Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Poppy Pomfrey
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
|Hair color||Brown, turning gray|
Overview[edit | edit source]
Poppy Pomfrey is the school nurse for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Her office is in the Hospital Wing, and she is usually to be found there, but on occasion will attend patients elsewhere on the grounds.
Role in the Books[edit | edit source]
Madam Pomfrey is first mentioned after Neville broke his wrist during his first flying lesson. On their way to the midnight duel, Harry, Ron, and Hermione find Neville asleep in the corridor. Upon awaking, Harry asks how is arm is. “‘Fine,’ said Neville, showing them. ‘Madam Pomfrey mended it in about a minute.’” Madam Pomfrey is next mentioned when Ron is helping Hagrid take care of his pet dragon, Norbert. Norbert bites Ron, but Ron doesn't want to go to the Hospital Wing for fear of revealing Norbert's existence. When the bite swells up and turns green, though, he has no choice. Madam Pomfrey seems skeptical of his claim that it's a dog bite, but asks no further questions.
When Harry is in the infirmary after his session in the Chamber, we see that Madam Pomfrey is limiting the visitors that he can have. She is somewhat put out that Professor Dumbledore has insisted that Harry be allowed to attend the Leaving Feast, but allows him to leave the infirmary anyway.
When Harry's wrist is broken playing Quidditch, Professor Lockhart "heals" it by magically removing all the bones from his arm. Once in the infirmary, Madam Pomfrey says that she can heal broken bones almost immediately, but growing an entirely new set is quite a different matter. The potion she gives him, "Skele-Gro", tastes horrible, but Madam Pomfrey has little sympathy, saying that he is in for an uncomfortable night.
While he is in the Hospital Wing, he is visited by Dobby. Dobby, as usual, has to punish himself; Harry tries to restrain him, fearing that the noise will wake Madam Pomfrey. Madam Pomfrey is undisturbed, however, until Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bring in a Petrified Colin Creevey. All she can really do for him, though, is set him on one of the beds and pull curtains around him.
Over the course of the year, other students get Petrified and are moved into the infirmary. We can safely assume that Madam Pomfrey is taking care of them as best she is able.
Madam Pomfrey heals Hermione after she ingests Polyjuice potion contaminated with cat hair. Madam Pomfrey does not question how she had gotten a tail, fur, cat ears, or cat eyes, simply treating the problem.
When Hermione is Petrified, Harry and Ron are taken to the infirmary to see her. Madam Pomfrey is in the background, but does not say anything.
Harry and Ron determine that the Monster in the Chamber may have been the instrument of Moaning Myrtle's death, and resolve to go and ask her. They are intercepted in the halls by Professor McGonagall, and to explain their absence from class, they say that they are going to see Hermione. Professor McGonagall agrees that they may go and see her, so they must; Madam Pomfrey is mildly vexed, saying that there's no point in visiting someone who is Petrified, they can't hear anyway.
After Ron, Harry, and Ginny return from the Chamber with Professor Lockhart, Professor Dumbledore suggests first that Ginny should go to the Hospital Wing; he says that Madam Pomfrey will be awake, giving out restorative draughts to the Petrified students. He later suggests Ron should take Lockhart to the Hospital Wing to see if Madam Pomfrey can do anything for him.
Having encountered a Dementor on the Hogwarts Express, Harry is called into Professor McGonagall's office as he enters the school. Shortly, Madam Pomfrey bustles in, telling him he needs attention because of the Dementor. Harry says he's feeling fine, that Professor Lupin had given him chocolate on the train. Madam Pomfrey is pleased to hear that for once they have a teacher of Defence Against the Dark Arts who knows his remedies. Harry eventually manages to convince Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey that he is all right and can go to the Welcoming Feast.
When Dementors invade the Quidditch pitch during the match against Hufflepuff, Harry loses consciousness and falls off his broom. He awakens in the Hospital Wing, surrounded by the Quidditch team; apparently they lost the match, though nobody blames Harry, except for Harry himself. Madam Pomfrey eventually shoos everyone out except Ron and Hermione.
After the events in the Shrieking Shack, Professor Snape gathers up the unconscious students, along with Sirius Black and takes them to the Hospital Wing. While Harry and Hermione recover relatively quickly, having suffered from the effects of the Dementors, Ron was hit with a curse by Peter Pettigrew and is receiving care from Madam Pomfrey when they regain consciousness. Madam Pomfrey is scandalized that Snape and Cornelius Fudge would be arguing with her charges, specifically Harry and Hermione, and hindering their recovery. She is further upset when Dumbledore demands to speak with Harry and Hermione alone, sending Fudge and Snape away and Madam Pomfrey back to her office.
