Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Arabella Figg
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
|Related Family||Magical heritage|
|Loyalty||Order of the Phoenix|
Arabella Doreen Figg is Harry Potter's neighbor, possibly living on Wisteria Walk, near the Dursley home on Privet Drive. "Old Mrs. Figg" often is called on to watch Harry when the Dursleys are on some fun outing or other, such as Dudley's birthday parties. She is a classic old lady with too many cats.
Role in the Books
Harry dreads Dudley's birthday because it means he will be sent to Mrs. Figg's, where he will spend the entire day being told, again, about the life histories of the cats in her photo album. As it turns out, however, she has broken her leg and so Harry has to go to the zoo with Dudley, much to Dudley's displeasure. After the events at the zoo, Harry is locked, once again, in the cupboard under the stairs; by the time he has been released, Dudley has knocked over Mrs Figg, on her crutches, with his new racing bike.
When he has to visit her later, she is not quite so keen to tell him about all her cats; it seems that she broke her leg tripping over one of them... so he gets to watch television instead.
Harry's time at home at the beginning of this book is very limited, and he does not get a chance to speak with Mrs. Figg before the Weasleys arrive to take him to the Quidditch World Cup.
At the very end of the book, when Professor Dumbledore is sending people off on missions, he tells Sirius Black to get in touch with "the old crowd", and explicitly mentions Arabella Figg as one of that group. The reader doesn't notice the name going by, as who would connect batty old Mrs. Figg with her cats to the world of magic?
Much to Harry's surprise, it is revealed that Mrs. Figg is a Squib and a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Apparently, she was stationed to live near Harry in order to keep an eye on him and the Dursleys. With the re-creation of the Order of the Phoenix, she was formally brought into that order to assist in guarding Harry. She sees the attack on him and Dudley by Dementors, and roundly chastises Mundungus Fletcher for abandoning his post to attend to one of his shady deals at what turns out to be the worst possible time. Finally, she is a witness at the Wizengamot when Harry is tried for using magic on that occasion. Although she does testify that Harry was attacked by Dementors, the author has stated that she never actually saw the Dementors, but recognized them by their effects.
Harry spends so little time on Privet Drive in this book that there is no time to mention Mrs. Figg or the other members of the Order who are likely still present and keeping an eye on Harry. However, it is mentioned in passing that she attends Dumbledore's funeral, along with many other Order members.
Arabella is a Squib and, as such, is not tracked or noticed by the Ministry of Magic. Thus she is able to assist Dumbledore in keeping a eye on Harry without the knowledge of the Ministry.
She also appears to have an ability to communicate with her cats, as one of them - Mr Tibbles - was able to relay information to her: specifically, that of the disappearance of Mundungus Fletcher.
Arrabella has a fairly strong will when provoked, as she physically attacks Mundungus in anger with her bag, and is confident enough to testify to the Ministry regarding Harry's innocence.
Arabella is unable to use magic to defend herself or Harry. Without a wizard to assist, her guardian capabilities are limited.
Relationships with Other Characters
Arabella Figg is a Squib, and as such her relationships with the rest of the Wizarding world are of a very uneven sort; most pity her because she is part of their world, yet unable to partake, being unable to do any sort of magic. She does, however, know Dumbledore, maintaining a line of contact there.
Despite being a Squib, Arabella does seem to have more of a connection to the Wizarding World than one might expect; she uses phrases such as "no use crying over spilt potion" and "the cat's among the pixies" (as opposed to "milk" and "pigeons"), once her Wizarding connection has been revealed. The author has also said that Arabella does have a "roaring business" breeding cat-Kneazle hybrids like Crookshanks; it is possible that Crookshanks came from Mrs. Figg originally, but that cannot be certain.
Mrs. Figg's major role is in the start of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, where she witnesses and bears witness to the attack on Harry and Dudley by the Dementors. There has been some question raised as to whether she, being a Squib, could actually perceive Dementors; a major point against is, of course, the author's statement that she could not see them. However, against this we have to put the words of Mrs. Figg herself, in the first paragraph of chapter 2 of that book: before anyone else has said anything, Mrs. Figg says "Dementors! In Little Whinging!" Clearly, whether or not she can see the Dementors, she is aware of their presence and can identify them.
- Someone has to be placed near the Dursleys' to watch over Harry while he is growing up – the prophecy makes it clear that he will be an important wizard. Why a Squib?
- In the first book, we see that Mrs. Figg has broken her leg and is in a cast and using crutches. If the Wizarding world can mend bones in an instant, why is she using Muggle forms of healing?
A popular theory for why Mrs. Figg is selected as guard for Harry, is that no one could detect their magical power because Arabella, a Squib, has none, and Harry is underage and so theoretically can't do magic. Harry's being underage would, of course, be no bar to the detection of his use of magic once he purchases a wand, as is amply demonstrated when the Ministry for Magic warns him about the use of magic in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Perhaps a better explanation is Dumbledore's sympathy for the non-magical. It is likely Dumbledore who managed to get Argus Filch a job as caretaker of the castle at Hogwarts, a job which is one of the few in the Wizarding world of which he is capable; likewise, this watchman job is one suited to Mrs. Figg's lack of magical ability. It is also likely true that once a Wizarding child is tested as non-magical, and therefore a Squib, he or she no longer falls under the purview of the Ministry of Magic, and so is no longer tracked by that Ministry. Arabella could thus be set to watch over Harry, and the Ministry would be none the wiser that anyone was taking any interest in him.