The Duped Spy

On a Fool’s Errand: Katie Bell and Bode’s Nurse

Katie Bell Cursed

The last type of spy we would like to discuss is the person who is being used or has been duped. Two examples in the Harry Potter series are Katie Bell, who agrees to deliver the cursed necklace to Professor Dumbledore, and Bode’s nurse, who delivers the lethal plant to Bode’s bedside.

There are numerous ways to get information by trickery and deceit, but good ol’ unabashed friendliness works too. For example, go up to somebody and ask, “Didn’t I go to high school with you? Well, aren’t you from such and such town?” Most of the time you will end up in a conversation in which you will be able to determine that person’s name, where he or she grew up, what that person is doing in town, his or her profession, and even a listing of family members!

People love to talk about themselves, so let them!

When we say that these individuals have been duped, we say so in the nicest way possible. The best spies do not look upon others with condescension or arrogance, but instead generally enjoy people, listening to them, and learning about their lives. Listening closely to people and showing a genuine interest will open more doors than Sirius’s famous knife!

One of the most important traits of a spy is the ability to listen carefully and to appear to show genuine interest in the person to whom you are speaking.

Katie Bell Analysis

Recruitment by: Draco Malfoy used the Imperius Curse on Rosmerta, who then asked Katie to deliver the package to Dumbledore

Incentive Used: Doing someone a favor

Handler: Rosmerta, at the request of Draco Malfoy

Method of Communication: Through Rosmerta in the Three Broomsticks

Memorable Quotes:

Leanne: “She came back from the bathroom in the Three Broomsticks holding it, said it was a surprise for somebody at Hogwarts and she had to deliver it. She looked all funny when she said it. . . . Oh no, oh no, I bet she’d been Imperiused and I didn’t realize!” (HBP 251).

Dumbledore: “So poor Rosmerta was forced to lurk in her own bathroom and pass that necklace to any Hogwarts student who entered the room unaccompanied?” (HBP 589).

Bode’s Nurse Analysis

Recruitment by: Probably just a person leaving a “gift,” and the nurse was just “doing her job”

Incentive Used: Doing someone a favor

Handler: Voldemort, through a Death Eater

Method of Communication: Something simple and ordinary, like a note attached to the “delivery”

Memorable Quote:

Hermione: “I don’t think anyone could put Devil’s Snare in a pot and not realize it tries to kill whoever touches it” (547).

The Possessed Spy: Ginny Weasley

Ginny Weasley -CS with Diary

Another type of spy unique to the Harry Potter series is one who is possessed, such as Ginny Weasley in book 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Ginny Weasley is possessed by Lord Voldemort— or, more precisely, by Tom Riddle through the diary—but she does not remember what she did at Tom Riddle’s behest. As such, Ginny should not be held accountable for painting warnings on the walls or her other actions while under the diary’s influence.

Ginny Weasley Analysis

Recruitment by: Tom Riddle’s diary, via the part of Voldemort’s soul contained therein

Incentive Used: Initially curiosity; then possession, with no choice given

Handler: Tom Riddle

Method of Communication: The diary

Memorable Quotes:

Tom Riddle: “Yes, of course, she didn’t know what she was doing at first. It was very amusing. I wish you could have seen her new diary entries . . . far more interesting, they became. . . . Dear Tom, I think I’m losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and I don’t know how they got there. DearTom, I can’t remember what I did on the night of Halloween, but a cat was attacked and I’ve got paint all down my front. Dear Tom, Percy keeps telling me I’m pale and I’m not myself. I think he suspects me. . . . There was another attack today and I don’t know where I was. Tom, what am I going to do? I think I’m going mad. . . . I think I’m the one attacking everyone, Tom!” (CS 310–11).

Ginny: “Well, that was a bit stupid of you,” said Ginny angrily, “seeing as you don’t know anyone but me who’s been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels. . . . Well, can you remember everything you’ve been doing?” Ginny asked. “Are there big blank periods where you don’t know what you’ve been up to? . . . When he did it to me, I couldn’t remember what I’d been doing for hours at a time. I’d find myself somewhere and not know how I got there” (499–500).

Although magical possession isn’t possible in the muggle world, other forms of mind control happen every day. Peer pressure and “group think,” for example, can convince whole crowds of people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Have you ever been in a situation when your actions were not quite your own? How did you get away from the influence of your “possessor”?

Spying out of a Desire for Mayhem—Barty Crouch Jr. as Mad-Eye Moody

Barty Crouch JR.

