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Sybill Trelawney Character Analysis: Divination Teacher

Sybill Trelawney Character Analysis: Divination Teacher

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The great-great-granddaughter of the famous seer Cassandra Trelawney, Sybill Patricia Trelawney also fancied herself a seer, though she relied more on parlor tricks to make day-to-day predictions than the true “inner eye”.

However, when Sybill applied for a job at Hogwarts, she unwittingly revealed a prophecy about Lord Voldemort to Professor Dumbledore. He appointed her Divination teacher at the school for her own protection. She would make another prediction about the Dark Lord while in post.

About Sybill Trelawney

Born9 March pre-1962
Blood StatusHalf-Blood
OccupationDivination Teacher
PatronusUnknown
HouseRavenclaw
WandHazel and Unicorn Hair 9 ½ inches
Zodiac SignPisces

Sybill Trelawney Early Life

Sybill Trelawney was the daughter of a muggle mother and wizard father descendant from the famous seer Cassandra Trelawney. As a young witch, Sybill attended Hogwarts as a Ravenclaw. She probably took Divination as an elective due to her interest in her family history.

While she was still young Sybill married a young man name Higglebottom. However, she refused to adopt his name as she was very attached to the ancestry of the name Trelawney. The two did not have children and later divorced.

Sybill tried to find work as a seer based on her family connections. She was easily offended when anyone questioned her divination abilities.

Sybill Applies to Hogwarts

In 1979/80, Sybill Trelawney applied to become a teacher at Hogwarts. The then principal Albus Dumbledore agreed to meet with her at the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade, though he had no intention of hiring her as he did not support the teaching of Divination.

Dumbledore was unimpressed by Sybill. She showed none of her mother’s divination abilities. He politely told her that she did not have the job. However, as he was doing so, Sybill fell into a genuine trance and delivered a prophecy about Lord Voldemort.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…

Sybill Trelawney, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The then Death Eater Severus Snape, who was also waiting to be interviewed by Dumbledore, overhead part of this prophecy before he was detected.

He fled and passed this information to his master. Realizing that this put Sybill in great danger, Dumbledore hired her so that he could protect her at Hogwarts. She had no memory of delivering the prophecy.

Sybill Trelawney the Divination Teacher

Professor Trelawney taught Divination on the seventh floor of the North Tower and was an elective for students from their third year onwards. She emphasized the importance and difficulty of her subject to her students.

So you may have chosen to study Divination, the most difficult of all magical arts. I must warn you at the outset that if you do not have the Sight, there is very little I will be able to teach you. Books can take you only so far in this field….

Sybill Trelawney, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

She tried to impress her students by making predictions and would often predict the death of a student to create fear and awe. Fortunately, these predictions did not come to pass.

Sybill Trelawney has predicted the death of a student every year since she came to this school. None of them have died yet.

Minerva McGonagall, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

She was fairly solitary at Hogwarts and preferred to remain in her tower rather than attend meals in the Great Hall. At Christmas 1993 she did decide to join the small group that had remained at Hogwarts for dinner. She tried to recuse herself after she arrived saying that she would be unlucky number 13.

Sybill Trelawney and Harry Potter

Professor Trelawney did not know that she had made a prediction that involved Harry and changed the course of his life when he joined her class in 1993. But she was still fascinated by the famous boy.

She chose Harry to be the victim of this year’s death prediction. She claimed to see the Grim, a well-known omen of death, in his tea leaves.

Professor Trelawney continued to make predictions about Harry and the other students over the course of the year. While Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil were impressed by this, Hermione Granger was not. She eventually stormed out of the classroom and dropped the subject.

When Professor Trelawney was conducting Harry’s exam at the end of the year, she fell into another genuine trance and delivered a prophecy about the return of Lord Voldemort through his servant Peter Pettigrew. Just like the first prophecy, she could not remember making it after it had happened.

Sybill Trelawney makes a genuine prediction

Her predictions about Harry’s death continued beyond this. She predicted his death in the Triwizard Tournament. She also suggested that Harry was destined for a tragic life because he was born in mid-winter.

He pointed out that he was born in July, and she dropped it. But she may have been referring to the part of Lord Voldemort that was embedded in Harry as a Horcrux. Voldemort was born in mid-winter.

In that year Harry also had a crisis with his scar during one of her Divination classes, which was witnessed by Rita Skeeter and published in the Daily Prophet.

