Recruitment and Handling: Spy Craft in Harry Potter

Dumbledore's Army

If you’ve ever seen a James Bond film, you know that Bond takes orders from someone. He doesn’t not always follow those orders, but someone gives them nonetheless. The same is true of real spies and spy craft. A spy always has a handler who tells him or her what to do and who sends the information the spy gathers to the right place.

Handlers often recruit new spies as well. Dumbledore, for example, never passes up an opportunity to convince someone to spy for him.

How much do you know about spy recruitment and handling in Harry Potter? Test your knowledge with this quiz!

1. How did Grindelwald nearly recruit Dumbledore? What ultimately made his recruitment efforts fail?

2. Why does Hagrid’s attempt to bribe the giants fail?

3. Why is Dumbledore successful in recruiting Slughorn to teach at Hogwarts in Book 6?

4. What device does Mrs. Weasley have to “handle” her large family when they are out of her sight?

5. How does Voldemort ensure that his followers do what he wants them to?

Here’s an example of Dumbledore’s EXCELLENT recruitment tactics. Check out how he uses some serious psychological analysis to get Slughorn to do what he wants!

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).