Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Peeves
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
Overview[edit | edit source]
Peeves the Poltergeist is not a ghost, but a Spirit of Chaos, who has never been alive, according to the author. He can carry, throw, and drop things, loosen screws, and chew gum. When he is visible, he looks like a little man with wicked, dark eyes, a wide mouth, and a pointed hat; he is always seen in mid-air.
Role in the Books[edit | edit source]
Peeves is first mentioned by the Fat Friar, the Hufflepuff house ghost, as the First-Year students are standing in the anteroom awaiting their Sorting. Evidently, the Fat Friar felt that Peeves ought to attend the Welcoming Feast.
Peeves first appears when the Gryffindor first-years are finding their way to the dormitory. He is throwing walking sticks at them, and in the end, dumps a load of them on Neville's head. Percy comments that the only being in the school that Peeves is afraid of is the Bloody Baron, the Slytherin house ghost. It is mentioned elsewhere in the book that Professor Dumbledore has some amount of control over him.
It is mentioned that running into Peeves on the way to class when you are late would make you much later; not only would he steer you wrong, but he would play tricks on you, pull rugs out from under your feet, and sneak up behind you and grab your nose.
When Professor McGonagall, having seen Harry's diving catch before his first flying lesson, is looking for a private place to introduce him to Oliver Wood, the empty classroom she ends up in is occupied by Peeves, who is writing rude words on the chalkboard. Ordered out by McGonagall, Peeves swears as he leaves.
When Harry is challenged to a Wizard's Duel by Draco Malfoy, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville end up going to the Trophy Room, where they are almost caught by Filch. As they are retreating from Filch, they run into Peeves, who sounds the alarm. Peeves follows them to a locked door which Hermione opens, and then for no real reason does not tell Filch that the students are behind the door.
Harry suggests that the troll that is reported in the dungeons on Hallowe'en might have been let in by Peeves as a joke.
Peeves almost discovers Harry, Ron, and Hermione when they are making their way to the trap door under the invisibility cloak, but Harry scares him away by pretending to be the Bloody Baron.
When Harry is being written up by Argus Filch for dripping mud in the castle, Nearly Headless Nick convinces Peeves to drop a Vanishing Cabinet immediately over Filch's office to distract him. This allows Harry to look around Filch's office unobserved, and spot Filch's Kwikspell letter. Filch is so mortified by this discovery of Harry's that he lets Harry go with a warning.
At Nick's Deathday Party, Peeves teases Moaning Myrtle to the point that she leaves, crying.
Shortly after Harry discovers the Petrified body of Justin Finch-Fletchley and the injured ghost of Nearly Headless Nick, Peeves happens across the three of them and raises the alarm. Peeves thereafter taunts Harry whenever he sees him, accusing him musically of having something to do with the attacks, complete with a little dance routine.
When Professor Lupin's Defence Against the Dark Arts class is on its way to the Staff Room to practice dealing with a Boggart, they happen upon Peeves who is busily stuffing gum into a keyhole. While Peeves is usually slightly respectful towards teachers, he shows no respect for Lupin, instead singing about "Loony, loopy, Lupin.". Professor Lupin sends him away with a spell that fires the chewing gum up Peeves' nose, thus earning Lupin the respect of the entire class.
When The Fat Lady's portrait is destroyed, it is Peeves who reports to Professor Dumbledore that the damage was done by Sirius Black. Characteristically, Peeves does this in the most sensational way possible.
We see him again in passing as Harry and Hermione are making their way back to the Hospital Wing after Sirius' departure; Peeves is then on his way to observe the Dementor's Kiss being administered. As usual, he is going where he can make the most trouble.
Peeves' role in this book is relatively minor. When the students arrive, he is floating near the ceiling of the Entrance Hall, dropping water balloons on their heads; he claims that this is not harmful to them because with the downpour outside, they are already soaked, and a little more water shouldn't hurt them. Professor McGonagall shoos him away. At the Entrance Feast, Nearly Headless Nick tells Harry, Ron, and Hermione that there almost wasn't a feast, as Peeves, upset at being uninvited from the feast, had run amok in the kitchen, almost panicking the house elves preparing it.
Around the Christmas holidays, the suits of armor were enchanted to sing Christmas carols of which they only knew half the words. Peeves was known to inhabit the armor and sing rude versions of the songs by filling in the gaps with lyrics of his choosing.
