Minerva McGonagall

Rochelle August 26, 2015 @ 10:53AM

Minerva McGonagall

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Biographical Details | Temperament and Personality | Physical Traits | Magical Traits | Wand Traits |  Nicknames/Aliases/Titles/Appearances | Organizations/Teams/Clubs | What Happened to Minerva McGonagall After the Fall of Voldemort? | How McGonagall Changed Throughout The Series | How McGonagall Differs in the Books and Movies | What Maggie Smith Has To Say About McGonagallVideo of Minerva McGonagall | Minerva McGonagall Costume

Note: Some of the content in here may contain spoilers from the books, movies, and/or Pottermore.com

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Biographical Details

Name = Minerva McGonagall (it is unknown if she has a middle name since one was never disclosed in the books)
Date of Birth = October 4, 1935
Mother = Isobel McGonagall (née Ross)
Father = Robert McGonagall Sr.
Siblings = Malcolm McGonagall (brother) and Robert McGonagall Jr. (brother)
Spouse = Elphinstone Urquart
Children = None
Wizard Blood Status = Half Blood (mother was a witch, father was a Muggle)
Hogwarts House = Gryffindor, though the Sorting Hat spent over five minutes trying to decide between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw
Occupation = Transfiguration teacher and Head of Gryffindor House during the events that took place in the books, and Headmistress of Hogwarts School after
Life Status = Living as of [year]
Additional Details = Minerva McGonagall was named after her great grandmother on her mother’s side. She married Elphinstone Urquart when she was much too old to have children, and they were married for just three years when he died. Elphinstone was killed after being accidentally bit by a Venomous Tentacula, a highly poisonous plant that has multiple methods of attacking people and prey.

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Professor McGonagall is an emotionally strong woman who is well respected, even a little feared, by the students she teaches. Even Fred and George Weasley followed instructions from Professor McGonagall. She is a strict teacher but not unreasonable.

McGonagall cares about the well being of her students, though they may not see it at the time. A perfect example of this occurred when Harry Potter was given a Firebolt broom. The broom, we later learned, was a gift from Harry’s Godfather, Sirius Black, who wanted to replace the broom that had been destroyed by the Whomping Willow. But when Harry received the broom no one knew who had sent it and McGonagall immediately confiscated it so that she and the other teachers could make sure that there were no curses, jinxes, or hexes on it. Harry did not appreciate her concern because all he could think about was riding his new broom, but McGonagall had his best interest at heart when she did what she did.

The Transfiguration teacher is not a warm and fuzzy kind of person. She is, however, caring in her own way. This was made evident in the fifth story, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, when McGonagall came to the aid and protection of the recently fired Sybil Trelawny, who was distraught over her fate.

Professor McGonagall took a liking to Hermione Granger right from the start. She saw Hermione’s talent and fostered it as much as she could. She even went so far as to gain special permission for Hermione to use a Time Turner during Hermione’s third year at Hogwarts, something that was exceedingly unusual.

Interestingly, the Sorting Hat considered placing both Hermione and McGonagall into Ravenclaw but decided on Gryffindor. I can’t help but wonder if the Professor saw Hermione as a kindred spirit.

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Physical Traits

Race = Human
Gender = Female
Skin Color = Fair
Hair Color = Grey
Eye Color = Green

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Professor Minerva McGonagall Quote

Magical Traits

Patronus = Cat
Boggart = Lord Voldemort
Additional Traits = Professor McGonagall is an exceptionally talented witch, and is one of a handful of wizards who learned to turn herself into an animal, a magical ability called Animagus. Her Animagus animal is a cat that has markings around its eyes that match the glasses that she wears, and she is a legally registered Animagus.

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Wand Traits

Length = 9-1/2″ in the books, 16-1/2″ in the movies
Wood = Fir
Core = Dragon Heartstring
Pliancy = Firm
Maker = Unknown, but could possibly have been Garrick Ollivander
Master = Minerva McGonagall
Owner = Minerva McGonagall
Additional Details = McGonagall’s wand was particularly well suited to her magical abilities. Wands made from the fir tree work very well for transfiguration, which is where McGonagall excelled and was the class she eventually taught at Hogwarts. Wands of fir are also known to align themselves with witches and wizards who are likely to survive mortal peril. McGonagall did exactly that – survive mortal peril – on multiple occasions. The most impressive time was when she was hit by three stunning spells at once by Death Eaters. This attack landed her temporarily in St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, but she healed quickly. The attack was witnessed by Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who fretted over the severity of the attack and her advanced age, and they were very relieved when Professor McGonagall recovered.

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Nicknames = None
Aliases = None
Titles = Head Girl, Prefect, Madam, Professor, Head of Gryffindor, Deputy Headmistress, and Headmistress
Different Physical Appearances = None

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Things You Didn't Know About Professor McGonagall


Organizations = Order of the Phoenix
Teams = Gryffindor Quidditch team
Clubs = Unknown

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What Happened to Minerva McGonagall After the Fall of Voldemort?

Professor McGonagall took over as Headmistress at Hogwarts. She remained in this position until she retired in 2017. It was during her time as Headmistress that she allowed Hermione Granger to translate the book The Tales of Beedle the Bard from ancient runes to English, and for Dumbledore’s notes to be included when the translated version was published. Although I cannot confirm this, it is also believed that it was McGonagall who hired Neville Longbottom as Hogwarts Herbology teacher, a class that Neville excelled in during his time as a student.