Another spy who does not fit exactly into Sun-Tzu’s list of spies comes from book 4: Mad-Eye Moody, who was in reality Barty Crouch Jr. using Polyjuice to impersonate the irascible professor. Moody, as we find out at the end, had been imprisoned inside his own highly secure trunk in his office. Barty Crouch Jr., disguised as Moody, was spying for the purpose of getting Harry into the Triwizard Tournament and succeeding in it, so that, at the final moment, he would touch the trophy—in reality a Portkey that would take him directly to Lord Voldemort, who needed Harry’s blood to return to his physical form.

Barty Crouch Jr. Analysis

Recruitment by: A Death Eater or Voldemort

Incentive Used: Antisocial and anti-authority tendencies

Handler: Voldemort at the Riddle house, and also probably a Death Eater, given Voldemort’s weakened state

Method of Communication: Face-to-face

Memorable Quotes:

Sirius: “When Voldemort disappeared, it looked like only a matter of time until Crouch got the top job. But then something rather unfortunate happened. . . .” Sirius smiled grimly. “Crouch’s own son was caught with a group of Death Eaters who’d managed to talk their way out of Azkaban. Apparently they were trying to find Voldemort and return him to power”

Barty Crouch Jr.: He told me he needed to place a faithful servant at Hogwarts. A servant who would guide Harry Potter through the Triwizard Tournament without appearing to do so…A servant who would watch over Harry Potter. Ensure he reached the Triwizard Cup. Turn the Cup into a Portkey, which would take the first person to touch it to my master” (GF 688).

Barty Crouch Jr.: My master’s plan worked. He is returned to power and I will be honored by him beyond the dreams of wizards” (GF 691).

The Fearful Spy: Peter Pettigrew

Peter Pettigrew Transforms

The next type of spy is motivated by fear. Our example, of course, is Peter Pettigrew.

As we all know, Peter Pettigrew was brought into James Potter’s circle despite the fact that the other three (James, Sirius, and Lupin) would not automatically or normally have included him in their group. James and Sirius were good-looking and popular, as well as egotistical. Lupin, as a werewolf, was an outsider; that at least indicates that James and Sirius were not so full of themselves that they would be unwilling to befriend and assist somebody strange or different. Peter Pettigrew was certainly in need of friends, but we wonder why the other three allowed him into their midst…

Whatever the reason, Peter Pettigrew became one of the foursome, but unfortunately not one who could be trusted in the end. For, as we all know, Peter Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper who told Voldemort where James and Lily Potter, and their toddler son, Harry, lived.

When we meet Peter Pettigrew as an adult, he seems like a weak and spineless rat (and, of course, he can turn into a rat!). He seems to fear Voldemort, but is thrilled by the prospect of receiving power through Voldemort. He is willing to give Voldemort not merely the shirt off his back, but, literally, his right hand. Now that’s really a right-hand man! (Sorry about that!)

Keep in mind, spies whose main motivation is fear are not the most reliable. All you have to do is find a stronger motivator or find someone who inspires more fear to convince them to switch sides!

For example, thanks to Harry’s refusal to allow Sirius and Lupin to kill Peter at the Shrieking Shack (after the rat returned to human form and confessed to his betrayal of James and Lily Potter), Peter Pettigrew is indebted to Harry (PA 375). This pays off in the long run because it gives Peter another motivator –the desire to repay the favor.

As Dumbledore explains to Harry, “The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed. . . . Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt. When one wizard saves another wizard’s life, it creates a certain bond between them . . .” (PA 426–27).

Harry understandably wants no connection to Peter Pettigrew, but Dumbledore wisely opines, “the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew’s life” (PA 427). And, to Peter Pettigrew’s great surprise, he does falter for a moment when coming to check on Harry and the others imprisoned in the dungeon of Malfoy Manor—and the new hand that Voldemort gave Pettigrew immediately turns on him and kills him (DH 470)!

Peter Pettigrew Analysis

Recruitment by: A Death Eater or Voldemort as they searched for James, Lily, and toddler Harry Potter

Incentive Used: Desire for power and fear of Voldemort

Handler: Probably Voldemort himself

Method of Communication: Face-to-face

Memorable Quotes:

Sirius: But you, Peter—I’ll never understand why I didn’t see you were the spy from the start. You always liked big friends who’d look after you, didn’t you? It used to be us . . . me and Remus . . . and James. . . .” (PA 369).

Voldemort: “You returned to me, not out of loyalty, but out of fear of your old friends” (GF 649).

Narrative: “The silver tool that Voldemort had given his most cowardly servant had turned upon its disarmed and useless owner; Pettigrew was reaping his reward for his hesitation, his moment of pity; he was being strangled before their eyes” (DH 470).

