I had someone tell me that dislike of Umbridge is usually from ingrained sexism toward female villains. I kind of stared in shock — I mean I love my lady villains. I love nasty female villains. I love sneaky and clever female villains. I love female villains that wrap themselves up in what the patriarchy expects of them and uses those expectations to smash someone upside the head.
I tried to explain my hatred of Umbridge isn’t that she’s full of traditionally feminine attributes.
It’s that she’s lawful evil.
If you did an alignment chart, no one would represent lawful evil more than Umbridge. I don’t think there’s ever been a character that better sums up lawful evil.
And, to me, lawful evil is the most terrifying and disturbing evil there is.
To me, lawful evil is the shit that gets thousands of people killed while the person responsible walks away feeling like they did their duty.
Evil forces like Bellatrix and Voldemort are fairy tales. They’re the bad guys a good guy can chase away with a sword or wand.
Umbridge is that evil that really does lurk in the hearts of men (and women). The realness, the plausibility of it, makes her amazingly uncomfortable.
So, yeah, I can’t get as excited about her as a fantasy book creation as easily as some other female villains. Not because she’s a woman, or because of her gender presentation, but because she represents a sort of evil that’s far, far too close to home.