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Character Voice Breakdowns

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Lindsey, Nov 29, 2021.

  1. Lindsey

    Lindsey Chief Warlock DLP Supporter

    Dec 1, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    One of the hardest challenges for me as a writer is writing dialogue. I struggle with making each character sound unique and not just a medium for moving the plot forward. After watching On Writing: Dialogue Basics!, I decided to start breaking down characters from various novels to get a sense of why they sound the way they are. As I'm already writing HP fanfiction, what better reason to start with various HP characters?

    I want this to be a thread to help writers understand HP character's and how they actually sound like in canon, rather than what they have become in most fanon stories.

    Starting off, I decided to go with Hermione, as she is one of the easier characters to break down, while also one of the most incorrectly written characters.

    I copied all her dialogue and descriptions from Books 1 & 3, and pasted them here for analysis.

    Everything I am about to post next comes from my character voice breakdowns document , which might be easier to read due to the formatting.

    Hermione Granger
    Hermione is a character often written incredibly wrong due to the movies. Most people, including myself, remember her to be more likeable than she actually was in the books. This results in Hermione being portrayed as a mary-sue in many fanfics; smart, pretty, always right, etc. In reality, while Hermione is usually right, she is extremely hard to deal with, as she is strongly opinionated, quite arrogant, and overwhelming.

    While going through Hermione’s dialogue in books one and three, I was surprised to find myself growing more and more annoyed with her character. She is far too overbearing and untactful, even though she is clever and observant. While a lot of the fandom believes that she is the main reason the trio survives, I actually think she benefited the most with their friendship. Had she not had them as friends, and continued as an outcast at Hogwarts, it is likely she would have turned into someone very similar to Umbridge: authority above all, hating children, her way or the highway, and not afraid to get her hands dirty if she thought it was for the best.

    Here are the key characteristics of Hermione Granger based on the first three books. It breaks down bits of her character as well as gives tips on how to write her dialogue.

    Hermione is very logical in both her mannerisms and speaking patterns. She is that friend who tries to find a solution to your problems when you rant— even though all you really want is to be listened to and comforted, not getting told what you should do.

    “See?” said Hermione, when Harry and Ron had finished. “The dog must be guarding Flamel’s Sorcerer’s Stone! I bet he asked Dumbledore to keep it safe for him, because they’re friends and he knew someone was after it, that’s why he wanted the Stone moved out of Gringotts!”

    * * *

    The whole class was gathered around Lavender now. Seamus shook his head seriously. Hermione hesitated; then she said, ‘You – you were dreading Binky being killed by a fox?’

    ‘Oh,’ said Hermione. She paused again. Then –

    ‘Was Binky an old rabbit?’

    ‘But then, why would you dread him dying?’ said Hermione.

    Parvati glared at her.

    ‘Well, look at it logically,’ said Hermione, turning to the rest of the group. ‘I mean, Binky didn’t even die today, did he, Lavender just got the news today –’ Lavender wailed loudly ‘– and she can’t have been dreading it, because it’s come as a real shock –’

    She is also extremely untactful and blunt. I find it hilarious that the movie has Hermione say to Ron that he has the ‘emotional range of a teaspoon’ when it is her that tends to be rather uncaring and blunt when speaking. To be fair, this is something she does improve on in later books, but in the first book, it’s very very rough.

    “Are you sure that’s a real spell?” said the girl. “Well, it’s not very good, is it? I’ve tried a few simple spells just for practice and it’s all worked for me. Nobody in my family’s magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it’s the very best school of witchcraft there is, I’ve heard — I’ve learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough — I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?”

    * * *

    “Are you really?” said Hermione. “I know all about you, of course — I got a few extra books, for background reading, and you’re in Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century.”

    “Am I?” said Harry, feeling dazed.

    “Goodness, didn’t you know, I’d have found out everything I could if it was me,” said Hermione.

    This bluntness is likely the reason she has no friends at the beginning of the series. It’s a rather awful cycle she is in. She wants to talk to people, overloads them with facts and reason, which leads her to be rejected. In her rejection, she turns to books and authority, which drag her further down the hole. Had Hermione not made the friends she had, she could have easily turned into Umbridge. Think of Umbridge, she couldn’t tolerate rule-breaking at all, especially against her rules. She thought herself as better than the others, and deserved to be listened to. The people she respected could do little wrong, yet she was fine breaking the rules if it benefited her, or her own goals.

    “All right — I only came in here because people outside are behaving very childishly, racing up and down the corridors,” said Hermione in a sniffy voice.

    * * *

    “No!” shouted Hermione Granger. “Madam Hooch told us not to move — you’ll get us all into trouble.”

    * * *

    “Go to Dumbledore. That’s what we should have done ages ago. If we try anything ourselves we’ll be thrown out for sure.”

    * * *

    “Neville,” she said, “I’m really, really sorry about this.”

    She raised her wand.

    “Petrificus Totalus!” she cried, pointing it at Neville.

    You can also see it in her biggest fears during book three: failure. She knows her personality can be grating and hard to deal with, and so she clings onto her successes. Without that, she feels like she would have nothing.

    ‘P-P-Professor McGonagall!’ Hermione gasped, pointing into the trunk. ‘Sh-she said I’d failed everything!’

    It is also rather obvious that Hermione sees herself better than her classmates. It’s something she clings to while having no friends. ‘Well, I don’t need those ungrateful stupid children. I have my books and intelligence.’ While this is mitigated during the series, it never fully dissipates. She still can’t help but to brag about why she is right.

