Veritaserum

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Chapter 35 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Veritaserum← Chapter 34 | Chapter 36 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Reappearing at the maze's edge, still clutching the Triwizard cup and Cedric's body,Harry finds himself overwhelmed by noise. Amidst the confusion and shouts that Diggory is dead, the Minister for Magic claims that Cedric is only injured, while Professor Dumbledore tells Harry to stay put. Harry, dazed, is lifted and guided by Professor Moody to his office. Once inside, Moody questions him about Voldemort's return. Harry remembers that he must tell Dumbledore that a Death Eater at Hogwarts, Karkaroff, put Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire. Moody states that he placed Harry's name in the Goblet, stunning Harry. It was Moody who entered Harry's name, nudged Hagrid into showing Harry the dragons, and gave Harry the hint on how to beat them. Moody gave Neville the Herbology book containing information Harry needed for the Second Task, and when that failed, had made sure Dobby passed it on. It was Moody who Stunned Fleur Delacour in the maze and put Krum under the Imperius curse in an attempt to eliminate Cedric.

Three approaching figures appear in the Foe-Glass behind Moody. As Moody is about to fatally curse Harry, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Snape burst in and Stun Moody. At Dumbledore's request, Snape leaves to fetch truth serum and Winky, while McGonagall is dispatched to take the large black dog in Hagrid's pumpkin patch to Dumbledore's office. Dumbledore opens Moody's trunk, revealing multiple compartments within. The true Alastor Moody is trapped inside the last one. Stunned and under the Imperius curse, he is weak but still alive. The impostor's hip flask contains Polyjuice Potion; as its power runs out, the false Moody transforms into his true identity—Barty Crouch Jr.

Snape arrives with the serum and Winky, who immediately confirms that the impostor is Barty. When McGonagall returns, Dumbledore administers the Veritaserum to Barty, then resuscitates him. Crouch confesses his part in the past year's events. It was Bartemius Crouch, Sr. and his wife who instigated Barty Jr.'s escape from Azkaban. Mrs. Crouch was terminally ill, and as her dying wish, asked Bartemius to free Barty from prison. While visiting their son in prison, she and Barty Jr. switched identities using Polyjuice potion. Mrs. Crouch died soon after (that is who Sirius saw the Dementors burying). Barty Jr. was confined to his father's home, concealed under an Invisibility Cloak and controlled by the Imperius curse to prevent him returning to Voldemort. Winky, the Crouch's House-elf, helped care for him. When Bertha Jorkins, who worked for Bartemius, unexpectedly visited the Crouch home while Bartemius was gone, she discovered Barty Jr. hidden there. Bartemius charmed Jorkins' memory, erasing what she knew. She was later transferred to Ludo Bagman's department, but the charm caused continuing memory problems.

Winky persuaded Bartemius Crouch Sr. to allow Barty to attend the Quidditch World Cup, hidden under an Invisibility Cloak. There, he escaped, stole a wand (Harry's), and cast the Dark Mark. Bartemius, as a result, dismissed Winky and recaptured Barty, returning him to the Crouch home and restraining him more forcefully. Bertha Jorkins, earlier, had run into Wormtail while vacationing, and was forcibly brought to Voldemort. Voldemort unlocked the memory charm and discovered that Barty Jr. was captive in his father's home. He also learned about the Triwizard Tournament and devised the plot to capture Harry. After murdering Jorkins, Wormtail and Voldemort traveled to London. They freed Barty Jr. and placed Bartemius under an Imperius spell, forcing him to continue working as normal. Barty Jr. and Wormtail then captured the real Mad-Eye Moody and placed him under the Imperius spell; Barty Jr. used Polyjuice Potion to assume Moody's identity, while Moody was kept alive to supply raw materials for more potion, and to provide Barty with information. Barty procured potion ingredients from Snape's office, claiming he (as Moody) was under orders to search it. When Voldemort judged it was no longer safe to allow people to see Bartemius Crouch, he imprisoned Crouch Sr. in his own home. The Ministry of Magic, meanwhile, believed Crouch Sr. was home sick and sending instructions by owl post to his assistant, Percy Weasley. When Crouch Sr. was able to break Wormtail's Imperius spell (because Wormtail "neglected his duty") and escape to Hogwarts to warn Dumbledore, Barty Jr. tracked his father using the Marauder's Map he had previously borrowed from Harry, murdered him, and hidden the body.

