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! 

Quiz: Covert Operations Under Umbridge’s Regime

Mcgonagall scolds Umbridge

Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to draw on their whole network of friends and acquaintances to counteract Umbridge’s oppressive regime. Thankfully, she is not well liked, so people are happy to help! See if you can recall all of the trio’s covert operations!

1. When Umbridge is unable to trick Harry into revealing his secrets, she threatens him by revealing that the Ministry is doing what?

2. What happens when Umbridge attempts to counteract the Weasley’s fireworks?

3. What gift from Sirius does Harry use to open Umbridge’s locked office door to talk to Lupin and Sirius?

4. What excuses do Lupin and Sirius provide for James Potter’s terrible treatment of Snape?

5. After Fred and George Weasley create a swamp in a school corridor, what is their punishment?

6. What does Hagrid insist on showing Harry and Hermione during the Quidditch match?

7. Why are the centaurs angry at Firenze?

8. Why do the centaurs let Hagrid pass despite their anger with him for meddling in their affairs?

9. Who is the head of the Wizarding Examination Authority?

10. What spell does Harry cast that impresses his O.W.L examiner?

A Day of Remembrance

Saluting Trade Center Memorial

Although we at Art of Spying tend to focus on the whimsical and the entertainment value of the Potter series, there are some days where we must take a moment to be serious, and this is one of those days. However, the magic of Harry Potter is that it portrays both the light and dark in the world and, perhaps, offers a way to deal with the dark moments even as it helps us to celebrate the light ones.

The September 11th attacks happened 13 years ago today.

Many of our readers grew up not only with Harry Potter, but the specter of the twin towers falling, the Pentagon burning, and a plane burrowing in upon a flat Pennsylvania field.

There were many heroes that day.  Some lived.  Some didn’t.

Some were victims of chance, being at the wrong place at the wrong time.  But many were persons who chose to be there, chose to walk up those steps, fight those fires, take over a hijacked plane, put themselves in harm’s way.

All are worthy of our remembrance.

In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we all were touched by the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the true greater good, a life without fear, without torture, without the specter of an evil Dark Lord who wanted to not only control the world, but torment it.

Lupin and Resurrection Stone

In one of the scenes of the final battle of Hogwarts, Harry enters the great hall to see bodies strewn on the floor:  Tonks, Remus, Fred, and even little Colin Creevey.  Many of us, as we read this abject scene, shed tears.

Death is hard.  And yet sacrifice based purely on principle, or in aid of another, is perhaps the greatest virtue that one can envision or dare to impart.

For every person who lost his or her life in the final Battle of Hogwarts, hundreds perished on 9/11.  Every one of them had a family, loved ones, children waiting for a parent to come home . . . who never did.

So on this day, when we remember sacrifice – and death – and choosing to help others – and dying for a principle – let us pause for just a moment, and think of that which is worth fighting for.

Something Worth Fighting For

Today we call most fervently upon the memory of those who have, in support of freedom and in the assistance of others, done what needed to be done, at times giving the greatest sacrifice.

To those we give thanks, and our solemn remembrance.

Respectfully,

Lynn and Peter