    “I — told — you,” Hermione gasped, clutching at the stitch in her chest, “I — told — you.”

    “We’ve got to get back to Gryffindor tower,” said Ron, “quickly as possible.”

    “Malfoy tricked you,” Hermione said to Harry. “You realize that, don’t you? He was never going to meet you — Filch knew someone was going to be in the trophy room, Malfoy must have tipped him off.”

    * * *

    “Brilliant,” said Hermione. “This isn’t magic — it’s logic — a puzzle. A lot of the greatest wizards haven’t got an ounce of logic, they’d be stuck in here forever.”

    That being said, she does bring benefits to the group as well. Hermione is the most observant of the lot. She can often see the pattern or small detail that the others miss. The best example is her discovery of the trap door under Fluffy but is present throughout the first book.

    “You don’t use your eyes, any of you, do you?” she snapped. “Didn’t you see what it was standing on?”

    Hermione is often the source of knowledge to move the plot forward. She is the one who discovers the trap door, as well as the one to find out what exactly Flamel created. She also has no problem at being cunning to find out the knowledge she craves.

    “Oh, come on, Hagrid, you might not want to tell us, but you do know, you know everything that goes on round here,” said Hermione in a warm, flattering voice. Hagrid’s beard twitched and they could tell he was smiling. “We only wondered who had done the guarding, really.” Hermione went on. “We wondered who Dumbledore had trusted enough to help him, apart from you.”

    Yet, for all her prepping and planning, she utterly panics in dangerous situations or situations that require quick on-your-feet thinking. You first see this with the troll, where Hermione would have likely died had Ron and Harry not saved her, but also at the end of the book with the Devil’s Snare.

    Hermione Granger was shrinking against the wall opposite, looking as if she was about to faint. The troll was advancing on her, knocking the sinks off the walls as it went.

    “Come on, run, run!” Harry yelled at Hermione, trying to pull her toward the door, but she couldn’t move, she was still flat against the wall, her mouth open with terror.

    * * *

    “Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare…what did Professor Sprout say? — it likes the dark and the damp.”

    “So light a fire!” Harry choked.

    “Yes — of course — but there’s no wood!” Hermione cried, wringing her hands.

    “HAVE YOU GONE MAD?” Ron bellowed. “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?”

    However, at the end of the day, Hermione cherishes her friends and will go headforth into danger to help them. She is immensely loyal, as you see right after Ron and Harry save her from the Troll, and she lies to the Professor. That loyalty to her friends overrides even her love of authority and allows her to go against her own beliefs to even attack a Professor (gasp) she thinks is hurting Harry.

    Hermione had fought her way across to the stand where Snape stood, and was now racing along the row behind him; she didn’t even stop to say sorry as she knocked Professor Quirrell headfirst into the row in front. Reaching Snape, she crouched down, pulled out her wand, and whispered a few, well-chosen words. Bright blue flames shot from her wand onto the hem of Snape’s robes.

    Yet, the conflict between her friendship and what she thinks is right is a major obstacle for her throughout the series. She ends up hurting her friends quite often with her decisions, even though she feels what she is doing is the best for them (and it often is). Her largest issue is that she never explains her reasoning until after the conflict has happened, never before.

    Hermione threw her book aside. She was still pink in the face, but stood up and faced Ron defiantly.

    ‘Because I thought – and Professor McGonagall agrees with me – that that broom was probably sent to Harry by Sirius Black!’

    She is also an activist for those weaker. While you don’t see a lot of this until the later books, the introduction of these plotlines begins in the first book. She is the only one not to laugh at Neville when he was picked on. This is very likely due to being bullied in school and being the lone-one-out.

    At that moment Neville toppled into the common room. How he had managed to climb through the portrait hole was anyone’s guess, because his legs had been stuck together with what they recognized at once as the Leg-Locker Curse. He must have had to bunny hop all the way up to Gryffindor tower.

    Everyone fell over laughing except Hermione, who leapt up and performed the countercurse. Neville’s legs sprang apart and he got to his feet, trembling. “What happened?” Hermione asked him, leading him over to sit with Harry and Ron.

    At the end of the day, there are two different Hermione’s one can write while sticking to canon characteristics. The first one is what we see through Harry towards the end of the first book: a good friend that can help you succeed, even if they are a little too blunt and a bit full of themselves. The second Hermione is from the viewpoint of someone not close to her, and that is an annoying know-it-all who sucks up to teachers. Hermione reminds me of several girls I went to school with that I found obnoxious. Partly due to them never shutting up and acting like they are so much better, but also because they often were. You knew that this person will likely succeed at going to a great university and getting a good job and it’s stupidly unfair.