When Harry is returning to Gryffindor Tower from the prefects' bathroom, having solved the riddle of the Golden Egg, he carefully checks the Marauder's Map to see where Peeves is, before setting out; he notes that Peeves is bouncing around the trophy room. When Harry gets stuck in the trick step and drops the egg, the sound brings Filch to investigate; Filch immediately assumes that Peeves had stolen the egg from one of the Champions.
When Harry receives detention from Professor Umbridge and is given a note to take to Professor McGonagall, he walks straight into Peeves without noticing. As Harry continues to McGonagall's study, Peeves stays alongside, taunting him.
Harry leaves the dormitory to send off a letter by Owl Post. On his way to the Owlery, he is warned by Nearly Headless Nick that Peeves is up ahead by the archway with the bust of Paracelsus, preparing a joke. Harry asks if the joke involves dropping the bust of Paracelsus on someone's head. Nick says that, funnily enough, it does, and that he is off to find the Bloody Baron to see if he can put a stop to it. Harry takes a different route to the Owlery.
A short while later, horrible weather keeps the students in at break. Peeves is floating overhead in the room, flicking ink balls at the students when Angelina arrives to tell Harry and Ron that the Quidditch team has been re-formed. Peeves manages to hit Katie Bell with an ink ball, and she starts throwing things at him. As the bell rings, Peeves dumps an entire bottle of ink over Katie's head.
Ron and Hermione, as Prefects, are called upon to supervise the decorating of the castle for Christmas. Ron tells Harry later that stringing tinsel is considerably more difficult when Peeves is on the other end trying to strangle you with it.
Fred and George Weasley have come to the conclusion that their final year of school is not particularly useful to them, and with the departure of Dumbledore, they no longer feel a need to keep their mischievous nature in check. Immediately after Easter break, they create a swamp in one of the corridors. On being caught by Professor Umbridge, they Summon their brooms, and, instructing Peeves to "Give her hell!", depart. Peeves salutes as they leave.
Peeves' activity now doubles; Harry sees him wreaking havoc all over the school, and sees the other teachers not only ignoring, but occasionally helping Peeves in his ongoing activities.
Harry is misled into believing that Sirius is being tortured by Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic. In order to confirm that, he decides that he must use Umbridge's fireplace to communicate with Sirius, and of course he will need a distraction. Ron volunteers to tell Umbridge that Peeves is smashing up the Transfiguration Department. Unfortunately this fails, as Umbridge has just received a report that Peeves is busy inking the eyepieces of all the telescopes in the Astronomy classroom, and promptly arranges for the capture of Ron, Harry, and Harry's lookouts Hermione, Ginny, and Luna Lovegood.
After Dumbledore retrieves Umbridge from captivity with the Centaurs, and after she recovers, she attempts to sneak out of the school. Peeves, however, chases after her, whacking her retreating backside alternately with a bag of chalk and a walking stick.
Peeves is seen guarding a door, saying that he will only allow people who have set their own pants on fire to pass. Harry takes a longer route to bypass the door, but we later see Neville, in the dormitory, changing his charred trousers for new ones.
When Harry, looking for someone to take to Professor Slughorn's Christmas party, decides to invite Luna Lovegood, Peeves overhears and promptly tells the entire school.
Ron is somehow poisoned on his birthday, and ends up in the Hospital Wing. Harry, Hermione, and Hagrid visit him, but leave to make room for his family when Mr. and Mrs. Weasley arrive. Harry and Hermione are discussing a conversation between Dumbledore and Snape that Hagrid had overheard, and in order to retain secrecy, stop when they see Peeves float by.
Harry, wondering about where Draco Malfoy is spending all his time, hits upon the idea of setting Kreacher to tail him. When he calls Kreacher, Dobby arrives also, as they are apparently fighting over Kreacher having insulted Harry in front of Dobby. Peeves, who is always in favour of chaos, also appears, and is egging them on. Harry, to avoid drawing attention to their arrival, shuts Peeves up, whereupon he angrily flies away.
It is mentioned that as Harry and Luna Lovegood make their way from the Room of Requirement to Ravenclaw tower under the Invisibility Cloak, Harry is most afraid of running into Peeves. Luckily, they avoid him.
