Answers: Undercover in Harry Potter

Barty Crouch JR. Peter Pettigrew Transforms Arabella_FiggLucius and Cornelisu

Could you name all of these undercover agents in the Harry Potter series? If so, you just might be observant enough to be a spy yourself!

1. She might be considered a sleeper agent because she is introduced in book 1 and not revealed as a spy until book 5.

Mrs. Figg

She broke her leg in book 1, which meant that 11 year old Harry Potter got to go to the zoo for Dudley’s birthday. In book 5, she appeared out of nowhere when Dementors descended on Privet Drive. There was much more than met the idea with this batty old woman!

2. He’s assigned to track down Sirius Black, but he seems to be pretty bad at his job.

Kingsley Shacklebolt

He always seems to be Cornelius’ Fudge’s right hand man. That is, until he sits down to dinner across from a known fugitive and greets him like an old friend. Shacklebolt balanced his job at the Ministry with his support of the Order quite well, don’t you think?

3. He uses his family’s wealth to insert himself in the Ministry of Magic

Lucius Malfoy

Hard to be entirely undercover when your bratty kid brags about your political bribes at school. Nevertheless, Lucius Malfoy just bides his time throughout the series, waiting until the Dark Lord returns and gives him even more power in the Ministry.

4. He is more of a diplomat than a spy when he attempts to win over a whole magical species.

Rubeus Hagrid

Although Hagrid and his stunning girlfriend, Madame Olympe Maxime, tower over most of their colleagues, they were pretty tiny compared to the giants they tried to recruit on behalf of the Order. Despite their gifts and common heritage, Hagrid and Maxime were unsuccessful in their diplomatic mission.

5. This creature changes sides more than once in response to the treatment he receives at the hand of his various masters.

Kreacher

Yes, he’s spiteful and hateful and bitter. But look who he’s had to serve his whole life! He is almost entirely responsible for Sirius’ death, but Hermione is quick to realize that the old house elf just needs a little kindness to change allegiances and help the Order rather than the Dark Lord.

6. This man spent thirteen years undercover with the Weasleys.

Peter Pettigrew

13 years as a rat is not nearly long enough for a man whose cowardice resulted in the deaths of James and Lily Potter. However, he’s the only undercover agent to maintain such an elaborate disguise and cover story for so long! So, kudos for cowardice?

7. He may win the award for most elaborate disguise used by a spy in the Harry Potter series — he may also qualify for the insanity plea!

Barty Crouch Jr.

He’s a nut job, no two ways about it. He was willing to drink Polyjuice Potion constantly for nearly 9 months just to get Harry Potter to touch a portkey in the middle of an elaborate labyrinth.

8. She kept her special talent hidden so she could get the best scoop on a scandalous piece of gossip!

Rita Skeeter

This journalist took the whole “I wish I could be a fly on the wall for THAT conversation” a little too seriously. As an unregistered insect animagus, Skeeter could get any of the information she wanted just by waiting patiently to eavesdrop on the right conversation.

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).

The Daily Prophet and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Sirius Black

The Hunt for Sirius Black—Supposed Death Eater and Escape Artist

As in the matter of Gilderoy Lockhart, the Daily Prophet seems unable to properly investigate the story of Sirius Black. Why was there no thorough and substantial investigation of how Sirius was able to escape Azkaban? His escape would have been a good opportunity to review the facts surrounding the murder of thirteen Muggles and determine whether there was any real proof that Sirius Black had committed the murders of which he had been found guilty. Of course, no investigation happens and the Daily Prophet relies instead in providing a “social benefit” to the Wizarding world by extolling the dangers of one Sirius Black, killer of Muggles, follower of Voldemort, and master escape artist. We also observe in this book that the Ministry of Magic is more than happy to use the Daily Prophet as a propaganda tool and purveyor of disinformation about Sirius Black— quite often as a cover-up for its own inadequacies, mistakes, and plain stupidity (PA 37).

Consider how small details like Sirius Black’s presence at the scene of the crime, the disappearance of Peter Pettigrew, and Sirius’ supposed role as the Potter’s secret keeper led the Ministry and the rest  of the wizarding world to believe that Sirius had to be guilty of murder. However, the lie was given extra weight because the Daily Prophet, an established source, supported it. The media has a lot more power than you might think, and it’s important to pay attention to how they interpret the details!

