Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Peter Pettigrew
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
|Hair color||Colorless, balding|
|Loyalty||After spoiler warning|
Overview[edit | edit source]
Peter Pettigrew, almost always referred to by his nickname "Wormtail", was a friend of James Potter at Hogwarts. Unpopular, meek, and magically mediocre, he ingratiated himself with James, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin as a means to enhance and protect himself. At Hogwarts, the foursome became known as "The Marauders." He learns, like two of the others, to become an Animagus, in his case taking a rat form. Immediately following Lord Voldemort's disappearance, Sirius Black was convicted (without a trial) and sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban prison for Pettigrew's supposed murder.
Pettigrew's wand is chestnut and dragon heartstring.
Role in the Books[edit | edit source]
While he appears in this book, his identity has not yet been revealed. He is merely known as "Scabbers", Ron's pet rat.
While he appears in this book, his identity still remains unknown.
At the throughout the story, "Scabbers" is revealed to be looking increasingly sickly . Hermione Granger's Kneazle-cat hybrid Crookshanks is shown repeatedly to try pouncing on him and it is teased that Crookshanks ate him. Peter Pettigrew, on the other hand, is talked about by Professor McGonagall and Cornelius Fudge, overheard by Harry, Ron and Hermione. They refer to him as having been close friends with James Potter and Sirius Black when he was at school, whilst never quite having their talent. It is in this scene that we learn that Peter Pettigrew is supposed to have been dead for many years because Sirius killed him and several Muggles in an explosion. At the conclusion, it is revealed that Ron's pet is actually Pettigrew in his Animagus form and that Crookshanks had seen him for what he was and had been trying to bring him to Sirius. It is further revealed that it was he, Pettigrew, and not Sirius who betrayed the Potters to Lord Voldemort. After Sirius and Remus Lupin force him back into his human form, they attempt to execute him for betraying James and Lily Potter to Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter intervenes and spares his life, believing his father would not want his two best friends to become murderers. As Pettigrew is escorted back to the castle to be turned over to the Dementors, the full moon rises. Lupin transforms into a werewolf; having forgotten to take his potion, he becomes dangerous. Sirius changes into his dog form to protect the others. During the resulting commotion, Pettigrew escapes and sets out to be reunited with his master, Lord Voldemort. Professor Dumbledore later tells Harry that his merciful act created a powerful magical pact; Pettigrew now owes Harry a Life Debt that may override his loyalty to Voldemort.
In the early parts of the book, Pettigrew cares for Lord Voldemort, who has partially regained his body. We see him in the first chapter, in the Riddle house, where he is heard in conversation with Voldemort, and with the muggle Frank Bryce. There, they are discussing the death of one Bertha Jorkins, and plans for the death of one Harry Potter, with the assistance of Voldemort's "one true servant" at Hogwarts. Pettigrew is somewhat upset that Voldemort does not seem to see him as a true servant, saying that he has cared for Voldemort in their travels, though Voldemort dismisses this, saying that Pettigrew is only there because he wants to have some of Voldemort's power and has nowhere else to turn.
At the conclusion, Harry and Cedric Diggory are transported from the Triwizard Third Task maze to a cemetery where the Riddle family is interred. Pettigrew instantly kills Cedric on Voldemort's command, and binds Harry to a tombstone. During a ritual to restore Voldemort to full power, Pettigrew drops Riddle Sr.'s bone, some of Harry's blood, and his own severed hand into a large cauldron—Voldemort emerges fully restored. The Dark Lord uses Pettigrew's Dark Mark to summon the remaining Death Eaters and rewards his servant with a magical silvery hand. Harry barely escapes back to Hogwarts with Cedric's body.
Barty Crouch then reveals to Harry that Pettigrew had brought Bertha Jorkins to Voldemort and had assisted in her torture and murder; through Bertha, they had learned of Barty's still being alive and free, and had traveled to Mr. Crouch's home and placed Bartemius Crouch under the Imperius curse; and it had been Barty and Pettigrew who had captured Mad-Eye Moody. Pettigrew had been responsible for Mr. Crouch gaining his freedom and making his way to Hogwarts; he had been suitably punished for his lapse of attention, and Barty had eliminated the problem by killing Bartemius, his father.
Pettigrew appears in this book, much younger, in the Pensieve, friends of Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and James Potter. In this episode, James and Sirius are tormenting a young Severus Snape; neither Lupin nor Pettigrew takes part in this, though they are present.
Pettigrew is seen only in the first chapter of the book, where he is acting as Severus Snape's servant, and possibly spying on Snape for Voldemort. Snape orders him to bring drinks for his guests; Pettigrew complains that this is not why he was sent to Snape, but Snape overrules him. When Narcissa Malfoy starts outlining why she has come to see Snape, Snape stops her. He fires a spell through the bookcase and apparently catches Pettigrew listening in; Pettigrew is heard to yelp and retreat.
