most complex and dangerous magic taught at Hogwarts. During the Battle of Hogwarts, Minerva demonstrated her astonishing mastery of this branch of magic by putting it to use in her duel with Severus Snape (a notably powerful wizard), and Transfiguring dozens of desks and suits of armour to help defend the school against Lord Voldemort.
- Duelling: Minerva was an immensely skillful duellist, capable of holding her own against much younger and more agile Death Eaters, Severus Snape, and even Lord Voldemort himself. During the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, she defeated Alecto Carrow and survived the battle unscathed. In 1998, during the Battle of Hogwarts, she fiercely duelled Severus Snape and drove him out of the school, though it should be noted that Snape fled because of the arrival of Filius Flitwick and Pomona Sprout. Later in that same battle, she duelled the Dark Lord himself to a stalemate alongside Horace Slughorn and Kingsley Shacklebolt.
- Animagus: Minerva learned how to become an Animagus under Dumbledore's tutelage during her time as a student at Hogwarts, transforming into a tabby cat at will. She often used this ability when she did not wish to be recognised. An example of this usage was when she spied on the Dursley family before Dumbledore brought Harry Potter to them. She also demonstrated her transformation to the students in their third year, which usually got applause. When Hermione Granger searched for Animagus references in her third year, she saw that McGonagall was one of the few registered Animagi in the 20th century. On his notes regarding The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Dumbledore states that Minerva asked him to explain that, while Animagi are usually people who seek to avoid punishment when they have broken the law, she merely became one to further her research on all branches of Transfiguration, and that she had never abused the ability for any surreptitious purposes, setting aside legitimate business for the Order of the Phoenix where secrecy and concealment were imperative.
- Charms: Minerva seemed to be very proficient in Charms. In 1992, when Harry and Ron had to eat in Snape's office, she conjured a bewitched plate of sandwiches that would automatically refill itself (a charm which she - presumably - placed on the plate herself). She had also mastered the Patronus Charm, being able to create a powerful corporeal Patronus in the form of a cat - identical to her Animagus. In fact, she was the only person seen to cast three Patronuses at once (though admittedly not in the presence of a Dementor). Additionally, Minerva was able to use her Patronus as of means of communication, as taught to her by Albus Dumbledore.
- Dark Arts: Whilst Minerva did not practice the Dark Arts, she has been shown to successfully cast an effective Imperius Curse on Amycus Carrow, an indication that she does have some skill in this field.
- Defence Against the Dark Arts: Minerva was also proficient in Defence Against the Dark Arts, given how she had fought in and survived two wizarding wars. A testament to her proficiency would be her dueling Lord Voldemort himself alongside Kingsley and Slughorn during the Battle of Hogwarts, and surviving the encounter.
- Study of Ancient Runes: Minerva was proficient in Ancient Runes, being capable of reading and understanding them.
- Non-verbal spells: Minerva has also been shown to be quite skillful at non-verbal magic. When Barty Crouch Jr. (disguised as Alastor Moody) transfigured Draco Malfoy into a ferret, Minerva transfigured him back without saying a word. In 1998, when she tied up the Carrows by conjuring a silver rope and a net from her wand and later produced three Patronuses - all of which she did wordlessly. Another instance would be when Neville accidentally vanished one of the legs on his desk, and she conjured it back with just a wave of her wand.
- Leadership skills: McGonagall was a very strong leader, being able to take charge in any situation within minutes. When Dumbledore was gone, she stepped in to fill his shoes. In the upstart of the Battle of Hogwarts, McGonagall ousted the current headmaster Severus Snape and took charge of the school, securing it against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. She led the defenders of Hogwarts during the battle, and in the end they came out victorious when Harry defeated Voldemort once and for all. After everything returned to normal, Minerva became the permanent Headmistress of Hogwarts.
- Logical thinking and intelligence: McGonagall was a very wise and intelligent witch. Her intelligence is shown in many ways throughout the series. She has always shown the ability to make wise choices. In 1998, McGonagall solved a riddle without hesitation to allow Amycus Carrow into the Ravenclaw Tower. Her intelligence gave her the option to become a Ravenclaw. However, she chose to be a Gryffindor.
- Quidditch: During her school years at Hogwarts, McGonagall was a skilful player of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. However, while playing, she suffered a number of serious injuries - such as a concussion - that forced her to give up playing. This is the reason for her passionate desire for Gryffindor to win the Quidditch Cup.
