The Death Eaters

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Chapter 33 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Death Eaters← Chapter 32 | Chapter 34 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Ignoring the weeping Wormtail, the newly-risen Lord Voldemort examines his new body closely. Producing his wand from a robe pocket, he orders Wormtail to extend his arm. Wormtail proffers his severed limb in relief, but Voldemort demands the one containing the Dark Mark. Peter utters a quiet "Master...", but at an order from The Dark Lord presents his remaining hand. Voldemort touches the Mark on Wormtail's forearm, turning it black, and Wormtail whimpers in pain. Voldemort tells Harry that he is standing on Riddle, Sr.'s grave, and the house on the hillside above them was his Muggle father's home. Tom Riddle, Sr. abandoned his pregnant mother, leaving Voldemort to be raised in an orphanage after his mother died. Voldemort vowed revenge.

Hooded figures that Voldemort calls his "true" family begin appearing, forming a circle around the Dark Lord, Harry, and the sobbing Wormtail. Voldemort chastises them for believing him defeated and asks if they now owe their allegiance to Albus Dumbledore. When one Death Eater, Avery, pleads for forgiveness, Voldemort curses him. Voldemort never forgives, nor does he forget; he will want thirteen years repayment from all his Death Eaters. Wormtail has made some repayment and will be rewarded. Voldemort conjures a magical silver hand that attaches itself to Wormtail's wrist.

Voldemort claims Lucius Malfoy ran from the Dark Mark at the Quidditch World Cup. Stopping at another empty space, Voldemort says the Lestranges, who were sentenced to Azkaban, will be rewarded when the prison is broken and the Dementors are recruited to the Dark side. Voldemort will also recall the banished Giants. Voldemort also addresses Macnair, Crabbe, Goyle, and Nott, then pauses at six empty spaces. Three dead in his service, one too cowardly to return, one may never return and needs to be killed. The sixth, his most faithful servant, has re-entered his service and is at Hogwarts. His efforts brought Harry Potter to Voldemort's rebirthing.

Voldemort explains that his return both starts and ends on the night he went to kill Harry Potter. Lily Potter's death while attempting to save her son gave Harry an unforeseen protection: Voldemort was unable to touch him. Voldemort touches Harry's face to prove this has been overcome. Lily's sacrifice caused Voldemort's killing curse to rebound, ripping his soul from his body. He was left alive, though less than a Ghost. He waited for his trusted Death Eaters to find him, and without a body or a wand, he could only possess other bodies, including animals. Four years ago, a young, gullible teacher at Hogwarts crossed his path. Voldemort possessed his body to steal the Philosopher's Stone, only to be thwarted by Harry Potter. When Voldemort fled, weak as before, he returned to the forest.

Wormtail came looking for Voldemort, aided by his ability to communicate with rats. He ran into Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry employee. Wormtail overpowered Bertha and brought her to Voldemort, who learned about the Triwizard Tournament and discovered that a faithful Death Eater was willing to help. When Bertha was no longer useful, Voldemort murdered her. Wormtail fashioned Voldemort a rudimentary body and kept him alive with Nagini's venom. Old Dark magic could restore Voldemort's body. One vital ingredient, the flesh of the servant, was readily available. The "bone of the father" meant the ritual had to be performed in Little Hangleton, where Tom Riddle was buried. The "blood of the foe" is Harry's blood. This would remove the Lily's protection so Voldemort could touch Harry without being harmed. To capture Harry, the Triwizard Cup was turned into a Portkey, and ensuring Harry's victory would remove him from Dumbledore's protection. Voldemort's faithful servant helped to accomplish this. To prove how defenceless Harry is, Voldemort casts the Cruciatus curse; Harry writhes in intense pain that stops as suddenly as it started. Voldemort offers Harry a chance to fight so the Death Eaters will see who is stronger.

Analysis[edit]

By updating his Death Eaters about his exile, Voldemort confirms much that was surmised about him earlier in the series. He arrogantly considers himself superior to everyone, even believing that fate favors him more—he has overcome death itself. Voldemort also believes that Harry's repeated survival is nothing more than chance or luck, rather than any special talent. This belief, and underestimating Harry's abilities, is among Voldemort's greater flaws, and it is one reason Harry has survived to this point. Voldemort's maniacal personality is also on full display here as he lords over his cowering Death Eaters. Voldemort rules by fear and intimidation, punishing followers for any perceived mistake or disloyalty, often lashing out randomly in uncontrollable rage. And though Voldemort does reward loyalty, he does so sparingly and at a high cost; he also simultaneously punishes followers, as shown by his cruel indifference to Wormtail's suffering, even though he was instrumental in bringing about Voldemort's resurrection. Voldemort replaces his severed hand only after a prolonged agonizing period, fully aware that Wormtail's servitude is only to protect himself, rather than loyal to the Dark Lord. It will be a long time, if ever, before Wormtail's debt to Voldemort can be fully settled.

Voldemort also believes his supreme abilities will be proved beyond doubt by defeating Harry in a duel. It is questionable how Voldemort rationalizes to himself that defeating a young, unqualified wizard that Voldemort proclaims has no special talent will accomplish this, though Voldemort will likely claim otherwise after Harry's death. For the moment, Voldemort savors any opportunity to grandstand before his cowering Death Eater audience, and he intends to herald his return by slaying the famous Harry Potter, shocking the Wizarding world and undermining resistance to his takeover.

