Bagman and Crouch
Chapter 7 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Bagman and Crouch
Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, the Twins, Mr. Weasley, Cedric Diggory, and Amos Diggory have arrived at a deserted, misty moor, where they are met by two wizards. Mr. Weasley hands one the Portkey, which is tossed into a large box. The group then heads to their campsite; the Diggorys are at a different site. When the Muggle camp ground owner mentions that the campers seem odd, a harassed-looking wizard pops in and modifies his memory. He comments that Mr. Roberts needs to be charmed ten times a day, and that Ludo Bagman, who heads Magical Games and Sports, is hardly helping by talking about Bludgers and Quaffles.
Heading to the campsite, Ginny mentions that Bagman should be more discreet around Muggles. Bagman's indiscretion seems to be a common failing, as nearly everyone at the site seems to have made use of magic in decorating or creating their tents. At their campsite, Mr. Weasley asks Harry's advice on how to proceed. Harry has never been camping, but figures things out, eventually setting up two small shabby tents. He wonders how they will all fit, but when he enters their tent, it opens into a large, three-room apartment, complete with a kitchen, and furnished like Mrs. Figg's house, right down to the smell.
While fetching water, Ron, Harry, and Hermione meet some fellow Hogwarts students, and also Oliver Wood, who has just been signed to the Puddlemere United Quidditch team. Ernie Macmillan and Cho Chang are also there. Harry notices some unknown teens that Ron thinks are from another Wizarding school. There are several in Europe. Back at the campsite, Percy, Charlie, and Bill walk in from the woods where they just Apparated.
Mr. Weasley flags down Ludo Bagman, a blond, fat wizard wearing brightly colored (and over-tight) Quidditch robes. Bagman offers a little wager on the game's outcome, and Mr. Weasley puts a Galleon on Ireland. Fred and George bet all their savings (thirty-seven Galleons, fifteen Sickles, and three Knuts) on Ireland to win, but Viktor Krum (the Seeker for Bulgaria) will get the Snitch. Over Mr. Weasley's protests, Bagman accepts the bet. Ludo tells Mr. Weasley there has been no word about Bertha Jorkins yet, but expects she will probably appear in October. Mr. Crouch arrives, looking for Bagman, and much to the amusement of the Twins, he has forgotten Percy's name. Shortly, Crouch and Bagman depart to attend to a crisis, but before leaving, Bagman mentions that something will be happening at Hogwarts. Fred asks what, but Mr. Weasley and Percy only say that they will find out when the time is right.
Evening brings the souvenir vendors, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione wander out. Harry purchases Omnioculars for himself, Ron, and Hermione, at ten Galleons each. Ron, upset because Harry has money and he is always poor, protests, but when Harry says it will be his Christmas present for the next ten years, Ron accepts. Finally, as dusk falls, a deep, booming gong sounds in the nearby wood; it is time to enter the stadium.
To date, Harry's interaction with the Wizarding community has been rather limited, mostly confined to Hogwarts and short trips to Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley. Now Harry meets foreign wizards in an international setting for the first time, though it seems he has given little consideration to magical realms outside Britain. Indeed, Harry seems surprised to encounter teen-aged wizards unknown to him, or that other Wizarding schools even exist. Harry lacking knowledge about other magical communities beyond Britain may seem surprising to us and make it appear he is disinterested in events beyond his own limited sphere, but it is in character for a child that age, coming from a difficult upbringing, and having limited exposure to this world. Harry is on another threshold here, about to step outside a still-new existence that has only just grown familiar and comfortable to him and into an even larger and as-yet unknown universe. Also, although the Quidditch World Cup is a global competition among rival teams, we can also see here that it is meant to serve another function: to help build solidarity and cooperation among the world's wizards. Mentioning the existence of other Wizarding schools here may also foreshadow events to occur later in this book.
