Chapter 28 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Madness of Mr. Crouch
As Sirius had requested, Ron sends an owl to Percy for information about Mr. Crouch. Then he, Harry, and Hermione, visit the kitchens to give an ecstatic Dobby his socks. Harry remembers to ask for extra food to send to Sirius. Winky is sitting by the fire, filthy, and apparently drunk, still pining for her old master, Mr. Crouch. Harry asks if she knows anything about Mr. Crouch. Winky responds that Mr. Crouch needs her and he had entrusted her with his greatest secrets, then passes out. Hermione is unhappy that the House-elves do not try to cheer her up, but the head kitchen Elf says, "House-elves has no right to be unhappy when there is work to be done and Masters to be served." At this Hermione declares that the elves have as much right as wizards do. The elves, disturbed by this concept, quickly give the Trio the food they had asked for, and then push Ron, Harry, and Hermione from the kitchens. Ron is convinced the House-elves will ban them from the kitchens and is angered at Hermione for ruining any chance of getting information about Mr. Crouch from Winky. Hermione counters this by saying Ron only comes there for food. Harry, tired of their squabbling, leaves to send the food to Sirius.
The next day, Hermione receives numerous letters. It is hate mail in response to Rita Skeeter's Harry-Hermione-Viktor "love triangle" article. One letter contains raw Bubotuber pus, which sends Hermione to the hospital wing with boils on her hands.
In Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class, each student is given a Niffler, which dives in and out of the freshly turned dirt searching for buried gold coins. The student whose Niffler returns the most gold wins a prize. Hagrid explains that it is only Leprechaun gold, and it will quickly vanish. After class, Ron suddenly remembers he paid Harry for the omnioculars at the Quidditch World Cup that summer with Leprechaun gold, and becomes quite upset when Harry says he never noticed it had vanished. Harry clearly has far fewer concerns about money than Ron, who bemoans his family's poverty.
The hate mail continues. Hermione acts on advice from Hagrid and doesn't open any, but several are Howlers that explode at the table, screaming insults. Hermione again wonders how Skeeter knew about Viktor Krum's invitation, or that Hagrid had told Madame Maxime he was half-Giant. Hermione checks with Professor Moody, who says Skeeter is not using an Invisibility Cloak. Hermione rules out Harry's suggestion about electronic bugging, reminding him that Muggle devices are ineffective at Hogwarts.
Percy's response to Ron's inquiry about Mr. Crouch is uninformative, reiterating previous Daily Prophet reports. Easter eggs also arrive from Ron's mother, who has sent huge chocolate eggs for Ron and Harry, and only a tiny egg for Hermione. Ron confirms that his mother reads Witch Weekly.
In late May, the Champions are summoned to the Quidditch pitch, which has been transformed into a massive hedge maze for the third Triwizard task. Ludo Bagman explains that the Triwizard Cup will be at the center, and the Champions must overcome spells and creatures to reach it. The first Champion to touch the Cup receives full marks. Harry is a little concerned, knowing the creatures Hagrid will likely provide.
After exiting the maze, Viktor Krum privately asks Harry if Hermione is Harry's girlfriend. As Harry assures Viktor they are only friends, something in the forest behind them moves. Mr. Crouch, who has apparently gone insane, is talking to a tree he believes is Percy Weasley. Momentarily lucid, he demands to see Professor Dumbledore. Leaving Krum to guard Mr. Crouch, Harry runs to the castle for help. Professor Snape tries blocking him from entering Dumbledore's office, but is thwarted by the appearance of Dumbledore.
Harry and Dumbledore return to find Krum Stunned and Mr. Crouch gone. Dumbledore summons Hagrid, then revives Krum, who claims Crouch attacked him. Dumbledore instructs Hagrid to bring Karkaroff and Professor Moody, but Moody appears on his own. Karkaroff arrives, ranting that a Triwizard judge attacked his Champion. Dumbledore orders Harry to stay in Gryffindor Tower until morning. Any messages he wants to send can wait until then. As Hagrid escorts him back to the castle, Harry wonders how Dumbledore knew he was planning to write to Sirius.