At the beginning of the book, Voldemort is interrupted by loud moaning from under the room in which they are meeting. Voldemort dispatches Pettigrew to quiet their "guest."
Harry is captured by Snatchers, and is brought to Malfoy Manor, along with Ron, Hermione, Dean Thomas, and Griphook. All except Hermione are taken to a downstairs room which is acting as a prison by Pettigrew. There, they find Voldemort's "guest", Mr. Ollivander, and Luna Lovegood. When Dobby appears, Harry has him take Dean, Luna, and Ollivander to safety. Pettigrew is sent to investigate the noise of their departure.
He is attacked by Harry and Ron, who are the only two left in the dungeon. Pettigrew attempts to stop Harry overpowering him by choking him with his silver hand, but is reminded by Harry of the life debt he owes. As a result, he hesitates in killing him, showing mercy. In retaliation for this positive action, his silver hand turns on Pettigrew, choking him to death. Harry and Ron are unable to stop it, and leave Pettigrew's body behind when they exit the dungeon.
Strengths[edit | edit source]
Pettigrew was given a silver hand by Lord Voldemort, and this hand demonstrates superhuman strength. It may have certain other special abilities, and possibly even some amount of sentience.
He is also an unregistered Animagus, taking the form of a rat.
While he is said to be a relatively unskilled wizard, he shows occasional moments of brilliance, such as creating a rudimentary body for Lord Voldemort, and eventually assisting in his resurrection. He also never seems to have any problems casting spells or even dueling, suggesting that his perceived lack of skill is either an appearance he chooses to project, or a way for other characters to insult him.
Weaknesses[edit | edit source]
Peter Pettigrew's loyalty is first and foremost to himself. He is loyal to others only when it serves his own interests and purpose. His friendship to James Potter, Remus Lupin, and Sirius Black was mainly because he was weak, and they protected him. He betrayed them when he decided that his best course lay with Voldemort. In Book 3, he vainly attempts to renew his friendship with Sirius and Lupin when his life is on the line. His appeal to Harry only partially works. Although Harry prevents Black and Lupin from executing him, Harry intends to turn Pettigrew over to the Dementors, making death a more appealing option. While his disguise as a rat is very effective and good for spying or escaping, it also leaves him vulnerable to larger creatures.
Relationships with Other Characters[edit | edit source]
Pettigrew is a very venal character, largely out for the main chance. He tends to ally himself with whoever he sees as being the strongest at the moment, but his loyalty is entirely to himself; he will be loyal to someone as long as nobody comes along who he thinks will do a better job of protecting him.
Before his identity is revealed, he is in disguise as Scabbers, Ron's rat, and like most rats he remains loyal to Ron only as long as he feels Ron can protect him, and as long as he receives some benefit from the association. Until the third book, Scabbers defends himself and Ron against Ron's attackers, but in the third book Crookshanks seems intent on killing him. With the earlier appearance of Sirius Black, association with Ron becomes untenable, so Pettigrew fakes his death, incriminating Crookshanks, and tries to make his own way. It is telling that when he is rediscovered, Scabbers attempts repeatedly to escape from Ron.
Analysis[edit | edit source]
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Rubeus Hagrid says "There isn't a one of them (wizards) that turned out bad that wasn't from Slytherin." His statement is somewhat hyperbolic, as there is a counter-example in Peter Pettigrew. Pettigrew was a friend of James Potter, who was in Gryffindor House, and it can be assumed at that stage, and is made explicit later on, that he, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin were also Gryffindors. Hagrid, it is true, did not know that at the time: it was unknown that Peter had turned to the dark side, it appeared he had died at the hands, or wand, of Sirius Black while he was attempting to somehow capture Black, and that Black had been responsible for the betrayal; but then Black himself was a Gryffindor, so Hagrid even with his knowledge should have laid the blame on at least one Gryffindor. Of course, Hagrid might have got confused because of Sirius's full-fledged Slytherin family history. We will note that the revelation of Sirius as the supposed agent of the Potters' destruction, which occurs the Three Broomsticks pub in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban comes as a surprise to Hagrid. It is possible that Hagrid's hyperbole was inadvertent, he might simply never have thought about why Pettigrew had attacked Sirius.
Questions[edit | edit source]
- Will Pettigrew be an asset to Harry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
- Will Pettigrew be true to his debt?
- As Gryffindor house favours courage and bravery above all other attributes, why was Pettigrew chosen for this house? At no point in the series does he demonstrate these features, but rather the opposite, so why did the Sorting Hat place him in Gryffindor?
