Dark Magic Hogwarts Ministry of Magic and the Wizard's Council Notable Witches and Wizards

The Madness of Mr. Crouch

- Chapter 28

"I need ... see ... Dumbledore ..."
-- Barty Crouch Senior

GF28: The Madness of Mr Crouch

Harry, Ron and Hermione visit the kitchens again, Hermione upsets Winky, and Harry sends owls with food to Sirius Black, Hermione gets threatening letters by owl, Hagrid has Nifflers for Care of Magical Creatures class, more hate mail arrives, Harry learns that the third task involves a maze, Viktor Krum asks Harry about his relationship with Hermione, Barty Crouch Senior appears (bloody, bedraggled and incoherent), Harry goes for Professor Dumbledore but Crouch apparently attacks Krum and runs off.

Calendar and Dates

This chapter begins on the Sunday after the end of the previous chapter.

Interesting facts and notes

The chapter title is an historical reference, being a play on "The Madness of King George". It is believed that King George III of the United Kingdom suffered from porphyria, a blood disorder that can cause a variety of symptoms including mental changes like confusion and hallucinations. He was considered 'mad' in his later years and in particular was noted for talking to trees, as Mr. Crouch is shown doing in this chapter - even the same species of tree, an oak.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione went up to the Owlery after breakfast on Sunday...

An unusually large variety of post owls are mentioned in this chapter, either explicitly or implicitly, but very few referred to are in the Owlery itself; mostly they appear in the Great Hall hate mail scene later on.

  • Pigwidgeon
  • four barn owls
  • brown owl
  • eagle owl
  • gray owl
  • two screech owls (helping Pigwidgeon carry a food parcel to Sirius Black)
  • snowy owl (Hedwig)
  • tawny

They proceeded down to the kitchen to give Dobby his new socks.

Harry is being prompt about keeping his word (having promised himself after the second task to buy Dobby a pair of socks for every day of the year), being considerate of a friend (giving Dobby something he'll enjoy), and looking out for his godfather Sirius at the same time, as we shall see in a moment.

"We should get some stuff to send up to Snuffles," Harry muttered"
"Good idea," said Ron. "Give Pig something to do."

As we see later as Pigwidgeon struggles with the food parcel for Snuffles, offering his services is not necessarily one of Ron's better ideas, given Pig's size.

Winky was sitting on the same stool as last time, but she had allowed herself to become so filthy that she was not immediately distinguishable from the smoke-blackened brick behind her. Her clothes were ragged and unwashed.

The whole subject of clothes is rather touchy for house-elves, of course. Notice that of the house-elves we have met (Dobby, Kreacher, Winky, and the unnamed staff members of Hogwarts), those who are happy in their work take care to dress themselves neatly in whatever they use as clothing, while those who are unhappy with their situations wear filthy rags: Dobby in his days with the Malfoys, Kreacher in his dirty loincloth, and Winky here.

"Winky is getting through six bottles a day now," Dobby whispered to Harry.
"Well, it's not strong, that stuff," Harry said.
But Dobby shook his head. "'Tis strong for a house-elf, sir," he said.

At a guess, the fact that house-elves are much more sensitive to the alcohol content of butterbeer than humans are is probably due to a combination of their much smaller size and some quirk of a house-elf's metabolism.

"Winky is pining, Harry Potter," Dobby whispered sadly. "Winky wants to go home. Winky still thinks Mr. Crouch is her master, sir, and nothing Dobby says will persuade her that Professor Dumbledore is her master now."

Until the Quidditch World Cup, Winky had spent her entire life with the Crouch family, so it isn't surprising that she still thinks of the Crouch household as home. Her devotion to Crouch senior even after being sacked is a reflection on his character as well as hers. Note that Crouch can inspire extreme loyalty in some of his subordinates despite his somewhat careless treatment of them - his inability to remember Percy's name, and his public harshness in sacking Winky to cover up his son's actions at the World Cup.

"Master is needing his - hic - Winky!" whimpered the elf. "Master cannot - hic - manage - hic - all by himself. . . ."

Winky, of course, is worrying about how Crouch senior can cope with his imprisoned son without her help as caretaker and guardian. She is the most likely person to be aware of the fact that he had begun to fight off the Imperius Curse after spending so much time in its grip, and thus more likely than Crouch senior to be aware of the risk he would run if, for example, he left his son alone for the day while he went off to his job at the Ministry.

"Other people manage to do their own housework, you know, Winky," Hermione said severely.
"Winky - hic - is not only - hic - doing housework for Mr. Crouch!" Winky squeaked indignantly, swaying worse than ever and slopping butterbeer down her already heavily stained blouse. "Master is - hic - trusting Winky with - hic - the most important - hic - the most secret..."

While Hermione means well, she is unintentionally being condescending to Winky (who is, after all, a full-grown house-elf and should be treated as an adult). Winky has taken enough drink that she becomes a little indiscreet in her indignation at Hermione, though not enough to completely overcome the house-elf code of silence.

