- Harry Potter: "Why didn't you tell me you're a Squib, Mrs Figg? All those times I came round your house — why didn't you say anything?"
- Mrs Figg: "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..."
- — Harry Potter and Arabella Figg in the summer of 1995[src]
Mrs Arabella Doreen Figg was a Squib, a dealer of cross-bred cats and kneazles, and a member of the Order of the Phoenix. She lived on Wisteria Walk in Little Whinging, in a house that smelled strongly of cabbage; she also owned and extensively photographed at least four part-kneazle cats, named Mr Tibbles, Snowy, Mr Paws, and Tufty.
She lived near Harry Potter and the Dursley family, and used to babysit Harry in the 1980s and the early 1990s, mainly to keep an eye on him for Albus Dumbledore. As Dumbledore had believed Harry was too young to understand his place in the wizarding world, Mrs Figg kept her true identity a secret throughout most of Harry's childhood, and he knew nothing about her affiliation to the wizarding world until after he and Dudley Dursley were attacked by dementors in 1995. Mrs Figg supported the Order to the best of her abilities, but probably did not fight at the Battle of Hogwarts. She most likely survived the war and continued cross-breeding and trading part-kneazle cats.
First Wizarding War (1970s-1981)
It is possible that she became a member of the Order of the Phoenix in the First Wizarding War, although her most notable contribution to the cause was taking up residence in Little Whinging, most probably on Albus Dumbledore's orders, to keep an eye on young Harry Potter. This may have begun prior to the end of the First War, initially in order to watch over the Dursley family.
Between the wars (1981-1995)
Arabella Figg lived in a Muggle community, working undercover for the Order of the Phoenix. Most of her job involved watching Harry Potter and ensuring that no harm came to him from Lord Voldemort. During times when the Dursley family went on holiday, they left Harry Potter with Mrs Figg, who once gave him an ancient chocolate cake as a "treat" but most often bored him senseless with pictures of her part-kneazle cats. She made sure he didn't particularly enjoy his time with her, and took care never to reveal her heritage to either Harry or the Dursleys, to ensure that the Dursleys would not withdraw Harry from her care.
Second Wizarding War (1995-1998)
Rebirth of Tom Riddle
- "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."
- —Albus Dumbledore starts spreading the world of Voldemort's return[src]
On 24 June, 1995, Lord Voldemort returned to power. Informed of Voldemort's return by Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore gave Sirius Black the task of alerting the "old crowd" of Voldemort's return, including Arabella Figg, Remus Lupin and Mundungus Fletcher. Despite hearing the name "Figg", Harry was unaware that this was the same Mrs Figg he had been neighbours with.
Dementors in Little Whinging
- "Dumbledore asked me to keep an eye on you."
- —Figg regarding her orders to keep watch on Harry Potter[src]
In 1995, Harry and his cousin Dudley were attacked by dementors in Little Whinging. Figg sensed the distinct presence of the Dementors and despite, as a Squib, being unable to actually see them, she was still able to describe the Dementors in front of the Wizengamot during Harry's trial. Not trusting Mundungus Fletcher to effectively fulfil his duties of following and protecting Harry, she charged Mr Tibbles with the task, and upon discovering Mundungus had abandoned his post, she eventually tracked Harry and his cousin Dudley down herself, to discover they had just barely survived a dementor attack. As the three walked back to the Dursleys, with Harry half carrying Dudley, she revealed that she was not a Muggle, as previously believed, but a Squib, and moreover, a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Before returning Harry to Privet Drive, she apologised for the way she had been forced to treat him while he was growing up.
Harry Potter's disciplinary hearingMrs Figg was also a witness at Harry's trial before the Wizengamot, regarding his unauthorised use of magic as an underaged wizard. She arrived in her bedroom slippers, and her description of the Dementors was unimpressive, as she described them as "big and wearing cloaks." However, she ultimately managed to convince Amelia Bones and various other unbiased members of the Wizengamot with her accurate description of a Dementor's presence. Despite Cornelius Fudge's attempts to discredit her on the basis of being a Squib, Mrs Figg, along with Albus Dumbledore, managed to persuade the Ministry to clear Harry of all charges.