Minerva knew Albus Dumbledore for the majority of her life. She attended Hogwarts as a student during Dumbledore's time as Transfiguration Professor and even replaced him when he took the position of Headmaster of the school. She served for many years as his Deputy Headmistress, standing in for him and even replacing him as Headmistress on several occasions.
Albus Dumbledore discovered Minerva in tears in her classroom late one evening, after she found out about the marriage of Dougal McGregor to another woman. She confessed the whole story to him, and Albus Dumbledore offered both comfort and wisdom; telling Minerva some of his own family history, previously unknown to her. The confidences exchanged that night between two intensely private and reserved characters were to form the basis of a lasting mutual esteem and friendship.
Minerva had great faith in Dumbledore, placing great stock in the differences between him and Voldemort. However, she did not hesitate to disagree with him when she felt the need to do so. She greatly opposed his decision to place Harry Potter with Petunia Dursley and her family, calling them the "worst sort of Muggles imaginable." She also served more than once to bring Dumbledore back on track when he became distracted from the matter currently at hand.
Minerva never hesitated in displaying her loyalty to Dumbledore. When Cornelius Fudge brought Aurors to arrest Dumbledore in 1996, she boldly stepped forward and announced her intention to fight the Aurors on his behalf. She only stepped back at Dumbledore's insistence when he reminded her that Hogwarts and her students would need her in his absence.
Minerva was devastated when Dumbledore was killed in 1997 during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, and attended his funeral. A year later, when Harry was on a mission given to him by Dumbledore, she did not question the decision of the late headmaster, but immediately sought to provide whatever assistance she could.
|“||You couldn't find two people who are less like us. And they've got this son — I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here?||”|
–Minerva McGonagall discussing Dumbledore's choice of the Dursley family as Harry Potter's guardians., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Minerva showed her care for Harry ever since she, Dumbledore and Hagrid left him in the care of the Dursleys, in part because she had been quite fond of Harry's late parents. She was sort of a loving grandmother to him and expressed concern with both Dumbledore's choice trusting Hagrid to safely transport Harry to Little Whinging, and of the choice of family with whom Harry would stay. She spent hours on end spying on the Dursleys to get an insight to what life for Harry growing up would be like. It is unlikely, however, that she kept watch over Harry, as she would never go against Dumbledore's actions, no matter how much she disagreed with them.
When Harry arrived at Hogwarts, Minerva was pleased that he was sorted into Gryffindor, her house. When she saw Harry on a broomstick and the natural flying abilities he displayed, rather than punishing or expelling him, she brought him to see Oliver Wood, captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, announcing that she had found their new Seeker. In her gratitude for Harry accepting the position, McGonagall bought him a Nimbus 2000 for his first Quidditch game. She also along with the other teachers reported that he was likeable and talented
However, Minerva's concern for Harry did not blind her to his on-campus misdemeanours. Though she often let Harry off on breaking school rules, she only did so only under life-threatening circumstances. Minerva went out of her way to treat all students justly, and took no issue with giving even those of her own house severe punishments if she thought they deserved it. When Harry and his friends were caught sneaking around the tower in the dead of night during their first year at Hogwarts, Minerva did not hesitate to take 150 points away from Gryffindor despite her House's first-place standing at the time, and additionally to sending him off to serve detention in the Forbidden Forest. It's possible she would have levied an ever harsher punishment had she caught them in the act of smuggling Norbert itself.
Throughout Harry's studies at Hogwarts, Minerva kept a watchful eye on him and his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and intervened in their affairs whenever necessary to keep them safe. In Harry's fifth year, she also promised Harry that she would do whatever she possibly could to see that he achieved his dream of becoming an Auror. When Minerva later found out about the sort of punishment Harry and various other students had been receiving from Dolores Umbridge, she openly expressed her disgust and disapproval, despite the power Umbridge wielded.