Prior to this chapter, Dumbledore, accepting Moody's views to some extent, suspected that there could be a dark plot against Harry, while others simply believed he cheated to enter the Tournament. Now more sinister events are unfolding that seem to support Dumbledore's suspicions and that could be threatening Harry and the other Champions, although this may or may not sway the doubters' opinions. Mr. Crouch's behavior, though erratic, indicates he probably knows something so dire that he had to somehow get himself to Hogwarts to warn Dumbledore. His disappearance and the attack on Krum only fuels this speculation. However, it is unclear just who stunned Krum or why, or where Mr. Crouch has disappeared. Snape also seems to be acting suspiciously here. His attempt to block Harry from reaching Dumbledore's office may indicate he knows something about what has just happened and wants to prevent Dumbledore from immediately finding out, though this may just be his usual dismissiveness regarding anything to do with Harry.
Meanwhile, Hermione's mission to liberate House-elves is stymied again, this time by the Elves who continually resist change, insisting they are happy only when there is work to be done. Scorning Dobby, they believe freedom is shameful, and the pathetic Winky only proves how miserable their lives would become without masters to serve. It seems doubtful that Hermione can ever overcome this obstacle. Hermione is also experiencing the full brunt of Rita Skeeter's vicious story about her. Hermione had previously brushed it off, and she probably never anticipated the hateful backlash that so many strangers are now heaping on her. Skeeter represents how powerful the media is and the way it in which it can easily victimize someone by swaying readers' opinions, either with the truth, lies, or a carefully slanted mixture of both. Curiously, Skeeter's equally slanderous article about Hagrid being a dangerous Giant had the opposite effect, with readers rushing to his defense. While many may personally know Hagrid, prompting their support, it seems that Hermione is being unfairly judged by a different standard here, with the public reacting as if she is an "unfaithful hussy" who is two-timing Harry and Viktor, two well-known and admired young wizards. Surprisingly, even Mrs. Weasley believes Skeeter, becoming hostile towards Hermione, despite knowing both her and Harry so well.
Krum's asking Harry if there is anything between him and Hermione is a clear indication that Krum is romantically pursuing her. Krum, like many series fans, mistakenly believes Hermione and Harry are "an item," because Hermione often talks about Harry and (presumably) his exploits. Readers should notice Ron's jealousy over their developing relationship, through this book and the next, and how little the relationship seems to discomfit Harry. It is also interesting how little Ron understands his true feelings for Hermione, even explicitly disclaiming them after the Yule Ball.
Ron struggles with other issues, and the Nifflers episode is a mechanism for him to discover that the Leprechaun gold he paid Harry for the omnioculars had vanished. Harry claiming that he was unaware that it was gone only further upsets Ron, who feels Harry has so much money that he does not even notice when it disappears. The author has stated that this is meant to contrast Harry's relative wealth with the Weasleys' ongoing poverty, a situation that Ron abhors and is continually embarrassed about. It also causes him to occasionally resent Harry, although Ron fails to understand that his family's financial woes are unrelated to Harry, nor does Harry ever flaunt his affluence.
One thing to note here also is how Dumbledore summons Hagrid. Dumbledore actually casts and sends a Patronus with a message for Hagrid; this method of dispatching messages was apparently developed by Dumbledore.
- Why would Ludo Bagman want to speak to Harry?
- How does Hermione embarrass Dobby? Was it intentional? What is Dobby's reaction?
- Why is Harry worried about what creatures Hagrid may put in the maze? Is he right to be concerned?
- Why would Mrs. Weasley, who knows Hermione, be angry at her? Is it justified?
- Why would Karkaroff believe that a Triwizard judge and Dumbledore are involved in the attack on Krum? Is there any proof for that?
- Why does Percy Weasley send Ron so little information about Mr. Crouch?
- Why does Harry feel it is safe to meet privately with Krum? They are both Champions; eliminating Harry would improve Krum's chances significantly.
- Why was Viktor Krum Stunned? Is it really Crouch, as Krum claims?
- Why would Mr. Crouch suddenly appear at Hogwarts to see Dumbledore? What might be causing his strange behavior?
