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In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets there is a relatively important minor character called Millicent Bulstrode.

It is Millicent Bulstrode who Snape pairs with Hermione in the duelling club and it is she who gets Hermione in a headlock:

[...] [B]ut Hermione and Millicent Bulstrode were still moving; Millicent had Hermione in a headlock and Hermione was whimpering in pain. Both their wands lay forgotten on the floor. Harry leapt forward and pulled Millicent off. It was difficult; she was a lot bigger than he was.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - p.144 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 11, The Duelling Club

Millicent is the one who Hermione then tries to impersonate, using the Polyjuice Potion and a hair that ended up on her robes during the scuffle, accidentally turning herself into a cat:

'I've already got mine!' said Hermione brightly, pulling a tiny bottle out of her pocket and showing them the single hair inside it. 'Remember Millicent Bulstrode wrestling with me at the Duelling Club? She left this on my robes when she was trying to strangle me! And she's gone home for Christmas - so I'll just have to tell the Slytherins I've decided to come back.'

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - p.160 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 12, The Polyjuice Potion

The scene in The Chamber of Secrets is the first we really see of her. She is sorted "on-screen" (in other words, we see her being sorted) but I can't remember her ever being important before, and she basically disappears after that. As far as I can remember, the only real mention of her is as one of the members of the Inquisitorial Squad. Fittingly, she again has Hermione restrained, after she's been caught when Harry was using Umbridge's fire:

Now he could see Hermione pinioned against the wall by Millicent Bulstrode.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - p.654 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 32, Out of the Fire

And I believe that's all folks. Presumably she is one of Pansy Parkinson's gang of Slytherin girls, but this is about the extent of her screen time.

This has always struck me as odd. She was apparently an important enough Slytherin for Hermione to feel that Malfoy would be comfortable talking about the Chamber of Secrets in front of her and it seems like Rowling must once have thought about making more of this character, giving her such a role in the Chamber of Secrets.

But no, she is "replaced" by the until-then obscure Pansy Parkinson in The Prisoner of Azkaban.

Until The Prisoner of Azkaban we see Parkinson sorted (although we aren't told then where she ends up) and she taunts Parvati in The Philosopher's Stone:

'Ooh, sticking up for Longbottom?' said Pansy Parkinson, a hard-faced Slytherin girl. 'Never thought you'd like fat little cry babies, Parvati.'

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - p.110 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 9, The Midnight Duel

As far as I'm aware, she is then absent until The Prisoner of Azkaban and doesn't appear in The Chamber of Secrets, even though she would seem the natural choice for Millicent's role in retrospect.

But from The Prisoner of Azkaban onwards, it is the character of Parkinson that is developed, at Millicent's expense. For example, it is she who comes to the fore after Malfoy is scratched by Buckbeak.

'They should sack him straight away!' said Pansy Parkinson, who was in tears.

'It was Malfoy's fault!' snapped Dean Thomas. Crabbe and Goyle flexed their muscles threateningly.

They all climbed the stone steps into the deserted Entrance Hall.

'I'm going to see if he's OK!' said Pansy, and they all watched her run up the marble staircase.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - p.91 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 6, Talons and Tea Leaves

As a child, these two characters merged into one in my brain and now I wonder why Rowling began developing the interesting character of Millicent Bulstrode in The Chamber of Secrets, only to cast her aside and, instead, focus on the similar character of Pansy Parkinson instead, who was, at that point, an obscurity.

Did Rowling ever talk more about Millicent and/or the reasons for her decision?

And do we know anything else about Miss Bulstrode and what happened to her and what role she played?

  • Personally, I think it's because Rowling didn't think through her books. She simply forgot about Millicent Bulstrode when writing PoA and created Pansy instead. Either that or she thought the same thing I did: Malfoy is supposed to have a "Hermione", a female character who was both a friend and more than a friend ;) (Pansy or Millicent) and the way that Millicent had been described in the first book didn't allow for Rowling to develop her into the sexualised female sidekick for Malfoy. Personally I think it's the first but it's up to you. – caird coinheringaahing Apr 18 '17 at 23:05
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    @ThisGuy Well i appreciate your 2¢ but i think that's a pretty ungenerous interpretation, especially as Pansy was not created in Prisoner of Azkaban, she was in Philosopher's Stone as the quote in my question shows, and she wasn't exactly described as gorgeous either :p – Au101 Apr 18 '17 at 23:22
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Millicent was replaced by Pansy because the plot required a different type of Slytherin girl.

