The Dark Mark

chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

After going to bed, Harry is awakened by yells, and soon finds Death Eaters walking through the campsite, attacking Muggles. Running into the woods, then, he instead hears the Dark Mark cast – and when Ministry wizards arrive, they find Winky there with Harry’s wand, the wand that cast the spell. Finally they make it back to the tent and head to bed before an early departure in the morning.

Quidditch Attack, by glockgal

Harry stared at them…. he realized that their heads were hooded and their faces masked. High above them, floating along in midair, four struggling figures were being contorted into grotesque shapes.


by FrizzyHermione

Harry, Ron, and Hermione turned sharply. Draco Malfoy was standing alone nearby, leaning against a tree, looking utterly relaxed.


The Dark Mark, by deeterhi

Winky began to rock backward and forward on the ground, her breath coming in sharp bursts.


Older Brothers, by glockgal

Bill was sitting at the small kitchen table, holding a bedsheet to his arm, which was bleeding profusely. Charlie had a large rip in his shirt, and Percy was sporting a bloody nose.


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

One thing that’s interesting in a passage like this is to compare it to the things Harry, Ron, and Hermione will continue to learn down the road about defending themselves from Dark forces. There in the midst of the unknown, and certainly amidst danger, and yet Harry doesn’t notice his wand missing for quite some time, and (unlike with the Ministry wizards) there are almost no references to Ron and Hermione keeping their wands out to defend themselves. They’re kids, but they’re quickly becoming kids fighting an adult’s battle, and they’ll soon need to hone their instincts.

The Wizarding World

I have to confess, even just reading Mr. Weasley’s description of the Dark Mark is slightly terrifying to me. “Just picture coming home and finding the Dark Mark hovering over your house, and knowing what you’re about to find inside…. Everyone’s worst fear…. the very worst….” If there’s one thing at which Voldemort is very, very good (aside from Dark Magic, naturally), it’s psychological warfare. He gets the power behind symbols like the Dark Mark, and behind the mystery of hidden identities and secrecy. Passages like this help show us that Voldemort was effective because he pitted the wizarding world not just against his power, but against their own fears.

The Power of Magic

As the Death Eaters move through the campsite, Harry several times notices flashes of green light emitting from their wands. We’ve only seen spells that flash green twice before: the Killing Curse (both in Harry’s dreams and when Voldemort kills Frank Bryce), and…. Ron’s backfiring Slug-Belching Charm. It’s probably safe to assume the Death Eaters aren’t using the latter, but there aren’t any deaths reported either, so are they simply firing Killing Curses into the air? It’s possible, but given that the Dark Mark is green (not to mention Slytherin house), I’d say it’s equally likely the color is just an effect for the Death Eaters, a color the public would associate with them, and the green flashes are a flashy spell more akin to wand sparks than a Killing Curse.

Something to Remember

Something about the way Barty Crouch acts in this scene doesn’t quite add up. Why is he so cruel to Winky, just because she didn’t stay in the tent? What is it about her leaving that was so problematic? And for that matter, why, when she was standing right next to the person who conjured the dark mark, wouldn’t he let the Ministry question her?

29 Responses to “The Dark Mark”

  1. deeterhi’s picture is great.

  2. Remember in the Philosopher’s Stone when Harry and Hermione are in the woods for their detention? I’m pretty sure that Hagrid told them to put up a green flash of sparks if they found the unicorn and red if they’re in trouble. So maybe the Death Eaters were just sending green sparks everywhere?

  3. The artwork captures this chapter really well!

    Something else to remember: I think we will learn which spell is used for the hovering Muggles in HP6.

  4. to kim: I’ve always wondered what the difference exactly is between the spell you’re pointing at, and a normal wingardium leviosa. Is the latter purely for objects and the first only for perrsons? Or can you, with the one you mean only hang people from their foot?

  5. kim, excellent question.

    I think wingardium leviosa makes stuff float in the air, whereas this one hangs people upside down.
    So you might be right about one being for objects and the other for people. Also the latter seems more violent.

    Anyone else?

  6. I agree with Hayley, deeterhi’s picture is great. I like this version of the Dark Mark vs. the way the Dark Mark looks in the movies.

  7. I’ve always wondered how wizards carry wands securely. I mean Harry states he keeps his wand in his pocket or hides it in his jumper. How easily would the wand fall out of a pocket or a sweater. And has anyone ever carried a stick in their pocket? Let’s just say its not exactly comfortable.

  8. Something occurs to me — Green is also the color of Slytherin. This might be part of the reason it’s associated with Dark spells (perhaps Salazar Slytherin invented Avada Kedavra?).

