Mad-Eye Moody & The Unforgivable Curses

chapters thirteen & fourteen of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry has an eventful first week back, studying Bubotubers in Herbology, Blast-Ended Skrewts with Hagrid, and Astrology in Divination. Mad-Eye Moody is the highlight, though, as he first turns Malfoy into a ferret, then demonstrates the Unforgivable Curses in his first class. Finally Harry and Ron make up their Divination homework, Hermione “convinces” them to join S.P.E.W., and Harry hears back from Sirius.

Bubotubers, by Gnatkip

Here [Harry] was distracted by Professor Sprout showing the class the ugliest plants Harry had ever seen.

(by Gnatkip)


Professor Pomona Sprout, by haystax45

“Bubotubers,” Professor Sprout told them briskly. “They need squeezing.”


Divination, by Laura Freeman

“You are preoccupied, my dear,” she said mournfully to Harry. “My inner eye sees past your brave face to the troubled soul within. And I regret to say that your worries are not baseless. I see dificult times ahead for you, alas… most difficult….”


The Ferritization of Draco, by Katie Hillman

“I don’t like people who attack when their opponent’s back’s turned,” growled Moody as the ferret bounced higher and higher, squealing in pain. “Stinking, cowardly, scummy thing to do….”


Mad-Eye Moody, by salamandersoup

“You need to be prepared. You need to be alert and watchful. You need to put that away, Miss Brown, when I’m talking.”


Unforgivable Curse, by Sheena Kristen Sy

Moody raised his wand, and Harry felt a sudden thrill of foreboding. “Avada Kedavra!” Moody roared.


about the chapter


Fred and George took their O.W.L.s last year, and we’ll find out later only got three each. Since you need a passing O.W.L. score to continue taking that course, it’s now clear – from their experience in Moody’s class – that Defence Against the Dark Arts is one of the classes they must both have passed. This despite having five different teachers (including Quirrell and Lockhart) in their five years. They’re probably lucky that they had Lupin for their fifth year, but it also isn’t hard to imagine that this is one of the rare classes they saw a use for, and therefore applied themselves to. I wonder what their other passing scores were?

Something You May Not Have Noticed

If Draco Malfoy considers Care of Magical Creatures to be such a waste of time, and Hagrid to be such an atrocious teacher, why doesn’t he just give it up, like Hermione did Divination? Surely he’s complained to his parents about it, and surely Lucius wouldn’t object to his dropping it. On the other hand, we never hear of Malfoy taking any other electives (like Divination), so perhaps there’s a minimum number of classes that third-, fourth-, and fifth-year students have to take, and since Malfoy isn’t over it he doesn’t have a choice but to stick with the classes he’s in.

Life at Hogwarts

It seems like every time we see McGonagall walking through the halls of Hogwarts she’s carrying a huge stack of books, which she then (on cue) drops in surprise. I wonder what she’s doing with the books? Is it possible she merely likes the humorous/dramatic effect of dropping a huge stack of books in shock, and carries them around explicitly for that purpose?

Something to Remember

This is the first time we’ve ever seen Neville volunteer information in class, and after he does so, the demonstration of the curse he knows (the Cruciatus) all but sends him into shock. We’ll soon find out why he had the strongest reaction of anybody in the class – and there’s definitely an extra clue in that Moody asks Harry if he’s okay, too.

The Final Word

“It was a big surprise to me that Mad Eye Moody turned out the way he did. I really like him. I didn’t expect to.”–J.K. Rowling, October 2000

40 Responses to “Mad-Eye Moody & The Unforgivable Curses”

  1. I think one of Fred & George’s other OWLs would have to be Charms, given the nature of their inventions and jokes. The other… I don’t know. Somehow Potions (!) seems more logical to me, again, given the nature of what they do (for example, maybe the various candies in the Snackboxes involve potion effects?), but on the other hand I can’t picture Fred and George doing very well in Snape’s class! (although the OWL examination is independent of that) Maybe Transfiguration?

