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Cuthbert Binns

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CuthbertBinns
Cuthbert Binns
Biographical information
Born

c. 16th century or 17th century

Died

c. 18th century (most likely)
Staffroom, Hogwarts Castle

Title(s)

Professor

Physical information
Species
Gender

Male

Hair colour

White (balding)

Eye colour

Black

Skin colour

Pale

Family information
Family members

Mr. Binns (father)

Affiliation
Occupation

Professor of History of Magic (c. 17th or 18th century - ?)

Loyalty

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

"My subject is History of Magic. I deal with facts, not myths and legends."
—Professor Binns to his class.[src]

Professor Cuthbert Binns (fl. late seventeenth century) was a wizard and History of Magic professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He owned an office in the main castle and Classroom 4F on the first floor to teach in. He taught until a very old age, when he fell asleep in the staff room and died in slumber. Now, he is a ghost who continued to teach, droning on about various Goblin Rebellions and Giant Wars to bored, sleeping students.

Professor Binns's lessons were regarded as some of the most boring at Hogwarts, and only once in known history did he talk about something not strictly factual. During the 1991–1992 school year, he taught his first year students about numerous historical personalities such as Uric the Oddball and Emeric the Evil, whom the class always got confused with. The following academic year, he relayed the legend of the Chamber of Secrets to his second year class, but only after every student in the class showed complete and utter interest, despite initially stating the legend of the Chamber to be unimportant. He continued to teach Harry Potter and his class for three further years, until most, if not every one of his students dropped History of Magic.

Biography

Early life

Hogwarts boats 1

First years arriving at Hogwarts.

"Zzzzzz…… and as the seventeenth century was coming to a close, we didn't mind a bit…"
—Cuthbert after being woken up abruptly.[src]

Cuthbert was born sometime in the sixteenth or seventeenth century[1] into the Binns family, with Mr. Binns as his father. It was said that his father always used to say something to him, but Cuthbert fell asleep in the middle of his sentence before he could say what it was. He was educated in the magical arts at a wizarding school, likely Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry unless he was home-schooled by his family, and achieved high marks in History of Magic, probably earning an O.W.L. and perhaps even a N.E.W.T. in the subject. He graduated at some point in his sixth or seventh year, leaving some time before his return to apply for the post as a professor. Before his return, however, it is possible that Cuthbert studied further into magical history, becoming a fully-fledged and educated historian before beginning his career back at Hogwarts Castle.

Career at Hogwarts

Earlier years

Hogwartsmatte1c2 (2)

Hogwarts, where Binns came to teach.

"Professor Binns opened his notes and began to read in a flat drone like an old vacuum cleaner until nearly everyone in the class was in a deep stupor, occasionally coming round long enough to copy down a name or date, then falling asleep again."
—Description.[src]

At some point after his graduation, Cuthbert came to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and applied for the post of Professor of History of Magic, which he was granted. Cuthbert - now known as Professor Binns - was given Classroom 4F on the first floor near a mossy courtyard to teach in, as well as an office in the fifth-floor corridor.

His lessons were known to be the most boring in all of Hogwarts; he read from his never-ending collection of notes. His students, whom he never payed any attention to, would fall asleep listening to his droning, reedy voice, eventually waking up to copy down a name or date, but falling asleep again. It was said the most exciting thing that happened in his class was when he entered through the blackboard.

Later years and death

History of Magic Classroom

Classroom 4F, Binns's classroom.

"Professor Binns had been very old indeed when he had fallen asleep in front of the staff-room fire and got up next morning to teach, leaving his body behind him."
—The story of Professor Binns's death.[src]

Professor Binns was still teaching well into his elderly years at Hogwarts, still lecturing students on History of Magic. Now so old that he looked like a wrinkled tortoise, Binns went down to the staffroom on the ground floor and went to sleep in front of the fire. However, he died in his sleep and, when he got up to teach his next class, was a ghost. Regardless, he did not seem to notice, though he did begin to fly into his classroom through the blackboard, but his lessons were still just as boring as ever. His body was presumably buried outside of Hogwarts Castle, and he may have had a funeral, but it is unknown.

Post-mortem

1970s

During the 1970s, Professor Binns taught James Potter, Lily Evans, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. For unknown reasons, Binns gave one of his Chocolate Frog Cards, that of Circe, to James Potter, which later fell into the hands of Quirinus Quirrell who put it into his vault, number 998.