|“||Why would Harry Potter try to get inside Ravenclaw Tower? Potter belongs in my House!||”|
–McGonagall confronts Amycus Carrow inside Ravenclaw Tower several hours before the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
When Harry secretly infiltrated Hogwarts shortly prior to the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry defended Minerva's honour against Alecto and Amycus Carrow who had been posted at the school by Voldemort. Amycus demanded to know where Harry was in the Tower and McGonagall asked why he would be there as he belonged in her house with clear pride in her voice. When Amycus Carrow spat at McGonagall, Harry was outraged to the point of attacking him with the Cruciatus Curse, and agreeing with Bellatrix Lestrange's assertion that one had to "really mean it" to perform it correctly. Although shocked by Harry's sudden appearance and his use of an Unforgivable Curse, Minerva was clearly touched. Though Minerva tried to convince Harry to flee out of concern for his safety, Minerva immediately joined Harry in retaking the castle and preparing for battle when he informed her that he was acting on Dumbledore's orders. Nearing the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, Minerva's devastation was clearly equal to that of Ron and Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger, when she saw Rubeus Hagrid carrying Harry's seemingly dead body. She later duelled Voldemort head on in the final battle, to protect Harry and the other students. When the battle ended with Voldemort's death at Harry's hands, Minerva was among the first to embrace him.
|“||And Potter — do try and win, won't you? Or we'll be out of the running for the eighth year in a row, as Professor Snape was kind enough to remind me only last night...||”|
–Minerva McGonagall to Harry Potter in 1994, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Minerva McGonagall was Severus Snape's professor of Transfiguration during his time as a student at Hogwarts. After he had graduated and then returned as the Potions master, he and McGonagall became colleagues. As Head of Gryffindor House, McGonagall and Snape teased one another about House points and Quidditch standings. Like Snape, McGonagall was a strict disciplinarian, but appeared more fair to Harry Potter, who was a member of her House. McGonagall and Snape were both demanding and effective teachers, both were unusually talented at magic, and both were loyal to Albus Dumbledore, so over time Minerva grew to respect Severus despite his dark past. McGonagall knew that Snape was a Death Eater in his youth, but she followed Albus Dumbledore in believing that he truly regretted his former alliance.
After Snape killed Dumbledore, McGonagall was shocked and perhaps personally hurt to find her formerly-respected colleague a murderer and apparent traitor. When Snape became Headmaster of Hogwarts, McGonagall opposed him and his supposed minions the Carrows, without knowing Snape was secretly helping her protect the students from his fellow Death Eaters. At the onset of the Battle of Hogwarts, McGonagall and Snape duelled inconclusively; Professor Flitwick interrupted them and Snape fled the school rather than continue the fight. McGonagall, believing his retreat was motivated by fear, called out "Coward!", an insult he particularly detested. Snape was killed by Voldemort during the battle. Only after it was too late did McGonagall learn that Snape had killed Dumbledore in a painful act of loyalty to the Headmaster's own orders, and that Dumbledore's trust in him derived from Severus's lifelong love of Lily Evans. It is unknown how she reacted to these revelations, but if her reputation for fairness was valid, she probably regained her respect for him. There is no report that she objected to Snape's portrait being added to the collection in the headmaster's office by Harry Potter's arrangement.
|“||Ah, of course. There is no need to tell me any more, Miss Granger. Which one of you will be dying this year?||”|
–McGonagall and Hermione talking about the latter's previous Divination lesson., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Minerva took a shine to Hermione Granger, a student in her house, right from her first Transfiguration lesson. During the lesson, Minerva gave Hermione one of her "rare smiles" when Hermione successfully transfigured a match into a needle early on in the lesson and before any other student. Minerva was also disappointed in Hermione when she said she read about trolls and had gone looking for the Troll that invaded Hogwarts under the impression that she could stop it. The claim was not true, but Minerva was none the wiser.
When Hermione was attacked by the Basilisk in 1992, Minerva was greatly moved and would often take time to visit the Petrified Hermione in the hospital wing.
In Hermione's third year, Minerva also went to the effort to arrange for Hermione to be given permission to use a Time-Turner to take additional classes. Teachers did not often seek permission for a student to use one of the devices, but Minerva saw something special in Hermione and went out of her way to make sure she wasn't under-achieving. She further showed her high regard of Hermione by appointing her a Gryffindor prefect in her fifth year at Hogwarts.
During the Second Wizarding War when Minerva was attacked by several Ministry employees outside of Hagrid's Hut, Hermione showed deep emotion towards the event, like Minerva did a few years before when Hermione was attacked. Minerva was a role model for Hermione and both had much in common, such as both believing that Divination was a very "woolly" subject, and that Professor Trelawney was a fraud. Furthermore, both had a liking for cats, and both were considered for Ravenclaw but in the end were Sorted into Gryffindor House.
- Ron: "That was bloody brilliant!"