  2. I love that the first book has Ron saying that Fred and George get really good marks, but here we find that they only received 3 O.W.L.s each. Shows that even if you can spout off knowledge you a) don’t necessarily test well or b) don’t care about doing well on tests (the latter being the attitude I see the twins taking). And I love the speculation on which O.W.L.s they would have passed. :D

  3. I think it has to be Charms and Potions, just from what we see in their shop. But I don’t see how they could put up with Snape for that long either.

  4. The image of McGonagall stacking her arms with a load of books to drop later in the day – and cackling merrily while doing so – just popped to my head and doesn’t seem to be on its way out, so thanks for that image! ;)

    Seriously, though, she seems to use a lot of “complicated diagrams” in her class, so surely she needs to check them from somewhere. Wonder why transfiguration is the most theoretical of the subjects in Hogwarts, or is it only because McGonagall teaches it so?

  5. Draco didn’t drop Divination, because he couldn’t. Hermione took way to many subjects anyway, so she could afford zo drop two and still have enough. But she’s the exception or every student would have had Timeturners. ;-)

  6. I meant Care of Magical Creatures in Draco’s case, of course.

  7. I never even thought about Draco and Care of Magical Creatures…it would be very interesting to be a fly on the wall in the Malfoy household when Draco’s exam marks came in.

  8. Yeah, it seems to be clear that students are required to take two electives. They can take all five if they choose, but this is extremely difficult and may require Time-Turners. I wonder if Percy and Bill used them?

  9. As to the twins OWLs – we know it’s Charms because in OP Umbridge investigates their class with Flitwick. And I think at some point in OP they mention selling Extendable Ears before Herbology, so that’s the third one.

  10. I think that even if Draco did have an option to switch classes, he wouldn’t. I am sure that he enjoys complaining about the subject and probably likes the fact that Hagrid does to give any (that we have seen) homework.

  11. George definitely takes Transfiguration since he mentions in Chapter 15 that McGonagall told him to get on with Transfiguring his raccoon. But that would mean (considering the previous comments) that the twins take four subjects. Maybe Fred and George don’t have the same O.W.L.’s? Or maybe there are teachers who accept a student that failed the O.W.L.?

    Once you reread the book and know who Mad-Eye Moody really is, it’s despicable how Barty Crouch Junior acts towards Neville, pretending he cares about his parents being subjected to the Cruciatus Curse when he was the one who did it! From what the book says later, sounds like Neville cried and let out his feelings to “Moody”. All this so as to plan a possible way to succeed in the Second Task.

  13. This chapter is shocking, Mad-Eye Moody’s class seems to put everything in perspective, shows them what they will have to face. And the fact that he uses the curses in front of Harry and Neville is terrible.

    But, I laughed a lot, and I still do, with Harry and Ron’s predictions.

  14. **spoiler**

    Agatha Christie, the queen of mysteries, used to divert the reader’s suspicion from her villain by drawing parallels between the villain and a character the reader already knows is trustworthy. JKR does the same thing in this chapter, by showing us parallels between Moody and Lupin. Lupin opens his first DADA class by telling the students to put their books away; Moody does the same. When Harry is upset, Lupin invites him to his office for tea; Moody does the same for Neville. And when Neville tells Harry about his visit with Moody, Harry reflects that this was the kind of thing Lupin would have done. It worked on me! Moody had been vouched for by Dumbledore and Mr. Weasley, and by the end of this chapter I thought he was going to fill a role in this book similar to Lupin’s role in book 3.

  15. This is random but I was thinking about how if the Hogwarts Express always comes on September 1, and classes always start the next day, how is it that classes always seem to start on Monday? If classes always start the day after the students arrive it should be a different day of the week each year.

  16. Lizzie, you’ve picked up on one of the huge problems with the HP calendars. September 1 is a Sunday every single year, pretty much. Although in one of the first editions (CS maybe? I don’t remember offhand) September 1 was a Monday, and then the next day was also a Monday. They changed it for subsequent printings, though.

    I heard someone once describe Rowling’s approach to time as impressionistic, rather than literal, and that idea has always stuck with me. She makes the calendar do what she needs it to for the story, and comes close enough that it makes sense unless you look really, really closely. I’ve always liked that idea, and I wish I knew who to attribute it to. :)

  17. I’ll admit, the image of Malfoy as a ferret amused me until this last time I read the books. I guess I never noticed just how cruel “Mad Eye” was being – a small animal bounced over and over onto a hard stone floor? It’s surprising Malfoy didn’t suffer at least a broken bone or two.