Greater Picture[edit | edit source]
Many questions have been raised about Peter Pettigrew's actions. No full picture is ever given of his pathway from a member of the Order of the Phoenix to a Death Eater, in contrast to Snape who went the opposite journey and whose story and motives are eventually told. Although Voldemort never trusted him, Pettigrew was the first to return to him, and Voldemort has since chosen him to execute some of his more sensitive missions. So, the question should be asked, during many pivotal events in the series, what was Pettigrew doing?
Let us look at the events on the day the Harry's parents were murdered. Voldemort's intent was to kill Harry, at which he failed. But the killing curse he used is harmless to chattels, only killing people, as we can easily see in the Riddle mansion which remained totally undamaged despite the three people within it being murdered by the same curse. (While curses of power, like the Killing Curse, do apparently cause explosions when they miss, we have to assume that Voldemort generally didn't miss.) And yet, when Sirius Black recounts that day, he states that he saw "the destroyed house... and their bodies" – though possibly not Voldemort's body. And why would the house be destroyed? Would Voldemort have traveled to Godric's Hollow alone? Or would he have brought a lieutenant along? Who better than Pettigrew, who had delivered the secret to Voldemort? And what would Pettigrew have done if his master failed? After the third curse, there is a silence... a silence so long that finally, Pettigrew enters the house to see if something has gone wrong. There, he finds his master apparently dead... and, quite possibly, goes briefly mad, destroying everything that he can lay his wand on, but avoiding Harry, who somehow managed to kill Voldemort. He then departs, carrying Voldemort's body (possibly) and wand (probably), and hides them; he then confronts Sirius, and using his own wand, blows up the street and makes good his escape, leaving Sirius to take the blame.
Later information is inconclusive on this subject. The damage to the Potter house is not as extensive as we are led to believe, and we do not know whether there was a body to remove or not. As Voldemort's body remains after his Killing Curse rebounds in the last chapter of the final book, it is very likely that his body was also present in this instance. We also note that there is no explosion in either of the two cases where Voldemort's killing curse rebounds upon him in the final book, he simply quietly collapses. It is reasonably certain that Peter did recover the wand, at the least, as he had it when he was nursing the returned Voldemort. It is also entirely possible that, finding his master dead, Pettigrew blasted his way out through the house's side, that being the quickest way to get himself, and possibly Voldemort's body, out of there. In Voldemort's memories, as recounted in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort recalls escaping through the "ruined house"; but as discussed elsewhere, it is entirely possible that at that point it is only his memories or senses that have been ruined, as he is then a disembodied spirit.
Twelve years pass, during which Pettigrew hides himself within a Wizarding family, the Weasleys, so that he can remain in touch with the Wizarding World's news. This period ends in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As a rat cannot wield a wand, Voldemort's wand must have been concealed somewhere during this time.
Between Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and the start of school in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Pettigrew locates and rejoins Voldemort, retrieving Voldemort's wand first, while also fetching Bertha Jorkins to take her to Voldemort, then assists in her murder; carries Voldemort to Riddle Manor, where Frank Bryce is murdered, then to Barty Crouch Jr.'s house, and assists in recruiting him and placing Bartemius Crouch Sr. under the Imperius curse; and tends to Voldemort's immediate physical needs. During Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we know that Pettigrew is in Bartemius Crouch Sr.'s house, along with Voldemort and Bartemius. Voldemort will not let Pettigrew leave, as he still needs too much care. (Of course, once Bartemius escapes, Voldemort has to return to Little Hangleton, and Pettigrew will travel with him.) But we rarely see him during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In particular, at the Battle in the Ministry, he is conspicuous by his absence. Many escaped Death Eaters are there, as is Voldemort himself. Where is Pettigrew? Is he somewhere within the Ministry that can be reached by a rat? And while he is at the house in Spinner's End at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where is he through the rest of that book? He cannot follow Snape to Hogwarts. What tasks might he be doing for Voldemort?
We also have one outstanding issue: wands. While tending to Voldemort, Pettigrew apparently uses Voldemort's wand. But once Voldemort has returned fully, he needs his own wand. What wand can Pettigrew use? He cannot just buy one. If it is suspected that he is actually alive, he is certainly a "person of interest" and would be arrested on sight. His original wand was returned to his family, presumably, along with his severed finger. As he must conceal that he is alive, that wand is unavailable. What use to Voldemort is a wizard without a wand, particularly a weak one like Pettigrew? Could this have something to do with Ollivander's disappearance?
As it turns out, we never learn what, if any, mission Pettigrew has during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix or Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. He seems to be performing menial duties for Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And though Ollivander is required to make him a new wand, that is more of a side issue; Voldemort actually captured Ollivander for information regarding why Harry's and Voldemort's wands behaved as they did during the graveyard duel.