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Minerva McGonagall Character Analysis: Transfiguration Professor & Stern Animagus

Minerva McGonagall Character Analysis: Transfiguration Professor & Stern Animagus

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Minerva McGonagall is a half-blood Scottish witch. She would spend many years working at Hogwarts as Transfiguration professor, before becoming headmistress. She has a stern but fair manner. McGonagall was also a member of the Order of the Phoenix and active in the fight against Lord Voldemort.

About Minerva McGonagall

Born4 October, early 20th century
Blood StatusHalf-Blood
OccupationTransfiguration Professor
Wand9 ½ inch fir with dragon heartstring
Zodiac SignLibra (speculative)

Minerva McGonagall Early Life

Minerva McGonagall was born in Scotland on 4 October in an unknown year. Her father was a Muggle Presbyterian minister, Robert McGonagall, and her mother a witch, Isobel Ross. She was their first of three children and named after her grandmother, a powerful witch.

Before Minerva was born, Isobel had given up the use of magic. She had not told her husband that she was a witch. But the baby Minerva soon showed signs of magic, such as summoning her toys and charming the family cat. Isobel revealed her secret, and the relationship between the couple was never the same again.

Minerva’s two younger brothers Malcolm and Robert were also magical. Minerva helped her mother conceal many of their magical mishaps from their father. Her mother was very sad when Minerva went off to school. She felt a mixture of pride and envy of the adventure before her daughter.

Minerva McGonagall as a Hogwarts Student

Minerva started attending Hogwarts shortly after she turned eleven. She was a “hatstall”, as the Sorting Hat struggled to decide whether to put her in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. Eventually, she was placed in Gryffindor.

She quickly rose to the top of her class and had a notable talent for Transfiguration. By the end of her school career she had received top grades in both her O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams and had served as both Prefect and Head Girl. She was also the winner of the Transfiguration Today Most Promising Newcomer Award.

With the guidance and support of her Transfiguration professor Albus Dumbledore, Minerva was also able to become an Animagus. Her animal form is a tabby cat with distinctive square spectacle markings around her eyes. She registered her Animagus status with the Ministry for Magic.

Minerva was also a passionate player on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team during her time at school. She developed an extreme rivalry with Slytherin. In a match against them in her final year, a fall following a foul left her with a concussion and several broken ribs.

Minerva McGonagall Love and Heartbreak

After graduating from school Minerva was offered a position with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. She went home to spend the summer with her family before planning to relocate to London for the job.

During this period at home, she met the young Muggle Dougal McGregor, who was the handsome, clever, and funny son of a local farmer. The two fell deeply in love and became engaged.

The evening after McGregor proposed, Minerva was considering telling her parents, but instead relived their marriage in her mind. She realized that she could not tell Dougal that she was a wizard due to secrecy laws, and that she would not be able to lead a double life the way her mother had.

The next day Minerva returned to Dougal and told him that she had changed her mind, providing no explanation. Three days later she left for London.

She learned a few years later in a letter from her mother that Dougal married another girl.

Young Minerva McGonagall

Minerva McGonagall Early Career

Minerva found that she did not really enjoy working at the Ministry. While she was one of the best and most respected employees in her department, she found the anti-muggle sentiments that existed within the Ministry disconcerting. After two years she was offered an impressive promotion. Minerva refused the new role.

Instead, she sent an owl to Hogwarts asking whether she might find a teaching post. She was immediately offered a place within the Transfiguration department under department head Albus Dumbledore. She quickly earned a reputation as a stern but inspiring teacher.

Some years later, when her former Ministry boss Elphinstone Urquart was visiting Hogwarts, he asked Minerva to marry him. Despite her great respect for him, she was still heartbroken over Dougal and turned him down.

Instead, Minerva focussed on her career. She was soon promoted to Head of Transfiguration. Professor McGonagall taught students how to do things like turn a match into a needle, an animal into a water goblet, a beetle into a button, and a mouse into a snuffbox. She also taught switching spells, vanishing, and conjuring.

Minerva McGonagall was also made Head of Gryffindor House and Deputy Headmistress. She was passionate about supporting her house Quidditch team.

