Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Report

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Christine Cooper-Rompato

Abstract

This Plan B thesis explores the question: Why do audience members detest Dolores Umbridge so much? Dolores Umbridge is an incredibly hated woman in the Harry Potter series who has attracted attention from audiences, but Umbridge has not been studied fully by scholarship. When scholars do discuss Umbridge, they typically focus on her cruelty while ignoring her other characteristics. Looking at popular internet audience reactions to Umbridge, however, shows the complexities of Umbridge’s character by revealing what Louise Rosenblatt calls the “transaction” between the audience and the texts, and scholarship has ignored that “transaction.” Using quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze audience comments on six different internet forums, I found audience members claim to hate Umbridge because she is a cruel woman and they can relate her to other people in their lives, but analyzing the comments shows audience members also detest Umbridge because she breaks stereotypical gender roles. Because Umbridge is a woman, her cruelty is perceived more harshly, and people compare her to women in their lives. Thus, gender is central to the negative interpretation of Dolores Umbridge. Using the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book and film and the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book and film (those texts in which Umbridge appears), I explore the “transaction” between the audience and the texts. Based on that transaction, Harry Potter scholarship should focus more on Umbridge’s gender specifically and on popular internet audience reactions overall.

Thesis_Title_Page.jessica .pdf (330 kB)
Signed Thesis Title Page

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