- McGonagall: "Well, thank you for that assessment, Mr Weasley. Perhaps it would be more useful if I were to transfigure Mr Potter or yourself into a pocket watch? That way, one of you might be on time."
- — Professor McGonagall to Ron in his first year.[src]
Ron Weasley was a student at the time McGonagall was professor at Hogwarts. Ron was sorted into Gryffindor, McGonagall's house. Ron thought she was very strict, however he did see her good side on a number of occasions. The two clashed when Harry and he flew Arthur Weasley's flying car to Hogwarts. However, she did not wish to see them expelled. During the Yule Ball, Minerva showed the other students how to dance by dancing with Ron in front of the whole class, a move which prompted laughter from the class and Fred and George agreeing to always tease him about it. Ron is appointed prefect by McGonagall in his fifth year. Ron and McGonagall fought together during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower and the Battle of Hogwarts, surviving the Second Wizarding War.
|“||Which abysmal, foolish person wrote down the passwords and then proceeded to lose them?||”|
–Minerva McGonagall when she asks who left the passwords lying around for Sirius Black to find., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
Minerva had a long history with the Longbottom family, having served in the Order of the Phoenix with Neville's parents (who were eventually tortured into insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange). She also had a personal relationship with Neville's grandmother, who raised him. McGonagall frequently seemed to expect more from Neville than he produced, starting with Neville's first day at Hogwarts when he ran out of a crowd after his toad. When Neville "lost" his scrap of parchment (which was actually stolen by Crookshanks) with Gryffindor's passwords on them, allowing Sirius Black to enter the common room, Minerva was furious with him.
Minerva couldn't help but feel pity for Neville after the loss of both his parents, whom she knew from the First Wizarding War and fought alongside earlier on in her career. She voiced pride in Neville's courage in participating in the fight with the Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries. She also sought to encourage Neville to take Charms, in his sixth year, despite his grandmother's dismissal of the subject as "soft;" Minerva wanted to see Neville pursue his own talents rather than the skills his grandmother appeared to value. She told him, "It's high time your grandmother learned to be proud of the grandson she's got, rather than the one she thinks she ought to have: Particularly after what happened at the Ministry." She also advised Neville that his grandmother had failed to earn her Charms OWL.
After the Second Wizarding War, Minerva may have been the one to employ Neville as the school's new Herbology professor.
|“||What utter rubbish! How dare you tell such lies! Come on – I shall see Professor Snape about you, Malfoy!||”|
–McGonagall after catching an 11-year-old Draco out of bed., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
While Professor Snape favoured students of his own house, and often overlooked any misbehaviour from students like Draco Malfoy, McGonagall had little tolerance for nonsense from any student, regardless of their house, and took no notice of the Malfoy family's status within the wizarding community. Despite her clear disapproval of Malfoy's pure-blood supremacist leanings, McGonagall sought to protect him as much as every other student, and was completely appalled when Alastor Moody (Barty Crouch Jr in disguise) transformed Malfoy into a ferret in 1994. She transformed Malfoy back into his human form and reminded Moody that they never use transfiguration as a punishment. In addition, she would not accept Harry's accusations of Malfoy mailing a cursed necklace without sufficient evidence, nor condone any attacks Harry made on Malfoy such as when the former used the Sectumsempra curse (not knowing exactly what it did) on Malfoy, in 1997.
|“||I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place, but you can't pretend he's not careless.||”|
–Professor McGonagall expresses her opinion of Hagrid in delicate situations., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Rubeus Hagrid respected McGonagall. Hagrid was the gamekeeper, and later Care of Magical Creatures professor of Hogwarts. McGonagall was one of the most serious professors at Hogwarts, and sometimes disapproved of Hagrid's behaviour, especially during the Sorting ceremony. However, they were still close friends, were both members of the Order of the Phoenix in both wars, and they both admired Albus Dumbledore. Hagrid once kissed McGonagall on her cheek when he had drunk very much and she was noted giving a flushed giggle in the event's festivities. When Dolores Umbridge and several Aurors from the Ministry sought to sack and exile Hagrid from the school grounds by force, Minerva quickly flew to his aid, in turn taking four stunners simultaneously to the chest. Hagrid was furious when the Aurors stunned and injured her to the point that he attacked them. In 1997, after Albus Dumbledore's death, Minerva stated that she appreciated Hagrid's opinion very much, as did Dumbledore. McGonagall and Hagrid fought against Death Eaters during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower and the Battle of Hogwarts. They were among the first ones to run to congratulate Harry after he defeated Voldemort. They both survived the war and still taught at Hogwarts.