    As for specific elements of her dialogue:
    • You know/I knew/I know
      • “You two had better change, you know, I expect we’ll be there soon.”
      • “And you’ve got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?”
      • “I knew it,” Hermione gasped, “Snape — look.”
      • We’d better go down, you know, the feast will be starting in five minutes…’
    • Rowling often uses ‘said Hermione in a ____ voice’ to denote her feelings.
      • ‘No!’ said Hermione in a terrified whisper. ‘Don’t you understand? We’re breaking one of the most important wizarding laws!’
      • ‘N-no,’ said Hermione, in a trembling voice.
      • ‘Nothing,’ said Hermione in a lofty voice, heaving her bag back over her shoulder.
    • Uses Commands rather than suggestions when it comes to fellow classmates.
      • ‘Ron, don’t!’ said Hermione angrily.
      • ‘Ron, be quiet!’ Hermione whispered urgently. ‘Fudge will be out here in a minute –’
      • ‘In here!’ Hermione seized Harry’s arm and dragged him across the hall to the door of a broom cupboard; she opened it, pushed him inside amongst the buckets and mops, followed him in, then slammed the door behind them.
    • But for those in authority positions, she is far more respectful.
      • Hermione, however, took an uncertain step towards Snape and said, in a very breathless voice, ‘Professor Snape – it – it wouldn’t hurt to hear what they’ve got to say, w-would it?’
      • ‘Professor Lupin?’ said Hermione timidly. ‘Can – can I say something?’
      • ‘Er – Mr Black – Sirius?’ said Hermione timidly.
    • Cannot help but brag when she is correct.
      • ‘“I — told — you,” Hermione gasped, clutching at the stitch in her chest, “I — told — you.”
      • 'Ha!’ said Hermione triumphantly. ‘See! I told you it was from him!’
    • Very logical and to the point. No small talk or cushioning bad news.
      • “You’re saying it wrong,” Harry heard Hermione snap. “It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the ‘gar’ nice and long.”
      • ‘But everyone knows that,’ said Hermione in a loud whisper. Professor Trelawney stared at her.
        ‘Well, they do,’ said Hermione. ‘Everybody knows about Harry and You-Know-Who.’
    • Very opinionated, and must say what she thinks, and gets angry when others question her opinions.
      • ‘I don’t think it looks like a Grim,’ she said flatly.
      • ‘There you are, then,’ said Hermione in a superior tone. ‘They see the Grim and die of fright. The Grim’s not an omen, it’s the cause of death! And Harry’s still with us because he’s not stupid enough to see one and think, right, well, I’d better pop my clogs then!’
      • ‘I don’t think anyone should ride that broom just yet!’ said Hermione shrilly.
    • She likes to be prepared and hates to be caught unaware. It annoys her greatly.
      • “Of course not,” said Hermione briskly. “How do you think you’d get to the Stone without us? I’d better go and took through my books, there might be something useful….”
      • ‘I can’t believe I missed Cheering Charms! And I bet they come up in our exams. Professor Flitwick hinted they might!’
    • She is often the trio’s mother-esque figure, and nags on the boys about many things.
      • “There you are! Where have you been? The most ridiculous rumors — someone said you’d been expelled for crashing a flying car!”
      • ‘Harry,’ Hermione muttered, as though she knew exactly what he was thinking, ‘we’ve got to stay put. We mustn’t be seen. There’s nothing we can do …'
    In the future, I do plan on going over the other characters. But I'd love for others to join in and give their own feedback and character breakdowns.

    Next up: The Black Sisters
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
  2. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
    I love analyses like this. Not just to get characters 'right' in fanfiction but to help with learning how to craft different voices in original fiction as well.
  3. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells DA Member DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Dec 4, 2018
    I completely agree! I love this idea, Lindsey. I would definitely be down to do a similar character breakdown in the future, not just because it would be fun but also because I think it would improve the way I craft different voices in my writing (I have Slughorn in mind).

    As much as I judge JKR for her overuse of verbs other than "said" and adverbs in her dialogue tags*, you can tell that she carefully chooses which words she uses for different characters. I'd be interested to see which adverbs crop up most for certain people.

    When it comes to Hermione, JKR often uses verbs that convey anxiety, overthinking, nervousness. It's a prime example of how book Hermione is different than movie Hermione. In fact, I would argue that Hermione's bossiness and her tendency to snap are all just different ways that her anxiety manifests.

    Let's take a look at the verbs and adverbs JKR uses in dialogue tags for each character here in HBP (excerpt below).



    Mrs. Weasley


    (none) <-- this is interesting

    *I've since come full-circle on JKR's adverb use in dialogue tags (first loved it, then hated it, now I love it again) because I think it's perfect for young readers who may need a little help "hearing" the characters. I also think heavy use of adverbs in dialogue tags makes it easy for someone who is reading the books aloud to quickly decipher how a line of dialogue should sound (again, perfect for a children's book).
  4. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells DA Member DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Dec 4, 2018
    For the record, I do not think the adverb thing is something a writer should try to emulate (especially if they're not interested in writing books for kids). I wanted to make a point about Hermione's character voice, and then got a little carried away.

    What's interesting is that, if you take away all the colorful verbs and adverbs in the excerpt above, all the characters' voices still shine through in JKR's carefully crafted dialogue. IMO, Rowling kept the adverbs (and so did her editors) for the sake of the storybook tone of her writing.

    The most important takeaway is that JKR clearly has very different, distinct voices for each of her characters.

    It might be a good exercise for an author to figure out what adverbs might be used for each of their characters (even if it's ultimately best to cut most of the adverbs). See if a clear distinction exists between characters. If not, it's probably a sign you should spend more time developing your characterizations and strengthening dialogue and character voice.
  5. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
    It can be things that aren't related to adverbs, but it's still a useful exercise (adverbs suck 90% of the time in writing).

    Just things like Hermione is always 'telling' instead of 'asking' or 'hinting' or even 'saying' with her peers but always the opposite with authority figures.

    Would be possible to do a character that's the opposite.

    Even little things like some characters using contractions and some not. I saw a Forensic Files episode one time about something similar, where the killer had either... it was like they always used negative contractions but NEVER other contractions in the notes they sent. It was a pattern.