Minerva McGonagall in the First Wizarding War

When Lord Voldemort first rose to power, Minerva was wary of explicitly joining the Order of the Phoenix. It was considered a renegade organization by the Ministry. Nevertheless, she spent many nights spying for the Aurors in the Ministry in her cat form.

She lost many people during the war. Her brother Robert was killed, as was her old love Dougal. He and his family were killed in a random anti-muggle attack.

When Lord Voldemort fell as a result of his attack on Harry Potter, Dumbledore sent Minerva to watch the home of the Dursleys, where he planned to place the boy. She was horrified by what she saw. McGonagall realized that the Durlseys were nothing like her former students Lily and James Potter. She considered them the “worst kind” of muggles, and she had considerable experience with them.

Minerva was also a bit alarmed when she learned that Dumbledore entrusted Hagrid with the transport of the baby Harry. Nevertheless, in the end, she trusted that Dumbledore knew what he was doing and had Harry’s best interests at heart.

Minerva McGonagall, Married and Widowed

Minerva McGonagall continued to teach at Hogwarts after the First Wizarding War. She also eventually accepted one of the many proposals that she received from Elphinstone. When he returned, he bought a small cottage in Hogsmeade where the two lived together. They had no children, but their nieces and nephews visited often.

Sadly, in 1985, three years into their marriage, Elphinstone died from a Venemous Tentacula bite. Minerva could no longer bear to live in the cottage and decided to live at Hogwarts.

Minera McGonagall and the Philosopher’s Stone

In 1991, Minerva McGonagall was pleased to see Harry Potter safely arrive at Hogwarts. She was also very pleased when the thoughtful young boy was sorted into Gryffindor house.

She seemed to have been blessed again when she saw Harry, during his first-ever time on a broom, catching a Remembrall in mid-air like an expert Seeker. Rather than giving him detention for flying without permission, she made him Seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team.

But Professor McGonagall was careful never to show favoritism towards her house or her favorite students. She always docked points from Gryffindor students when she caught them misbehaving. Even when it meant that Gryffindor no longer had hope of winning the House Cup.

During this same year, Albus Dumbledore trusted her to help him protect the Philosopher’s Stone, which had been moved to Hogwarts for safekeeping. Her contribution was an enormous, animated chess set. A witch or wizard wanting to pass would have to take the place of one of the chess pieces, putting themselves in danger of being brutally attacked, especially if they had to sacrifice themselves to get across the board.

Minerva McGonagall and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry and Ron were caught flying an enchanted car to school in their second year. Professor Snape wanted them expelled. But, as their Head of House, it was for McGonagall to decide. She gave them detention and wrote to their parents – perhaps the worst punishment. Ron suggested to her that she should not dock points from Gryffindor for the incident, since it occurred before the start of the year. She agreed with a wry smile.

But things soon turned serious when it became apparent that the Chamber of Secrets had been opened. Professor McGonagall even had to step in as Headmistress. The Board of Governors suspended Dumbledore for a brief period.

When Ginny Weasley was kidnapped and taken down into the Chamber, Professor McGonagall started making plans to send the students home and close the school. Fortunately, Harry and Ron saved Ginny and killed the serpent that same night. Minerva was pleased to see Dumbledore return.

Minerva McGonagall and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Professor McGonagall’s main preoccupation during the 1993-1994 school year was protecting Harry, and the rest of the school, from escaped prisoner Sirius Black.

She tried to protect Harry without worrying him about the situation. For example, she refused to sign his Hogsmeade permission form in an attempt to keep Harry within the safety of the castle.

Eventually, as Black got closer, she tried to warn him that the fugitive could be after him personally. However, a frustrated Harry informed her that he already knew.

McGonagall always reveals her Animagus form to her third-year students. She was confused when Harry’s class was unimpressed. Hermione explained that they had just had their first Divination class. She reassured them that Professor Trelawney predicts the death of a student every year, and that it still has not happened.

When Harry received a new Firebolt broomstick following the destruction of his Nimbus 2000, Professor McGonagall was forced to confiscate it and have it checked for curses or jinxes. Fortunately, the broom was returned to him in one piece. Minerva was able to enjoy watching Gryffindor win the House Cup for the first time since Charlie Weasley was captain. She also had to bid a fond farewell to her existing captain Oliver Wood.

