The Dark Mark

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Chapter 9 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Dark Mark← Chapter 8 | Chapter 10 →

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Money in hand, the Twins return to the campsite with Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, Percy, Charlie, Bill, and Mr. Weasley (who, upon reflection, prefers not knowing why the Twins want the money). Everyone discusses Quidditch until Ginny falls asleep at the table. Mr. Weasley sends everyone to bed amid the ongoing celebratory noise. Soon after, Mr. Weasley shakes Harry awake. Harry hears screams and running feet, and immediately knows something is wrong. Outside, hooded wizards are shouting, blasting random tents, and suspending four Muggles high in the air. Fred, George, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny are sent to hide in the woods, as Mr. Weasley, Bill, Charlie, and Percy go to help the Ministry wizards break up the mob.

In the woods, Draco Malfoy is casually leaning against a tree, unperturbed by the surrounding chaos. He implies that the mob is Death Eaters hunting Muggles, and they will also attack Mudbloods. Heading further into the forest, the Trio becomes separated from Ginny and the Twins. Students from Beauxbatons Academy, another Wizarding school, are arguing in French. Harry reaches for his wand, only to discover it missing. As the Trio search for it, Winky the House-elf darts across their path in an odd manner, looking as if something invisible is holding her back. Harry surmises no one gave her permission to run away. Hermione starts complaining about House-elves' basically being slaves, but Ron claims they insist they are happier that way.

Running deeper into the woods, they pass Goblins counting gold coins. Further on, Veelas are surrounded by young men attempting to attract their attention. Ron has to be pulled away. A worried-looking Ludo Bagman suddenly appears, seemingly unaware a riot is underway. He immediately Disapparates upon being told, though Hermione suggests he is not quite on top of matters.

The Trio thinks the riot may be over, but behind them, a deep voice booms out, "Morsmordre!". A large green skull with a snake protruding from its mouth appears in the sky as screams erupt. Hermione recognizes it as Voldemort's Dark Mark and wants to leave, but about twenty Ministry wizards suddenly Apparate around them. Harry, Hermione, and Ron hit the ground as Stunning spells criss-cross overhead. Mr. Weasley calls a halt, and the Stunners stop. Bartemius Crouch demands to know who conjured the Dark Mark. Hermione points to where the shout was heard. Amos Diggory says that the conjurer may not have Disapparated before he was Stunned. A few Wizards investigate and return carrying an unconscious Winky, shocking Crouch. Diggory notes that Winky has a wand. Ludo Bagman Apparates in, and is shocked to hear of the Dark Mark and see the Stunned Winky. Crouch, who has been searching in the area where Winky was found, returns empty-handed; wanting to interrogate Winky, Diggory revives her. Winky denies conjuring the mark, she does not know how. When Harry recognizes his wand, Diggory accuses him of conjuring the Dark Mark, but Mr. Weasley reminds him who he is speaking to. Diggory accuses Winky, but Hermione says it was a much deeper and definitely human voice. Ron and Harry concur. Using the Prior Incantato spell, it is determined that Harry's wand conjured the Dark Mark. Claiming Winky disobeyed him, Crouch tells her, "This means clothes!" (Presenting clothes to House-elves releases them from servitude.) Nobody else considers this as a dismissal-level offense, but Crouch is adamant; Winky is being discharged.

Mr. Weasley and the Trio head back to their tent where Fred, George, and Ginny have safely returned. Everyone tries get some sleep before catching an early-morning Portkey back to the Burrow, but it is a long while before Harry dozes off. Voldemort's mark reappearing after thirteen years is nearly as terrifying as the Dark Lord. Harry has learned that it was usually left floating over a house where Death Eaters had killed all within. Three days ago Harry's scar was hurting, and tonight, the Dark Mark. Is there a connection to all these events? The rioters were likely Death Eaters who eluded capture, and they probably Disapparated when the Mark appeared because they had avoided Azkaban by disavowing any connection to Voldemort. If he is still around, they would be in the Dark Lord's bad graces for having denied him.