Finally, Barty admits that, while he was placing the Triwizard Cup inside the maze, he had charmed it into a Portkey that transported Harry to the Dark Lord; Voldemort will now honor him above all other wizards.

Analysis[edit]

The Veritaserum, as Snape had promised when threatening Harry, has revealed many truths. And while this chapter solves many mysteries regarding Harry and Voldemort, it also reveals just how vulnerable Harry actually is. The comforting notion throughout the series that Harry is protected as long as he is within Hogwarts's secure walls has been forever dispelled by Barty Crouch's clever deception that allowed him direct access to Harry. From here on, Harry will have difficulty finding a completely safe haven. Now that Voldemort has fully regained his body, Harry expects he will execute another attack as soon as possible. Voldemort's power, we expect, will begin spreading as well, quietly and methodically seeping into nearly all Wizarding areas, taking hold in key institutions until he has gained total control.

Also, Harry's earlier wish to compete as a Triwizard Champion came to fruition, but the experience was far from what he could have imagined. Now Harry must cope with the tragic aftermath, forever haunted by knowing that rather than being the celebrated hero, he was instead duped and manipulated into a bogus victory that cost Cedric Diggory his life. Harry had also placed his trust and admiration in (the fake) Alastor Moody, but having been so horribly deceived, he may never again ever fully trust anyone to be who or what they seem. Harry's relationship with Dumbledore may also be affected. Dumbledore has always seemed invincible, but his failure to detect Barty Crouch and to fully protect Harry exposes a chink in his otherwise infallible power. As the newly reborn Voldemort gains strength, is Dumbledore growing weaker with age? It is unclear if that is what is happening here, but Dumbledore failing to anticipate someone being able to breach Hogwarts' tight security is surprising, especially considering how both Sirius Black (on multiple occasions in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and, more recently, Rita Skeeter, both so easily slipped into the castle undetected. In fact, Harry has never truly been completely safe at Hogwarts, only safer than outside its walls.

Cornelius Fudge, meanwhile, ineptly attempts to implement damage control, claiming Cedric is not dead, merely injured. While he may be attempting to shield the Diggorys, feeling it would be inappropriate to inform them their son has been killed when such a large audience is present, he is also protecting his and the Ministry's public image. This attempt to either spin or minimize bad news is classic behaviour for a politician, and we can expect more of it in upcoming chapters.

It is also interesting that Barty Jr., as Professor Moody, taught students how to repel an Imperius curse, which he presumably mastered while detained in his father's house. As reprehensible and evil as Crouch Jr. was, he was apparently a good Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, though almost certainly some of his Defence information was forced from the real Alastor Moody, who was kept captive in his office.

Some readers have been troubled that Voldemort's plan seems extremely convoluted, with multiple points of failure, to achieve one objective: Harry Potter's solo arrival in the Little Hangleton cemetery at a specific time. Having won Dumbledore's trust, the bogus Moody could have, at any time, given Harry a Portkey. Clearly, this would have caused some problem for the author, as the series quite plainly is designed to cover the seven years of Harry's education, with a climax happening at or near the end of each school year. The author must have determined a logical reason why Voldemort would have chosen so involved a plan for such a simple outcome in order to make her story timing work while also entertaining readers with a more sophisticated and exciting plot. While her reasons are never revealed, we can speculate. Voldemort seems to be a particularly vindictive sort; we have seen him torturing his followers for many real or imagined slights. It seems entirely plausible that Voldemort would be amused by bringing Harry to defeat and death immediately after he won a major competition, particularly if Harry was informed that his "victory" had been engineered, rather than achieved by his own efforts. In this light, what is perhaps most surprising is that it was not Voldemort who told Harry this, but Moody/Barty. However, considering this may be Voldemort's only opportunity to resurrect his body using Harry's blood, that reasoning seems risky and self-indulgent. Of course, we also know that Voldemort believes himself infallible; it is possible that he simply cannot comprehend that there is a possibility of failure, unless some underling fails him. We will also note that potion preparation can take significant time, as we saw with the Polyjuice Potion in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; the delay in getting Harry to Little Hangleton may well have been specifically to allow time for Wormtail to finish the preparation for the potion that restores Voldemort to his body.