- Sybill Trelawney: "Certainly I knew, Minerva. But one does not parade the fact that one is All-Knowing. I frequently act as though I am not possessed of the Inner Eye, so as not to make others nervous."
- Minerva McGonagall: "That explains a great deal."
- — Professor McGonagall and Sybill Trelawney.[src]
Minerva and Sybill Trelawney were not the best of friends, and barely maintained civility between them. Minerva had no use for Sybill's subject, Divination, and she believed that Trelawney was a fraud. The only reason Minerva has never spoke ill of Sybill directly was due to her refusal to insult her colleagues.
Despite her dislike for Trelawney and her teachings, however, Minerva and Sybill would grow to understand one another through their shared hatred of Dolores Umbridge during the woman's tenure as Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. When Dolores used her powers to sack Sybill, Minerva was there as a literal shoulder for Sybill to cry on, and she spoke out against Dolores and told her what she thought after the events. In many ways, Minerva's relationship with Sybill was similar to Hermione Granger's relationship with Luna Lovegood.
It is unknown whether Minerva kept Sybill as Divination Professor after the war and during Minerva's time as Headmistress of Hogwarts, but, seeing as Minerva always valued Dumbledore's views of kindness, Firenze and Trelawney most likely continued to co-teach Divination.
McGonagall seemed to have a good relationship with most of her co-workers at Hogwarts. Among them were Pomona Sprout and Filius Flitwick. Minerva and Professor Sprout had a longtime friendship, starting from their student years at Hogwarts, which overlapped by 2 years. In the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998, Pomona supported the decision to protect the castle, to Minerva's gratitude. Sprout and Flitwick fought alongside McGonagall in the Battle of Hogwarts and survived the Second Wizarding War.
Minerva was on amicable terms with Horace Slughorn, her former Potions professor; both of them having battled against Voldemort alongside Kingsley Shacklebolt in the Battle of Hogwarts. Prior to this, Minerva commented on his seemingly cowardly behaviour when he realized the castle was under attack. She noted that if he wished to leave, he should take his students and do so and if he attempted to hinder their efforts against Voldemort from inside the castle, they would duel to kill. She stated that it was time for Slytherin to finally choose their alliances. He was taken aback at this and he fled, but later returned with reinforcements of students' parents and residents of Hogsmeade to help with the battle efforts.
McGonagall was also friendly with Poppy Pomfrey, the nurse. Pomfrey seemed to admire McGonagall's magical abilities and strength, such as when McGonagall was hit by four Stunners on the chest. Madam Pomfrey said that it would have killed most witches her age.
She was also friendly with Argus Filch, the caretaker, although they argued many times. During the Battle of Hogwarts, McGonagall shouted at Filch, and called him an idiot. Then she ordered him to call Peeves. It is possible that, after the war, McGonagall and Filch were still co-workers.
McGonagall seemed to have a quite close relationship with Remus Lupin, the D.A.D.A. professor in 1993. She didn't care about the fact Remus was a werewolf, because Dumbledore trusted him, too, and respected his efficient teaching skills, as she referenced him during Harry's Careers Advice. During the Second Wizarding War, they appear to be friendly; after Dumbledore's death, McGonagall, Lupin and several other individuals were devastated; they all discussed about the way Snape killed Dumbledore.
On the other hand, Minerva had no liking for Gilderoy Lockhart whatsoever, the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor before Lupin. This was due to Lockhart being obnoxious, incompetent and insensitive, annoying Minerva with nonsensical advices while being ignorant and unhelpful around the second opening of the Chamber of Secrets. She was positively hateful towards Lockhart when he walked in late and oblivious when everyone else was greatly saddened at Ginny Weasley's impending doom, and full-heartedly supported Snape sending Lockhart to deal with the monster within, in the hopes of scaring her incompetent colleague away. When Lockhart resigned due to his self-induced amnesia, McGonagall was cheerful along with the rest of the staff and students at the news.
After Voldemort infiltrated Hogwarts, two new professors took the post of Muggle Studies and Defence Against the Dark Arts: Alecto and Amycus Carrow respectively. They were loyal Death Eaters, and befitting their status, they taught Dark Arts rather than Defence Against the Dark Arts, devoted Muggle Studies to explaining how Muggles were filthy animals, and often took delight in punishing students with the Cruciatus Curse. When Amycus spat on McGonagall's face, Harry Potter got very angry and hit him with the Cruciatus Curse. After the war, McGonagall sent the Carrows to Azkaban.