McGonagall in Amigus form

Minerva McGonagall and the Triwizard Tournament

In 1994-1995 Hogwarts played host to the Triwizard Tournament. She was one of the few who believed Harry when he said that he did not put his name in the Goblet of Fire to participate. She pleaded with Dumbledore and Barty Crouch to remove his name as he was too young and inexperienced to complete. But Harry’s name came out of the cup, so he had to take part.

She provided Harry with the support that she could. For example, she let him use her classroom to practice spells with Hermione and Ron before the third task.

She often admonished the students to try and make a good impression on their guests.

The Yule Ball is of course a chance for us all to — er — let our hair down. But that does NOT mean that we will be relaxing the standards of behaviour we expect from Hogwarts students. I will be most seriously displeased if a Gryffindor student embarrasses the school in any way.

Minerva McGonagall introducing the Yule Ball, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

She was with Dumbledore and Severus Snape when they rescued Harry from Barty Crouch Jnr, who had been pretending to be Alastor Moody, after the Tournament. She heard firsthand Crouch’s account of his actions and the return of Lord Voldemort and was horrified.

Professor McGonagall was left to guard Barty Crouch Jnr. But she could do nothing to prevent Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, from having the Dementors give him their kiss. This meant that he could not recount his story again. Fudge could claim that Harry was lying and work to discredit Albus Dumbledore for supporting him.

Minerva McGonagall and the Order of the Phoenix

With the return of Lord Voldemort, and the denials of the Ministry, this time Minerva actively joined the Order of the Phoenix. She was busy in their employ over the summer of 1995.

When she returned to Hogwarts for classes it was to find that Dolores Umbridge had been appointed as High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. Her agenda was clearly to keep an eye on Dumbledore and bring the school under greater Ministry control.

McGonagall disliked Umbridge from the outset. The disgust was apparent on her face when Umbridge took it on herself to give a speech at the start of the school year. She warned Harry that Umbridge was not to be trifled with and he should try and keep his head down.

Professor McGonagall was unflustered when Umbridge decided to audit her class. However, she was frustrated by her constant interruptions.

I wonder how you expect to gain an idea of my usual teaching methods if you continue to interrupt me? You see, I do not generally permit people to talk when I am talking.

Minerva McGonagall talking to Dolores Umbridge during her inspection, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

McGonagall vs Umbridge

Umbridge also sat in on McGonagall’s career advice session with Harry. When Harry expressed a desire to become an Auror, McGonagall was keen to help him. She was even keener after Umbridge suggested that it would be impossible. She said that she would help Harry reach his goal if it was the last thing she ever did.

When Umbridge drove Dumbledore out of Hogwarts, McGonagall quietly joined the campaign to make life as difficult as possible for the new Headmistress. She was seen giving Peeves advice on how to unscrew a chandelier. McGonagall also refused to help Umbridge clean up magical messes caused by the Weasley twins.

She also supported her fellow teachers. Despite her personal dislike for Professor Trelawney, she supported her when Umbridge tried to throw her out of the school.

When Aurors arrived to take Hagrid, she rushed down to his hut to help him. She was hit by four stunning spells simultaneously in the chest. She had to spend a brief period in St Mungo’s Hospital after the incident to recover.

When she returned, she awarded Harry and his friends 50 points each for warning the world about the return of Lord Voldemort, securing the House Cup for Gryffindor.

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.

McGonagall returning to Hogwarts after the Battle in the Department of Mysteries

Minerva McGonagall and the Half Blood Prince

Minerva McGonagall continued in her dual role of teacher and member of the Order of the Phoenix when the 1996 school year started. She was principally responsible for investigating the question of the cursed necklace that hurt Katie Bell.

When Harry suggested a connection with Draco Malfoy, she dismissed the idea. She was probably following advice from Dumbledore to leave Draco alone during the school year.

On 30 June 1997, McGonagall was aware that Dumbledore would be leaving the school for a few hours and that the teachers and members of the Order should be on high alert. She was patrolling the corridors when Draco managed to give Death Eaters access to the school and the group cast the Dark Mark over Hogwarts.

When Ron, Ginny, and Neville alerted her about what was happening in the Room of Requirement, she sprung into action in the battle against the Death Eaters. She even sent for Severus Snape to join them. At the same time, Dumbledore and Harry had returned to school on top of the Astronomy Tower, and Snape went there to kill Dumbledore, as had been planned.