    Sure, Draco shouldn’t have tried to attack while Harry’s back was turned but…good grief. “Moody” could have done some serious damage.

  18. Regarding OWLS, I believe I read in HBP that either Crabbie or Goyle was re-taking Defense Against the Dark Arts. Perhaps you have to have a minimum number of classes, so even if you didn’t pass your OWL in enough subjects, you still took at least 4-5 classes? It doesn’t sound like anyone drops out due to total failure.

  19. heather: remember “barty jr. moody” hated the death eaters who turned their backs on voldemort and lied and crawled back to the ministry after his downfall. taking out his anger on the son of one of those, sounds about right. especially considering lucious even when younger was probably a top death eater because of his wealth and pureblood beliefs.

  20. Heather, I agree. I used to find that scene hilarious but now it’s a little shocking. We’ve seen plenty of times that wizards don’t get injured as easily as Muggles (magic it seems can work like adrenalin and strengthen the body when needed), but the principle of the thing is still bad. When you first read it you’re just happy to see Malfoy get his comeuppance, but then rereading leads to deeper thinking and you realise that it should have been a sign that Moody isn’t as wonderful as he seems (clue hidden by psychology, clever, clever Rowling!).

  21. In book 7 at the very beginning Draco recognises Professor Burbage, whereas Harry doesn’t which makes me suspect he takes muggle studies as an elective too but there’s also ancient runes and Arithmancy, which Hermione seems to take with either Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, he may just be in a different group

  22. The image of McGonagall and her books made me laugh out loud. I am in the library. People stared.

  23. I’ve always wondered: did Moody specifically choose to turn Malfoy into a ferret, or is a ferret Malfoy’s animagus form? Not the most glamorous animal to turn into, but better than a rat!

  24. Pam, it was both Crabbe AND Goyle! I can’t imagine they would be up for any NEWTs, so I imagine they just re-took the OWLs they had failed so that they could leave Hogwarts having passed something.

    I have wondered if Fred and George decided in advance which OWLs to pass. E.g., if one of them passed charms and transfiguration while the other passed herbology and potions, that would halve the labour but still give them the skills they needed for their shop. But I like your idea too: perhaps they just had to repeat a couple of failed OWLs to round out their three NEWT subjects. The only issue is whether they’d have to re-sit with the fourth-years (i.e. be in the same class as Harry & Ron) or whether one year would be conceded to them and they would sit with the fifth-years. There weren’t any internal exams at Hogwarts in their fourth year, so perhaps they were conceded passes in everything!

    I really don’t think Draco would have chosen Muggle Studies as an elective, and we never see him in Divination. I think he must have taken either Arithmancy or Ancient Runes, despite the fact that both are alleged to be difficult subjects. He couldn’t drop CoMC because, as stated above, he needed to retain at least two electives. And I think wizardinventor is right: he thoroughly enjoyed complaining about Hagrid!

    I think Draco recognised Charity Burbage because they had both been around Hogwarts for the last six years. I think Harry failed to recognise her because she was so disfigured by the torture (and because Harry tends not to recognise people whom JKR believes the reader won’t recognise).

  25. **SPOILER**
    Grace, there were internal exams in the fourth year. Harry and Cedric (and I assume the visiting students) were just exempt from sitting them, due to how time-consuming preparing for the tasks are (or the fact that they weren’t in their own school at the time =P). They do still have to take classes however, which makes sense. And personally, I like your idea that Fred & George just passed separate classes. It makes the most sense to me, in the long run. And we wouldn’t see Draco in Divination, would we? I mean, I think that’s one of the classes that are taught to single houses. And we don’t really see much of him, or him doing homework or anything. So I think it’s possible he could have taken it. I can’t see him taking a difficult class like Ancient Runes or Arithmancy.

