|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character
|Unknown, probably green
|the Black Family
Kreacher is the house elf for the Black family.
Role in the Books edit
Kreacher is first encountered when Harry Potter is brought into the Order of the Phoenix's headquarters, at Number 12 Grimmauld Place. He resents the new inhabitants of the house that has been a pure-blood stronghold for a long time, and wages his own little psychological warfare on them. Sirius Black says that he has been shut up in the house for ten years, taking orders only from the mad portrait of Sirius' mother, and going rather mad himself. It is noted that as Sirius and the others are collecting Black family artifacts to throw out, Kreacher is stealing some of them and hiding them away.
When Harry, Ron, Ginny, Fred, and George are transported by Portkey to Grimmauld Place after their father is injured, Kreacher makes a very insulting comment. "Is it true their father is dying?" Sirius, outraged, shouts "Out!" at him, whereupon he vanishes and is not seen again for some days. Hermione wants to give him a Christmas present, a quilt, but cannot find him; Sirius says that he has a sort of nest under the boiler, and Hermione leaves the quilt there. Harry notes that many of the pictures that he had helped Sirius discard, including a disturbing one of Bellatrix Lestrange, are arranged around Kreacher's sleeping space. Eventually, Kreacher reappears; apparently he has been in the attic all this time.
Later on, when Harry tries to find out if his vision of Sirius Black being attacked at the Department of Mysteries is true, Kreacher says that his master is not home, and that Sirius will never return from the Department of Mysteries, making Harry believe that he must get to London immediately and try to save Sirius.
When Albus Dumbledore arrives at Grimmauld Place, Kreacher laughs at him, telling him that Sirius is gone and won't be back. Dumbledore has to use rather forceful persuasion on Kreacher, but by doing so he learns that Sirius and the other Order members there present (Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Alastor Moody), have gone off to the Ministry to rescue Harry. He also learns that the Death Eaters have learned about Harry's vulnerability to worry about Sirius because, when Sirius had dismissed Kreacher at Christmas, Kreacher had interpreted that as permission to leave the house, and he had gone to the only Black relative that he still respected: Narcissa Malfoy. Though unable to reveal any of the secrets of the Order, or anything he was specifically forbidden to talk about by Sirius, he still was able to reveal that Harry cared extremely deeply about Sirius. Additionally, by injuring Buckbeak, Kreacher was able to keep Sirius out of the way when Harry tried to reach him via the Floo network. So when Harry spoke to Kreacher, Kreacher was able to lie to him without fear of being contradicted by Sirius.
By the terms of Sirius' will, Harry has inherited Grimmauld Place and all its contents, including Kreacher. Professor Dumbledore summons Kreacher to the Dursleys' house to determine whether the inheritance is valid; if there is a charm preventing Harry from inheriting, Kreacher will not accept his orders. Harry's desperate order to Kreacher to shut up is effective, despite Kreacher's quite evident reluctance to accept orders from "the Potter brat," proving that he, rather than Narcissa (Black) Malfoy or Bellatrix (Black) Lestrange, has actually inherited. Harry then, at a loss for anything else for Kreacher to do, accepts Dumbledore's suggestion and sends him to Hogwarts to work in the kitchens.
Later, as Harry is the only person who believes Draco Malfoy is up to something, he sends Kreacher and Dobby to follow Malfoy and find out what he is doing. Kreacher's report is largely full of insults for Harry and compliments for Malfoy, but Dobby reports that Malfoy has been going to the Room of Requirement.
Harry discovers that the mysterious R.A.B. is Regulus Arcturus Black when he sees the sign on his bedroom door at Grimmauld Place. After a fruitless search of Regulus' room, Hermione recalls that there was a locket, but that they had thrown it out; Harry recalls that Kreacher was perpetually stealing stuff back, and they go to search Kreacher's sleeping area to see if he has in fact kept it. Kreacher's den is empty of valuables, but it occurs to Harry that Kreacher himself may know what happened to it. Harry summons Kreacher, who reports that he had stolen the locket back, but that Mundungus Fletcher had then stolen it from him, along with almost everything else of value in the house. Harry demands the full story; Kreacher tells how Voldemort had asked Regulus for a house-elf. Regulus had volunteered Kreacher, telling him that he was to come back as soon as the Dark Lord was done with his services. Kreacher had accompanied Voldemort to the island in the lake that Harry had visited with Dumbledore, where Voldemort had forced Kreacher to drink a potion that left him remembering horrible things. Voldemort had placed a locket in the basin, had refilled it with potion, and then had vanished, leaving Kreacher alone; Kreacher had gone to the lake for a drink of water, and had been pulled under by the Inferi in the lake, and then had returned to his master, Regulus, as ordered.
Later, Regulus had taken him back to that same island, and had ordered Kreacher to force him to drink the potion, and then replace the locket with the one that Harry had found in the basin, and take the locket back to Grimmauld Place and destroy it. Regulus had drained the basin with Kreacher's assistance, and then struggled to the lake for water, and had been dragged under by the Inferi; and Kreacher had returned with the locket to Grimmauld Place, but had failed his master: he had been unable to destroy the locket, no matter how hard he tried.