  9. In regards to wingardium leviosa and the other ‘levitation’ type spell…I think if there’s one thing that’s shown repeatedly about the nature of magic in the HP universe it’s that magic is intention given shape. The wand and the incantation just focus it.

    So I figure that’s how you make a new spell — you take the basic mechanics of one spell, but focus a different intent on it, and eventually develop a completely original spell. (after all, doesn’t young Severus come up with a few of his own in HBP?) So maybe this is just a mean-spirited wingardium leviosa?

  10. I agree that deeterhi’s pic is great! It looks like it would belong in a comic book of sorts. (Wouldn’t it be awesome to have an HP comic book?)

    Also, check your spelling on the caption for the first piece of art by Glockgal.

  11. Avada Kedavra seems like a very modern(well, relatively modern.) invention to me. What’s scary about it isn’t its power or what it does; the death is fairly peaceful, and you can block it with a physical shield easily enough. The problem is that it’s small, accurate, and fast-it’s the magical equivalent of a bullet.

    Personally, when I hear ‘Dark Magic’ I still think of stuff like that one death eater’s organ melting spell…stuff that’s not exactly efficient, but is cruel. Maybe that’s what Grindlewald or Voldemort contributed to the Dark cause-a flair for efficiency that made mobilizing a Dark army feasible.

  12. I was wondering: How does one get rid of a Dark Mark in the sky? Does it just faint away after a while?

  13. Something to remember: In the forest, Harry, Ron and Hermione meet Winky, who moves about in a peculiar way. Also they meet a group of goblins cackling over a bag of gold and shortly after that a distressed Ludo Bagman – a coincidence?

  14. “He gets the power behind symbols like the Dark Mark, and behind the mystery of hidden identities and secrecy.”

    Sadly, the only thing he seems to understand is symbols, which is why he is willing to take something as incredibly precious as his soul and put it into mere objects, symbols of power and magic.

    Tom has always struck me as struggling with some kind of mental illness. He is extremely intelligent and focused, but is completely unable to comphrehend social or familial bonds (Narcissa/Draco, Snape/Lily etc). He can only understand what he can touch or see literally. Dumbledore (who is pretty much my favorite character) utterly failed to find compassion or try to understand this boy. I was horrified when DD set all of Tom’s worldly possessions on fire–reversable or not. All he did was encourage Tom’s skewed understanding of the world; that he was all on his own and people with great power are the only ones who are safe/respected.

  15. @Toby – Remember, Voldemort’s mother Merope put Tom Riddle Sr. under Amortentia until she became pregnant with Voldemort. I think that is why Voldemort is unable to love anyone and possibly why he was unable to understand the power of love.

  16. And what about the use of ‘Lumus’ by Hermione in that chapter? Doesn’t she have a Trace or does it just go unnoticed due to the mayhem of that night? Even the ‘Morsmordre’ casted so close to Harry, Ron and Hermione would have activated their Traces…
    Sorry for the bad English.

  17. Green always seems to symbolize the Dark Arts in the Harry Potter books. Avada Kadavra is green, the Syltherin is green, and the Dark Mark glows green. But has anyone noticed that red symbolizes good. Gryffindor’s color is scarlett, Stupify and Expelliarmus are red, and even the Weasleys have red hair. The one except I can find to this symbolism is Harry’s eyes, which are green, but that’s just one thing.

  18. To me, Tom Riddle starts as a classic case of Reactive Attachment Disorder (esp. considering his abandonment by his father and the death of his mother), but magnified by the fact that he has magical powers and can not only manipulate people psychologically but “make them hurt” without a trace back to him… and developed into a true psychopath, i.e. with neither empathy nor remorse. One of the Columbine shooters (the leader) sounded so much like T.R. as a teen it was frightening.

  19. Felipe – I think you might find that Herione’s “Lumos” would go unnoticed as there were so many adult wizards in the vicinity – I think I remember reading somewhere that parents were responsible for their children not using magic (at home) but that if they did it would have been unnoticed as it would be thought that the adulst were doing it. The reason that Harry’s use in Privet Drive was traceable was that he was the only wizard in that area so the Ministry immediately homed in on Harry for both his own patronus spell and also Dobby’s spell.

  20. With Tom Riddle, and Voldemort in later life, he goes beyond the norm for psychopathy. A psychopath can understand love, hate, remorse, but doesn’t feel them. Voldy doesn’t seem to be able to even understand them. He also has no mood scale- he goes from extreme vindictive pleasure to extreme murderous anger and hatred.

  21. I thought that underage wizards could use magic in an emergency. I would say that this situation is an emergency. Its so chaotic and if they didn’t get out of the way, they could have ended up getting hurt by the Death Eaters. Especially Hermione. Malfoy pretty much told her that if she was near the Death Eaters they might levitate her too.

