A Spy in the Light of Day – Dolores Umbridge

Umbridge Giving Speech

One spy who does not fit into the typical definition of a spy is Professor Umbridge, who certainly spied for a cause (the Ministry can do no wrong, hem hem, giggle), but was spying openly. In other words, everybody at the school knew that Professor

Umbridge was there to spy on Hogwarts, its students, its staff, and its headmaster. We note this simple fact because normally a spy works covertly and secretly.

However, there are situations in which somebody spies openly, particularly when they have been given authority to do so by those in power! The role of such open spying is to assert the authority’s control with constant reminders that resistance will be observed, reported, and certainly not left unanswered!

Dolores Umbridge Analysis

Recruitment by: Cornelius Fudge

Incentive Used: Pure loyalty to the Ministry and the Minister

of Magic, Cornelius Fudge

Handler: Cornelius Fudge

Method of Communication: Owl, Floo Network, Educational Decrees

Memorable Quotes:

Umbridge: “Let us move forward, then, into a new era of openness, effectiveness, and accountability, intent on preserving what ought to be preserved, perfecting what needs to be perfected, and pruning wherever we find practices that ought to be prohibited” (OP 213–14).

Here’s her full speech, because it’s pretty awe-inspiring to watch:

What Cornelius doesn’t know won’t hurt him” (OP 746).

Other Spies in the Open

As an aside, we note two other “open” spies in the series, both appearing in book 3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The first is none other than Petunia Dursley, who, it turns out, is quite the nosy neighbor! According to Harry, Aunt Petunia would love to be the one to call in and report the spotting of Sirius Black:

Petunia Dursley

“She was the nosiest woman in the world and spent most of her life spying on the boring, law-abiding neighbors” (PA 17).

Another “open” spy is Tom, the toothless landlord of the Leaky Cauldron, who at the request of Cornelius Fudge keeps an eye on Harry while he stays at the Leaky Caldron for a few weeks after escaping from the Dursleys’ (PA 46).

Tom, Leaky Cauldron

What do all of these spies in the open have in common? Do you have any examples of other spies in Harry Potter who make sure everyone knows what they’re doing?

Spies for Adventure: The Weasley Twins!

  Weasley Fireworks W

The Weasley twins are never really recruited… they just like the adventure! Although adventure is a great incentive indeed, it should never be the primary incentive. A spy’s primary incentive should be a value or principle on which you can always rely. Adventure knows no country, nor any morals. Adventure is a rush of excitement that satisfies a specific purpose; such a flimsy or ephemeral rationale is not in and of itself a purpose worthy of action.

Without an underlying and worthy purpose, actions are just that: action without meaning or principle. 

In the Harry Potter series, we identify two individuals who are in a sense spies (or at least operatives) and do so for adventure: Fred and George Weasley. Fred and George clearly enjoy the adventure of spying on people and have even designed the Extendable Ears to do so. But they are also principled and have a moral belief about what is right.

Twins with Kreacher Quote

The Weasley Twins Analysis

Recruitment by: None needed

Incentive Used: The desire to always be up to no good!

Handler: Themselves

Method of Communication: Face-to-face (via quick-witted


Memorable Quote:

A thin piece of flesh-colored string descended in front of Harry’s eyes. Looking up he saw Fred and George on the landing above, cautiously lowering the Extendable Ear toward the dark knot of people below (76–77).

“George,” said Fred, “I think we’ve outgrown full-time education.” “Yeah, I’ve been feeling that way myself,” said George lightly (674).


The Spies Among Us – Introducing The Spies in the Harry Potter Series


Spies have unique motivations, loyalties, and behaviors just like all of us. A famous Chinese general named Sun-Tzu described 5 types of spies as far back as the 4th century B.C.!  We’ve already discussed one of the biggest undercover agents in the Harry Potter series, Severus Snape, the double agent. But what about the other spies in Harry Potter? In this blog series, we’ll analyze some of the most important Harry Potter spies using content from Chapter 39 of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying!

Mundungus Fletcher

The Spy for Hire (or Money): Mundungus Fletcher

In a system where you get what you want through material gain, money can be a significant incentive. We are not just talking about the incentive of holding a job and getting a paycheck here. We are talking about individuals who spy for financial compensation, usually a fairly large amount of money. (Aldrich Ames was promised over $2 million to provide classified information to the Soviets; yet, amazingly, some of the spies caught in the United States have spied for a ridiculously low amount of money.)

In the Harry Potter series, at least, most of those who spy are not doing it for money alone. The one possible exception is our less-than-ethical friend Mundungus Fletcher. Interestingly, Mundungus is first mentioned by Mr. Weasley in book 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when he mentions having had a tough night and the fact that Mundungus Fletcher tried to put a hex on him (CS 38). In book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mundungus is described as putting in a false claim for an expensive tent supposedly ruined at the World Cup (GF 151). And yet, by the end of the same book, Dumbledore refers to Mundungus (and Mrs. Figg and Remis Lupin) as part of the old crowd that needs to be brought back due to Fudge’s unwillingness to believe Harry or that Voldemort is back (GF 713). We cannot help but wonder, since Mundungus is always trying to make a buck, whether there is some way that his connection with the Order allows him to sell—or, as we find out after Sirius’s death, steal—more items and panhandle them on the street (HBP 247).

Mundungus Fletcher Analysis

Recruitment by: Probably Dumbledore

Incentive Used: A strong sense of what is right combined with a touch of personal gain or an opportunity for larceny—and

perhaps a slight fear of Dumbledore. Dumbledore refers to him as part of the “old crowd.”

Handler: Order of the Phoenix leadership, but ultimately Dumbledore

Method of Communication: Group meetings at number twelve, Grimmauld Place

Memorable Quote:

“It . . . it was a very good business opportunity, see . . .” (OP 23).