    That's ham-fisted, compared to things like 'how' people speak, but it's still a thing. Not as bad as adverb over-use at least.

    Maybe a character who prefers to always use peoples names instead of he/she. Again, ham-fisted, but getting the brain going on ways to differentiate apart from just voice/actions.

    The best is still the most subtle, but especially for minor characters some of the more ham-fisted methods might help keep them memorable.
  6. Download

    Download Professor ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Aug 6, 2014
    Adelaide, Australia
    High Score:
    This makes me wonder if it's worth putting together a HP fanfic writing wiki. Not the sort filled with shitty OCs, but rather filled with things like Lindsey's excellent analysis.
  7. Mr. Mixed Bag

    Mr. Mixed Bag Third Year

    Jun 18, 2021
    It sounds cool, but it would take a lot of effort to execute well and I'm not sure how many people would really appreciate it. HP fanfic authors that care enough about the quality of their work to seek out advice like this already tend to congregate on this site and, in turn, see threads like this one.

    I will say, though, that there are a bunch of great threads offering writing advice here on DLP that could be repurposed for a site like that with fairly minimal edits required.
  8. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Fifth Year

    May 29, 2020
    Away with the fairies
    What a great idea for a thread! This will all be a bit jumbled, but I’ll add some thoughts on Sirius.

    Is a wordy, confident speaker. Does long monologues. To counterbalance he is a good listener and up for discussing and debating rather than coming off as lecturing. His language changes a bit from PoA to OotP, he is more formal-sounding but also less polite in PoA, which can be explained by not having had anyone to talk to for years. His later politeness frequently comes off as sarcasm (speaking to Molly in OotP). Plenty of ellipses in speech, suggests a fast mind that jumps from one thing to another, also might be someone used to speaking to dramatic effect. Enjoys explaining and sharing his views. Good at reading Harry’s feelings, particularly in the beginning of OotP when he answers his questions before he has voiced them.

    Beats and adverbs:

    (of his laughter) barked (overused in fanon, but dog-comparisons are present in all books), bitterly, harshly, impatiently, grimly and coldly (all very frequent), several (very) quietly, only a couple of loudly

    growl, snarl, hiss & croak from PoA (more animal-like), later: frown, sneer, roar, snap, demand, scowl

    abruptly, savagely, urgently, seriously, hastily, dully, sharply, sarcastically, indifferently, calmly, energetically, restlessly, disdainfully, irritably, curtly, testily, sourly, shortly, angrily, encouragingly, steadily, firmly, aggressively, coolly, viciously, briskly, forcefully

    when defending James: affectionately, placatingly, bracingly, fairly

    In conclusion: most are negative and there is a constant jump between him being very expressive and devoid of feeling, presumably to highlight the effect Azkaban has had on him.


    voice breaks and he turns away, hides face in hands, wet eyes suddenly seemed to burn in his fac

    horrible mirthless laughter, ghost of a grin flitted across his gaunt face, something like a grin flitted across face, genuine laugh after F&G almost skewer his hand with a knife by mistake, first true smile Harry had seen on his face, looked ten years younger

    (eyes) looks empty several times, fathomless eyes, eyes full of concern, hadn’t lost deadened haunted look, eyes look more deadened than ever like shutters closing, surveying with distaste, cast a dark look at tapestry

    grimace of frustration, grim-faced, shrugs, half-shrugs, makes derisive noise

    puts up a very good show of happiness on first hearing Harry isn’t expelled before sinking into depression

    Hatred and loathing (Snape), evil look (Scabbers). Can’t see any positive side to Snape and Kreacher. Hated his parents but seemingly more looked down on Regulus (only descriptions are ‘soft’ and ‘stupid idiot’). Contemptuous of family motto, silver and china, grandfather’s Order of Merlin.


    Kicks out at Pettigrew, (with Lupin) strode forwards, grab shoulder, throw Pettigrew backwards on the floor, started to rise from his chair during argument, glowers at the elf, throws Kreacher bodily from the room after he says ‘mudblood’, he looked for a moment as though he would quite like to hit Fred, pushed his chair roughly aside and strode around the table towards Snape, pulling out his wand as he went, hurtled out of nowhere, ramming Dolohov with his shoulder and sent him flying

    caught Harry around the chest and threw him back (Lupin transformation), hand on Harry’s shoulder, claps shoulder, grasps his hand, wrings his hand, one armed hug,

    rubs unshaven face, sweeps long hair out of face (many many times), what little colour remained in his face drained from it (twice), rolls up sleeves, hands in pockets, paces (GoF mainly), placed a hand on either side and heaved himself out, tips back chair onto hind legs (several times, both as an adult and as a teenager), holds up hand to silence, flings self back on the ground

    tearing off chicken with teeth, tears bread in half, drains, gnaws and wolfs down food (GoF), stabs moodily at a potato with his fork, pushes away empty plate before he speaks

    Young: lounge in chair and on train seat, tilt chair back on two legs, thumbs-up, stares around looking haughty and bored

    In conclusion: very energetic, rough, bodily aggressive. Seems to have been calmer when young, or perhaps just had better outlets for his energy. Gestures of affection (non-verbal, other than gift-giving and listening) seem to be touching shoulder or hand.


    He very rarely laughs (though he does just before he dies), he usually grins. His sense of humour has three defining traits imo: ‘double act’ with James, bleak or cutting sarcasm and creating crude imagery.

    ‘Kreacher wasn’t quite as devoted to him as to my mother, but I still caught him snogging a pair of my father’s old trousers last week.’