After Harry and Hermione return from their mission, Madam Pomfrey, unaware that they have been gone, only knowing that Professor Dumbledore has finally left, reappears from her office, demanding to know if she can finally take care of her patients. She is again interrupted by the return of Snape, Fudge, and Dumbledore. She agrees with Dumbledore that Harry and Hermione had been right there all along. As Snape leaves in a huff, and Fudge and Dumbledore leave more quietly, she locks the Hospital Wing door behind them and resumes her ministrations to Harry and Hermione, who meekly accept massive slabs of chocolate.
In Herbology, Harry's class is studying Bubotubers. Professor Sprout tells the class that the treated "pus" can be used against acne. It is mentioned that Eloise Midgeon had tried to curse her spots off, but that Madam Pomfrey had managed to get her nose attached again.
Immediately after the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament, Harry is taken into the first aid tent by Madam Pomfrey. He had been struck by the tail of his dragon, and the spikes had wounded his shoulder. She treats his wounds and tells him to sit still for a minute. She then goes to another part of the tent, and Harry hears her checking on Cedric Diggory, who is apparently injured worse than Harry is.
At the Yule Ball, Harry notices that Hermione's teeth look different. Hermione tells him that following the duel between Harry and Draco Malfoy, where Hermione's teeth had been accidentally enlarged, Madam Pomfrey had given her a mirror and told her to say when her teeth were the correct size; she had allowed Madam Pomfrey to shrink them to a smaller, and more becoming, size than they had been originally.
Madam Pomfrey is again in evidence immediately following the Second Task, providing blankets and Pepper-Up Potion to both Champions and rescued hostages, to revive them following their time in the Lake.
After the Third Task, and his return from the cemetery, Harry is taken off first to Professor Moody's office, then to Dumbledore's office. When he finally reaches the Hospital Wing, Bill Weasley and Molly Weasley are berating Madam Pomfrey, demanding to know what she has done with Harry. At Dumbledore's instructions, Madam Pomfrey brings Harry a sleeping draught. Harry falls asleep before he has finished it.
Harry is awakened by Professor McGonagall returning to the Hospital Wing with Cornelius Fudge, demanding to speak with Dumbledore. Madam Pomfrey tells her that Dumbledore is not there, but he arrives almost immediately. Madam Pomfrey remains in the background while the debate between Fudge and Dumbledore goes on. After Fudge has departed, Dumbledore sends Madam Pomfrey away to care for Winky; she seems rather surprised to be sent to care for a house elf, but complies. It turns out that Dumbledore has sent her away so that he can ask Sirius Black to return to his human form; so far this evening, he has appeared in his Animagus form, as a large black dog, because he is still believed to be a fugitive murderer and supporter of Voldemort.
While Madam Pomfrey certainly returns to care for Harry, she is not mentioned directly again in this book.
Dolores Umbridge has brought Aurors to assist in her sacking of Hagrid. In the confusion surrounding this event, Professor McGonagall is hit by multiple Stunners and is taken to the Hospital Wing. The next day, Harry receives a vision that leads him to believe Sirius is being tortured. Desperate to reach the only member of the Order of the Phoenix still at the school, he goes to the Hospital Wing to see McGonagall, only to have Madam Pomfrey tell him that McGonagall has been taken to St. Mungo's Hospital.
After the Battle at the Ministry, Hermione, Ginny, Ron, Luna, and Neville are being cared for in the Hospital Wing by Madam Pomfrey. Professor Umbridge, now rescued from her sojourn among the Centaurs, is also there receiving treatment. Ron frightens Umbridge by making the sound of hooves; when she sits bolt upright, Madam Pomfrey pops out of her office to see if she is all right.
When Katie Bell touches a jinxed necklace and is cursed, she is taken to the Hospital Wing. We hear from Dumbledore later that Professor Snape has done what he can for her, and she has been sent to St. Mungo's Hospital. At Harry's question as to why Snape, Dumbledore says that he understands the Dark Arts much better than does Madam Pomfrey.
Ron is poisoned on his birthday, and ends up in the Hospital Wing. When we see him there, Harry, Hermione, Ginny, and the Twins are with him. Hagrid arrives, and Madam Pomfrey bustles out of her office, saying "Only six visitors to a patient." Harry points out that Hagrid would be the sixth visitor, and Madam Pomfrey retreats, confused.
Some time later, while Ron is still in the infirmary, Harry is hit by a Bludger and ends up in the Hospital Wing with a cracked skull. While he is there, he recalls that in his second year, he had been visited by Dobby; and has the idea of summoning Kreacher to tail Malfoy for him. When he summons Kreacher, Dobby arrives as well; it seems they are fighting because Kreacher had insulted Harry. Peeves, always happy at the sight of chaos, also arrives; Harry, worried that he will attract Madam Pomfrey, silences him, at which he runs away, and muffles the sound of the struggling house-elves. Harry is able to give Kreacher his assignment without Madam Pomfrey being any the wiser.
After the death of Dumbledore, Harry, in shock, is taken to the Hospital Wing. There, we see Madam Pomfrey tending to Bill's injuries, until Mrs. Weasley arrives and takes over.