Just how Voldemort survived his first encounter with Harry thirteen years before is also hinted at here, though the full story is still unknown. Voldemort believes Harry survived the Avada Kedavra curse because old magic, that was combined with Lily Potter's maternal love, protected Harry. Readers have seen how new magic is constantly being invented (the Weasley Twins are a prime example), with many spells, charms, and hexes constantly falling in and out of fashion. Voldemort places great importance on it being ancient magic that protected Harry, indicating that it may grow stronger as it survives through the centuries, forgotten by many perhaps, but a powerful tool for those few wizards who know its existence. The ancient magic that saved Harry is also what ripped Voldemort's soul from his body when his Killing Curse rebounded off baby Harry, striking him. Harry is privy to this explanation only because Voldemort chooses to share it, perceiving Harry as being nearly powerless, and delighting in showing off his "superior" knowledge before killing him. But if Harry can escape the cemetery, he will carry this valuable information back to Hogwarts and to Dumbledore.

Voldemort's "servant" who died after Voldemort failed to steal the Philosopher's Stone is obviously Professor Quirrell; this is our first complete confirmation that he died after Voldemort fled his body. We are also meant to surmise that the servant who is cowardly is Karkaroff, and the one at Hogwarts must be Snape.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Review[edit]

  1. Which servant that died when Voldemort fled is he referring to?
  2. Why does Voldemort tell Harry what happened to him (Voldemort) after he was disembodied, why Harry survived the Avada Kedavra curse, how Lily's love protected her son, and so on?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Voldemort had a body – an infantile one – when he is first seen. Where might it have come from?
  2. Why would Voldemort challenge Harry to a duel, rather than kill him outright?
  3. Why does Voldemort place such importance on it being "old magic" that protected Harry?
  4. Why does Voldemort consider the Death Eaters his "true family"? Are they? Explain.
  5. Voldemort says his Death Eaters knew he was still alive. How did he know this? Why wouldn't they have searched for him if they suspected he still lived?
  6. Why does Voldemort wait so long to replace Wormtail's hand and relieve his suffering? What does this say about how he treats his followers?
  7. Who might Voldemort's faithful servant at Hogwarts be? Snape, or someone else?
  8. Why does Voldemort call Harry "Harry", when most people other than his friends call him "Potter"?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

As Voldemort struts around his Death Eaters, commenting on the gaps in the circle, he comes to the largest gap of all... "And here we have six missing Death Eaters ... three dead in my service. One, too cowardly to return ... he will pay. One, who I believe has left me forever ... he will be killed, of course ... and one, who remains my most faithful servant, and who has already re-entered my service. ... He is at Hogwarts, that faithful servant, and it was through his efforts that our young friend arrived tonight..." By withholding these Death Eaters' names, and by not completing the circle, the author leaves doubt as to who is being referred to here. We are led to believe, correctly, that it is Karkaroff who has run, but it is unclear whether he is the cowardly one, or the one who has left Voldemort's service forever. Being unaware of Barty Crouch at this point, we are misled into believing that the faithful servant who has already re-entered Voldemort's service is Severus Snape. And despite the revelation, two chapters ahead, of Barty's role in the events preceding this chapter, the casual reader may well retain this mistaken belief, and may see this particular scene as confirming Snape's continuing loyalty to the Dark Lord. In fact, the faithful servant is Barty, Karkaroff is the cowardly one, and it is Snape who Voldemort feels has left. Snape has been working at Dumbledore's side for the thirteen years since Voldemort vanished, he has not answered Voldemort's summons via the Dark Mark, and he assisted in preventing Voldemort from retrieving the Philosopher's Stone in the first book. After Snape appears to have rejoined Voldemort's service, his explanation to Bellatrix Lestrange regarding this last item will be that he was unaware that it was Voldemort seeking the Stone, believing instead that Quirrell wanted it for his own benefit alone. Voldemort, Snape says, accepted this explanation, and also his reason for not immediately responding to Voldemort's summons.

By having spared Wormtail's life (in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Harry can claim a "life debt" from him. Wormtail repays this debt in the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when he momentarily hesitates to kill Harry on Voldemort's command. Wormtail's actions result in his being fatally strangled by the silver hand Voldemort has just given him; Voldemort, who may have known that Wormtail owes Harry this debt, and certainly realizes how weak Wormtail's character is, apparently charmed the hand to kill Wormtail should he exhibit any disloyalty or fail to carry out any order.

Voldemort here tells his gathered followers that he has "gone further than anybody along the path leading to immortality." Dumbledore has also theorized this about Voldemort, though he has yet to reveal his suspicions. Dumbledore has correctly concluded that Voldemort's "path leading to immortality" involves creating and concealing Horcruxes, soul shards that anchor a person's soul to the earth, and has recognized that Tom Riddle's Diary, seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is one such. In two years, he will tell Harry that he was worried, however, because ordinarily Horcruxes are considered extremely valuable and are carefully concealed; yet the Diary was crafted to be a weapon and was used as one. This is not how one's only shot at immortality is dealt with. Thus, Dumbledore suspects that at least one more Horcrux exists, and this is largely confirmed by Voldemort's statement. Much of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince involves determining how many Horcruxes there are, and, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry will be tasked with finding and destroying them.