1991-1992 school year

"Easily the most boring lesson was History of Magic..."
Harry Potter evaluating over his first week at Hogwarts.[src]

During the 1991–1992 school year, Professor Binns gained the famous Harry Potter as a student. However, Binns did not notice his legendary pupil, since he did not pay any attention to his class as he read through his notes, expecting them to copy down bullet points. That year, Binns taught his first years about historical figures such as Uric the Oddball and Emeric the Evil, whom his students always got confused with. Harry also said that he considered History of Magic to be "easily the most boring lesson" in the school.

1992-1993 school year

Seamus Finnigan: "If the Chamber can only be opened by Slytherin's true heir, no one else would be able to find it, would they?"
Binns: "Nonsense O'Flaherty. If a long succession of Hogwarts headmasters and headmistresses haven't found the thing—"
Parvati Patil: "But, Professor, you'd probably have to use Dark Magic to open it—"
Binns: "Just because a wizard doesn't use Dark Magic, doesn't mean he can't, Miss Pennyfeather. I repeat, if the likes of Dumbledore—"
Dean Thomas: "But maybe you've got to be related to Slytherin, so Dumbledore couldn't—"
Binns: "That will do. It is a myth! It does not exist! There is not a shred of evidence that Slytherin ever built so much as a secret broom cupboard!"

— Professor Binns after telling his class the legend of the Chamber of Secrets.[src]


HistoryofMagic

Binns tells his students the story of the Chamber of Secrets.

The following year, the Chamber of Secrets was reopened and Mrs. Norris, Argus Filch (the Caretaker's) cat, was Petrified by Salazar Slytherin's Basilisk. Regardless, the school ran as normal and one of Professor Binns's homework he gave out just after the attack was a three-foot essay on The Medieval Assembly of European Wizards. While lecturing his second years on the International Warlocks' Convention of 1289, Hermione Granger raised her hand and asked about the legend of the Chamber. Despite initially refusing to grant her wish, he relayed the legend after seeing the unusual amount of interest and attention his class were giving him. After reciting the story, each of his pupils argued against his belief that there was no Chamber, but he put a stop to them and their theories and, within five minutes, had bored them to sleep with his lecture. Later on in the year, he was visited by the Deputy Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall, who told him that Harry Potter and Ron Weasley would be absent from his History of Magic class due to their visit to the Petrified Hermione Granger.

1993-1994 school year

"Ah yes. Let me see… how about eight o'clock on Thursday evening? The History of Magic classroom should be large enough…"
Remus Lupin to Harry Potter, after he reminded him of his anti-Dementor lessons.[src]

During the 1993–1994 school year, Professor Binns continued to teach Harry Potter and his classmates. One night in the winter term, Binns allowed Professor Remus Lupin, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, to teach Harry how to cast the Patronus Charm in Classroom 4F, the room where History of Magic lessons were held.

1994-1995 school year

"Meanwhile Professor Binns, the ghost who taught History of Magic, had them writing weekly essays on the goblin rebellions of the eighteenth century."
—Binns in preparation for his fourth years' O.W.L.s.[src]

The following academic year, Professor Binns gave his fourth years a huge workload of writing an entire composition every week, in preparation for their Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations in their next year. Since Harry Potter had been chosen as a champion for the Triwizard Tournament, he was exempt from the End-of-Term Exams, and so, paid less attention to Binns than usual and spent the time looking up fresh hexes for the Triwizard Tasks. It was known that one History of Magic lesson was two classes before the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament, followed by Transfiguration with Minerva McGonagall. Also, the History of Magic Fourth Year Exams were on the day of the Third and Final Task of the Tournament.

1995-1996 school year

Vlcsnap-30757

Dolores Umbridge, Hogwarts High Inquisitor.

"Today, they suffered three quarters of an hour's droning on the subject of giant wars. Harry heard just enough within the first ten minutes to appreciate dimly that in another teacher's hands this subject might have been mildly interesting, but then his brain disengaged, and he spent the remaining thirty-five minutes playing hangman on a corner of his parchment with Ron, while Hermione shot them filthy looks out of the corner of her eye."
—Professor Binns's first class of the new term.[src]

For one of his first classes of the 1995–1996 school year, known to be a Monday, Professor Binns lectured his fifth year students on wars caused and participated in by Giants, which would have been interesting had it been taught by a more engaging teacher. After an hour of lecturing, Binns left the classroom through the blackboard. He had another History of Magic class the following Monday, just after Dolores Umbridge's appointment as the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, which was noted to be just as boring, drowsy and depressing as the last. That year was the year of his students' Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations, and he made his students write down notes for them to revise from for their exams. It is possible that Umbridge inspected Binns's classes that year, but unlikely, since he taught a theoretical subject that would not help Professor Dumbledore form an army, which was the Ministry of Magic's idea of what was going on in the school; at any rate, she was not present during Harry's lectures.