Madam Pomfrey oversees the evacuation of Hogwarts before the Battle of Hogwarts. In the pause after the death of Snape in the battle, we see her ministering to the fallen.
Strengths[edit | edit source]
Madam Pomfrey is a gifted, experienced and dedicated healer. With few exceptions she is able to treat and cure all manner of illness and injury occurring at Hogwarts. Given the high injury rate due to Quidditch, magical accidents, dangerous creatures and student pranks, Hogwarts is a hazardous place. Madam Pomfrey's services are frequently called upon.
Madam Pomfrey is also strict and maintains high standards in the hospital. She is not afraid to stand up to anyone who is compromising the treatment and recovery of a patient, even Dumbledore.
Weaknesses[edit | edit source]
As Madam Pomfrey is a classic example of a minor character, provided to handle a single function, that of running the school infirmary / Hospital Wing, her character is not as fully limned as some. As a result of this, we do not get a feel for where her areas of weakness, if any, may lie.
Relationships with Other Characters[edit | edit source]
Madam Pomfrey is portrayed as the classic "mother-hen" character, possibly over-solicitous of those currently in her care and definitely a bit over-protective. This is somewhat tempered by strictness when necessary to effect a cure for her charges; she does not cavil at forcing Harry to drink the horrible "Skele-gro" potion, for instance, and shoos Harry's visitors out when she feels they might be tiring him out. She almost refuses to allow Harry to attend the Leaving Feast in his first year at Hogwarts, and is upset at being overruled by Professor Dumbledore. Similarly, she intends to have Harry in the infirmary at the beginning of his third year, to deal with the effects of his exposure to Dementors, and is somewhat upset when Harry insists that the is all right and doesn't need to visit the Hospital Wing. In this case, it is only because Harry has already received the appropriate remedy from Professor Lupin that she, reluctantly, allows him to go to the Feast.
This solicitousness only extends to those who she is convinced need her care. As an example of one who does not fit this pattern, we have Draco malingering after the injury he received from Buckbeak is cured. Despite his claims to still be in agony, claims that Pansy Parkinson and Professor Snape take at face value, Draco has been sent back to class rather than being kept in the infirmary. While the scene where Madam Pomfrey scolds Draco for faking appears only in the film version of this story, it seems entirely in character and fits with the events we see in the books.
Madam Pomfrey seems to respect Professor Dumbledore, and will take instructions from him insofar as she does not believe them to hinder her caring for her patients.
Analysis[edit | edit source]
Interestingly, Madam Pomfrey does not ask any questions about how the injuries she is asked to treat were received. We see this first with Ron's dragon bite, which she must be aware is not the dog bite that Ron claims it is, and then later with Hermione's accident with the Polyjuice Potion, which she must be able to recognize in order to treat. Madam Pomfrey, being in charge of an infirmary which is responsible for the care of several hundred cocksure young wizards and witches, must have seen every imaginable magical side effect, and must be able to recognize many of them on sight. It is safe to assume that she recognizes Ron's wound as the result of something like a dragon, and it is almost certain as well that she recognizes the effects of contaminated Polyjuice Potion, but in neither case does she question the lame explanations offered.
Additionally, what happens in the infirmary seems to stay in the infirmary. While she is likely aware that Hermione's affliction over Christmas in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was caused by Polyjuice Potion, that being one of the potions that NEWT-class students work with, she does not divulge the nature of Hermione's illness. This is an indication that Madam Pomfrey is discreet when dealing with student injuries, as Professor Snape does not hear about the probable cause of Hermione's illness, and thus does not make the connection between that and the missing ingredients from his stores.
Questions[edit | edit source]
- How does Madam Pomfrey treat the students?
- Describe Madam Pomfrey in three words.
- (Extra Credit) Madam Pomfrey and Molly Weasley are both written as strong but motherly types. Yet they present quite differently; Madam Pomfrey would appear to be unlikely to ever use an offensive spell, even to save herself or her charges, while Mrs. Weasley quite readily attacks those who are attacking her children. What differences in their characterization make up this apparent distinction?
Greater Picture[edit | edit source]
Another author, Randall Garrett, has one of his characters mention that the Healing Art is very different from regular sorcery. The example he uses is that of guiding two drunken companions home. The healer's job is simplified by the fact that the subject wants to be healed, and the healer only has to help him along the way; in much the same way, a man can easily help his two drunken friends home without any equipment other than a soft word and a guiding hand. Replace the two drunkards with three hundred pounds of builder's sand, though, and suddenly you need a wheelbarrow, and more strength but less subtlety. This may have something to do with how seldom we see Madam Pomfrey actually using her wand. It is certainly true that Madam Pomfrey seems to be cut from a different sort of sorcerous cloth than the other wizards in our story. While she seems to be as strong a wizard as most we see, her strength does not seem to lie in the same direction; we cannot see her attacking the Death Eaters, though we can easily imagine her defending the Hospital Wing and her charges there with purely defensive spells, probably of great power.