Millicent Bulstrode and Pansy Parkinson are both Slytherin girls, but they aren't similar characters. It's like how Hermione Granger and Lavender Brown are both Gryffindor girls, but they can't easily switch roles, since they're nothing alike. If Hermione started acting like Lavender, or Lavender started acting like Hermione, it would be very noticeable. Both Millicent and Pansy are less important to the story than Hermione, but to anyone who remembers what Millicent was originally like, it would be weird if she suddenly started acting completely different to play a different part to the plot. It would indeed be odd if one character was replaced with a similar one with a different name, when the original character could take the place of the new character in the story easily, but that's simply not true for Millicent and Pansy.

The role Millicent Bulstrode played was as basically Crabbe and Goyle, but female.

Millicent Bulstrode

The most memorable occasions on which we saw Millicent was when she wrestled Hermione, and we saw her again three years later when she slammed Hermione against a wall. Millicent wasn't very smart, and looked like Crabbe in a wig. We don't really see her much, but when we do, either she's just a name being mentioned, or she's using some form of physical violence.

Pansy Parkinson was also a Slytherin girl, but that's pretty much the extent of their similarities.

Pansy Parkinson

Her role was mainly as one of Draco's hangers-on, as well as his sort-of love interest. She was more of the stereotypical mean girl than a thug. She used insults rather than physical violence, and isn't the type to wrestle someone. She also had a prettier, more feminine appearance than Millicent did. She doesn't seem particularly smart, but she doesn't seem stupid either.

Without some serious rewriting, there was no way Millicent could fill the role that Pansy did.

Remember, Pansy's purpose in the plot isn't as someone who physically bullies. She also filled a role that required a higher level of intelligence than Millicent is ever shown to have. As an example, Pansy later was chosen to be a prefect. Hermione did call her dumber than a concussed troll, but Pansy wasn't obviously stupid. Draco didn't seem particularly interested in Pansy, but would he even give the time of day to a girl who was basically like a female version of Crabbe and Goyle, both in mentality and appearance? Draco was fine having Crabbe and Goyle around as cronies, but he didn't consider them true friends, due to their utter lack of brains. Although Draco didn't do very much that would suggest he was as interested in Pansy as she was with him, he did occasionally show her a few token gestures, like resting his head on her lap and letting her stroke his hair. He also took Pansy with him as his date to the Yule Ball.

To form Millicent into someone who could take the place Pansy did in the story would require her suddenly gaining a lot of both brains and beauty, and changing her personality to one less reliant on physical violence. At that point, it would make more sense to write a different Slytherin girl and give her the personality that the role in the story she would have would require, which is what happened.

The reason Millicent wasn't seen much again was likely that she wasn't needed in the story.

First and foremost, any character in a story has to do something for the plot, even if that's just being a name in the background to make the world feel bigger and more populated. Especially in stories with a lot of named characters, if a particular character isn't needed to move the plot forward in some way, especially if they're a relatively minor one who most people won't notice missing, they're likely to fade into the background. This seems to be what happened with Millicent. Crabbe and Goyle (and Marcus Flint to a lesser extent) filled the roles of bullies who aren't particularly smart and use physical force as their tactics. Pansy, since she was being used in other ways in the story, became the go-to name when the story just needed a Slytherin girl.

Millicent was mentioned a lot in Chamber of Secrets because she was needed for the plot.

Millicent's role in Chamber of Secrets was mainly to set up Hermione's part in the Polyjuice Potion, explaining how she was able to find a Slytherin girl's hair. Also, remember that for the plot to follow the path it does, Hermione would not only have to be able to get a hair, it would also have to be the wrong hair. So, she wouldn't be able to do the same thing as Harry and Ron. Having her do what Harry and Ron did and give a Slytherin a sleeping potion and actually pluck a hair off of her head would make it impossible to explain how Hermione could end up with a cat hair instead. The hair would have been pulled out directly from the girl's head, so it couldn't possibly be the wrong one. Letting Millicent actually wrestling with Hermione and leaving a hair on her robes be the way she got the hair was an easy way to explain how she could not only get a hair, but have it be a cat hair instead. Once the Polyjuice part of the plot was done, there was no further need of a specifically female Slytherin who would physically fight other students.

As for why Pansy wasn't always the 'named' Slytherin girl, there are a few possible reasons.

