Why Grubbly-Plank is the most underrated character in Harry Potter
I’m splitting out from my usual programming and software engineering to indulge another nerd topic — Harry Potter! If you’re not interested, ignore me until I’m back to software engineering topics (more of those coming shortly!).
We only meet Grubbly-Plank a couple of times in Harry Potter. She’s the substitute teacher for Care of Magical Creatures and fills in for Hagrid whenever he’s unavailable. But in those scant, brief encounters she shows herself to be a kind, fair minded person who declines to gossip and refuses to disparage others unnecessarily. Let’s dive into the details!
We first meet Grubbly-Plank in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Hagrid is hiding in his hut. Hagrid is refusing to teach or leave his house because the Daily Prophet published that he was part giant. Giants are known for being violent and unpredictable so Hagrid is receiving hate mail telling him he has no business teaching at Hogwarts.
Right on cue Grubbly-Plank steps in to teach a Care of Magical Creatures lesson. She smoothly steps in, introducing the creature the students will be studying and begins the lesson. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione get her attention and ask where Hagrid is at and why he isn’t teaching she answers them curtly and won’t say anything beyond, “Never you mind.” With the tone of, “Stick to your own business and leave Hagrid alone.”
From this we learn a few key things
Grubbly-Plank is not friends with Hagrid
She has no idea that Hagrid is close friends with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. She thinks they’re just nosy students and decides not to give them any information on where Hagrid is.
If she were friends with Hagrid then she probably would have answered the question, or encouraged them to visit him because he was having a terrible week.
Grubbly-Plank doesn’t gossip
If you had a juicy piece of gossip and someone literally asked you about it, would you share it? Would you share it eagerly?
Depends on your personality! But Grubbly-Plank doesn’t. When Ron, Harry, and Hermione (let’s call them HRH) ask Grubbly-Plank point blank where Hagrid is, and why he isn’t teaching that day she responds, “Never you mind.” And moves on. She has no desire to bad mouth Hagrid, no enthusiasm for sharing his dark secret that had just been revealed, no desire to talk about it at all. You get the impression it’s not just that she doesn’t want to talk about it, it’s that she doesn’t really care.
“Maybe she didn’t know Hagrid was part giant yet? Maybe she doesn’t read The Daily Prophet?”
I’m glad you brought that up! Let’s jump to her third appearance.
In her third appearance in the Order of the Phoenix Harry takes his owl Hedwig to Grubbly-Plank in the staff room because Hedwig has been injured and Hagrid is no where to be found (he’s actually on a mission for Dumbledore). Grubbly-Plank takes Hedwig, examines her, and quickly determines she can repair the broken wing.
But the important part here is that when Grubbly-Plank first comes to the door she’s holding a copy of the Daily Prophet, so she does read it and knew the news about Hagrid when HRH asked.
Grubbly-Planks second appearance also happens in the Order of the Phoenix. While Hagrid is away she covers his care of magical creatures lessons. Incidentally it’s also when Umbridge is inspecting lessons and criticizing or belittling every professor at Hogwarts (even Snape and Mcgonagall!).
Umbridge comes to a lesson and starts asking questions. She can’t find anything to criticize and says that Grubbly-Plank clearly knows what’s she’s doing. When Umbridge asks about Grubbly-Plank’s lesson plans for the year Grubbly-Plank responds that there isn’t much left to teach the students and provides a short list of creatures she would expect to show up on the OWL examinations.
This is one of my favorite moments in all of Harry Potter. Let’s dive into why.
Grubbly-Plank Validates Hagrid as a Teacher
Grubbly-Plank is not friends with Hagrid, we never hear of them interacting, she doesn’t know who his friends are. When she passes a positive review of him it’s an unbiased opinion.
Not even Umbridge can criticize Grubbly-Plank’s lessons or plans which means Grubbly-Plank is an excellent teacher. And her summary of Hagrid’s education of Hogwarts students is, “We’re pretty much done. I’ve got an easy list.”
Throughout Harry Potter students criticize Hagrid for his lessons and how dangerous the creatures are, but with this summary from Grubbly-Plank we find out he’s teaching them the exact right things.
Grubbly-Plank Validates Hagrid’s Approach to Magical Creatures
Hagrid always sees how dangerous a creature is separate from the creature itself. It’s a repeating theme from dragons to murderous spiders to blast ended scroots. Hagrid doesn’t limit how much he cares about a creature by how dangerous it is, he sees how much harm a thing can do separate from the thing itself.
This sounds like a minor point, but it stands out to me because carrying around a piece of Voldemort’s soul inside himself makes Harry very, very dangerous. Hagrid never lets that impact his view of Harry and always cares about him separately.
At the beginning of the books we see Hagrid carrying a baby Harry to the Dursley’s house and crying over saying goodbye to the adorable baby he only just met. He doesn’t pause to ask himself if the baby that defeated Lord Voldemort could be dangerous to him. He just sweeps in and takes care of the baby.
Hagrid Ties the Books Together
Hagrid ties the books together end to end. He starts by telling Harry he’s a wizard, and he ends by carrying Harry back to Hogwarts. He pulls the whole series together. And Grubbly-Planks endorsement of his teaching methods, knowledge, and professionalism helps him do it.