After the war, most professors and other staff returned to their posts.
During the First Wizarding War Minerva joined the Order of the Phoenix to fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, she participated in many battles against him and survived the war, although many of her friends were killed. During his second rise to power, Minerva rejoined the new Order and stayed in Hogwarts during the tenure of Severus Snape as Headmaster and the Carrows to protect her students. She is one of the few people that isn't afraid of standing against the Carrows, as she did defy them many times during the 1997-1998 school year. She was one of the leaders of the Resistance against Voldemort.
Like most in the Wizarding world, Minerva was originally afraid to speak Voldemort's name. Noticeably, however, Minerva McGonagall became unafraid of saying Voldemort's name sometime during the second wizarding war, as she told Filius Flitwick before the Battle of Hogwarts to not to be afraid of it because Voldemort would try to kill him anyway (though in the book she still referred to him as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named). Minerva, along with Kingsley Shacklebolt and Horace Slughorn, bravely dueled Voldemort himself during the second part of the Battle, then she watched as Voldemort is defeated by Harry Potter once and for all finally ending the War.
- McGonagall: "He has achieved high marks in all of his Defence Against the Dark Arts tests —"
- Umbridge: "I'm terribly sorry to have to contradict you, Minerva, but as you will see from my note, Harry has been achieving very poor results in his classes with me —"
- McGonagall: "I should have made my meaning plainer ... He has achieved high marks in all Defence Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher."
- — McGonagall discussing Harry Potter with Dolores Umbridge[src]
Minerva disliked Dolores Umbridge right from the beginning when the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher began to invade Hogwarts with her Hogwarts High Inquisitor position and did everything she could in her power to circumvent Umbridge's authority without risking the loss of her job. During Umbridge's inspections of McGonagall's class, Minerva tried for the most part to ignore Umbridge. This was difficult due to Umbrige's constant interruptions by means Umbridge's soft, girlish cough of "Hem hem". When forced to acknowledge Umbridge's presence, McGonagall treated her with a cold and harsh demeanor.
- Umbridge: "It sounds as if you're questioning my authority in my own classroom, Minerva."
- McGonagall: "Not at all, Dolores. Merely your medieval methods!"
- Umbridge: "I am sorry, dear, but to question my practices is to question the Ministry, and by extension, the Minister himself! I am a tolerant woman, but the one thing I will not stand for is disloyalty!"
- — McGonagall to Umbridge about her questionable teaching practices.[src]
Despite Umbridge having the power to put Minerva on probation or even sack her, Minerva was not afraid to show her disgust and hatred of Umbridge to the woman's face. Despite this, she understood that Umbridge had a lot of power and that she was reporting directly to Cornelius Fudge, and so Minerva once warned Harry Potter to tread carefully around Umbridge. Even so, she vehemently vouched for Harry during their Career Advice session, claiming that she would coach him nightly if she had to in order to realize his dream of becoming an Auror, after Umbridge's furious protests that Harry would never become one. After Umbridge fired Sybill Trelawney from her post as Divination teacher, Minerva even put aside her mild dislike of Sybill to focuse even more on her hatred of Umbridge.
Even when Dolores took over Hogwarts, replacing Albus Dumbledore as Head of the school, Minerva continued to help undermine Umbridge's reign, preferring to watch her struggle with the chaos that was being caused by the students and Peeves (and sometimes even helping with it). When Minerva was attacked and sent to St. Mungo's, Dolores was pleased that she at last had complete control of Hogwarts. After Minerva's return to Hogwarts, Minerva did nothing to curb the students' enthusiasm when Peeves chased Dolores from Hogwarts, only lamenting that she could not watch with them because the poltergeist had taken her walking stick to hit Dolores with as he followed her from the school.
Umbridge returned at the Ministry in a high-ranking position and interrogated Muggle-borns, capturing them and imprisoning them to Azkaban. After the Second Wizarding War, Umbridge was captured by Aurors and sent to Azkaban herself, for the rest of her life.
Despite hating her they share the same patronus: a cat, although Minerva's resembled her Animagus form.
McGonagall and the Weasleys get along well, considering they were all in Gryffindor House and fellow members of the Order of the Phoenix. However, she disapproved of Fred and George Weasley's behaviour at school, although she still seemed impressed by their magical skills. When Dolores Umbridge was appointed as High Inquisitor for Hogwarts, Minerva allied with the twins and attempted to oppose Umbridge.