Analysis[edit]

While most wizards believe that Voldemort is long dead, the havoc and mayhem caused by his surviving Death Eaters shows how deeply his evil remains embedded within the Wizarding world, and how quickly and easily it can incite terror and panic, particularly when accompanied by a visible symbol such as the malevolent Dark Mark. And though it appears the hooded rampagers randomly attacked anyone in the campground, Draco's pointed comment suggests the intent may have been to target Muggle-borns like Hermione. As a reminder, Voldemort's earlier ascendancy to power was built upon some "pure-blood" wizards' belief that they were somehow, by birth, superior to Muggles and Muggles' magical offspring. Draco Malfoy's smug amusement over Muggles and Muggle-borns being attacked also suggests he has some insider knowledge about the riot, and that his father, Lucius, may be involved. The elitist Malfoys and their many contemporaries have a long connection to the Dark Arts and support a pure-blood ethos advocating bigotry and violence to suppress (and even eliminate) those considered inferior; Draco's dispassionate reaction reflects his personal feelings, and also shows his social class' belief that Muggle-borns pose a threat by competing for important and influential positions within the magical community, positions to which only Pure-blooded wizards should be entitled by birth rather than ability.

Mr. Crouch's accusation that one of the Trio conjured the Dark Mark is not only a rush to judgment, but suspicious, as he immediately fingers Harry as the prime suspect, despite flimsy circumstantial evidence. A "mob mentality" quickly overtakes the group, and when Harry's stolen wand is determined to have cast the Dark Mark, Amos Diggory immediately accuses Harry, then Winky, who obviously had no part in conjuring it. Only Mr. Weasley's timely intervention restores reason among the nearly irrational Ministry officials. Crouch firing his House-elf, Winky, for a seemingly minor offense, may indicate he knows something about the attacks and is attempting to deflect suspicion. Readers should pay careful attention to the events surrounding Winky's dismissal in this chapter; they are sufficiently out-of-the-ordinary that we can expect them to play a possibly significant role later in the story.

Ludo Bagman's sudden arrival and odd behaviour seems peculiar as well, and he clearly failed to attend to his proper duties—likely instead tending to his gambling clients. His apparent unawareness of the campground events may be related to his gambling on the World Cup; he seems shocked by the contest's outcome, which suggests that his gambling may have gone poorly. Bagman will likely reappear in this story, given the work the author has invested into creating his character; the reader may want to watch his development.

Readers should note Hermione's response here, as in the previous chapter, to Winky's servile manner. As this has been highlighted in two successive chapters, it is likely that the House-elves' plight will be an ongoing element in this book's unfolding story, and it may be a recurring issue later in the series.

Questions[edit]

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

Review[edit]

  1. How are House-elves fired?
  2. Who were the hooded figures, and why were they rioting?
  3. What was left floating in the night sky? Who is responsible for it and what does it represent?
  4. The Trio hear someone in the bushes shouting. What do they hear? What happens immediately after? Who recognizes it?
  5. How is Mr. Weasley able to convince the others that Harry is innocent?
  6. If most wizards believe Lord Voldemort is long-dead, why does seeing his Dark Mark cause such terror?
  7. Why is Draco Malfoy so calm and unconcerned during the riot? What does he tell the Trio?

Further Study[edit]

  1. Why does Mr. Crouch fire his House-elf, Winky? Was this justified, or does Crouch have some other reason for dismissing her?
  2. Why was Harry so immediately accused of casting the Dark Mark? What evidence, other than his stolen wand, would support this?
  3. Why was Winky also suspected of having cast the Dark Mark? Is there any evidence that she did? If so, why might she have done this?
  4. Why would Ludo Bagman, a Ministry official, be unaware that an attack was underway? Where might he have been and why was he there?
  5. Was Ludo Bagman's worried look about the riot, or something else? What might that be?

Greater Picture[edit]

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

Winky's unjust firing forms a large part of Hermione's resolve to champion House-elf rights, though few, including House-elves, will initially support her cause. Once the seed is sown, however, Hermione remains passionately committed to fighting oppression and bigotry, a recurring theme throughout the series. And while many creatures suffer from disdain to outright racial hatred and discrimination, House-elves are perhaps the most mistreated and maligned among all magical folk, being virtual slaves without rights, representation, or purpose other than serving the wizard families they are indentured to. Ironically, House-elves are magically powerful creatures, as seen when Dobby protected Harry by threatening Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Dobby's threat alone was enough for Malfoy to immediately reconsider his actions. It is therefore curious as to just how House-elves became enslaved by wizards, though suppressing an intelligent and potentially magically superior race may have partially been behind wizards' motivation. While this is never explained, it is possible Elves were subjected to centuries-long and magically-induced behavioral conditioning (brainwashing), resulting in them willingly accepting slavery and basing their status and identity on the wizard Houses they happily and loyally serve, even those Elves who are mistreated. Hermione must overcome this huge obstacle if she is ever to realize her goal to liberate such a contentedly enslaved group.

