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”?

Check Your Sources: Gilderoy Lockhart and the Daily Prophet

 

Lockhart

A couple weeks ago we discussed Hermione’s expert use of open source information — namely textbooks and the Daily Prophet — to figure out exactly what was hidden beneath Fluffy’s ginormous paws. However, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we find out that Hermione may put too much trust in her sources. Her infatuation with Gilderoy Lockhart despite his obvious ineptitude demonstrates that she missed something right in front of her. A good spy knows to use the press as a source of information that may be manipulated and flawed.

Hermione and Gilderoy

As we find out in Chamber of Secrets, Gilderoy Lockhart is quite the celebrity— in part thanks to all of the wonderful press that he receives from the Daily Prophet, and from the magazine Witch Weekly, which voted his the Most Charming Smile five times in a row (CS 91)! Interestingly enough, no one on the Daily Prophet staff thought to investigate Lockhart’s feats, so avidly detailed in all of his many books. Note also that the professors at Hogwarts determine—quite quickly—that Professor Lockhart is a fraud. You’d think that any newspaper with even a concept of investigative reporting could have found this out just as easily! But then again, any reporter who looked into Lockhart’s alleged accomplishments would probably find himself or herself at the wrong end of a well-aimed Memory Charm—so perhaps the Daily Prophet would be unable to find out the truth after all (CS 297). Lockhart waged what spies call a disinformation campaign to avoid anyone discovering his lack of defense against the dark arts ability. In later books, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, learn to be much more skeptical of open source intelligence.

Spy Term

Disinformation Campaign (n): an intentional program of distributing false information. Example: Lockhart “leaks” a story about being captured by trolls to boost his popularity. His best-selling books are also carefully designed to distribute false information.

What are some other examples of disinformation campaigns in the Harry Potter series? What about in real life?