 

Spy Terms:

Disinformation (n): intentionally incorrect information, often provided to an enemy for the purpose of influencing the enemy’s reactions. For examples of real-world espionage that relied on disinformation, check out the Wikipedia article! 

Propoganda (n): False information, usually disseminated by the government

Established Source (n): Any source that has been used regularly and found to be reliable.

For more information about the role of the Daily Prophet in Harry Potter spy craft, try these posts: Check your Sources and The Daily Prophet and Open Source Information. 

Dumbledore’s Earliest Debriefs with Harry: Revelations from Harry Potter Books 2 & 3

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The last post we discussed what Dumbledore knew, when he knew it, and whether he should have told Harry sooner—and what Dumbledore disclosed at the end of the first book after Harry rescues the Philosopher’s Stone from Voldemort/Quirrell.

 

Today I want to continue that theme slightly and talk about what Dumbledore disclosed to Harry at the end of the next two books, and how he begins to unfold the realities of Harry’s his connection to Voldemort.

 

At the end of the second book after Harry defeats the basilisk.

1)     According to Dumbledore’s sources, Voldemort was hiding in the forests of Albania

2)     Voldemort was probably the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen

3)     Voldemort disappeared after leaving the school  .  .  . traveled far and wide  .  .  . sank so deeply into the Dark Arts, consorted with the very worst of our kind, underwent so many dangerous, magical transformations

4)     When he resurfaced as Lord Voldemort, he was barely recognizable.

5)      Nothing but loyalty toward Dumbledore could have called Fawkes to Harry

6)     “You can speak Parseltongue, Harry,” said Dumbledore calmly, “because Lord Voldemort—who is the last remaining descendant of Salazar Slytherin—can speak Parseltongue. Unless I’m much mistaken, he transferred some of his own powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I’m sure.  .  .  .”   “Voldemort put a bit of himself in me?” Harry said, thunderstruck.   “It certainly seems so.”

7)     Harry is different from Tom Riddle because he chose Gryffindor and asked the sorting hat not to go in Slytherin.  .  .  . “Which makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

 

So by book two, Dumbledore knows that it seems that “Voldemort put a bit of himself” in Harry, and on the night Voldemort tried to kill Harry when he was a toddler, he unintentionally transferred some of his powers to Harry.

 

And of course Dumbledore knows what the prophesy says:

FOR NEITHER CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES.  .  .  . THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD WILL BE BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES

Harry is destined to fight to the death the Dark Lord—heavy stuff for a twelve-year-old, I guess.  So Dumbledore tells Harry—basically—to go off and play—and the story continues, Harry none the wiser.

 

In book 3, Harry saves Sirius and Buckbeak, once again has an end-of-the-book discussion with Dumbledore.  Harry is concerned that he didn’t make any difference because Pettigrew got away.

Dumbledore tells Harry that his actions made all the difference in the world: “You helped uncover the truth. You saved an innocent man from a terrible fate.”

Harry then tells Dumbledore about Professor Trelawney’s prediction, where she said “Voldemort’s servant was going to set out to return to him before midnight.  .  .  . She said the servant would help him come back to power.”

Dumbledore concludes that was Professor Trelawney making a real prediction and calmly took the news that Pettigrew is going to help Voldemort return to power.  Harry feels guilty that he has done something that will help Voldemort return to power.  But Dumbledore looks at his action in a positive light:

“You did a very noble thing, in saving Pettigrew’s life.”

“But if he helps Voldemort back to power—!”

“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  .  .  . trust me  .  .  . the time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew’s life.”

Finally, Harry had hoped that he had seen his father James across the lake the night before and realizes that his father is indeed dead and cannot return.  Dumbledore helps Harry through this realization as well, telling him, “Your father is alive in you, Harry . . .  How else could you produce that particular Patronus? . . .  So you did see your father last night, Harry.  .  .  . You found him inside yourself.”

So in book 3, Dumbledore doesn’t tell Harry much (except that saving a wizard’s life might help you later) and focuses more on “cheering” Harry up.

Harry remains in the dark, and off once more to the Dursley’s for his summer break!