Answers: Types of Spies

Harry Potter characters
Yesterday, we asked you to name Harry Potter characters that fit into the five Types of Spies that 4th century theorist Sun Tzu devised. Here are our answers!

1) Local Inhabitants – i.e. people who are in the right places at the right times to observe what’s happening and report back to their handlers.

Mrs. Figg – She used her location near the Dursleys to keep an eye on Harry Potter for Dumbledore

Tom – The innkeeper at the Leaky Cauldron, Tom often spied on Harry and his friends for Cornelius Fudge

Mrs. Norris – Ok, so a cat is not typically a spy, but Mrs. Norris made a point of nosing around Hogwarts to report back to Fudge

2) Government Officials who can be persuaded to switch their loyalties

Pius Thicknius – He’s not the most well-known character, but thanks to an Imperius Curse, he became Voldemort’s puppet as the Prime Minister.

Kingsley Shacklebolt – Once it was clear that the Ministry of Magic had lost its way, Kingsley Shacklebolt quickly affirmed his loyalty to Dumbledore.

3) Enemy Spies who can be persuaded to become double agents

Severus Snape – Snape is the most obvious example of a double agent in Harry Potter. Lily’s death was more than enough to persuade him to work as a double agent.

4) Spies who conduct acts of espionage to deceive the enemy

Severus Snape – Once again, Snape proves himself to be an EXCELLENT spy by deceiving Voldemort every step of the way.

Peeves – Peeves helps Fred and George Weasley wreak havoc in the Order of the Phoenix in order to combat Umbridge’s horrible regime.

5) Spies sent behind enemy lines that return with information

Remus Lupin- Although the task was distasteful, Lupin went to spy among the werewolves.

Hagrid – Similarly, Hagrid used his half-giant status to try to get information and support from the giants.

Did you come up with better answers? Tell us in the comments! 

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 Spy for a Cause – Draco Malfoy

Draco Slide

Draco Malfoy

If you’ve been following along, you know that people often spy for personal reasons – patriotism/loyalty, fear, love, etc. There is one personal motivation we HAVE to mention, because it is SO important both in the real world and in the Harry Potter series. And that motivation is…


ANALYSIS: Why would Draco Malfoy agree to try to kill Dumbledore in book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?

Remember that, by that point in the series, Draco’s father is imprisoned and derided as a known Death Eater. Voldemort personally gives Draco his assignment, which makes Draco feel powerful and important at the precise moment he has begun to be humiliated by his father. But one must wonder, just as Professor Dumbledore wonders when he is visiting with Snape, whether Draco’s heart is really in it. Draco is not evil at this point, but simply terribly misdirected. His motive is revenge, not hatred, and the difference between the two is significant. Draco seems somewhat apathetic to Lord Voldemort’s cause. In book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Draco observes Lord Voldemort torturing and killing people—including Hogwarts’s Muggle Studies teacher, Professor Charity Burbage, the woman twisting above the drawing room table (DH 3, 11). When he sees his father forced to give his wand to Lord Voldemort, we imagine that he begins to understand Voldemort quite well and perhaps has terrible misgivings about the Dark Lord’s presence in his family’s home (a point raised by Voldemort at the time—perhaps by use of Legilimency!).

We assert that Lucius and Narcissi Malfoy come to the same conclusion by the end of the series, as shown in the final installation of the film series: during the last battle, they grab Draco and quietly leave the scene, no doubt to go into hiding—away from Lord Voldemort, in case he is successful, and in a position to claim they did not fight for him if the tide is turned. A shrewd move indeed, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy! You will also note that, in the movie version, Draco has a hard time leaving his friends when asked to do so. He is clearly conflicted; after all, he had been saved just a little while ago by Harry Potter (to Ron’s great chagrin!) when the Room of Requirements went up in magical flames (DH 633–34).

Draco Malfoy Analysis

Recruitment by: Voldemort himself, no doubt

Incentive Used: Revenge for father’s downfall

Handler: Voldemort, perhaps through Lucius Malfoy or other Death Eaters when necessary (as when Lucius is in prison)

Method of Communication: Face-to-face

Memorable Quote:

“I haven’t got any options! I’ve got to do it! He’ll kill me! He’ll kill my whole family!” (HBP 591).

Dumbledore: “A frightened teenage boy is a danger to others as well as to himself. Offer him help and guidance, he ought to accept, he likes you—”

Snape: “—much less since his father has lost favor. Draco blames me, he thinks I have usurped Lucius’s position” (DH 682).