Peeves actually enters this book at the Battle at Hogwarts, near the end of the book. Professor McGonagall summons him to aid in the defence of the school. During the battle itself, he soars above the fray, dropping things (notably Snargaluff pods) on Death Eaters.
Once the battle is won, we can hear him in the distance, singing a victory song: "We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter's the one. Now Voldy's gone mouldy, so now lets have fun!" Hearing Peeves' song after the victory, Ron comments that it really gives a feeling for the scope and tragedy of the thing.
Strengths[edit | edit source]
As a poltergeist, Peeves is able to move things and people. He is effectively uncontrollable and invulnerable, as he does not have any physical body.
Weaknesses[edit | edit source]
Peeves is apparently afraid of the Bloody Baron. No explanation for this is given, but this fact proves useful to Percy Weasley when he is trying to lead the Gryffindor first-year students to their dormitory, and later to Harry, when he, Ron, and Hermione are trying to reach the chamber of the Philosopher's Stone.
Relationships with Other Characters[edit | edit source]
Peeves' main joy is to create chaos, and he responds to other characters only in ways that will contribute to the chaos. He will sometimes follow direct orders given to him by senior staff (notably Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall) and those who can injure him (notably Professor Lupin). Only twice in the series do we see him accept instructions from students, and only once knowingly. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry instructed Peeves to leave the area and not to return that night, while pretending to be The Bloody Baron from under his invisibility cloak. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Fred and George instructed him to give Professor Umbridge a hard time, and Peeves was glad to oblige.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, we learn that Peeves is only afraid of the Bloody Baron, the Slytherin House ghost, and that Dumbledore has some control over him. We will see later that while Dumbledore can control him to a certain extent, he remains as disrespectful to Dumbledore as to everyone else – when Dumbledore is interrogating him about the damage to the Fat Lady's portrait in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Peeves answers correctly, but with no apparent respect for Dumbledore. It appears that Professor McGonagall has perhaps the same amount of control, as, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he accepts her order to stop dropping water balloons on the arriving students.
When Peeves drops the Vanishing Cabinet directly over Argus Filch's office, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we learn that Filch wants Peeves out of the castle. We see this again when Filch is taking Harry to Dolores Umbridge's office in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Filch, with evident satisfaction about the changes that will be taking place with the change of Headmaster, lists the eviction of Peeves as one of the things that he is looking forward to. We actually gather that Filch is perpetually upset with Peeves as early as the first book, though he doesn't say so directly.
Analysis[edit | edit source]
There has been a great deal of discussion of the nature of Peeves, and whether, as is said at several points, Professor Dumbledore actually can control him. In an interview, the author has compared Peeves to the stubborn plumbing common in older houses: temperamental, and while nobody can make it behave, Dumbledore is like the elder resident who knows how to coerce it into sufficiently good operation for the needs at hand.
One theory that seems reasonable is that Peeves is the natural result of having so many adolescent wizards in a single location. Poltergeist activity is often believed to be seen in the vicinity of adolescents, particularly females; it is possible that Peeves is the embodiment of the accumulated polter energy of the several hundred young wizards in Hogwarts.
It is certainly true that Peeves' activity was greater in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Umbridge was causing turmoil in the earlier part of the year, and considerably greater when Dumbledore was out of the castle in the later part of that book; but there did not seem to be extra activity on Peeves' part in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Dumbledore was suspended as Headmaster. It is possible that the level of Peeves' activity is related to the dissatisfaction level of the students, rather than being affected directly by the headmaster. It is entirely possible that Peeves can only be removed from the school when everyone in it is satisfied with the way things are going, and that is extremely unlikely to ever happen.
Questions[edit | edit source]
Greater Picture[edit | edit source]
While Peeves is apparently fond of chaos, and will generally act to increase the confusion, he plainly is fond of his home and will tend to act to defend it. Professor McGonagall seemingly understands this, as in the preparations for the defence of Hogwarts, she sends Filch to find Peeves, and apparently gives instructions for the defence. In the battle itself, Peeves is clearly in his element, having a fine time bombing the invading Death Eaters with Snargaluff pods and other dangerous plants. It is interesting to note that, fond as he is of chaos, he does not knowingly act against the defenders of Hogwarts.