Sunday, June 17, 2007

Oh, to be skilled at Occlumency

There are moments in the books where I'd dearly love to be able to read the minds of various characters. Here are two examples:

The moment when Snape enters Lupin's office early on in Prisoner of Azkaban and finds Harry sitting there chatting with Lupin. What is Snape thinking when he sees them together?

Another moment is one I've just re-read in Goblet of Fire. The first Defense Against the Dark Arts class with the character who appears for almost all of the book to be Alastor Moody but who is, in reality, Barty Crouch, Jr.

Now, if I have my backstory right, Barty was part of the foursome who were convicted of torturing the Longbottoms into insanity. He may have even seen Neville at the Longbottom house when this occurred, we don't know for sure. I've always wondered if the Death Eaters put some sort of memory charm on the young Neville so he wouldn't remember what happened that day.

So, in the classroom, we see Barty Crouch Jr. come face to face with Neville. The fake Moody stares hard at Neville and it's clear he knows who he is and who his parents are.

After class, he almost apologizes to both Harry and Neville for bringing up painful memories, explaining that "you've got to know" what's out there, what they're up against. He makes sure Harry's not too upset, and he takes Neville back to his office with him for a cup of tea and some conversation.

Later, Neville arrives back in the Common Room with the book that would, had Harry consulted it, have contained the answer to how to breathe underwater. Neville is in a much-improved mood and Harry reflects that this is something Lupin would have done (reaching out to a student and helping them gain confidence).

So, was getting the solution to the second task into Harry's hands the only motivation for this concern for Neville's well-being? Wouldn't there have been another way to tip Harry off to the actions of Gillyweed? What is Barty feeling, coming face-to-face with someone who's been so negatively affected by the crime he had a hand in committing?

Further on in the book, I find myself questioning his motivation again. Why does he go to such great lengths to teach Harry how to fight off the Imperius curse? Doesn't this give Harry a greater chance of getting away from Voldemort? Why would this be something a Death Eater would want to do? It doesn't seem to be something that will help Harry in any of the Triwizard Tasks.

I'm not sure we'll even see a mention of Barty Crouch, Jr., in the Deathly Hallows, but I really would like an answer to these questions.


Eeyore said...

I've always found the re-reads of GOF more interesting because I now know that everything that Moody does is really more sinister than funny or friendly, as it first appeared.

Fake Moody does seem to be doing things to help Harry and Neville, but they are truly for his own purposes of further ingratiating himself to Voldemort. He seemed to have no real respect or regard for Harry or for Neville (or anyone else), and worse yet, any remorse for having had a hand in depriving Neville of his parents. That he further uses Neville, by appearing to be "like Lupin", is almost even worse than tricking Harry throughout the tournament, and getting the marauder's map from him. Neville was so vulnerable at that point of seeing what happened to his parents, and really needed someone to reassure an comfort him; yet fake Moody only uses Neville to get the information about gillyweed into Harry's hands.

It's at the end of the book that we see how deeply horrible Barty Crouch, Jr is. Until then, I wondered if he had been wrongly accused, but the way he so cruelly made Harry and Neville, in particular, trust him and like him, was despicable.

Chapter 35, "Veritaserum", is quite lengthy, with Crouch Jr telling Harry all the things he did to ensure that Harry got through the maze to the cup. But I think there are some key sentences that let us know that Crouch Jr, cared nothing for what he did to Harry or any of the other students, and in particular, to Neville.

GOF, US version, p. 676:

"Who told Cedric to open it (the egg) underwater? I did. I trusted that he would pass the information on to you. Decent people are so easy to manipulate, Potter."

He admits that the book he gave to Neville was planted there to give Harry access to the gillyweed information, and that when Harry didn't ask Neville, that he used Dobby instead:

p. 677:

"So what could I do? Feed you information from another innocent source."

When Harry was in the lake so long, Crouch Jr thought he had drowned. "But, luckily, Dumbledore took your idiocy for nobility, and marked you high for it." (p. 677)

Crouch, Jr then goes through all the ways that he and the "Dark Lord" are similar--hated fathers for whom they were named and that they killed:

"And both of us had the pleasure. . . the very great pleasure. . . of killing our fathers to ensure the continued rise of the Dark Order!" (p. 678)

And when he first questions Harry, it is not with any concern for the ordeal that Harry has been through--Crouch, Jr only wants the assurance that the "Dark Lord" punished the Death Eaters who were less faithful than he, and that he alone is the one who will be honored as the most loyal supporter:

For killing Harry Potter for Voldemort, Crouch, Jr believes that--

"I will be honored beyond all other Death Eaters. I will be his dearest, his closest supporter. . . closer than a son. . ." (p.678)

There is nothing in any of Crouch, Jr's comments or reactions that indicate he cared for anyone but himself and Voldemort. It makes his character particularly chilling when you also see the way he treats Malfoy, son of a Death Eater who walked free, someone who Crouch Jr could never forgive.


Trish said...

Let's not forget, too, that Crouch-as-Moody has to behave as much like the real Moody as possible. He can't have anyone suspecting him before his purpose is accomplished. There are a great many intelligent people at Hogwarts, and Dumbledore is not exactly an idiot. He has to conform to the behavior of the real Moody as well as the physical appearance, or he'll be found out.