Harry tells him that they, too, have the mission of destroying the locket, and as a token of their shared mission, he gives Kreacher the locket that Regulus had had him place in the basin, and that Harry had later recovered. Kreacher is overjoyed at this sign of consideration from Harry. Harry asks him to find Mundungus and bring him back, and Kreacher sets off immediately.
It is some days later that Kreacher returns with Mundungus, saying that he had been hard to trace. A number of times while Harry is interrogating Mundungus, Kreacher threatens him with a frying pan, because he is evidently being disrespectful to Harry.
Over the next month or so, Kreacher's work improves significantly, to the point that Harry is starting to enjoy returning to Grimmauld Place. After the invasion of the Ministry, however, Harry, Hermione, and Ron are forced to leave Grimmauld Place. With Harry gone, Kreacher apparently decides to return to Hogwarts, possibly in the hopes that his master (Harry) will be going there.
Kreacher leads the house-elves at Hogwarts into the second part of the battle at Hogwarts, cutting at the legs of Death Eaters with kitchen implements. After the final battle at Hogwarts, Harry hopes to himself that his four-poster bed in the dormitories at Hogwarts is still there waiting for him, and that Kreacher would be able to bring him a sandwich there...
As a house-elf, Kreacher has significant magic ability in his own person, ability that is distinct from human magic. He also has the house-elf trait of extreme loyalty to his Masters, if he accepts them as worthy.
Kreacher shares the weaknesses of all House-elves: being tied to one family and one location and not being able to disobey their orders, and the relatively low verbal intelligence of the race. He is also, we are told, quite old, and when we first meet him has had no human contact except for Walburga Black's mad portrait for ten years. As such, he is presumed to be somewhat maddened himself. He does seem to recover when separated from Walburga's portrait.
Relationships with Other Characters edit
It is a unclear whether Walburga treated Kreacher well or not. It might seem so, as Kreacher seems to follow the instructions issued by Walburga's painting, while resisting those of Sirius, a live Master. However, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore discusses how house elves become loyal and what it means. And in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry showed that he was on the same side as Regulus and treated Kreacher with respect, and as a result, Kreacher accepted Harry full-heartedly as his Master.
At that point, Kreacher, to a great extent, accepted Harry's ideals as his own. We see this particularly in the Battle of Hogwarts, where Kreacher is seen leading the school's house elves to fight against Lord Voldemort, and thus against the values of his earlier Masters. From this, it appears that house elves, despite the strong link of obedience to the family and heritage, have a great loyalty of mind to those "Masters" who treat them well.
The author's choice of name for this character is interesting. We have seen that characters names are quite often related to their characteristics; for example, Rubeus Hagrid, a character hag-ridden by his heritage; Remus Lupin, whose name almost shouts his "furry little problem"; Albus Dumbledore, white of beard and hair, and eccentrically bumbling about like the bumblebee which is his last name, but with equally hidden purpose. In a world where house-elves are given cutesy, childish names like Dobby, Winky, and Hokey, Kreacher, which seems to be a portmanteau of "creature" and "treachery", is very out of place. The first time we see him, his name alone causes us to distrust him and his motives, and his perpetual string of muttered insults does nothing to change our feelings about him. One feels that the name was selected deliberately to foster that distrust; a name more in line with other house-elf names would have caused a certain cognitive dissonance that would have jarred throughout Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, as it would result in an elf with a cute name who was saying really horrible things about Harry, Hermione, and Ron. That dissonance would likely have distracted readers from the story.
Kreacher's character is written to be quite childish, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and child-like in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This seems to be consistent with all we know of house elves and their intellectual development. There is more on house-elf intellect in that topic.
- Why did Kreacher lie to Harry about Sirius?
- What causes Kreacher's change of heart towards Harry and his friends?
Greater Picture edit
The author apparently insisted that Kreacher be part of the film of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because he would play an important part in the final chapter. As we can see in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, this is the case.
At least one source had suggested that Kreacher's role would have something to do with the mysterious RAB identified with the locket Horcrux. Having assumed that RAB was, in fact, Regulus Black, sources reasoned that it could be Kreacher who accompanied Regulus to the island of the locket; and Kreacher who was required to drink the potion that covered the locket. It is a bit of a surprise to find that it was Regulus who drank the potion, because given that Regulus was a good and loyal Black son, one would expect him to share the Black family disrespect for their servants.
One finds it hard to imagine that Lord Voldemort would not have protected his Horcrux against other magical creatures; however, we have already seen with Dobby that house-elf magic is very hard to counter even for very powerful wizards. Additionally, Voldemort has been shown to have no respect for magic he cannot do himself; this tendency to discount non-human magic, and to discount the strength of non-Pureblood wizards, is a large part of what eventually brought him down.