Albus Dumbledore's funeral
During the Battle of the Astronomy Tower in 1997, Albus Dumbledore was killed by Severus Snape, who sided with the Death Eaters. Figg attended Dumbledore's funeral in 1997, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Battle of Hogwarts
As she could not fight due to her lack of magic, it is unknown if she participated in the Battle of Hogwarts, though she may have assisted or aid the fighters along with Argus Filch and Madame Pomfrey in some non-magical capacity.
Later life (post 1998)
Arabella Figg was described as a batty old woman with grizzled grey fly away hair, almost always seen wearing a hairnet and tartan carpet slippers. On the night of Harry and Dudley's attack by the Dementors she was wearing a pink dressing gown.
Personality and traits
In Harry Potter's youth, the Dursleys left him in Mrs Figg's care at least once a year, and during their time together, she had often forced him to look endlessly at photos of "all the cats she'd ever owned". In 1995, she admitted that, though she didn't enjoy it, she had intentionally kept Harry bored and miserable, as the Dursleys would never have left him with her if they thought he enjoyed it. Though Harry only thought of her as his "batty old cat-obsessed neighbour" before discovering she was a Squib, she appeared to be a clever woman with a bit of a temper. She physically attacked Mundungus Fletcher when he left his post of watching Harry Potter, and prior to that, had been quite sarcastic, even slightly insulting, during her conversation with Harry.
She appeared nervous, even timid, during Harry's disciplinary hearing, though that was likely due to the stigma surrounding being a Squib, as well as the fact that she had to testify before the entire Wizengamot. Regardless, she was a brave, vigorous woman, who, despite her lack of magical ability, did her best to support the Order of the Phoenix. Arabella felt rather offended when she found out that the Ministry did not register her in their records due to her status as a Squib.
Arabella Figg knew Albus Dumbledore at least since the time of the First Wizarding War. After Lord Voldemort's first downfall, Dumbledore trusted Figg with the task of watching Harry Potter during his time at the Dursleys' house. Figg appeared to respect Dumbledore and consider him a great wizard; when Harry was surprised that she knew Dumbledore, she replied that "everybody knows Dumbledore." Figg and Dumbledore both participated in Harry's trial before the Wizengamot in 1995. She later attended Dumbledore's funeral at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in 1997.
Mrs Figg was tasked with watching over Harry Potter after he was sent to live in Little Whinging, and the Dursleys regularly left Harry with her when they wanted to exclude him from their outings. Though it was difficult for her to have to do so, she made sure to show Harry an incredibly dull time, knowing the Dursleys would otherwise never leave Harry in her care.
In 1995, Harry learned that Mrs Figg was a Squib when Mundungus Fletcher failed to fulfil the duty he was given of following and protecting Harry, leaving Harry and his cousin Dudley to be attacked by dementors. Mrs Figg also testified in Harry's defence during his trial before the Wizengamot, and later attended Albus Dumbledore's funeral. It is possible that Harry and Figg remained in contact after the Second Wizarding War.
Mrs Figg's relationship with the Dursley family is largely unknown, though they evidently thought she was no different from their other neighbours, as they allowed her to take care of Harry occasionally while they were gone.
In 1995, Mrs Figg apologised to Harry for deliberately making his earlier visits as boring as possible, since she believed that if he'd actually enjoyed himself, the Dursleys would have stopped letting her look after him from time to time. This suggests she didn't agree with the way the Dursleys treated Harry.
Order of the Phoenix members
Figg knew many members of the Order of the Phoenix. She met Sirius Black in 1995, when he informed her that Albus Dumbledore was re-instating the Order. It is possible that she had previously met other members, such as James and Lily Potter.