When Amos Diggory retrieves the Stunned Winky from the woods behind the clearing, Bartemius Crouch immediately recognizes her as his own House-elf. When he goes into the same woods afterwards, he is looking for someone Winky had been charged with guarding. Winky is unable to explain what happened or tell anyone who cast the Dark Mark because she is magically bound to conceal any secrets she knows about the family she serves. Winky's offense was not that she was in the woods without permission, or even holding a wand, but that she failed to protect a family secret. This is a far more serious offense and the real reason she is sacked, though readers should consider why Crouch would dismiss such a valuable servant, or why he had been so quick to accuse Harry.

There are several clues that Winky is guarding someone. Harry's wand vanishes, later turning up in Winky's possession. This could only have happened if Harry had dropped it in the forest and Winky, or the person she was guarding, had picked it up, or if Winky or her associate had lifted it from Harry's pocket in the Top Box. When Winky runs across the forest path, she is apparently talking to herself and acting as if she is being restrained. In fact, someone hidden under an Invisibility Cloak, unseen to Harry, is restraining her. It is this person who casts the Morsmordre spell, and though he is Stunned by Ministry Wizards, he falls under the cloak and remains hidden from Amos Diggory. Crouch, knowing what he is looking for, finds and sends him home.

It is to the author's credit that, despite giving strong clues in this single chapter, we are unable to conclude that Winky was guarding someone until later in the story when that person, Barty Crouch Jr., explains what had happened during the riot.

Crouch dismissing Winky is, ironically, very likely what leads to his secret's final revelation, as Winky is Crouch's most powerful assistant in keeping Barty concealed. Considering what Winky knows about Crouch's activities, it is surprising that he would dismiss the House-elf from his household under any circumstances, thus allowing her to take that information with her. Though Winky feels compelled to remain loyal to the Crouch family, despite Bartemius' cruel treatment of her, not all dismissed Elves would act similarly; Dobby, for instance, reveals some Malfoy family secrets to Harry even before he is freed from their service. Just why Crouch is confident Winky will continue to protect his secrets is never explained, nor why he believes he can single-handedly guard this secret without Winky, his major ally. He may simply be reacting to feeling betrayed, and he then must follow through on his stated threats, even knowing that his life will be far more complicated without Winky's help.

The Goblins seen in the woods are probably counting their winnings from Ludo Bagman. Bagman's worries, we will learn, are likely because his "little flutter" has gone rather badly wrong, and it seems that he now owes more money than he has. Bagman was almost certainly aware that the Leprechaun gold was transient when he used it to pay off the Goblins. Though it has bought him some time, his current preoccupation is probably because he is now worried over how to deal with the inevitable fallout when that gold vanishes. Bagman has also paid off the Twins with Leprechaun gold, but as they pose less of a threat than the Goblins, Ludo will find them easy to ignore.

Ron's susceptibility to the Veela's alluring charms is seen again. Among the males surrounding the Veela, Harry recognizes Stan Shunpike, a character who later is put under the Imperius curse. We will learn shortly that Ron is affected by the Imperius curse to a greater extent than Harry, which could indicate that the Veelas' natural "charms" are somehow related to that curse's magic. Another character, Fleur Delacour, who is one-quarter Veela, will soon be introduced. The brief meeting with the Veela in the woods likely also is meant to explain why Ron will become so infatuated with Fleur, an infatuation which is also used to highlight aspects of Hermione's character.

Connections[edit]

  • The charm used in this chapter to reveal the last spell cast by a wand is a variant of an effect seen later in this book. When Hermione's and Ron's wands are captured in the final book, Harry believes that this same effect will reveal that Hermione's wand was used to try and repair Harry's wand.
  • Hermione's efforts to release the house-elves from slavery will result, in this book, in her discovery that Dobby and Winky have been employed by Professor Dumbledore and are working in the Hogwarts kitchens. She will, in the next book, resort to attempting to free the elves by arranging for them to receive clothing; this will result in the other elves shunning Gryffindor Tower and leaving Dobby to do all the cleaning and maintenance of that area. Dobby will, as a result, be able to give Harry the secret of entering the Room of Requirement.