Friday, September 1, 2023

Eight Moments with Minerva McGonagall

Another year at Hogwarts begins. To celebrate our Hogwarts professors and all teachers returning to work, I wanted to spotlight Minerva McGonagall, headmistress and transfiguration teacher at Hogwarts. So enjoy some of the best moments of McGonagall.

"We'll leave you to deal with the monster, Gilderoy. Your skills, after all, are legend."
I can't remember how exactly this exchanged played out in the book, but in the movie version of Chamber of Secrets, you can tell that McGonagall (and probably all the other teachers too) were tired of Lockhart's pompous nature. Would McGonagall have challenged him to take on Slytherin's monster if she actually thought he knew where the Chamber was? I doubt it. But she definitely used this dark moment to put Gilderoy in his place. Can't stop sassy Minerva.

“Have a biscuit.”

This moment in the book version of Order of the Phoenix is iconic. Just when Harry thinks he’s in the biggest trouble for talking back to Umbridge, McGonagall throws the unexpected curveball. It’s just the beginning of her (mostly) silent protest against Umbridge and it’s a shame that this scene didn’t make it into the movie.

“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.”

While Umbridge tried to undermine the other teachers, as she slowly took over Hogwarts, some teachers had a hard time (Trelawney) but it was funny to see her get after the likes of McGonagall. Sassy McGonagall is the one who could stand up to Umbridge like no one else could.

“There are several things I’d like to say.”

Occasionally the movie added moments that the book didn’t and it’s beautiful. This is one such moment when McGonagall is defending Trelawney, who she has complained about on more than one occasion. But even this woman, who she perceives to be a fraud, is a human being deserving of respect, despite any personal bias. 

Harry’s Career Counseling

Late in the book version of Order of the Phoenix, prior to the OWL exams, the heads of houses did career counseling with their pupils. And for some reason Umbridge decided to sit in on Harry’s session. Not only was McGonagall supportive of Harry’s career goals, while still giving him stern advice to improve his grade in Potions. But on top of that, she straight up called out Umbridge, who persisted in tearing down Harry’s career aspirations.

"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."

She was known for being strict and everything, but McGonagall was always supportive of her students. Even the ones that weren’t Harry Potter. So this line to Neville was great. At the beginning of the Half-Blood Prince book she was willing to stand up to Neville’s strict grandmother and validate Neville’s strengths. This boy had spent five years being torn down for his weaknesses, so I’m sure the validation was only too welcome.

“I’ve always wanted to use that spell”

Shortly after dueling Snape (in both the movie and the book), McGonagall and the other teachers started putting protection spells around the school. As part of this, McGonagall animated several stone knight statues. As if that moment wasn’t cool enough, the movie version had her start geeking out to Mrs. Weasley about the spell she'd cast. Just another moment the movie improved upon the book.

The Oscausi Charm

In a Crimes of Grindewald flashback, we see a young Minerva (don’t get me started on why McGonagall shouldn’t be there–she literally said in Order of the Phoenix that she’d been at Hogwarts about 39 years) chasing young Leta Lestrange with a Gryffindor girl. Naturally, as Leta had jinxed the girl, McGonagall was trying to be stern, as always. But when the Gryffindor girl gets her voice back and immediately starts complaining, it’s sassy McGonagall that mutes her all over again. 

If you have any favorite McGonagall moments that I’ve missed, make sure you let us know in the comments and/or by sending us a message. Or if you can rationalize (without trashing the Fantastic Beasts movies–I still like them overall) how the heck she was present at 1910s Hogwarts.

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