    ‘I expect I’ll find him upstairs crying his eyes out over my mother’s old bloomers or something. Of course he might’ve crawled into the airing cupboard and died… but I mustn’t get my hopes up.’

    ‘Just a friendly little chat between two old school friends.’ (after Snape has stormed out and their impending duel was interrupted)

    Put that away, will you, before Wormtail wets himself with excitement. (James and the snitch)

    ‘Reading between the lines, I’d say she thinks you’re a bit conceited, mate.’ (after Lily extensively lists all the reasons she won’t go out with James)

    ‘Where’re you hoping to go, seeing as you’re neither?’ (brawny nor brainy, to Snape)

    Expects Harry to also find it funny that he’s been living mainly off rats in GoF

    'My dear old mum'. 'Sweet old mother'

    Name puns: ‘And it’s getting blacker every day, it’s filthy.’ (about Grimmauld Pl, Kreacher’s reply suggests this is an old joke of his)

    ‘"We'd have loved to stop for a chat," said the boy in glasses, "only we were trying —"

    "Don't get smart – you two are in a heap of trouble!" snarled Anderson. "Names!"

    "Names?" repeated the long-haired driver. "Er – well, let's see. There's Wilberforce... Bathsheba... Elvendork..."

    "And what's nice about that one is, you can use it for a boy or a girl," said the boy in glasses.

    "Oh, OUR names, did you mean?" asked the first, as Anderson spluttered with rage. "You should've said! This here is James Potter, and I'm Sirius Black!"

    "Things'll be seriously black for you in a minute, you cheeky little —"’
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
  9. fire

    fire Unspeakable

    Dec 25, 2011
    Very well done.

    This is also valuable stuff to look at for people looking to write original fiction. Look at how other authors (Rowling in this case) write their characters and you too can design your own character to be distinct and life-life based on nothing more than how they speak (e.g. object-oriented conversations vs able to read the mood, the content of their speech as an indication of their priorities, specific turns of phrases, description vs imperative usage, degree of arrogance vs humility etc)
  10. Lindsey

    Lindsey Chief Warlock DLP Supporter

    Dec 1, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Link: The Black Sister's Dialogue

    We know next to nothing about Andromeda Tonks outside of the fact she is Narcissa and Bellatrix’s sister, was a Black who was disowned by marrying a Muggleborn, and is the mother of Nymphadora Tonks. Almost everything in this character voice breakdown will be interpreted from other characters. This is all the lines of text she has in the series:

    Harry did not recognize the man's voice. Then a woman shouted. “They've crashed. Ted! Crashed in the garden!”

    * * *

    As she moved forward into the room, Mrs. Tonks's resemblance to her sister Bellatrix became much less pronounced: Her hair was a light soft brown and her eyes were wider and kinder. Nevertheless, she looked a little haughty after Harry's exclamation.

    “What happened to our daughter?” she asked. “Hagrid said you were ambushed; where is Nymphadora?”

    “I don't know,” said Harry. “We don't know what happened to anyone else.”

    She and Ted exchanged looks.

    He looked at Mrs. Tonks, wanting to apologize for the state of fear in which he left her and for which he felt so terribly responsible, but no words occurred to him that he did not seem hollow and insincere.

    While she did not name her daughter after a constellation for her first name, as most Black’s did, she did give one for her middle name: Nymphadora Vulpecula Tonks. It signals that she still has pride for being a Black and wanted to pass something of her family’s traditions onward. Vulpecula is a star that borders Cygnus, which was her fathers name.

    Andromeda does not appear to be in the order, which is surprising with her having a large target on her back. Perhaps she and her husband joined after Dumbledore’s death, but it seems unlikely as she is not mentioned anywhere else in the novel, not even at the battle of Hogwarts and her daughter’s death.

    Nor does she run and hide in DH, even when her husband has to flee. She stays behind to protect the house and her newly pregnant daughter, who was also a target by Bellatrix and the Death Eaters. As she was freed from the Ministry after Lord Voldemort had taken control, and left alone, it seems that she either has protection (perhaps even from Bellatrix by being her sister), or by being Black by birth. That, or somehow they have protected the house with the Fidelius Charm.

    Lastly, being sorted into Slytherin, she either has some Slytherin characteristics or at one time believed in Blood Purity like her sisters. As Sirius mentions that Andromeda was always one of his favorite cousins, she was likely not as indoctrinated into blood purity as the others. She likely was sorted into Slytherin because she fit the house, while also wanting to please her family. It seemed like it was rather shocking when she ran off with Ted Tonks in marriage.

    Link: The Black Sister's Dialogue

    In the fandom, Bellatrix is often presented as brainwashed by Voldemort, and not fully in control of her actions due to Voldemort (or the ‘Black madness’). As I read through her sections, I started to understand why this characterization is so big in the fandom, as she has very little personality outside being a crazy fangirl. Outside of the second chapter of Half Blood Prince where Snape, Narcissa and Bellatrix talk, she has almost no dialogue or plot line that isn’t centralized on Voldemort. What makes it worse is that she is married, and yet there is not a single line between her and her husband throughout the entire series, or even her mentioning him in conversation.

    She is a character that suffers from very few positive traits, and many failures. We are supposed to feel as if she is terrifying (Neville’s parents, her loyalty to Voldemort, etc), but outside of the lucky shot against Sirius (instead of skill), we do not get to see this truly terrifying side that is implied (likely due to this being a children’s series…)

    Key Aspects
    As we all know, her main aspect is loyalty to Voldemort. Her entire character is dedicated to this aspect. Even our first introduction to her character, we see just how loyal she is.