The rather flamboyant Ludo Bagman and the bureaucratic Barty Crouch, Sr. are highlighted and contrasted here. Their personalities, personal interactions, and mannerisms could not be more dissimilar, though both work for the Ministry of Magic and are heavily involved in running the Quidditch World Cup. Bagman is not averse to what the English call "having a little flutter," and he is apparently engaging in a sideline (and presumably illegal) gambling racket. Readers probably know that a "bagman" is a dishonest official, someone who collects racketeering money. It is also a traveling salesman who makes calls to his customers. The name certainly fits, though Bagman appears to be a small-time operator when it comes to his sideline activities. From his reaction when the Twins place their bet, it can be seen that Ludo is perhaps not making as good odds as he expected and may even have doubts regarding his own abilities. It is possible that this will get him into trouble shortly. And where Bagman is overly open and friendly, though it is mostly a façade for his clients' benefit, Crouch remains tense, aloof, and guarded, always interacting with others in a professional but brusque and detached manner. Crouch is so lacking in interpersonal skills that he repeatedly addresses his own employee, Percy Weasley, as "Weatherby." Crouch appears to be concealing much about his personal self, while Bagman seems to hide little, though perhaps he should. Even Ginny Weasley notices that Bagman freely dispenses too much information to too many people.
In the interaction between Arthur Weasley and the campground owner, we see plainly that despite the adjuration from the Ministry for wizards to behave like Muggles, much magic is leaking through the seams. The Ministry's need to frequently modify the poor man's memory, even in the match's early stages, might lead one to wonder as to just how he will remember this episode and what the long-term affects might be. Also, Mr. Weasley's difficulty using Muggle camping gear is played largely for entertainment value; however, it also contrasts the differences between Ron's purely magical family and Harry's entirely Muggle home. Interestingly, when Mr. Weasley has a question about how to do Muggle things, he asks Harry, rather than Hermione. Perhaps he fails to realize that Harry's home life could possibly be as constricted as the Dursleys have made it. On the other hand, there is a common Muggle bias that girls are less interested or capable in recreational activities like camping. If this same belief is present in the Wizarding world, this may explain why Mr. Weasley assumes Harry to be the outdoors expert, rather than Hermione, who may have camping experience.
Meanwhile, Ron's reaction to Harry buying the Omnioculars seems minor but is actually revealing. Even though Harry is his closest friend, Ron struggles with occasional jealousy and resentment towards him. The constant attention and celebrity surrounding Harry often pushes Ron into the shadows, though Harry has never relished or sought the spotlight, and his fame has also caused Harry anguish. The Weasleys' financial difficulties also take a toll on Ron's psyche, causing him to feel menial and an object of scorn among some Wizarding families, particularly the Malfoys. He resents his brothers' hand-me-downs, having to buy everything second-hand, or going without altogether—Harry's wealth only reinforces how deprived and socially inferior he feels.
Bertha Jorkins' continued absence supports the suspicion that Harry's "dream" in Chapter 1 was a true vision. It also establishes her association with the Department of Magical Games and Sports, and this could be a means that Voldemort uses to tune in to upcoming events throughout the book.
Bagman's mentioning upcoming events at Hogwarts finally provides Percy an opportunity to show off his own self-perceived importance by withholding the secret he so obviously knows. It is safe to assume that the secret will not remain concealed for long, and that it probably is related to this book's main plot line, and its title.
As an interesting side note unrelated to this book's storyline, among the magical attendees at the World Cup are American wizards from Salem, Massachusetts, the site of the infamous 1692 Witch trials in which nineteen men and women were condemned and hanged for witchcraft.
- Why does Mr. Weasley ask Harry for advice about Muggle camping, but not Hermione?
- Why can't Mr. Crouch ever remember Percy's name?
- Why does Mr. Weasley permit the Twins to bet all their savings on the World Cup, even though he disapproves of what they're doing?
- Why does Ron object to Harry buying him the Omnioculars as a gift?
- Why might the tent smell like Mrs. Figg's house?
- Harry has heard Bertha Jorkins' name before—she was mentioned by Voldemort in what Harry thought was a dream as someone who had been killed, and again in a conversation at the Weasley's house as being missing. Ludo Bagman also mentions that Bertha Jorkins is still missing. Why didn't Harry draw an obvious connection?
- Ludo Bagman mentions something that might be happening at Hogwarts. What might that be?