Minerva was fond of all the Weasley children, including Ginny and Ron. She was glad that Ginny was sorted into Gryffindor, and, although Ginny thought McGonagall was a little strict, she believed that the Transfiguration professor was also fair. Furthermore, both Ginny and McGonagall tried to oppose Umbridge (in 1995) and the Carrows (in 1998). She also had high regard and expectations of Percy Weasley, who was a Gryffindor prefect, as well as Head Boy in his last year at Hogwarts.
The Marauders and Lily Evans
|“||Is it true, Albus? Lily and James... are dead?||”|
–Minerva to Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
McGonagall had long been the Transfiguration professor at Hogwarts by the time Lily Evans and the Marauders attended as students. The Marauders were four great friends: James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew. They were all sorted into the Gryffindor house, and despite their boisterous ways, at odds with Minerva's no-nonsense reputation, they seemed to have a good relationship with her.
She liked James Potter, an intelligent and talented wizard, despite the fact that he could sometimes be a bit of a bully and was not above bending the rules. Also, considering James's wand and his accomplishment of becoming an Animagus (this information most likely not privy to Professor McGonagall), it can be safely assumed that James was an exceptional student of hers and perhaps even a favourite. James became Minerva's fellow-member of the Order of the Phoenix after leaving Hogwarts. She later became friendly with James's son, Harry, who was also her student and a member of her House, though she did not show favouritism and was more than willing to take many points even from her own House for misbehaviour.
Minerva had a good relationship with Sirius Black. After James' death, McGonagall believed it was Sirius who betrayed the Potters; only in 1994 did she learn the traitor was Peter Pettigrew. Sirius was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries in 1996. Minerva's reaction to Sirius's death is unreported.
A little over a decade after he left Hogwarts, Remus Lupin returned to the school in order to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts, becoming Minerva's professional colleague for one year. He and McGonagall were members of the Order of the Phoenix in both halves of the Wizarding Wars. Remus was eventually killed during the Battle of Hogwarts.
|“||Hero-worshipped Black and Potter. Never quite in their league, talent-wise. I was often rather sharp with him... Stupid boy... Foolish boy...||”|
–McGonagall about Peter Pettigrew., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Peter Pettigrew was the fourth member of the Marauders, and seemed to serve primarily as audience, as comic relief, and as spy in his Animagus form as a rat. McGonagall said Pettigrew "hero-worshipped" James Potter and Sirius Black; she also called him a "stupid" and "foolish" boy, and confessed that she was harsher than necessary with him during their time together as student and teacher. After his graduation, Peter, like the other Marauders, was Minerva's comrade in the Order of the Phoenix. Peter faked his own death standing up to Sirius Black, supposed Death Eater and betrayer of the Potters, leading McGonagall to regret that she had been harsh towards him, and to acknowledge him as a brave Gryffindor. We are not told her exact reaction when she learned that Peter, who was thought to be a hero, had in fact joined the Order's enemies and betrayed Lily and James, but it was sure to have been worse than merely harsh.
McGonagall also seems to have had a good relationship with Lily Evans, who was a Gryffindor at the time McGonagall taught Transfiguration. Lily was made a Prefect and later Head Girl; neither appointment would have happened if Lily's Head of House had not approved. McGonagall was devastated at the murder in 1981 of Lily and her husband James, both former members of her House and thus under her special care.
Order of the Phoenix members
McGonagall had a good relationship with the most members of the Order of the Phoenix. Some of them included Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Alastor Moody. McGonagall and Tonks, like most people, were both devastated after Dumbledore's death. Tonks fought in several battles for the Order, but was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange during the Battle of Hogwarts.
Moody was appointed as D.A.D.A. professor in 1994. However, he was captured by Barty Crouch Jr. and Peter Pettigrew; Barty Crouch was disguised as Moody and became the professor, as he wanted to send Harry Potter to Voldemort. McGonagall was very angry by Crouch's teaching methods, and shouted at him. It is possible that she had the same opinion of the real Moody, but Moody might have been friendly with McGonagall afterwards. He was killed by Voldemort during the Battle of the Seven Potters.
She appeared to be friendly with Kingsley; she and Kingsley fought Voldemort, along with Horace Slughorn, and all of them survived the war.