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How McGonagall Changed Throughout The Series

You could argue that Professor McGonagall remained consistent throughout the entire Harry Potter series. When we are first introduced to her we see a woman who is in control, sticks to the facts, and doesn’t take any guff from the students she teaches. This is the same Professor who we see throughout all of the books and movies.

There is one moment where that isn’t the woman we see, and it comes at the very end of the series. During the final battle against Voldemort we saw McGonagall lose a bit of her control. She was horrified to learn that Professor Snape supposedly killed their beloved Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. That is the moment that McGonagall lets loose and turns on Snape. She gave him all she had, and showed that she may be old, but she was still a powerful witch.

Interestingly, author J.K. Rowling almost didn’t give McGonagall this moment to shine. Originally Rowling was going to have Harry face off against Snape. I am very glad that Rowling had a change of heart because I think this is one of Minerva McGonagall’s finest moments, despite the fact that she didn’t know about the arrangement between Dumbledore and Snape.

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Professor McGonagall as a Cat

How McGonagall Differs in the Books and Movies

As far as her character goes, the films were pretty true to the books for McGonagall’s personality and actions. The biggest differences were the result of storyline changes the filmmakers made for reasons known to them.

The first big difference came in the second movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The children became aware of the legend about the Chamber and were anxious to learn whatever they could about it. In the book, they asked their ghost teacher, Professor Binns, for details of the Chamber. But Binns was not in any of the movies, so the filmmakers had to change this scene.

In the movie, the children turned to Professor McGonagall. The fact that she answered their questions is, in my opinion, slightly out of character for her. She is a woman who deals with facts, not rumors. She does not tolerate silliness or nonsense. Yet, she willingly spoke to her students about the supposed existence of the Chamber of Secrets. Yes, I know the filmmakers needed to find a way to have this important conversation, but I find it curious that they chose McGonagall for it. I think it would have made more sense for someone like Flitwick to have been the one to explain about the Chamber instead.

The second most obvious difference came in the final movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt. 2. There were several scenes in this movie that never happened in the book. The first one was when she spoke to Neville Longbottom and encouraged him to blow up the bridge. This is a very memorable scene, and the conversation between the two went like this:

Neville Longbottom: “Let me get this straight, Professor, you’re actually giving us permission to do this?
Minerva McGonagall: “That is correct, Longbottom.
Neville Longbottom: “To blow it up? Boom?
Minerva McGonagall: “BOOM!
Neville Longbottom: “Wicked!

Even though that scene was not in the books, the conversation was true to her character, and it showed her dry sense of humor. I think it worked incredibly well, and the act of allowing Neville and Seamus to blow up the bridge was an excellent way to show everyone within the school that she was in charge of keeping the students and Hogwarts safe.

The other scene from this movie took place shortly after McGonagall’s conversation with Neville. She, Molly Weasley, and several other witches and wizards were in the process of doing what they could to protect Hogwarts for as long as possible against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. During this time she used a spell to call upon the many statues around the school to do their duty and protect the school. She then turned to Molly and said, “I’ve always wanted to use that spell!”

This scene never happened in the book, but I think it was another excellent addition to the movie. Just like the conversation with Neville, this scene showed that McGonagall was in charge. It also showed that the school was capable of defending itself, which was a nice touch. The actress who played McGonagall, Maggie Smith, delivered the line perfectly, along with giving a slightly giddy look as she said it, and it is among my favorite moments of the final movie.

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Quote from Professor Minerva McGonagall

What Maggie Smith Has To Say About McGonagall

Dame Maggie Smith is the actress who brought Professor McGonagall to life in such a spectacular way! She played the role of the Hogwarts teacher from during filming of all eight films, which lasted from September of 2000 to December of 2010. Maggie had an entire decade to get to know Minerva McGonagall. I couldn’t find much about Maggie discussing her time on the set of the Harry Potter movies, but she did talk about the time commitment required of her. She said, “I knew it was going to be a major commitment when I started, but it turned out to be 10 years. That’s a lot of time with one character!”

I found another interview where Maggie spoke about having cancer during her filming. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, and there were still three more years of filming to be completed. Chemotherapy caused her hair to fall out, yet she saw the bright side of this by saying, “There are advantages to cancer, you know. My chemo cheered up the makeup department on Harry Potter because the wig went on a great deal easier without a single hair on my head.” Dame Maggie Smith sounds like an amazing woman.


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Video of Minerva McGonagall

I wanted to find a good tribute video for Professor McGonagall and looked at a variety of them. None of them really did a good job in my opinion, but I did find this one. This is a short video where J.K. Rowling talks about McGonagall. I wish it was longer, but I love hearing what Rowling has to say about the Professor and the final battle at Hogwarts.

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Minerva McGonagall Costume

There is no official costume for Professor McGonagall, yet she is a very popular character to dress up as. I have collected all the “must have” items, along with a few optional accessories, for anyone who wants to dress up as this no-nonsense Transfiguration teacher. If you would like to see what is needed then take a look at the Professor McGonagall costume.

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Biographical Details | Temperament and Personality | Physical Traits | Magical Traits | Wand Traits |  Nicknames/Aliases/Titles/Appearances | Organizations/Teams/Clubs | What Happened to Minerva McGonagall After the Fall of Voldemort? | How McGonagall Changed Throughout The Series | How McGonagall Differs in the Books and Movies | What Maggie Smith Has To Say About McGonagall | Video of Minerva McGonagall | Minerva McGonagall Costume

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