Half a dozen house-elves came hurrying forward, looking disgusted. One of them picked up the bottle; the others covered Winky with a large checked tablecloth and tucked the ends in neatly, hiding her from view.

Not surprisingly, given the nature of their work, the house-elves seem to be very disciplined about keeping things tidy even among themselves; only desperately unhappy house-elves seem prone to personal slovenliness, as with Kreacher's nest in Grimmauld Place.

"Begging your pardon, miss," said the house-elf, bowing deeply again, "but house-elves has no right to be unhappy when there is work to be done and masters to be served."

The house-elves as shown here seem not unlike many working-class communities of Muggles: every able-bodied adult is expected to be responsible and have a job, and one of the worst forms of disgrace is to be known as someone who drinks.

"Listen to me, all of you! You've got just as much right as wizards to be unhappy! You've got the right to wages and holidays and proper clothes, you don't have to do everything you're told - look at Dobby!"
"Miss will please keep Dobby out of this," Dobby mumbled, looking scared.
The cheery smiles had vanished from the faces of the house-elves around the kitchen. They were suddenly looking at Hermione as though she were mad and dangerous.

Hermione's characterization here is quite realistic, in that she's being shown as having good intentions without having enough experience of people to be as effective as she'd like. She is well-intentioned toward the house-elves, but inconsiderate of their point of view. She seems to be thinking in terms of what she would want in their place: the chance to study magic, and use a wand (GF14), and pursue intellectual interests, rather than considering that house-elves have their own point of view, and might be interested in other kinds of activities.

An eagle owl flew through the coil of smoke rising from Hagrid's chimney; it soared toward the castle, around the Owlery, and out of sight.

Note that this may well be the same owl as that which Harry sees delivering a message to Lord Voldemort in his dream in Divination class the next day (GF29).

Looking down, Harry saw Hagrid digging energetically in front of his cabin. Harry wondered what he was doing; it looked as though he were making a new vegetable patch.

Hagrid, of course, is preparing the ground for his next Care of Magical Creatures lesson, which will cover nifflers.

As an unintended side effect, though, the fact that the earth around Hagrid's cabin had been so recently churned up accounts for the fact that fake Mad-Eye Moody was able to effectively conceal Crouch senior's body so quickly, something rather difficult even in its Transfigured state.

As he watched, Madame Maxime emerged from the Beauxbatons carriage and walked over to Hagrid. She appeared to be trying to engage him in conversation.
Hagrid leaned upon his spade, but did not seem keen to prolong their talk, because Madame Maxime returned to the carriage shortly afterward.

From Hagrid's remarks later in the chapter, he now believes that Madame Maxime's attempts to be sociable are completely insincere, serving only as an excuse to pump him for information about the Triwizard tasks on behalf of the Beauxbatons champion.

"I've taken out a subscription to the Daily Prophet. I'm getting sick of finding everything out from the Slytherins."

As we are to learn later, Hermione is giving the Slytherins more credit than they deserve; they've been feeding Rita Skeeter information for the Daily Prophet for months rather than following the newspapers. As we will see the following New Year's in OP25, very few Hogwarts students follow the wizarding news any more than Dudley Dursley follows the Muggle news.

"Hermy-own-ninny talks about you very often," said Krum, looking suspiciously at Harry.
"Yeah," said Harry, "because we're friends."
He couldn’t quite believe he was having this conversation with Viktor Krum, the famous international Quidditch player.

Viktor Krum really likes Hermione. It is evident from his remarks to Harry that he doesn't have a lot of real interaction with girls, particularly as most of the ones chasing him are are only interested in his celebrity.

"I'll be havin' a few words with her, an' all," said Hagrid grimly, stomping up the stairs. "The less you lot 'ave ter do with these foreigners, the happier yeh'll be. Yeh can' trust any of 'em".

This is a very typical insular reaction to foreigners. At first, for the sake of the school's reputation, Hagrid was prepared to be welcoming and friendly (very friendly with Madam Maxime), but it will take a lot to rebuild trust.

Exceptional character moments

Mrs. Weasley's unkindness to Hermione after believing the lies in Rita Skeeter's Witch Weekly article.

Hagrid, picking Karkaroff up bodily and slamming him into a tree in reaction to Karkaroff's insulting remarks to Dumbledore.

Dobby's reaction to Hermione talking about house-elf rights in the Hogwarts kitchens.

Memorable lines

"Come on,Ron, it could be worse. At least your fingers aren't full of pus."

"What's the betting she comes back with a box of I hate Rita Skeeter badges?"

But nothing at Hogwarts had ever moved just because he shouted at it; he knew it was no good.

Words and phrases

Characters Introduced

GF 28 — The Madness of Mr. Crouch
Abbreviation GF28: The Madness of Mr Crouch
Canonicity Primary Canon


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The Harry Potter Canon