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In Order of the Phoenix, chapter 2, Mrs. Figg reveals that she has been watching Harry for years, but was told by Dumbledore not to tell him about the Wizarding World:

“Why didn’t you tell me you’re a Squib?” Harry asked Mrs. Figg, panting with the effort to keep walking. “All those times I came round your house — why didn’t you say anything?”

“Dumbeldore’s orders. I was to keep an eye on you but not say anything, you were too young.”

I understand not telling him about everything when he's 4 or 5, but Harry visited her mere weeks before receiving his acceptance letters from Hogwarts. Keeping the information from him that late in the game seems really silly.

Heck, right when the Dursleys were getting streams of letters would have been a great time for Mrs. Figg to stop by and explain the whole situation, rather than making Hagrid track them down to the middle of nowhere.

Speaking of Hagrid, he expected Harry to already know all about the Wizarding World. Sure, the Dursleys weren't forthcoming about the information, but if Hagrid figured that Harry was old enough to learn form the Dursleys, and both Hagrid and Mrs. Figg were on orders from Dumbledore, then why didn't she tell Harry about magic and such?

  • Related: Is it ever explained why Harry didn't realize Mrs. Figg is part of the magic world?, although that's about Harry figuring it out on his own, rather than her telling him about the Wizarding World. – Thunderforge Nov 17 '16 at 5:25
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    She's a spy, there to keep Harry safe. He can't sneak away from a guardian he doesn't know is there! – DavidS Nov 17 '16 at 10:10
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    The real (albeit cynical) answer is she was getting retconned into the wizarding world and needed an explanation for the crazy dramatic reveal. Rowlings got an extra melodramatic reveal, this way. – The Nate Nov 17 '16 at 16:50
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She gives at least 1 reason in the rest of the quote.

dragging along the ground. ‘Why didn’t you tell me you’re a Squib, Mrs Figg?’ asked Harry, panting with the effort to keep walking. ‘All those times I came round your house – why didn’t you say anything?’

‘Dumbledore’s orders. I was to keep an eye on you but not say anything, you were too young. I’m sorry I gave you such a miserable time, Harry, but the Dursleys would never have let you come if they’d thought you enjoyed it. It wasn’t easy, you know ... but oh my word,’ she said tragically,

We see how Figg rationalized why she never broke her promise, because then the Dursley's would have stopped Harry from coming over.

Figg was a long term spy set up by Dumbledore. She was not known to Voldemort's followers nor to the Ministry of Magic itself, as we find out later in the book. This allowed her to stay close and keep tabs on Harry his whole life, without even his paranoid aunt and uncle finding out, moving, or limiting the access she had to him.

‘We have no record of any witch or wizard living in Little Whinging, other than Harry Potter,’ said Madam Bones at once. ‘That situation has always been closely monitored, given ... given past events.’

‘I’m a Squib,’ said Mrs Figg. ‘So you wouldn’t have me registered, would you?’

An entity not known to the ministry, near Harry is priceless. The Death Eaters' primary means of info comes from ministry leaks, and the ministry itself is untrustworthy (Fudge/Umbridge). Though to be fair having Mungdungus know about her is risky. :P

Dumbledore's reason for the promise fits in simply with how he handled Harry and everyone else why stopping Voldemort. Dumbledore always acted as he saw fit to best keep his assets alive, even if it meant that his assets were damaged in the process. Something Dumbledore apologizes to Harry for later in the series.

While it might have made sense for her to tell Harry after he got his letters, or even in the 4 years after, Dumbledore thinks long term. He knows that eventually Voldemort will come back, and Figg is his Ace in the hole for Harry protection.

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Because her cover was much more important.

There's a reason that Harry wasn't told about Mrs. Figg even after he was admitted to Hogwarts. Very few people knew of her existence as a squib outside of Dumbledore and the Order.

The fact that she, one of the most trusted members of the Order (I assume this because when Dumbledore was mentioning to Sirius at the end of book 4 who to round up of the 'old gang', her name came second) had been living nearby for 15 years shows how important her role was.

She had constructed an entirely fictional life in order to look out for Harry. She was running very deep cover. The secrecy is paramount to keep her identity hidden, even from Harry. I don't think they would have thrown that away just for her to be able to inform him that he's a wizard a couple of months earlier.