She was also quite familiar with Mundungus Fletcher, a petty criminal and member of the Order, who addressed Mrs Figg as "Figgy." When Mundungus left Little Whinging to purchase stolen cauldrons in favour of watching over Harry Potter, Figg was furious; she both verbally and physically assaulted him, whacking him with a shopping bag full of canned cat food and calling him a "useless, skiving sneak thief".
- Figg may be variation of a fig, a fruit-bearing tree. In Biblical times, the fig tree was important to Roman and Hebrew cultures as a valuable source of food and medicinal ingredients, and its flowering signified the end of winter.
- In addition, fig leaves are associated with concept of a "poorly concealed secret," with common usage in classical sculptures and paintings of nudes. This may be a reference to the fact that Mrs Figg was a Squib concealing herself as a Muggle, which was arguably poorly done, given her reputation of being quite eccentric.
- In Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot thriller ' The Clocks ' a Mrs Hemming with an equal fascination of cats has a young kitten named Arabella, which may be a likely inspiration.
- Another possibility for the name 'Arabella' may be from the classic car of the main character of the 1970 sitcom 'Nanny and the Professor', the main charcter Phoebe Figalily (played by Juliet Mills) herself a magical being.
Behind the scenes
- Arabella Figg is portrayed by English actress Kathryn Hunter in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Mrs Figg lives on Privet Drive, across the street from the Dursleys, instead of on Wisteria Walk.
- The tent that Mr Weasley borrowed for the 1994 Quidditch World Cup reminded Harry of Mrs Figg's house: crocheted covers on mismatched chairs and a strong smell of cats.
- Although Harry does not find out that Mrs Figg is a Squib until after the Dementor attack, he mentions earlier in the chapter that she has started inviting him in for tea and that he has subsequently started avoiding her. This might suggest that she was planning to reveal her status as a Squib to him or that she was concerned about him due to the danger he was in and the emotional turmoil he faced after witnessing the death of Cedric Diggory.
- Mrs Figg has a much more bitter personality in the book than in the movie. She insults both Harry and Dudley, and she even goes as far as to physically attack Mundungus Fletcher with bags full of canned cat food. In the movie, however, she only insults Harry once, questioning his intelligence because it had not occurred to him that Dumbledore would have him watched after Voldemort's return. She also hardly shows any anger toward Mundungus, while in the book she goes into a fierce tirade about him.
- Mrs Figg makes her first true appearance in both the book and film versions of Order of the Phoenix, but the omission of earlier references to her in the films makes the revelation that she is a Squib working for Dumbledore somewhat sudden.
- It is unknown where "Mr Figg" is, but Arabella is consistently referred to as "Mrs Figg," meaning she was married at some point. She might be widowed, divorced, or estranged from her husband. It is possible but unlikely that she continues to cohabitate with him since he is never mentioned in the books, not even when Harry stayed in her home or when Mrs Figg is giving courtroom testimony.
- Dumbledore specifically mentions Arabella Figg when he tells Sirius to round up "the old crowd" during the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but Harry does not make the connection until the next book, however, possibly due to the distress he was in at the time.
- In the consoles versions of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, Figg was omitted from the cutscenes despite being a playable character. In the portable versions however, she does not appear.
- Arabella shares her initials ("AF") and her affinity for cats with Argus Filch, another Squib. It is unknown whether there is a deeper connection between them.
- Mrs Figg is incorrectly referred to as a Muggle in her entry on the glossary on the Scholastic official website, though this may have been an intentional "error" to avoid spoiling the plot point of her being a Squib.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Console and PC versions)
- J. K. Rowling's official site (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ She is called Mrs Figg; "Mrs" implies that she either is currently married or has been married.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "Extra Stuff: SQUIBS" from J. K. Rowling's official site (via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 3 (The Letters from No One)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 2 (The Vanishing Glass)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 36 (The Parting of the Ways)
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ Pottermore
- ↑ In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry ends up going to the zoo for Dudley's birthday, he's grateful that he probably wouldn't have to look at pictures of Figg's cats for another year
- ↑ http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fig+leaf
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire