Post Order of the Phoenix, we finally know some more about Mrs. Figg. Yes, she is a witch , but she is a Squib
: a magical person with almost no real capability to perform magic
at all. Thus, her only real post is that of lookout and messenger, as her sudden appearance in the first chapter of book five amply
demonstrates. She has magical cats who also act as lookouts for her, and this Squib-cat link might explain the link between Filch and Mrs. Norris. Figg is not, as a Squib, the DADA teacher, that's Dolores Umbridge
. Anyway. See you here next book, perhaps.
Mrs. Arabella Figg is first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
as the lady to whom Harry is sent every year come Dudley's birthday when the Dursley
family want him out of their way. She lives a couple blocks off, has many, many cats, old biscuits and her home has a lingering scent of cabbage. She compells Harry, upon each of his visits, to look at her photos of every cat she has owned. She has stale chewy biscuits, and is in every way the stereotype of the depressing old person we all know.
Fast-forward to the end of book four, where there's all this very exciting rattling of nebulous sabres that leaves you wondering what the hell is going on. Dumbledore says:
Now I have work for each of you. Fudge's attitude, though not unexpected, changes everything. Sirius, I need you to set off at once. You are to alert Remus Lupin
, Arabella Figg
, Mundungus Fletcher
-- the old crowd. Lie low at Lupin's
for a while; I will contact you there
At which point you get that very unsettling feeling that you get when a book visits deja-vu upon you. You (read: I) rush off and reread bits of the other books and on your way glean the following bits of information:
- Mrs. Figg breaks her leg tripping over a cat. Shortly afterwards, when Harry's been locked up under the stairs for his longest-ever punishment, Dudley knock Figg over as she crosses Privet Drive on her crutches. What the hell is she doing? Elderly crippled lady talks walk around and about just for fun, you reckon? Hmm. Coincidence? I think not.
- Rowling goes to great lengths to ensure that we all know how the Confundus Charm works, with its Secret Keepers and so on. She similarly stresses how safe Harry is chez Dursley. Even Voldemort says so. That's almost humility: from the incarnation of evil, a surprise. Rowling's plots are so intricately worked together that there are no co-incidences: that's what's so enjoyable. It's like reading Agatha Christie, only Rowling doesn't cheat. That's another rant altogether. Anyway, you can put that together. Coincidence? I think not.
- The tents Mr. Weasley borrows in The Goblet of Fire are described as being similar in both aroma and decor to Mrs. Figg's place. The 'Ara' in Figg's name means refuge... bah, perhaps it's a little tenuous. So, altogether, Coincidence? I think not.
At this point you go home and feel very pleased with yourself at your close attention, and then get a bit pissed off when Rowling rocks up on the web telling everyone that all the assumptions you made were correct. Meh. From here it's easy to speculate further: the next book is to be entitled The Order of the Phoenix: this would appear to be a group formed to fight the Death Eaters comprising all the folk you'd expect it to, Figg included. Because Rowling is constantly being hassled for information we've been graced with a surprising number of hints, notably that there'll be a new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher, who'll be female. This again seems too neat. Whatever: idle speculation seems to abound on the net. If you're interested, off you go. Thank you for listening.
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