And clearly it came in useful at the point that Harry was attacked by Dementors. If her identity had been more widely known in the wizarding world, then when the ministry sent the Dementors to attack Harry they would have attacked her too to make sure there were no witnesses.

If she hadn't been there, Harry would have almost definitely been expelled from Hogwarts and been much more vulnerable to being assassinated.

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If I remember correctly (and I don't have the book on me so I can't give an exact quote), she told Harry that she couldn't be very nice to him (i.e. not boring) because then the Dursley's wouldn't have him stay at her place when they couldn't watch him.

If she told him all about the wizarding world that he should be a part of but the Dursley's were keeping from him, then he would of course want to go to her place as often as possible, and maybe even wouldn't want to stay with the Dursley's anymore. This could mean either running away from the Dursley's and the protective enchantments Dumbledore left, or the Dursley's never letting him go back to her place and somewhat nullifying her spy status.

Because of this, she wouldn't be able to tell Harry about the wizarding world early on in his life. In terms of telling him closer to his 11th birthday, well, you saw the Dursley's literally try going off the grid to prevent Harry from fully realizing his wizarding abilities, which they would probably still try to do even if he knew he was a wizard just so he couldn't actually make it to Hogwarts.

I think it all depended on if/when/how the Dursley's were going to tell Harry. Hagrid was finally sent because they knew something was up with the letters not being received and continually changing location, as well as the fact that it was Harry's 11th birthday and he could fully come back to the wizarding world. But for the rest of the time before then, I don't think it was up to Mrs. Figgs to tell Harry about the wizarding world, since doing so would cause the Dursley's to go crazy and stop her from being an effective spy.

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Mrs Figg is a squib, not sure if Harry would have believed her.

Mrs Figg: Harry, magic is real! Wizards can even make moving pictures. Isn't it wonderful?

Harry: It's called film now, Mrs Figgs.

And even if she could convince Harry - for example by taking him to Diagon Alley - it would have blown her (very useful) cover. Also Dumbledore's representative had to convince / coerce the Dursleys into letting Harry attend Hogwarts. Mrs Figg probably isn't persuasive or intimidating enough to do that. In addition, does she know enough about Hogwarts to answer Harry's questions?

  • I think there would be quite a few ways that she could make him believe her: get a wizard friend to come over to cast some spells, show Harry some bewitched artifacts, open up the Daily Prophet, demonstrate some potions someone else brewed, connect her fireplace to the floo powder network, or even just buy a chocolate frog and open it up. I agree that she is likely unable to intimidate the Dursleys into sending him to Hogwarts, but I'm struggling to find an excuse as to why she didn't even tell him anything. – Thunderforge Nov 17 '16 at 7:48
  • You mention blowing her cover by going to Diagon Alley. Yes, I guess that would blow her cover by showing any secret Voldemort supporters there that she was with Harry, but all the ways I suggested could be done either in private or in the presence of trusted wizards. No cover blown. – Thunderforge Nov 17 '16 at 7:56
  • @Thunderforge Even you, the OP suggest she should involve wizards when informing harry. Doesn't that answer your question why mrs Figg isn't sufficient? And if we're discussing involving a wizard, i suggest Hagrid :-) and maybe edit out mrs Figg? She isnt necessary in the scene. – user68762 Nov 17 '16 at 8:15
  • As regards blowing cover, it isn't just her cover to other wizards (especially Voldemort's supporters); it's also her cover to other Muggles. Maybe Dumbledore wanted a "spy" whom the Dursleys didn't know was connected to the wizarding world. If she'd told Harry about Hogwarts, it would have blown her cover to them. I think, as a Squib, she would probably have attended Hogwarts and know all about it; just that she would have failed all her exams. Neville started out as practically a Squib but by his final year could conjure the Sword of Gryffindor, so they wouldn't expel Squibs just like that. – Wallnut Nov 17 '16 at 9:37
  • @Wallnut Yep, thats what i meant. D wanted mrs Figg to sit low and keep the Dursleys trust and not blow her cover. And she was succesful until harrys fifth year. And no, neville wasnt a squib, the magic quill wouldn't have listed him. It was an unfortunate combination of lack of confidence and an unsuitable wand. Squibs dont get hogwarts letters. – user68762 Nov 17 '16 at 9:57

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