POLS 110 Study Guide - Quiz Guide: Ministry Of Magic, Russell Kirk, Albus Dumbledore
Course CodePOLS 110
ProfessorEleanor Mac Donald
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Based on this week’s readings on conservatism (by Edmund Burke & Russell Kirk), think of a
ﬁctional character who displays the kind of temperament and values that are generally
associated with conservatism. Write a short essay (300 - 400 words) in which you explain the
reasons for your choice. (It is not necessary for the character to have every conservative
characteristic, or to espouse all conservative values, but should show evidence of some of
Dolores Umbridge, a character from the Harry Potter series, shows many conservative
characteristics. She was installed as a Defence Against The Dark Arts professor at the
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, before taking over headmistress when the former
headmaster Dumbledore was removed. Dolores’ conservatism can be proved by comparing her
values and actions to the “ten conservative principles” introduced by Russell Kirk. Dolores
shows agreement with many of the these principles. One principle that Kirk mentions, is that
“the conservatives believe that there exists an enduring moral order” Dolores has strict views on
how she believes that students should behave, and severely punishes anyone who she feels
does not follow.
In a scene where Dolores interrupts Dumbledore’s speech in front of the students, she
displays her values on change and on tradition. She says to the school, “Let us move forward,
then, into a new era of openness, effectiveness, and accountability, intent on preserving what
ought to be preserved, perfecting what needs to be perfected, and pruning wherever we ﬁnd
practices that ought to be prohibited". This is an example of two principles introduced by Kirk;
the ﬁrst one being that “the conservative adhere to custom, convention, and continuity”, and the
second one being that “the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change
must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society”. Dolores believes that continuity of
customs is important, and at the same expresses her opinion on change being sometimes
necessary as well.
Examples of another conservative principle by Kirk, “the conservative perceives the
need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions”, are are also seen in
Dolores’ actions. Dolores has the Hogwarts students follow a number of educational decrees.
These involve the banning of regular meetings of three or more students that have not been
approved by the High Inquisitor, banning teachers from “giving students any information that is
not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach”, and banning students from possessing
a certain news magazine called “The Quibbler”. These rules all exist to restrain students from
possessing passions and ideas that go against her and her ministry’s, and to prevent individuals
from gaining too much power.
Dolores’ behaviours and beliefs reﬂect Kirk’s “conservative principles”, therefore showing
that she has strong conservative values.
Rowling, J. (2003). Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine
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