First of all, she wouldn't have been able to serve the same purpose as Millicent did in Chamber of Secrets. She was never the type for physical force, so it would have been difficult to find a logical way for Hermione to be able to both get a hair from her and have it be the wrong one. For example, it wouldn't make sense for Hermione to be able to take a hair from off Pansy's robes without Pansy noticing. Hairs are small and hard to find, especially in the limited amount of time that Hermione would have before Pansy would get suspicious.

In addition, Rowling might not have known at the time she wrote Chamber of Secrets what kind of role that she wanted the most visible Slytherin girl to have in the story. She could have used Millicent Bulstrode to fill the particular need of the plot at the time, and only later decided that going forward, she wanted the main Slytherin girl to be a 'mean girl' who was also somewhat of a love interest for Draco. Even if Rowling did have the role Pansy would play in mind when she was writing Chamber of Secrets, which is also entirely plausible, she might have still decided to not have Pansy be the Slytherin girl who Hermione was planning to turn herself into.

Especially in stories with as many named characters as the seven Harry Potter books, a minor character can end up playing a relatively large part in the plot for a little while, but is then rarely if ever mentioned again, even if they would logically still be existing in the background of the story somewhere. It happens sometimes over the course of the books. Another example of this is how Cormac McLaggen suddenly was mentioned a lot in Half-Blood Prince.

  • Are you saying plus-sized girls aren't as feminine as skinny ones? – DCOPTimDowd Feb 9 '18 at 19:08
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    @DCOPTimDowd No, I’m saying Pansy is more traditionally feminine than Millicent. The comparison is between these two girls, specifically. In addition, the reason I say Pansy looked more feminine than Millicent is because Millicent is described as more “thuggish”. This particular plus-sized girl happens to not look very feminine. – Bellatrix Feb 9 '18 at 21:11
  • Interesting. Not what I expected from a follower of the Dark Arts, but a refreshing response indeed. – DCOPTimDowd Feb 9 '18 at 21:58
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    @DCOPTimDowd The Dark Lord cares nothing for what his followers look like! :) – Bellatrix Feb 9 '18 at 22:07
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Millicent Bullstrode is rarely mentioned after the second book. In fact, she reappears only once. As mentioned in the question, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, she is a member of the Inquisitorial Squad.

“Liar!” shouted Umbridge. She threw him from her, and he slammed into the desk. Now he could see Hermione pinioned against the wall by Millicent Bulstrode. Malfoy was leaning on the windowsill, smirking as he threw Harry’s wand into the air one-handed and then caught it again.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

To the best of my knowledge, Rowling has never mentioned why Bulstrode was essentially abandoned as a character. However, I think we can guess.

Bulstrode was a very minor character in the first book, merely a throwaway Slytherin name:

"Bulstrode, Millicent" then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Harry's imagination, after all he'd heard about Slytherin, but he thought they looked like an unpleasant lot.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Her brief character development in Chamber of Secrets served a definite purpose. Bulstrode's role was basically to provide a Slytherin girl from whom Hermione could procure a hair. She is only mentioned in contexts related to the making of the Polyjuice Potion, and to the dueling club, which is where Hermione obtained the necessary hair. Though the Polyjuice Potion certainly can be used for cross-sex transformations, as we saw with the seven Potters, presumably Hermione felt more comfortable taking the form of a witch (as we also saw with the Ministry infiltration in Deathly Hallows). As such, I think her apparent importance was merely a function of her role in that book's plot.

  • OP had that quote in their question FWIW, but +1 for the rest of the answer. – Skooba Jul 26 '16 at 21:10
  • @Skooba oops, should see if there is another. – Adamant Jul 26 '16 at 21:12
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    I still think this leaves the question pretty much open. Why bother with Pansy Parkinson, why not make Millicent the Slytherin girl? Alternatively, why introduce a character (Millicent) in Chamber of Secrets, build her up, let the audience get to know her, and then throw her away and turn an unknown entity into one of your antagonists? But maybe there's no real meat to it, just the author trying to show a broad range of her characters. Zabini, for instance, is suddenly and randomly a big deal only in The Half-Blood Prince. – Au101 Jul 26 '16 at 21:41
  • Anyway, I much prefer this iteration of your answer and don't worry about the duplicate quote, I know I provided a wall of text kind of question. +1. Still, be interesting to know what became of her, if it's ever said – Au101 Jul 26 '16 at 21:42
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    @Au101 -I guess Rowling probably didn't want to shove all the Slytherins in one person. I mean, Crabbe, Goyle, and Flint are basically the same: muscular, cruel, not too smart. They could have been one person but instead they are three. – Adamant Jul 26 '16 at 21:43

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