The holiday season all about love and forgiveness, and for Harry Potter fans, it might be the right time to give the gift of mercy to one particular book villain: Professor Umbridge. According to a fan theory online, it is possible that Dolores Umbridge was so evil because she wore a horcrux. Could it be that the cursed locket was the cause of the woman's awful behavior? It seems more likely that, like the Dursleys, Umbridge was most likely just terrible because that's the kind of person she is.
Here are the basics of the newest wizarding theory to hit the internet: Dolores Umbridge, the meanest professor to walk the halls of Hogwarts, was only that mean because she was wearing a locket that is actually a Horcrux. It had once belonged to Salazar Slytherin before making its way to Umbridge via a bribe from Mundungus Fletcher, who later revealed to Harry, Hermione, and Ron where they could find it, which they did. As readers learned, the locket's evil magic was so powerful, it even turned the members of the Golden Trio against each other and drove Ron away. According to this theory, it only makes sense that Umbridge would suffer the same nasty effects, so it is possible the cruel woman was only that way because of dark magic.
Or does it? Like most Harry Potter fan theories, though, this particularly intriguing one presents more questions than it does answers. When did Dolores Umbridge get the locket, and how long she been wearing it? Did she get it before she was placed at Hogwarts, but after she was already working at the Ministry for Magic? Why, unlike Harry, could she summon a Patronus while wearing it if the negative effects were supposedly so strong?
As always, the internet has ~ideas~ about it, and the theory has been making rounds on the web for years. A user on Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange posed it in 2012 when he asked fellow Potterheads how long Umbridge has been in possession of the locket, and whether or not it would explain her deplorable behavior during her tenor as Headmistress at Hogwarts. "If she had the locket prior to the events of Order of the Phoenix, that would provide some explanation for why a Ministry of Magic secretary would be willing to employ such sick and twisted tactics for overseeing a school," user Gabe Willard posed.
Although other users were quick to point out that, although the locket could have made Umbridge meaner than she normally was, she probably did not get it before her time at Hogwarts. As one user on Reddit points out, Harry, Ron, and Hermione find the locket originally when they are cleaning up at 12 Grimmauld Place in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. When they try and throw it away, Kreacher keeps it. Later, after Sirius dies, Kreacher catches Mundungus breaking into the house, which is the most likely time he stole the locket, and falls after Umbridge's time at Hogwarts.
What's more, it can't be ignored that Dolores Umbridge was always a no good, nasty, controlling, and downright evil woman, Horcrux or no Horcrux. According to her biography page on Pottermore, Dolores Umbridge was a "judgemental, prejudiced and sadistic" girl in her youth who grew up to be a meaner woman who "actively enjoys subjugating and humiliating others." Rowling's description of her even draws comparisons to Bellatrix Lestrange, and it doesn't get much more evil than that.
Like all the best Harry Potter theories, this one even got the attention of J.K. Rowling herself. During an Online Bloomsbury Webchat in 2007, the author explained that Umbridge drew power from the Horcrux, not the other way around, as was the case with Harry and the gang. "She is a very nasty piece of work," the author said in response to a question about Umbridge's ability to conjure a Patronus. "She has an affinity for this horrible object, which would help rather than hinder her."
It seems like, if anything, the Horcrux would be a tool for Umbridge that channeled her existing nastiness, not one that created evil out of thin air. Like Potter fans probably knew all along, Dolores Umbridge is just the worst.