Why was Umbridge hired if Snape also applied for the position? Surely Dumbledore would prefer Snape as the Defence against the Dark Arts teacher than a ministry official.

UPDATE: She was only hired because Dumbledore couldn't find anybody else. I can verify this with a quote from the Daily Prophet.

“This is not the first time in recent weeks that the Minister, Cornelius Fudge, has used new laws to effect improvements at the wizarding school. As recently as August 30th, Educational Decree Number Twenty-two was passed, to ensure that, in the event of the current Headmaster being unable to provide a candidate for a teaching post, the Ministry should select an appropriate person. ‘That’s how Dolores Umbridge came to be appointed to the teaching staff at Hogwarts,’ said Weasley last night. ‘Dumbledore couldn’t find anyone so the Minister put in Umbridge, and of course, she’s been an immediate success —'”

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    It's been a long time since I read the book, but I was under the impression that Dumbledore didn't have a choice because the Ministry forced him to hire her.
    – numaroth
    Dec 1, 2014 at 20:14
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    She was only hired because Dumbledore supposedly couldn't find anybody to do it, but in the book before, and the book after, it is noted that Snape applied for the position. So are there any circumstances that meant he couldn't apply?
    – Tom Doyle
    Dec 1, 2014 at 20:16
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    Perhaps Dumbledore isn't as sweet and adorable as he seems - he wanted Umbridge to be cursed by the DADA curse.
    – SQB
    Dec 1, 2014 at 20:49
  • The HP Wiki makes it pretty clear that she was hired by order of the Ministry.
    – Ellesedil
    Dec 1, 2014 at 21:17
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    Ok then. The Daily Prophet is known to have some biased articles, and it provides no details on why Dumbledore "couldn't find anyone". In either case, if Snape teaches DADA, who teaches Potions? Obviously, the books do not explore this path. But, that could be simply because there are no other options for either position.
    – Ellesedil
    Dec 1, 2014 at 21:49

3 Answers 3


When Professor Dumbledore took Professor Snape on to the staff and Professor Snape said 'I'd like to teach defence against the dark arts (DADA) please' and Professor Dumbledore felt that that might bring out the worst in Professor Snape... (transcribed from a recording)

Given Snape's background as a Death Eater, Dumbledore did not want him to be too close to the Dark Arts as it would make Snape vulnerable. A curse has been put on that position by Voldemort years ago when he failed to be assigned as DADA teacher by Dumbledore. As Snape was the only double-spy for Dumbledore against Voldemort, he could not afford losing Snape by Voldemort's curse on the job and making Voldemort losing trust in Snape, leading to less information gathered by Dumbledore. Even if he was appointed as the DADA teacher, there would be a vacancy for Snape's previous position, Potions, thus not solving the problem entirely.

Note that the Ministry of Magic was attempting to disfigure Dumbledore's reputation as they refused to accept the fact that Voldemort has returned, in which Dumbledore and Harry was claiming true. When the Ministry of Magic was notified of the vacancy, Umbridge was appointed by the Ministry as to monitor Dumbledore and Harry.

As we all know, Umbridge was then sacked one year later due to her torturous discipline methods and Voldemort's curse on the occupation.


Basically, given Snape's history as a Death Eater, Dumbledore didn't want to put him so close to the dark arts again. This question is related.

There also the fact that he would still need to bring in an outside teacher, as hiring Snape as the Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor would create a vacancy in Potions. While that would likely be easier to fill, it doesn't completely solve the problem.

  • LOL beat me by 19 seconds! +1 Dec 1, 2014 at 20:31
  • Dumbledore and Snape had been working together since before Voldemort's original fall. He knew that Snape would have had no issues with the Dark Arts. The new vacancy in Potions would have been the bigger problem.
    – krillgar
    Dec 1, 2014 at 22:02
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    Well, that's not what JKR said. However, her statement (in the linked answer) was made before the last two books were released. Since Snape was revealed to be working as a double agent against Voldemort, it is possible (and, imo, likely) that Dumbledore pretended not to trust Snape with the DADA job, to help his cover. I'd consider an unwanted teacher, in exchange for a spy close to Voldemort, to be a good trade.
    – KSmarts
    Dec 1, 2014 at 22:09
  • OK, I'll buy the illusion of not trusting Snape to not immediately put him as DADA professor. If you want to add that to the answer, I'll switch from down to an upvote.
    – krillgar
    Dec 20, 2014 at 4:10

Two reasons:

  1. Snape was too vital for Dumbledore's anti-Voldemort plans to risk his well-being under DADA-one-year-curse. Look at how Year Six turned out - Snape had to kill Dumbledore and had to flee Hogwarts.

  2. More importantly, according to JKR, Snape was not to be allowed anywhere near DADA position for fear of tempting him into his old "up to his neck in Dark Arts" Death Eater self.

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    Is the "DADA-one-year-curse" recognized in-universe? Audience members talk about it as a function of the successive stories, but would that have been a part of Dumbledore's thought process in-universe?
    – Nerrolken
    Dec 1, 2014 at 22:07
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    @Nerrolken, quote from TPoA(where they see Lupin on the train: "Harry, Ron, and Hermione had already had two Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, both of whom had lasted only one year. There were rumors that the job was jinxed." Don't know if this qualifies for recognized, but sort of it seems.
    – Don_Biglia
    Dec 1, 2014 at 23:04
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    @Nerrolken Seems like that might be worth asking as its own separate question. Dec 1, 2014 at 23:31
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    Looks like it's been pretty well covered, and the answer is yes: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/40776/…
    – Nerrolken
    Dec 1, 2014 at 23:36

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