- Why does Ludo Bagman openly talk about Wizarding matters when Muggles can overhear, especially when he knows he should not? What results from his carelessness?
- Why is Harry so surprised to learn that there are students from other Wizarding schools?
- Compare and contrast Mr. Crouch and Ludo Bagman's personalities and how they each handle their World Cup duties.
Harry noticing that the tent's interior looks and smells much like Mrs. Figg's house may or may not be incidental. There is a peculiar odour that seems common to some older peoples' homes, particularly those owning cats, so despite the similarity in furnishing, it is unlikely that the author is dropping hints that Mrs. Figg was the tent's former owner. We are told that it previously belonged to a Ministry wizard who gave up camping due to his lumbago. Mrs. Figg, however, is later revealed to be a Squib, a non-magical offspring born to wizards. In a later book, we will find that in Professor Dumbledore's youth, Squibs were shunned, hidden from the Wizarding world as being a shameful reflection on their families. Mrs. Figg, being of Dumbledore's generation, and a Squib, is unlikely to have been able to marry a wizard with Ministry ambitions. However, being that Mrs. Figg was raised among wizards, she will know their ways and likely uses the same goods, merchandise, and decorations in her own home that are common in many Wizarding households, but not in Muggles. Harry had previously noticed that odd smell while inside Mrs. Figg's house, and the familiar scent in the tent may be a subtle clue to readers that Mrs. Figg is somehow tied to the magical community and could play a more significant role later in the series. In fact, readers should take note, though Harry will not, when Dumbledore later mentions someone named Arabella Figg.
Mr. Crouch's continual failure to recognize Percy Weasley, his nominal assistant, while seemingly odd, is probably simple absent-mindedness coupled with arrogance and a total disregard for subordinates; Crouch simply fails to notice his underlings, in this case "Weatherby". Though this may be his usual behavior, Crouch may also be affected by his preoccupation with guarding a family secret that would result in his being arrested should it be exposed. Crouch's usual crotchety absent-mindedness will prevent, to a large extent, notice of any change in his behaviour when he falls to the Imperius curse.
Ludo's "little flutter" will, indeed, turn out to be ill-advised. Ludo will end up owing more than he has, and later tries to recoup his losses by making more bets with the Goblins, who are his major creditors. That bet will be on Harry to win the Triwizard Tournament, and throughout the book, Ludo, a Tournament judge, unethically attempts to better his chances of winning by secretly offering Harry hints. Harry, believing that accepting assistance from a Tournament judge is cheating, steadfastly refuses Ludo's proffered advice, though he does accept help from others.
Mr. Weasley's asking Harry, rather than Hermione, for help with the camping gear will be even less well-advised than we had previously expected. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione mentions that the places she takes the Trio to are actually camping sites she and her parents visited. Of course, Harry has never been camping, as the Dursleys would dislike the untidiness of an unmanicured outdoors, nor would Harry likely have been included, even if they did engage in such activities. Due to Hermione's previous outdoor experience, it is she who packs the gear they will need while hunting Voldemort's Horcruxes and chooses suitable campsites, notably the Forest of Dean.
The Quidditch World Cup is a means for wizards from multiple countries to gather together, establishing communication and cooperation among the various nations' magical communities. This same opportunity is soon brought to Hogwarts on a much smaller scale with the Triwizard Tournament, though we, Harry, and most other students, are as yet unaware. The secret that Percy so archly refuses to reveal will be this tournament, of course. We will discover shortly that the Weasley elders know about the Tournament plans. It is interesting how Mr. Weasley handles this knowledge compared to Percy. Likely the secret will have reached Bill, Charlie, and Molly Weasley through Mr. Weasley; Percy may have learned it through Mr. Weasley as well, or through Mr. Crouch. Whatever its source, Percy continually alludes to the secret, apparently hoping he will be able to refuse to divulge it. Mr. Weasley, though privy to the secret, never mentions it, nor does he respond when Percy does. Mrs. Weasley, Charlie, and Bill do eventually mention it, but only when it is too late for questions; we must assume that this is a deliberate revelation by the author, intended to heighten anticipation for the events.