    And I also realized the cruelty of the ferret hitting the stone floor over and over again. Not necessarily for Draco, it’s just hard for me to even read about any kind of animal getting deliberately hurt like that, whether it’s a transfigured human or not. I could just hear its little squeaks in my head every time it hit the floor, and I winced every time.

    Billie, I really liked your comment about the parallels with an Agatha Christie novel! I never noticed the literary device Jo was using right there, but it makes total sense! Cheers!

  26. @Casey: Remember, though, that while Draco might not seem like the kind of kid that would take hard/multiple classes just because (like Hermione), he is a very clever person. After all, he fixed the Vanishing Cabinet, he figured out how to do that charm (totally blanking on the name) that Hermione used for the DA coins, AND he got an O on his O.W.L. for Potions (granted, Snape played favorites, but still). I wouldn’t put one of those classes past him . . .

  27. Natalia, remember though that Draco didn’t do these things until much later, when he felt real need for them (or else be killed). I definitely think the O in Potions was favoritism. He would have passed with an A or E, but otherwise Snape just wanted him in his class the next year. Possibly to keep an eye on him, since the coming war. I honestly don’t think he’s very clever, especially when he’s younger, and that’s what we’re talking about here. I feel like at this time, he still thought Hogwarts was a joke, so he took the easiest classes. All of the things you’re using for examples would be taught in one of the main classes as well, not elective classes, so it would have been easy for him to take the easy elective classes before O.W.L.s and still learn enough later on to do those things from the main classes. Also, the charm you were thinking of is the Protean Charm =]

  28. Draco’s Potions grade *couldn’t* have been favoritism from Snape, at least in the sense of the grading – O.W.L.s are administered by the Ministry. That’s why Harry got an O in D.A.D.A. despite Umbridge being his teacher, as she definitely would have failed him given the opportunity. So Malfoy must have earned the grade, just as Harry earned his. It definitely says something about Malfoy, and how we may perhaps have underestimated him.

  29. I believe Draco has always been smart, he is just also very calculating and uses it for his advantage. For example, he lured Harry into the trophy room in their first year, and he knew some kind of curse which missed Harry by a fraction when Moody turned him into a ferret. So I think he may have gotten an O in potions, especially as he would have had any help he wanted in learning the subject from Snape.

    (It is possible Harry might have been able to get a higher grade if Snape had not been harassing him all the time.) It is also possible Draco got a lower grade but Snape would have let him continue anyway or he could have been told (maybe by Snape) that Slughorn would be teaching potions and he did not need an O.

  30. @Casey: thanks! I felt very silly that I couldn’t remember the name of the charm.

    And, while he didn’t do a lot of that magic until his sixth year, we also don’t really know what he was up to before that, since Harry only really actively paid attention to him then. My experience with kids is that, if they’re interested in a subject, it doesn’t matter how lazy or unmotivated they are in everything else, they’ll put forth the effort to do better at the thing they’re good at. Maybe Potions was Draco’s sweet spot and, motivated by being a favorite of the teacher, he went on to excel.

    Although I also like the theory that he could have received an EE and found out some other way that Snape was no longer the Potions Master.

  31. Casey, at the risk of nit-picking, I meant that when Fred & George were in fourth year (i.e. when Harry was in second), exams were “cancelled as a treat”. So F&G didn’t have to sit school exams that year, and therefore probably didn’t have to repeat any fourth-year subjects. I do think they probably re-took a few fifth-year units, though.

    I agree with you about the ferret. I think that was actually supposed to be a clue that this couldn’t be the real Moody. Perhaps Harry & Ron were so carried away by the slapstick moment that they completely lost empathy, but surely McGonagall and Dumbledore were alerted?

    Natalia, I think Draco has a non-academic kind of cleverness. First, he’s sly and cunning and can pinpoint people’s weak spots. Second, he does seem to be good with his hands and skilled with a wand (tool). He definitely has the practical smarts – I think he’d be the kind of Muggle who became a millionaire plumber or real estate tycoon. But academically, I suspect he’s only of average ability. While he’s not stupid, we see plenty of hints that he’s not as bright as Harry, and also that he only puts in the academic effort if he perceives the subject as worthwhile.