Minerva was unaware of the agreement between Dumbledore and Snape and so felt shocked and betrayed when she learned that it had been Snape who killed Albus Dumbledore.

Minerva McGonagall and the Return of Harry Potter

When the Ministry of Magic fell to Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters, Hogwarts also came under their control. They installed Severus Snape as the new headmaster of Hogwarts. McGonagall nevertheless stayed at Hogwarts, probably to ensure the safety of the students who were now forced to attend, and to act as an insider for the Order of the Phoenix.

She offered what protection and support she could for the students in the reformed Dumbledore’s Army that were opposing the Death Eaters at Hogwarts.

On the night that Harry, Ron, and Hermione returned to Hogwarts, she was called by Amycus Carrow to let him into Ravenclaw Tower. The Death Eater had been warned that Harry was at the school and might go there in search of something. When they found his sister Alecto Carrow unconscious in the tower, she was shocked when Amycus suggested that he would blame the students for this mistake so that they would suffer punishment, and not him.

When Minerva said that she would not let him behave in such a cowardly way, he turned on her and used the Cruciatus Curse. This prompted Harry to curse him, as he had been hiding under the invisibility cloak. McGonagall then used the Imperius Curse to constrain the two Carrows.

Realizing that the moment had come, McGonagall then battled with Severus Snape, who then fled the castle. She assumed that this was motivated by fear, but in reality, the return of Harry meant that Snape had other things to do.

Harry told McGonagall that he was completing the quest that Dumbledore had left him. She accepted this explanation and began to gather the school to hold off Dumbledore’s Army while Harry, Ron, and Hermione completed their task.

Fighting Severus Snape

Minerva McGonagall and the Battle of Hogwarts

Professor McGonagall order the evacuation of younger students but acquiesced that students who were of age could stay and fight. However, she ordered all Slytherin students should be escorted from the castle. This was after Pansy Parkinson suggested handing Harry over to Lord Voldemort.

Minerva fought valiantly during the battle, animating many of the statues and coats of armor that were placed around the school to fight, and even leading a group of enchanted desks into the fray.

In the final moments of the battle she duelled Lord Voldemort to a stalemate with the help of Horace Slughorn and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Eventually, Lord Voldemort blasted them aside. The death of Bellatrix Lestrange ignited his fury. But she witnessed Harry’s final defeat of Lord Voldemort.

Minerva McGonagall Later Life

Following the Battle of Hogwarts, Minerva McGonagall was officially appointed headmistress of Hogwarts. She oversaw the restoration of the castle. McGonagall supported many witches and wizards affected by the war to complete their education.

McGonagall also agreed to include a portrait of Severus Snape in the headmaster’s office following Harry’s revelations about his true role in the war.

She was still headmistress at Hogwarts when the children of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy attended. She was as surprised as everyone else when Harry’s son Albus was placed in Slytherin alongside Draco’s son Scorpius. But she staunchly refused Harry’s requests to keep the two boys apart, suggesting that the two needed to make their own destinies.

Minerva McGonagall Personality Type & Traits

Minerva McGonagall is a serious yet caring witch. She provided the right combination of firmness and nurturing to be an excellent Hogwarts teacher. While she was strict with students, it was for their own safety and to ensure they had the best opportunities to learn.

She always put the welfare of the students first. This is most apparent in her refusal to interfere in the friendship of Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy at Harry Potter’s request.

Minerva McGonagall Zodiac Sign & Birthday

Minerva McGonagall was born on October 4th, though it is not clear in which year. It must have been in the early 20th century. This means that her zodiac sign is Libra. People born under this sign tend to be whip-smart, like Minerva, but also very sensitive to the feelings of others. While this can make them fun and outgoing, they may also put-up walls to protect themselves, as Minerva clearly did.

What is Minera McGonagall’s Patronus?

McGonagall’s Patronus takes the form of a tabby cat. This is the same form that she takes as an Animagus. A person’s Patronus always takes the form of an animal with which they share an affinity. The same rules dictate Animagus form. The two are usually one and the same.

Why does McGonagall Wear Green Robes?

Minerva McGonagall wears emerald robes, a color usually associated with Slytherin. But for Minerva, the green color is probably a reference to her family tartan. The Gryffindor colors are red and gold.