  22. Mr. Weasley’s description always chilled me, too. I’ve often wondered if it was personal experience speaking – if, perhaps, he and/or Molly found Gideon and Fabian that way.

  23. I can connect the fact that the dark mark isnt allowed in the wizarding world to the fact that the Nazi sign (Hitler) isnt allowed in our world.
    I also noticed that the color codes in the wizarding world are opposite to ours! For example, the green is like the good side, in the traffic light for example, it is used to say that the path is clear and you may move on now.And the red symbolises the STOP sign, and the Hell’s color and such…

  24. i think a scary thing to consider about the green flashes harry saw (whatever spell they might have been–as in not AK) is that the people viewing the green flashes would realize its not AK but then realize that the next one COULD be, they wouldn’t be able to tell. Adds an extra dimension of fear…is this the tame green flash? or a green flash of death…?

  25. I’ve always thought that what really shows how much terror Voldemort has cast on the world is when Diggory automatically accuses Harry of casting the Dark Mark. It shows how much panic the Dark Mark really induces, because as Arthur says, would Harry Potter really cast it? It makes people go out of their minds with fear and not think clearly, which can be deadly as well.

  26. Regarding the color conversation, as I read through the series and also listen to it, I get the impression that the colors do signify which side, or what type of a spell is being cast. Red is good, green is bad. It’s just what I’ve always thought.

    I also always thought of Voldy as just a bully!

  27. Does anyone else think that malfoy has a thing for hermione? If you read closely, in almost all the books he gives her some kind of warning or looks at her in a certain way or talks about her frequently. I mean, in this chapter, why would he warn her for her safety? He doesn’t REALLY care does he?

  28. Katelyn, I don’t think that connotes Draco having feelings for Hermione. I think he was just having fun. He didn’t get to go out there and have fun with the Death Eaters, and felt he was missing out. So he was hoping to instill fear in Hermione and let her know that she was in no way safe just because she has magic. It was a malicious kind of warning, not a caring kind.

    To expand a little on Beard’s theory behind Avada Kedavra, not only is it swift, lethal, and magically unblockable (though you can use a physical shield, correct), it is also just too *clean*. All you need is the right emotion and intent to kill, and you’ve got yourself the Killing Curse. Even a Muggle bullet causes physical damage, but the AK seems to just rip their life-force away. And to expand even further on that, it seems like powerful magic requires strong emotion behind it. For example, the Patronus Charm requires a strong happy emotion, and the Cruciatus Curse requires a real *need* to inflict pain on an individual. It’s always being stated throughout the books that strong emotion is magic at its deepest and most powerful.

    Also, to the Kims, I wonder whether the spell they’re using is either one of the ones you mentioned. I mean, later in the books, Hermione reminds Harry of a time when they saw people dangling in the air helplessly, when he learns of Levicorpus. But they aren’t really dangling are they? And they aren’t just hovering either. They’re being twisted and forced to do things (one child was spinning like a top) while they’re in the air. So either this is a different spell, or perhaps a combination of Levicorpus or Wingardium Leviosa with the Imperius Curse? I think fenshoe is right, what makes this different is their malevolent intent. Kind of a warping of normally (somewhat) harmless spells.

    And I think a part of what makes Voldemort so psychotic is the fact that he’s missing *several* parts of his soul. It’s been ripped apart and malformed by the Dark Arts, and that’s part of what makes him so evil. Yes, he was always a little demented, and certainly his family history only facilitated that, because he’d have to already be psychotic in order to create the first Horcrux, but the I think the more he created, the more he buried any goodness that could have come out of him, until there was nothing left. He doesn’t feel attached to anybody or anything. He sees himself as “much more than a man” or even a wizard. He feels God-like, and above everything. The world is his playground, and all the people are just ants in the sand to him. So he feels nothing.

  29. Regarding colour, you’ll find that in almost every movie where sports is taking place, the team you are supposed to cheer on almost always wear red, just like Harry does when playing for Gryffindor. It goes from everything from feelgood sports movies (“Remember the Titans”) to cheerleading (“Bring It On”) to fantasy war (“Narnia”). It’s very common, and is probably rooted in colour symbolism; red is a strong colour representing not only danger and blood, but also love, warmth, power and bravery. The colour is associtaed with strong feelings and is easy to notice.
    On the contrary, the “bad guys” in movies often wear green, like the Slytherins or the Death Eaters, or blue.
    I personally find the symbolism around colours very interesting :)

    (I also really like that the advertisement on this page happens to be for “Belatrix Software Factory”…;)

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