    The dementors were gliding back into the room. The boys' three companions rose quietly from their seats; the woman with the heavy-lidded eyes looked up at Crouch and called, “The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban; we will wait! He will rise again and will come for us, he will reward us beyond any of his other supporters! We alone were faithful! We alone tried to find him!”

    She stands up to anyone who insults him, backs his ideals with a zeal we do not find in any other character, yet becomes meek, tearful and submissive when in his presence. She is one of the few that does not fear Voldemort, but rather fears to disappoint him. We see this anytime she is near Voldemort— that brash and arrogant woman becomes a sniffling and cowering woman.

    'Master, I am sorry I knew not, I was fighting the Animagus Black!' sobbed Bellatrix, flinging herself down at Voldemort's feet as he paced slowly nearer.

    * * *
    Her face flooded with color; her eyes welled with tears of delight.

    “My Lord knows I speak nothing but the truth!”

    * * *
    “Yes, my Lord,” whispered Bellatrix, and her eyes swam with tears of gratitude again. “At the first chance!”

    Because of her extreme loyalty, she sees herself above the other Death Eaters, as she stayed faithful throughout his absence, believing that he would return. This has led to her arrogance and mocking nature.

    The woman who had mimicked him let out a raucous scream of laughter.

    'You hear him? You hear him? Giving instructions to the other children as though he thinks of fighting us!'

    * * *
    `Come out, come out, little Harry!' she called in her mock baby voice, which echoed off the polished wooden floors. `What did you come after me for, then? I thought you were here to avenge my dear cousin!'


    `Aaaaaah … did you love him, little baby Potter?'

    Moreover, she is a sadist, who is willing to deal out pain at any slight against her or Voldemort. It is why she is terrifying to the public.

    ‘Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy?' she yelled. She had abandoned her baby voice now. `You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain - to enjoy it - righteous anger won't hurt me for long - I'll show you how it is done, shall I? I'll give you a lesson -'

    * * *
    Relief broke across her face, all tension drained from it.

    “Good,” she said, and with a casual flick of her wand she slashed another deep cut into the goblin’s face, and he dropped with a yell at her feet. She kicked him aside. “And now,” she said in a voice that burst with triumph, “we call the Dark Lord!”

    Being in Azkaban for 14/15 years has likely wreaked many of her critical thinking skills. She doesn’t seem to be able to think about anything long term, but rather what is exactly in front of her. When she hears insults, she immediately goes to attack, even when doing so well goes directly against her mission. A great example is the pre-battle in OOTP.

    'Shut your mouth!' Bellatrix shrieked. 'You dare speak his name with your unworthy lips, you dare besmirch it with your half-blood's tongue, you dare -'




    A jet of red light had shot from the end of Bellatrix Lestrange's wand, but Malfoy had deflected it; his spell caused hers to hit the shelf a foot to the left of Harry and several of the glass orbs there shattered.

    It does seem that this improves by the seventh book, as Bellatrix manages not to call the Dark Lord when she discovers the sword that the trio was carrying.

    “If it is indeed Potter, he must not be harmed,” she muttered, more to herself than to the others. “The Dark Lord wishes to dispose of Potter himself. . . . But if he finds out . . . I must . . . I must know. . . .”

    At that moment, she realizes that her sister, and herself, would be in more danger calling the Dark Lord than not, and stops herself. This shows another one of her key aspects, she does care for her sister, even if it is to a lesser degree than the Dark Lord. We see this for the first time when she follows Narcissa to ask for help from Snape, knowing that she is about to betray the Dark Lord’s confidence. She doesn’t threaten her sister on tattling to the Dark Lord, but rather tries to help her. She does this again when it comes to the sword in the Malfoy’s household.

    “Cissy, waitl”

    Bella followed, her cloak streaming behind, and saw Narcissa darting through an alley between the houses into a second, almost identical street. Some of the streetlamps were broken; the two women were running between patches of light and deep darkness. The pursuer caught up with her prey just as she turned another corner, this time succeeding in catching hold of her arm and swinging her around so that they faced each other.

    “Cissy, you must not do this, you can’t trust him–“


    “The Dark Lord is… I believe… mistaken,” Bella panted, and her eyes gleamed momentarily under her hood as she looked around to check that they were indeed alone. “In any case, we were told not to speak of the plan to anyone. This is a betrayal of the Dark Lord’s–“

    * * *
    “Do it! You have no idea of the danger we’re in!” shrieked Bellatrix. She looked frightening, mad; a thin stream of fire issued from her wand and burned a hole in the carpet.

    Along with her impatience, she is also not incredibly intelligent. She often does not know what people are talking about around her, or able to connect the dots without explicit instruction. She is also easily fooled, as we see both in the Snape-Bellatrix-Narcissa scene and the sword scene in Malfoy manor.

    “But you didn’t return when he came back, you didn’t fly back to him at once when you felt the Dark Mark burn —”

    “Correct. I returned two hours later. I returned on Dumbledore’s orders.”

    “On Dumbledore’s — ?” she began, in tones of outrage.

    “Think!” said Snape, impatient again. “Think! By waiting two hours,just two hours, I ensured that I could remain at Hogwarts as a spy!’

    * * *
    “Well?” Bellatrix said to Griphook. “Is it the true sword?”