The student of writing should pay attention to Professor Snape through the course of this episode, and particularly the techniques used by the author to draw attention away from his behaviour.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. Why did Crouch, Sr. keep Barty Jr. hidden and forcibly restrained in his home? How was the situation later reversed?
  2. Why does Moody immediately take Harry to his office?
  3. Is Barty Crouch's confession truthful? Explain.
  4. Why was Sirius (in his Animagus dog form) in Hagrid's pumpkin patch?

Further Study[edit]

  1. What prompts Fudge to claim that Cedric Diggory is only injured and not, in fact, dead?
  2. How did Professor Dumbledore know that Moody was an impostor and that Harry was in danger?
  3. Why did Bartemius Crouch, Sr., a powerful and trustworthy Ministry official who disowned his son, Barty, Jr. for being a Death Eater and sentenced him to life in Azkaban, later help him escape from prison? Who else was involved and why?
  4. Why did Winky want Mr. Crouch to take Barty Jr. to the Quidditch World Cup? Why would he have agreed to such a risky venture?
  5. How did Dumbledore know to send for Winky before the impostor Moody turned back into Barty Jr?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

As a side note, it is interesting that Jorkins' memory problems seem somewhat similar to Neville Longbottom's. Is it possible that he could have been likewise charmed as a small child? If he was, why or by whom is unknown. One possibility is that his grandmother Augusta could have charmed him to prevent what happened to his parents from haunting him. If that is the case, it is also worth noting that Professor McGonagall later mentions that Augusta failed her Charms O.W.L. exam. Considering Neville's increasingly important role in the later books, it seems possible he may unknowingly hold important information someone wants to remain concealed, though this is only speculation. It may be that his memory and magical abilities were affected by the extreme trauma in his life, resulting in his development in these areas being stunted. Regardless, Neville constantly struggles to break through an ever-present fog that clouds his memory and affects his magical powers. If his memory has been tampered with, it may be nearly impossible to break the charm without causing permanent damage, as was the case with Bertha Jorkins.

Neville's memory problems will plague him throughout the series, though, with Harry's help, he gradually surmounts this handicap, as well as his magical impairment, to develop into a capable wizard. However, the source of his memory problems is never actually explained, and whether it was from early childhood trauma, a dark spell, his family's overly applied attempts to erase traumatic memories, or some other cause remains unknown, nor does it play a significant role in the story's eventual outcome.

In considering Fudge's motives for minimizing Cedric's condition, it should be remembered that Fudge is the consummate politician, interested in retaining power for power's sake only. It is only natural that he would "spin" any situation into something less negative to protect his chances for retaining his office. When Harry first returns with Cedric's body, Fudge maintains that Cedric was only injured, not only to protect Cedric's parents, but partly to prevent mass panic, and mostly to protect his own interests. Fudge desperately wants to avoid the Triwizard Tournament, which he was instrumental in reviving, being remembered as resulting in a student's death.

Adding further insult both to Cedric's memory and Harry's heroism, the Ministry will later claim that Diggory's death was nothing more than a tragic accident. We will see shortly that Fudge has basically turned the Ministry into a mouthpiece for himself, and directly or otherwise is now the source of almost all of the Ministry's statements. Like many politicians, Fudge has lost the long view, forgetting that no matter what he says here, Cedric's death will be always be remembered. Fudge will also dispute Harry's claims that Voldemort has returned. Again, Fudge is unable to face being known as the Minister who was in power when Voldemort returned, so he must deny, first, that Voldemort has returned, second, that Voldemort killed Cedric, and finally, that Voldemort was involved in Mr. Crouch's mysterious illness. This refusal to believe, and then to act, will prove important in the next book, resulting in repercussions against Harry, Professor Dumbledore, and Hogwarts. The Ministry's continued inactivity, combined with Voldemort's determination to remain hidden, will also make it easier for the Dark Lord to regroup his Death Eaters' core members.

The reader should note that Dumbledore has chosen McGonagall and Snape to assist him against the false Moody. We also note that Snape is quite clearly on Dumbledore's side, rather than Barty's. The revelations in the cemetery two chapters before, and the ongoing drama of this chapter's sudden revelations, will either prevent the casual reader seeing this, or will allow him to dismiss it as Snape dissimulating because he is under Dumbledore's eye. This is another instance of this author's skill at misdirection.

Connections[edit]

There is surprisingly little in this chapter that will tie in to other books in the series. The drama of this chapter largely stands on its own, referring back as it does only to events in this book.