1997-1998 school year

It is possible that Professor Binns took part in the Battle of Hogwarts against the Death Eaters during the 1997–1998 school year.

Physical description

Prof Binns

A headshot of Professor Binns.

"Professor Binns paused again, pursing his lips, looking like a wrinkled old tortoise."
—A brief description of Professor Binns.[src]

Professor Binns, as being a ghost, was described as looking ancient and shrivelled, and looked a little like an old tortoise when he pursed his lips. He wore glasses, which were small and thick, and had a dry, reedy voice that sounded a lot like an old vacuum cleaner, droning on and on.

Personality and traits

Professor Binns did not display much of a personality, as all he did was read his notes in a droning voice to his students, while oblivious or uncaring about how everyone simply dozes off from boredom. However, it can be seen that he was very impatient and did not take the liberty of learning his students' names, calling Hermione Granger "Miss Grant", Parvati Patil "Miss Pennyfeather", Seamus Finnigan "O'Flaherty" and even the famous Harry Potter "Perkins". Binns was also shown to be a firm disbeliever in legends and mythology, dedicating his studies and lectures on "solid, believable fact". He is said to have a drawling monotonous voice, which most of his students had become bored with.

Etymology

  • "Binns" is from "binoculars", a slang term for spectacles. Notice that Professor Binns wore very thick glasses.
  • A bin is a large storage container. A dustbin is British English for a garbage can. This boring professor could be described as a ghostly storage for information that many Hogwarts students view as rubbish.

Author's comments

Though Rowling had previously stated in interviews that the only character that she deliberately based on a real-world individual was Gilderoy Lockhart, she later revealed that Professor Binns was based on an old professor at her university, "who gave every lecture with his eyes closed, rocking backwards and forwards slightly on his toes." She states that he was brilliant, but his disconnect with his students was total, much like Binns.[2]

Behind the scenes

Cuthbert Binns

Professor Binns as a LEGO minifigure.

  • Professor Binns does assign homework and essays, though as he is a ghost it's unknown how he is able to grade them. Given this, it is possible he has a student assistant, like the ones in Music and Muggle Studies.
  • Binns has not appeared in any of the films nor the PC games. His explanation in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets of the legend of the Chamber of Secrets is instead given by Professor McGonagall in the film and in the PC game it is Professor Flitwick who tells the legend.
  • In the videogame Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, there is one History of Magic classroom featured on the Fourth Floor corridor. Professor Binns, however, is never seen in the game.
  • The only video games Professor Binns has made an appearance (so far) are the GameBoy Color adaptations and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, although he was mentioned in the Order of the Phoenix video game. On the GameBoy Color versions Binns has a tendency to fall asleep during lectures and to forget about things.
  • Professor Binns' first name only appeared on a list of of the Hogwarts professors which was released on J. K. Rowling's website.
  • Professor Binns is seen in the book series as a stereotyped old man; he forgets things seconds after hearing them, has a slow droning voice, and gets irritable at times.
  • As Binns became a ghost, he can no longer move beyond the veil, and will remain earthbound for all eternity. This means that unless he resigns or is sacked, he would be the History of Magic teacher forever.
  • Since Binns died in the staffroom, and continued on as if nothing happened, it can be assumed that he feared death (or what lies beyond the veil). Perhaps teaching was what Binns wanted to do, for literally all eternity.
  • In "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" ride in Orlando Florida, Dumbledore mentions that Professor Binns will be giving the audience a lecture entitled Hogwarts Through the Centuries and that it will be "...long". Harry, Ron and Hermione sneak the audience out of the Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom before Professor Binns shows up.
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Binns states, "There is not a shred of evidence that Slytherin ever built so much as a secret broom cupboard!" Ironically enough, there is a secret broom cupboard in Hogwarts: the Weasley twins told Harry that when they were running away from Filch once, they took refuge in a broom cupboard, which was later revealed to be the Room of Requirement.

Appearances

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