    “Are you sure?” panted Bellatrix. “Quite sure?”


    Relief broke across her face, all tension drained from it.

    “Good,” she said, and with a casual flick of her wand she slashed another deep cut into the goblin’s face, and he dropped with a yell at her feet. She kicked him aside. “And now,” she said in a voice that burst with triumph, “we call the Dark Lord!”

    Overall, Bellatrix is both a fantastic sadist character for a YA series, but also a bit of a disappointment. She never reaches that level of terror that is implied through the first four books, which could be due to years in Azkaban. This is also a good reminder that Bellatrix does not show up with the Death Eaters who attack Hogwarts at the end of HBP unlike in the movies, something that actually disappointed me while re-reading her passages.

    Beats and Adverbs
    For Enemies:
    • Shrieked/Yelled/Shouted/Screamed (used A LOT in the books)
      • ‘He dared - he dares -‘ shrieked Bellatrix incoherently, ‘he stands there - filthy half-blood-’
      • “A copy?” screeched Bellatrix. “Oh, a likely story!”
      • ‘He dared - he dares -‘ shrieked Bellatrix incoherently, ‘he stands there - filthy half-blood-’
    • Repeated/Taunted
      • ‘What kind of prophecy?’ repeated Bellatrix, the grin fading from her face. ‘You jest, Harry Potter.’
      • “What will happen to your children when I’ve killed you?” taunted Bellatrix, as mad as her master, capering as Molly’s curses danced around her. “When Mummy’s gone the same way as Freddie?”
    • Often uses a baby-voice to enrage and taunt.
      • ‘Aaaaaah … did you love him, little baby Potter?’
    For Voldemort:
    • Whispered/Cried
      • “She is no niece of ours, my Lord,” she cried over the outpouring of mirth.
      • “Yes, my Lord,” whispered Bellatrix, and her eyes swam with tears of gratitude again. “At the first chance!”
    • Subservient and happy to be
      • ‘“My Lord,” said a dark woman halfway down the table, her voice constricted with emotion, “it is an honor to have you here, in our family’s house. There can be no higher pleasure.”
    • Helpful (or tries to be)
      • “My Lord, let me --”
    “I do not require assistance,” said Voldemort coldly, and though he could not see it, Harry pictured Bellatrix withdrawing a helpful hand.

    Feelings & Appearance
    • Heavily-lidded eyes for description.
      • She glared up at him through heavily lidded eyes, an arrogant, disdainful smile playing around her thin mouth.
    • Fearful of displeasing the Dark Lord.
      • `LIAR!’ she shrieked, but he could hear the terror behind the anger now. `YOU’VE GOT IT, POTTER, AND YOU WILL GIVE IT TO ME! Accio prophecy! ACCIO PROPHECY!’
      • ‘Master, I am sorry I knew not, I was fighting the Animagus Black!’ sobbed Bellatrix, flinging herself down at Voldemort’s feet as he paced slowly nearer.
    • Suspicious of everyone and everything.
      • The harsh cry startled the fox, now crouching almost flat in the undergrowth. It leapt from its hiding place and up the bank. There was a flash of green light, a yelp, and the fox fell back to the ground, dead.
    • Mocking Laughter.
      • The woman who had mimicked him let out a raucous scream of laughter.
      • ‘Get it himself?’ shrieked Bellatrix, over a cackle of mad laughter. ‘The Dark Lord, walk into the Ministry of Magic, when they are so sweetly ignoring his return? The Dark Lord, reveal himself to the Aurors, when at the moment they are wasting their time on my dear cousin?’
    • Chest rising and falling rapidly, panting
      • ‘You need more persuasion?’ she said, her chest rising and falling rapidly. ‘Very well - take the smallest one,’ she ordered the Death Eaters beside her. ‘Let him watch while we torture the little girl. I’ll do it.’
      • She paused, her chest rising and falling rapidly, the color high in her cheeks.
    • Other actions:
      • She merely stared at him, the tip of her tongue moistening her thin mouth
      • a truly evil smile lit her gaunt face, striding out from behind the sofa to slam her glass upon the table
      • Bellatrix’s mouth twisted as though she had taken an unpleasant dose of medicine
      • her fleeting expression of satisfaction replaced by a look of outrage
      • Bellatrix’s mouth fell open. Snape lowered himself so that he was kneeling opposite Narcissa. Beneath Bellatrix’s astonished gaze, they grasped right hands.
      • She stared at him, her lips parted, evidently confused.

    Link: The Black Sister's Dialogue

    As like many of the characters in Harry Potter, Narcissa believes in her family above all others. Her personality revolves around her son and husband- both of whom she cares about deeply. She is prideful, as reflected by her personality and even her name, but deeply loving to Draco to the point she betrays Voldemort for her family.

    Key Aspects
    Her love of her son matters more than anything in the world, even her husband’s pride or her sister’s fears. She even risks attacking Bellatrix when she stops her from seeking help from Snape.

    “There is nothing I wouldn’t do anymore!” Narcissa breathed, a note of hysteria in her voice, and as she brought down the wand like a knife, there was another flash of light. Bella let go of her sister’s arm as though burned.

    She knows her son well enough that she knows he will not succeed in his mission, and thus takes matters into her own hands. I wonder if Narcissa would have killed Dumbledore herself had Snape not agreed to it.

    “That’s because he is sixteen and has no idea what lies in store! Why, Severus? Why my son? It is too dangerous! This is vengeance lor Lucius’s mistake, I know it!”
    “That’s why he’s chosen Draco, isn’t it?” she persisted. “To punish Lucius?”
    “But he won’t succeed!” sobbed Narcissa. “How can he, when the Dark Lord himself— ?”