The Spy for A Cause: Kreacher (and other house elves)


The Spy for Cause—Patriotic: Kreacher

A spy who could be deemed patriotic without connection to a particular nation is Kreacher. As a member of and servant to the House of Black, he has absorbed all of their biases and prejudices. Kreacher’s patriotism lies with his understanding of the history and values of the Black family. Importantly, in the last book, Kreacher is able to unlearn these biases and prejudices (as we all are able to do) and actually assists Harry, Hermione, and Ron when they are hiding out at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, and in the final battle.

Kreacher Analysis

Recruitment by: Presumably Voldemort himself

Incentive Used: At first, Voldemort and co. used Kreacher’s obligation to the House of Black and then specifically to R.A.B. (Regulus Black), but later Kreacher behaved according to his perception of what R.A.B. believed or desired. His attitude changed once he discovered that Regulus betrayed Voldemort (with Kreacher’s help), thus Harry was able to recruit Kreacher through friendship and convince him to accept the ideals of Harry and his friends as parallel to Kreacher’s beloved master, Regulus Black.

Handler: Initially Regulus Black; later Harry, after Kreacher was turned

Method of Communication: Face-to-face

Memorable Quotes:

Hermione: “What do wizard wars mean to an elf like Kreacher? He’s loyal to people who are kind to him, and Mrs. Black must have been, and Regulus certainly was, so he served them willingly and parroted their beliefs” (DH 198).

Kreacher: “Fight! Fight! Fight for my Master, defender of house-elves! Fight the Dark Lord, in the name of brave Regulus! Fight!” (DH 734).


The patriotic spy normally owes allegiance to his or her own country. In most countries, when people assume a public office, they take an oath. In the United States the oath includes the obligation to support and defend the Constitution from any enemies, foreign or domestic. In other words, it is possible that we might need to defend our country and Constitution not only from those outside its borders, but also from those within it. Although there are some who argue convincingly that the nation-state is disintegrating or becoming less important, and that we are entering instead a clash of civilizations (discussed at pagesn572-73 in the Appendix), spies are presently and primarily organized by nations and thus are sent out to do a nation’s bidding.

Other House Elves:

Think about Dobby and Winky. Who were there masters? How did they become intelligence assets for Harry, Ron, and Hermione? The answer, as usual, lies with Hermione. She said that Kreacher was “loyal to people who are kind to him.” By being kind to Dobby and Winky, the Trio won the hearts of creatures who were more often ignored. However, they were valuable precisely because they were ignored. Dobby was a wealth of information about the Malfoy family because they never thought to censor themselves around a servant. When he escaped their employ, Dobby was more than willing to share his former master’s secrets!

The Spies Among Us: Professor Quirrell

Quirrinius Quirrell

Professor Quirrell

A good example of someone assisting Voldemort, and gladly so, is Professor Quirrell. After all, Voldemort has gotten, you might say, inside his head. At the end of book 1, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Quirrell seems more than happy to have assisted Lord Voldemort in his endeavors: he says so quite clearly—without any stuttering or nervousness! Unfortunately for him, Voldemort abandons Quirrell without hesitation, once again on the run as an ephemeral spirit looking for the next minion to help him return to physical existence.

Professor Quirrell Analysis

Recruitment by: Voldemort in a forest in Albania

Incentive Used: The promise of receiving great power

Handler: Voldemort himself—under Quirrell’s turban

Method of Communication: Direct—he’s, like, right behind you, man!

Memorable Quotes:

“A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it. . . . Since then, I have served him faithfully, although I have let him down many times” (SS 290).

“Sometimes,” he said, “I find it hard to follow my master’s instructions—he is a great wizard and I am weak—” (SS 290).


Remember how Quirrell seems to be a bumbling, frightened idiot?

Turns out his stupidity is actually a superb act.

Lesson #1 about Recruitment: Recruit Smart Spies Who Appear Stupid:

The famous Chinese general Sun-Tzu wrote in his famous book The Art of War in Part XIII 11 that good spies should seem stupid:

“As living spies we must recruit men who are intelligent but appear to be stupid; who seem to be dull but are strong in heart; men who are agile, vigorous, hardy, and brave; well-versed in lowly matters and able to endure hunger, cold, filth, and humiliation.”

Watch as Quirrell reveals his true colors!


Be sure to check out the other spies we’ve discussed in the Harry Potter Series: Mundungus Fletcher, Kreacher and the Death Eaters. And check back with us in a few weeks for our next installment of The Spies Among Us!