- Minerva is the Roman name of Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, strategy, and justice, (among other things), and a name suitable for Minerva's personality. Minerva was also the goddess of commerce and schools, which could connect to her being one of the heads of Hogwarts. The name Minerva also means "wise."
- McGonagall comes from the Scotsman William Topaz McGonagall, who is considered to be one of the worst poets in the English language, although Rowling stated that this has nothing to do with Minerva, she only liked the surname. The Scottish name McGonagall (or McGonigle, McGonegal) is from the Celtic name Conegal, meaning "the bravest," plus Mc, or "son of."
Behind the scenes
- McGonagall is portrayed by British  actress Dame Maggie Smith in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and in Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Her tabby cat Animagus appearance is portrayed in the first instalment by Mrs. P. Head.
- From 2009 onwards, Maggie Smith is the oldest cast member in the series. Maggie Smith is also a year older than Minerva McGonagall, being born in 1934 and Minerva McGonagall being born in 1935.
- In the films, Professor McGonagall appears to be older than she is described in the books. The timeline suggests that the character was forty-five when she and Dumbledore left Harry with the Dursleys, was fifty-six when Harry started Hogwarts, and in her sixty-two by the Battle of Hogwarts. By contrast, Maggie Smith was already in her late sixties at the time that she first played McGonagall.
- Professor McGonagall has the distinction of being the first magical character introduced in the series, when Vernon Dursley sees her reading a map in her Animagus form on the morning after the Potters' deaths. Only the three Dursleys are introduced before her. However in the films, McGonagall is the second magical character introduced as Albus Dumbledore appears before her. She is the second overall character introduced in the film series, as well as the first female character introduced.
- In an interview after the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling said that Hogwarts had a different Head by the time Harry Potter's children arrived in 2017, saying that Minerva was "getting on a bit".
- J. K. Rowling stated that she always pictured Maggie Smith, who portrays her in the films, as Professor McGonagall.
- In an early draft of the first book, she was called "Madam McGonagle".
- McGonagall is a playable character in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game).
- After Albus Dumbledore is promoted to Headmaster, she takes his place as Transfiguration teacher. Interestingly, after Dumbledore's death, she is promoted to Headmistress.
- In Deathly Hallows: Part 2, after casting Piertotum Locomotor, Minerva excitedly says to Molly Weasley, "I've always wanted to use that spell!"
- In Deathly Hallows: Part 2, before the Battle of Hogwarts, she tells Filius Flitwick not be afraid to say Voldemort's name, because he will try to kill him either way. Also before the Battle of Hogwarts, McGonagall duels Snape with what appears to be the Blasting Curse, defeating Amycus and Alecto Carrow before Snape Disapparates.
- In the film adaptations, it seems to be a recurring gag to have Minerva McGonagall delivering alliterative lines; for instance, in Goblet of Fire, she says "behaving like a babbling, bumbling band of baboons", and in Deathly Hallows: Part 2, she says "particular proclivity for pyrotechnics".
- In the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire there is a painting of a young McGonagall on the Gryffindor common room wall.
- Minerva McGonagall and Dolores Umbridge share the same Patronus, a cat.
- In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, Professor McGonagall can't enter the Gryffindor Common Room. Despite the fact she is the head of the house and she was in Gryffindor House while student at Hogwarts.
- In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, McGonagall did not bring the suits of armour to life to help in the Battle of Hogwarts.
- In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, before casting the protective enchantments around the castle, McGonagall asked Harry for flowers.
- Minerva was the first female character confirmed to have kept her maiden when she married. Later, it was revealed that Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood also did.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter LEGO Sets
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- The Making of Harry Potter
- Harry Potter for Kinect
Notes and references
- Pottermore profile of Minerva McGonagall (screenshot available here)
- McGonagall's year of birth can be calculated as 1935 from her Pottermore biography, which reveals she took a Ministry job immediately after graduation and worked there for two years before returning to teach at Hogwarts, combined with her statement in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 15, that she began teaching at Hogwarts in December 1956.
- Pottermore biography of Minerva McGonagall (transcription available with Pottermore account )
- HP lexicon transcript of JKR's notes.
- MSNBC Interview with J.K. Rowling
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard, page xi, xiv.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Professor McGonagall is described as having "balled fists" and being "red faced" when yelling at Fudge and Dumbledore.
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- JK Rowling One-On-One: Part One. Today Show (NBC), 26 July 2007