- Why would Snape want to prevent Harry from seeing Dumbledore, especially during an emergency?
- What secrets might Mr. Crouch have entrusted to Winky? If these secrets were vital, why would he have discharged her from his house?
- Why is public reaction to Skeeter's story about Hermione so different from what it was to her story on Hagrid? Is Hermione being held to a different standard than Hagrid? If so, explain why and what that standard might be.
- Why is Ron often upset with Harry for having money? Are Ron's feeling justified? What is Harry's reaction?
The many hidden events in this chapter are explained in Chapter 35. Barty Crouch was alerted to Mr. Crouch's escape by Voldemort, and using the Marauder's Map, saw Crouch enter the grounds. Concealed under an Invisibility Cloak, Barty Jr. tracked his father to where Harry and Krum encountered him. After Harry went for help, Barty stunned Krum, killed his father and hid his remains under the Cloak. He then returned as Moody to where he had stunned Krum, claiming Snape told him something was amiss; presumably, he had seen Snape and Harry's altercation on the Map. Later, he buried his father's remains in the same ground the Nifflers had been digging in.
The Imperius curse's effects, as shown in this chapter, are apparently inconsistent with what Harry experiences when Professor Moody casts it on him in class, though Moody may have applied a milder version for the in-class demonstration. In Chapter 35, Barty Crouch Jr. states that his father was controlled by Voldemort using the Imperius curse. Both Bartemius Crouch and Voldemort are powerful wizards, and Bartemius has been attempting to break the Imperius curse for the past several months. It is now late May, and Voldemort and Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew) attacked and placed Bartemius under this curse in late August, nine months previously. It is possible that resisting Voldemort for that long damaged Bartemius' mind to the point that he was able to escape Voldemort's control over him. This tallies with Bartemius' disorientation when Harry encounters him in the Forbidden Forest.
In the next chapter, we will see that Voldemort blames Wormtail for Crouch's escape, punishing him severely for his failure. This does not tally with the statement Barty makes later, that it was Voldemort who had put Crouch under the Imperius curse, but as both Voldemort and Pettigrew were involved in that effort, and as Voldemort is currently handicapped by the limitations of his physical body, it is likely that they shared control duty, and that Crouch escaped on Pettigrew's watch, so to speak. Crouch's escape will result in Voldemort and Pettigrew departing the relative comfort of Crouch's London home, retreating to Riddle Manor in Little Hangleton.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Tonks casts a Patronus and sends it off carrying a message, using the same technique Dumbledore employed to summon Hagrid in this chapter. The author has stated that Dumbledore invented this method, and has only revealed it to Order of the Phoenix members. This communication technique is seen again in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: once by Kingsley Shacklebolt announcing that the Ministry has fallen, and twice by Mr. Weasley, to announce the Minister for Magic's impending arrival at the Burrow, and to reassure the gone-to-ground Ron that the entire family safely survived the Burrow attack. Professor McGonagall also utilizes this method to simultaneously summon three other teachers, shortly before Voldemort arrives for battle at Hogwarts. And during Harry's Horcrux mission, a wizard sends a Patronus to search for Harry, guiding him to something important hidden in the Forest of Dean.
Also, Hermione becomes determined to learn how Rita Skeeter continually uncovers such confidential information about her and others. She will discover Skeeter's secret before the book's end, and uses that secret to help Harry in the next novel.
- In this chapter we see Dumbledore sending a Patronus to summon Hagrid. This communications technique, seen here for the first time, will be used again in subsequent books. The author has said that the technique was invented by Dumbledore and only members of the Order of the Phoenix are able to use it; it is true that we only ever see Order members communicating this way.
- Hermione's musing about how Skeeter gets her information will be resolved later in this book, at least partly by Harry's talk of "bugs". Hermione's detection of Skeeter's technique will give her a certain amount of control over Skeeter and her writings, control which Hermione will use to force Skeeter to write an interview with Harry for publication.
- Viktor Krum's romantic overtures to Hermione will continue throughout the next two books, ending only when a disguised Harry tells Krum that Hermione has a boyfriend, a big tough-looking guy, at Bill and Fleur's wedding.