    I’d be very surprised if Draco scored an O for Potions. However, I do think he had advance knowledge that he only needed an E to be accepted into Slughorn’s class, which is why he arrived at Hogwarts with the books & etc. (Perhaps Snape worded up Lucius.) It’s even possible that several students besides H&R entered Slughorn’s dungeon on the strength of an E because they’d read the new small print. But if nobody specifically spelled it out for Harry & Ron, that’s exactly the kind of unofficial detail to which they wouldn’t pay attention simply because they weren’t looking for it.

  32. I always love going back and reading not just the chapter summaries and such, but also the comments.

    I agree that we should have realized earlier that Moody was the villain. I guess I was too happy to see Draco getting punished to realize how cruel the situation really was.

  33. Do you think it’s a coincidence that one of Ron’s ‘fake’ predictions about Harry is that Harry will get stabbed in the back by someone he thought was a friend?
    Of course Harry is going to find out about Moody’s real identity much more than a month later, but Harry is already on his way to trusting Moody after the first DADA class.
    Maybe Ron has got some sort of Inner Eye after all =)

  34. I remember when I first read the book and read the part with “Draco the amazing bouncing ferret!!” I was laughing so SO hard. I was all like “Yeah! get him get him!!” Until McGonagall came in. When she started shrieking about how he was a STUDENT, my whole mood instantly dropped. That wasn’t my first thought that Moody was off but I couldn’t tell why. I felt so bad for well, not exactly laughing about it because I still found it amusing, but there was a line somewhere in there that made me think, “Oh snap, Draco’s REALLY hurt this time, and it’s because of a TEACHER.” It instantly put me on edge. So I was constantly thinking in the story that something was wrong with Moody, but when the truth came out I was STILL thrown for a loop! Such a huge twist! JKR is just plain awesome. :)

  35. Regarding the twins, I think that much to Snape’s discontent, they could very well have been quite good at Potions. It would have had nothing to do with Snape’s teaching, though.

    I can picture them sitting in the corner of the common room, one with a Charms textbook, another with a Potions textbook (or some Restricted Section library material) that they would have mixed up a whole lot of things.

    I really think they would have been “off the beaten track” learners, but by default were probably very good at the content of their class, although they weren’t interested in the Hogwarts curriculum. Sort of using it as a crutch and inventing their own things as they went along.

  36. I can really see this happening in Snape’s dungeon in F&G’s first year, when they’re giggling over something silly:

    “Tell me, Fred! What would you do if someone in this class fell to the ground, apparently poisoned?”
    He’d look up, raise an eyebrow and without missing a beat, would say, “I’d shove a bezoar into your hand and tell you where to shove it.”
    “OUT! GET OUT!”


  37. Lucius is fairly obsessed with marks and Draco doing well in school (better than Hermione). Since three electives are the most you can take without using a time-turner, Draco surely is forced to take that many. Lucius would never approve of him taking Muggle studies. Being on the school boards, he surely knows that Divination is a useless subject, not just because of the teacher, but also because real seers are rare, and Draco doesn’t have the the gift. That leaves Ancient Runes, Arithmancy and Care of magical creatures. So to have as many electives as Hermione has, and a slim chance to beat her in school, Daraco has to take Care of Magical Creatures, even if her doesn’t like the teacher.

  38. @ giomegh
    I actually find it quite entertaining that all of harrys and rons predictions come true in a way. Harry does get in danger of burns for the first task, and he has to retrieve a treasured possession(aka Ron) from the lake. Harry also gets stabbed in the back by both moody/crouch and Ron. Harry does get in a fight, and gives away his triwizard winnings to Fred and George. Over all its a nice guide to all the surprises in the book. I can picture J.K. Risking giggling as she wrote this.

  39. Whentheanglescry, those aren’t the only predictions from the book that come true. Trewlawney’s “prediction” that Harry was born in mid winter turns out to be true, in a way. Tom Riddle was born on the 31st of December, and (SPOILERS) we know that Harry, being a horcrux, has part of Voldemort inside of him

  40. The twins are “identical to the last freckle”. Couldn’t they have technically have focused five or six different subjects…. And taken it in turns who went to which?

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