    While Narcissa likely supported Voldemort’s first rise to power, she quickly fell out of the notion once he returned. By the beginning of HBP, she is already just trying to survive, and by the end of DH, is done with it all. This is why she betrayed Voldemort to help Harry, and then ran off before the final battle could reach its conclusion.

    Still feigning death on the ground, he understood. Narcissa knew that the only way she would be permitted to enter Hogwarts, and find her son, was as part of the conquering army. She no longer cared whether Voldemort won.
    * * *

    Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy running through the crowd, not even attempting to fight, screaming for their son.

    However, in public she often appears cold and uninterested. Often becoming the model for the perfect ‘pureblood’ in fandom.

    His mother was blonde too; tall and slim, she would have been nice-looking if she hadn't been wearing a look that suggested there was a nasty smell under her nose.
    * * *
    Narcissa Malfoy strolled out from behind the clothes rack.

    “Put those away,” she said coldly to Harry and Ron. “If you attack my son again, I shall ensure that it is the last thing you ever do.”
    But Harry did not lower his wand. Narcissa Malfoy smiled unpleasantly.

    “I see that being Dumbledore’s favorite has given you a false sense of security, Harry Potter. But Dumbledore won’t always be there to protect you.”

    * * *

    Where Narcissa sat rigid and impassive…

    The hilarity mounted; Draco Malfoy looked in terror at his father, who was staring down into his own lap, then caught his mother’s eye. She shook her head almost imperceptibly, then resumed her own deadpan stare at the opposite wall.

    Beats and Adverbs
    • Breathed, whispered, asked quietly
      • “There is nothing I wouldn’t do anymore!” Narcissa breathed, a note of hysteria in her voice.
      • “Severus,” she said in a strained whisper. “May I speak to you? It’s urgent.”
    • Sobbed, Cried, Choked
      • “But he won’t succeed!” sobbed Narcissa. “How can he, when the Dark Lord himself— ?”
      • “Then I am right, he has chosen Draco in revenge!” choked Narcissa. “He does not mean him to succeed, he wants him to be killed trying!”
    • Said Narcissa in a cold voice
      • “Put those away,” she said coldly to Harry and Ron. “If you attack my son again, I shall ensure that it is the last thing you ever do.”
      • “They say they’ve got Potter,” said Narcissa’s cold voice. “Draco, come here.’
      • “We had better be certain, Lucius,” Narcissa called to her husband in her cold, clear voice.
    Feelings & Appearance
    • Cold and pale for description.
      • Narcissa threw back her hood. She was so pale that she seemed to shine in the darkness; the long blonde hair streaming down her back gave her the look of a drowned person.
      • She sat up, her face paperwhite, her eyes huge.
        “It’s all right, Draco,” said Narcissa, restraining him with her thin white fingers upon his shoulder. “I expect Potter will be reunited with dear Sirius before I am reunited with Lucius.”
    • Fearful of losing her son.
      • She threw off her cloak, cast it aside, and sat down, staring at her white and trembling hands clasped in her lap.
      • She took a great, shuddering breath and started again.
      • Narcissa gave a little scream of despair and clutched at her long blonde hair. Snape stooped, seized her by the arms, lifted her up, and steered her back onto the sofa. He then poured her more wine and forced the glass into her hand.
    • Does not take threats against her husband or son lightly
      • “Don’t you dare — don’t you dare blame my husband!” said Narcissa, in a low and deadly voice, looking up at her sister.
      • “Don’t you dare speak to Draco like –“ said Narcissa furiously, but Bellatrix screamed.
    • Constantly using her hands
      • She threw off her cloak, cast it aside, and sat down, staring at her white and trembling hands clasped in her lap.
      • Narcissa let out a noise that might have been a dry sob and covered her face with her hands
      • Behind her, Narcissa sat motionless, her face still hidden in her hands
    • Other actions:
      • But Narcissa was not listening; she had slipped through a gap in the rusty railings and was already hurrying across the road.
      • She had knocked on the door before Bella, cursing under her breath, had caught up. Together they stood waiting, panting slightly, breathing in the smell of the dirty river that was carried to them on the night breeze.
      • “Follow me,” said Narcissa, leading the way across the hall.
      • She flung away her glass; it skidded across the table as she slid off the sofa into a kneeling position at Snape’s feet, seized his hand in both of hers, and pressed her lips to it.
  11. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Fifth Year

    May 29, 2020
    Away with the fairies
    Awesome job!

    To anyone who, like me, had never heard of Vulpecula before, it apparently comes from a radio interview JKR did pre 2009 and no recording or transcript exists (I can't find the year for it, let alone the radio station or interviewer, does anyone here have that info?). She was asked why Tonks didn't go by her middlename, and her answer was because it was even worse.

    It does make Bellatrix killing the fox at the beginning of HBP more poignant, though (vulpecula = little fox, vulpes vulpes = red fox). It also forms a link to dogstar Sirius. Tonks states in I want to say HBP that Bellatrix is quite desperate to kill her, like there's a personal vendetta there. I'd maybe add that as an aspect of Bellatrix's character, a lot of her actions and reactions have something to do with the Black family, whether they be disowned members or not. I've read it as pride and embarrassment over how some of them turned out, but that might be veering into headcanon territory. A lot of her screentime is connected to her closest relations, though.