Sybill Trelawney and Dolores Umbridge

The following year, while the Ministry was denying the return of Lord Voldemort and trying to discredit Albus Dumbledore, Dolores Umbridge was sent to Hogwarts as High Inquisitor to keep an eye on the school.

Dolores Umbridge assessed Professor Trelawney’s lessons, as she did all the teachers. It did not go well as Umbridge asked her to justify her teaching techniques and then make a prediction.

Trelawney responded that the inner eye did not see on command, but when she saw that this did not impress Umbridge, she claimed to see great danger in Umbridge’s future.

As a result of this assessment, Professor Trelawney was placed on probation. This caused her a great amount of stress. She started to become brisk with the students and was drinking large amounts of cooking sherry, which she hid in the Room of Requirement.

Meanwhile, Umbridge continued to harass Trelawney. She turned up at most of her lessons asking her difficult questions about Heptomology and Ornithomancy, and asking her to predict students’ answers before they gave them.

The final straw seems to have been when Trelawney showed support for Harry after his article about Lord Voldemort was published in the Quibbler. Rather than predicting his death, she predicted that he would have a long life, become Minister for Magic, and have 12 children. This angered Umbridge.

Umbridge had Professor Trelawney dismissed from her post and attempted to have her physically expelled from the castle. This left Trelawney devastated as she claimed that Hogwarts was her home.

Fortunately, Professor Dumbledore turned up and pointed out that while Umbridge could fire Sybill, she could not expel her from the castle, and he permitted her to stay. The other teachers, who did not generally like Trelawney much, helped her return to her tower.

She was allowed to remain in the North Tower as Dumbledore appointed the centaur Firenze as her replacement, and he preferred a ground floor room. This angered Umbridge further as she was highly prejudiced against “half-breeds”.

Sybill Trelawney gets fired

Sybill Trelawney Returns to Teaching

After Umbridge was expelled from Hogwarts and the truth of Lord Voldemort’s return was revealed, Sybill was able to return to teaching. But Firenze was also kept on the staff as his herd had also expelled him for helping humans. The two shared teaching duties for the subject.

Sybill considered this demotion humiliating and continued to drink heavily from her stock of cooking sherry in the Room of Requirement. She was morosely drunk at Horace Slughorn’s Christmas party. She also fought constantly with Dumbledore about the current arrangements.

Later in the year, she attempted to access the Room of Requirement to hide her sherry. But she was thrown out by Draco Malfoy. He was using the room to hide his work repairing a vanishing Cabinet. She did not see who had assaulted her as he used Peruvian Darkness Powder to shield his identity.

Harry Potter ran into her shortly after this incident and suggested that she speak to Dumbledore, as he was headed there anyway.

As they walked, Sybill talked about her interview, which revealed to Harry that Severus Snape had overheard the prophecy about his parents and passed it to the Dark Lord. Harry left her and ran off to confront Dumbledore with this information.

Sybill Trelawney and the Battle of Hogwarts

Sybill continued to teach at Hogwarts following the death of Dumbledore and the fall of the Ministry of Magic to Death Eaters. They installed Severus Snape as the new principal and introduced many Death Eater rules and teachers to the school.

Sybill may have stayed to protect the students or felt like she had nowhere else to go. Severus Snape may also have encouraged her to stay so that he could continue to protect her against Lord Voldemort.

Sybill Trelawney participated in the Battle of Hogwarts when Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters descended on the castle. She started by dropping crystal balls from her tower, knocking out Fenrir Greyback as he attacked Lavender Brown. She then used her wand to lob them with a tennis-like serve into the battle.

In the years that followed, Trelawney continued teaching at Hogwarts alongside Firenze. She did not change her technique and continued to predict the death of at least one student each year.

In 2020 she wrote a book entitled My Eyes and How to See Past Them.

Sybill Trelawney Personality Type & Traits

Sybill is described as being extremely eccentric, but this is all part of the character that she has created for herself as a great seer. While she made many erroneous predictions, many of the things that she said also turned out to be right.

She seems to have been observant and sensitive to the world. But it was difficult for others to see this because of all the airs and graces she adopted as a seer.

Sybill Trelawney Zodiac Sign & Birthday

Sybill Trelawney was born on 9 March, sometime before 1962, which makes her zodiac sign Pisces. People born under this sign are highly sensitive and can have a natural affinity for the esoteric arts.