Fact or Fiction? Spy Gadgets in Harry Potter

Sneakoscope

Some of JK Rowling’s ingenious magic objects and spells have real-life counterparts. Can you guess which of these Harry Potter spy gadgets are also available for muggle use?

1. The Invisibility Cloak

Harry would have a much harder time sneaking around if someone *ahem* Dumbledore hadn’t decided that he should have his father’s magical cloak. But how likely is it that a muggle could become invisible just by changing his or her clothes?

2. Hermione’s DA Coins

The members of the DA know when to come practice their defense against the dark arts spells thanks to Hermione’s coins, which turn warm in members’ pockets when she wants their attention.

3. Sneakoscope

If Harry had paid more attention to this gift from Ron, he may have figured out sooner that Ron’s pet was not what he seemed… Ok, who are we kidding? No one saw that one coming!

4. Veritaserum

A tool of the oh-so-evil Umbridge and respectable Dumbledore alike, this truth serum sure comes in handy when you want someone to spill their guts!

5. Owl post

Harry gets a lot of information from the outside world through his owl, Hedwig. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a winged friend to send notes to people?

Misdirection, Deception, and Disguises In Harry Potter

voldemort and elder wand

We’re back with a new quiz! This one will require you to remember details from ALL of the Harry Potter books. Specifically, do you know how much of a role misdirection, deception, and disguises played throughout J.K. Rowling’s beloved series? Well, you’re about to find out!

1. Why doesn’t the Elder Wand work for Voldemort the way he wants it to?

 

2. How does Harry mislead both Ron and Hermione before Ron’s spectacular performance at a Quidditch match in the Half Blood Prince?

 

3. How does Hermione mislead Umbridge when the evil Headmistress is about to punish every member of the DA for their clandestine activities?

 

4. Who is the very first person in the Harry Potter series to appear in disguise?

 

5. What DA member is in disguise in the Hog’s Head during the first DA meeting?

 

Did you know?

Harry Potter and the Art of Spying author Lynn Boughey adopted someone else’s identity in order to travel to Chara, Russia to research his spy novel Mission to Chara in 1993. He had to memorize his taxi driver’s passport and pretend not to understand the train conductress when she asked for identification. You don’t have to be a spy to use misdirection, deception, and disguises!

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?

Answers: Padfoot is in Danger!

Harry on Thestrals

How did you do on yesterday’s quiz? Check your answers below to find out! Also, stop back here on Thursday for a blog post about the Daily Prophet in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

1. Who concludes that Umbridge fired Hagrid at night in order to avoid another scene like the one following her dismissal of Professor Trelawney?

Ernie McMillian 

2. What does Kreacher tell Harry when asked about Sirius’ whereabouts?

“Master will not come back from the Department of Mysteries” (OP 740-71),

3. What alerts Umbridge that Harry and his friends have infiltrated her office?

Hidden Stealth Sensoring Spells 

4. What does Harry tell Snape in order to communicate that he believes Sirius is in danger?

“He’s got Padfoot at the place where it is hidden!” (745)

5. What spell does Umbridge nearly use to get information out of Harry?

The Cruciatus Curse

6. What does Hermione tell Umbridge to stop her from torturing Harry?

That there is a weapon in the Forbidden Forest.

7. What does Hermione do that alerts the centaurs to their presence in the forest?

She makes a lot of noise as she stumbles through the forest. 

8. Who saves Harry and Hermione when the centaurs become angry with them?

Grawp!

9. What draws the thestrals to Harry and his friends precisely when they need transportation to London?

Thestrals are attracted to the scent of blood and Grawp is bleeding from arrow wounds received from the centaurs!

10. Why does Harry fail to realize that he’s walking into a trap?

He has let his emotions take over. Unlike Hermione, he is not objective enough.

Answers: Covert Operations under Umbridge’s Regime

tumblr_lm5ep7HK9T1qi6xzso1_500

How did you do on yesterday’s quiz? Could you keep track of all of the covert ops Harry and his friends ran after Umbridge took over Hogwarts? Check your answers below and tell us how you did in the comments!

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

Monitoring all channels of communication in and out of Hogwarts

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

Her stunning spell causes the fireworks to explode even more!

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

A magical knife

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

James was young and arrogant. Eventually he grew out of those character flaws.

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

Umbridge gives Filch permission to whip them, at which point they decide they’ve “outgrown full-time education”

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

His half-brother, Grawp.

7. Why are the centaurs angry at Firenze?

They believe “he is peddling [their] knowledge and secrets among humans” (OP 698)

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

According to their culture, harming “the innocent” (children like Harry and Hermione) is a terrible crime.

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

Professor Marchbanks

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

A fully-fledged Patronus Charm

Spy Terms:

Mail Cover (n): A request by an intelligence agency to obtain information from a country’s mail service, to examine the outside aspects of an envelope or package, normally without opening the item.

Example: Umbridge intercepts owls delivering messages to Hogwarts students to keep tabs on any potential rebellions.

Black Bag Job (n): a surreptitious or covert entry into a home, office or other location without the knowledge of the owner.

Example: When Harry and his friends sneak into Umbridge’s office to use the only un-monitored fireplace to contact Sirius and Lupin.

 

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?

“We Fudge the Truth” – The Daily Prophet and the Order of the Phoenix

 

TheBoyWhoLies

The Ministry Becomes the Ministry of Lies—Its Slogan, “We Fudge the Truth”

In the book that we have already spent so much time discussing and dissecting, we find out that the Daily Prophet has spent the entire summer (following the murder of Cedric Diggory and Harry’s escape from Voldemort) denouncing Harry’s story and publishing articles denigrating and attacking Harry Potter (OP 73). When the ten Death Eaters escape from Azkaban, the Ministry of Magic uses the Daily Prophet to present its conclusion—based solely on the fact that Black had previously escaped from Azkaban— that the Death Eaters were assisted in their escape by Sirius Black (OP 544–45).

Dumbledore repeatedly tells Fudge and the others the truth, but they refuse to have any part of it. Only at the end, when Fudge sees Voldemort with his own eyes (and in the presence of other witnesses!) does the paper finally print the truth about Voldemort’s return—as well as Harry Potter’s redemption as the lone voice of truth in the wilderness of lies (OP 817).

Umbridge Daily Prophet

Notice how the Daily Prophet is also used to extol Professor Umbridge’s values as a Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts and as Hogwarts’s first High Inquisitor (OP 306–8). In the process of describing what a wonderful headmistress Dolores Umbridge is, the Daily Prophet obtains a single countervailing view from one Professor Marchbanks—and then immediately attacks her credibility via a separate article providing “a full account of Madam Marchbanks’s alleged links to subversive goblin groups” (OP 308). Talk about argument ad hominem!

Near the end book 5, an alternative newspaper, The Quibbler, prints an exclusive interview with Harry conducted by none other than Rita Skeeter. This game-changing piece is eventually reprinted in its entirety by the Daily Profit—er, we mean Prophet—once the return of Voldemort is finally acknowledged.

Spy Term

argument ad hominem (n): a fallacy in logic in which the position or viewpoint of a particular person is rejected based solely on a negative view of that person.

Example: The Daily Prophet repeatedly rejected Harry’s statements that Voldemort had returned by attacking him personally. It damaged his credibility rather than addressing his claims head on with evidence that Voldemort had not returned.