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Peter Pettigrew Character Analysis: Scabbers the Rat

Peter Pettigrew Character Analysis: Scabbers the Rat

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Peter Pettigrew was a wizard who was close friends with James Potter, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin. The group met at Hogwarts and called themselves the Marauders. However, when Lord Voldemort rose to power, Pettigrew betrayed his friend James to the Dark Lord and went into hiding. Peter was an unregistered Animagus and hid as Ron Weasley’s pet rat Scabbers.

Pettigrew was exposed when Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban, so he went to find his old master. Pettigrew was instrumental in helping Lord Voldemort return to power, before dying as a consequence of his own regret.

About Peter Pettigrew

Blood StatusPure-blood or Half-Blood
Death Eater
Zodiac SignCancer (speculative)

Peter Pettigrew Early Life and Marauders

Peter Pettigrew was born in 1959/60 into a wizarding family and then went off to Hogwarts. He was sorted into Gryffindor House. He became friends with the other Gryffindors in his year, James Potter, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin.

Together the boys formed a group that they called Marauders, making trouble at school. They bullied Severus Snape and created the Marauders Map. This parchment shows all of Hogwarts’ secret passages and the location of everyone within the school.

When the other three boys discovered that Remus Lupin was a werewolf, they taught themselves to become Animagi so that they could join him during the full moon. This was difficult for Peter, who was not as magically talented as James and Sirius. But, with their help, he was able to turn himself into a rat. This earned him the nickname Wormtail.

Minerva McGonagall described Pettigrew as a stupid and foolish boy who hero-worshipped James and Sirius.

Peter Pettigrew behind James and Sirius at Hogwarts

Betraying James and Lily Potter

After school, all the members of the Marauders joined the Order of the Phoenix to fight against the growing power of Lord Voldemort. However, by October 1980 Pettigrew had become a spy for Lord Voldemort. He seems to have believed that there was nothing to be gained from opposing the powerful Dark Lord.

While he was generally looked upon with contempt by the other Death Eaters, he was nevertheless given a Dark Mark and added to their number because of his access to valuable information.

He soon had the chance to prove his value. When Sybill Trelawney revealed a prophecy about Lord Voldemort to Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape heard part of the prophecy and reported it to his then master. Voldemort assumed that the prophecy was about Harry Potter, making the Potters a target.

Albus Dumbledore suggested that the Potters go into hiding and choose a secret keeper to keep their location hidden. While they initially chose Sirius Black, he convinced them to change to Pettigrew, as he would be a less obvious choice.

Pettigrew passed on the information about their location and Lord Voldemort arrived and attacked the Potters. He killed James and Lily and destroyed his own physical form when he tried to kill Harry. When Pettigrew arrived on the site following the attack, he found Lord Voldemort’s wand and took it.

Pettigrew Fakes his own Death

When Sirius Black heard what had happened, he knew immediately that it must have been Pettigrew who had betrayed their friends and went after them.

When he confronted Pettigrew, Peter shouted that it was Sirius who had betrayed the Potters. He then used his wand to blow up the street and kill twelve muggles. He cut off his finger to leave behind as evidence and then turned himself into a rat to flee.

Sirius was apprehended and sent to Azkaban. It was widely presumed that he had been the Potters’ secret keeper, and many people heard Pettigrew’s fake accusation. Peter was unjustly awarded the Order of Merlin since it was assumed that he had gone after Sirius to avenge the Potters.

Pettigrew in Hiding

Pettigrew had to remain in hiding, fearing that he would be exposed as the true betrayer of the Potters, or that the Death Eaters would kill him for leaving their order in chaos. As he made his way through the world, he soon found a comfortable life as the pet rat of Percy Weasley.

When Percy was made a Prefect and received a new animal, Pettigrew, known as Scabbers, was given to Percy’s younger brother Ron Weasley.

Staying with a wizarding family, he was able to keep track of the wizarding news and learn when it would be safe for him to return to his human form.

Ron Weasley with Pettigrew as Scabbers

Pettigrew Exposed

In the summer of 1993, while Sirius Black was in Azkaban, the prisoner saw a picture of Pettigrew in the Daily Prophet in an article about the Weasley Family making a visit to Egypt. He immediately recognized his old friend and realized that he would be going to Hogwarts with Ron.

Sirius Black broke out of Azkaban to hunt down Pettigrew. The wizarding world assumed that Black was after Harry Potter. This suspicion was confirmed when he broke into Gryffindor Tower, where both Harry and Scabbers were sleeping.

Pettigrew realized the truth of what was happening and began to become thin and bald with the stress. Ron assumed that this was because his rat was being pursued by Hermione’s cat Crookshanks, since the cat too realized what Pettigrew really was. Crookshanks also communicated with Sirius in his Animagus dog form and helped him track down Pettigrew.

Pettigrew faked his death again, biting himself and leaving a trail of blood, framing Crookshanks for his murder. But he was soon discovered hiding in a milk jug in Hagrid’s cabin.

Sirius Black, in his Animagus form as a large black dog, eventually grabbed Ron, who had Pettigrew in his pocket. He dragged both of them under the Whomping Willow and into the Shrieking Shack. Harry and Hermione went after them, as did Remus Lupin. The teacher and old friend of both Sirius and Pettigrew had confiscated the Marauder’s Map from Harry and saw Peter’s name on the map. He started to realize what had happened and went after Sirius and Pettigrew as well.

Pettigrew Evades Death

Soon they all found themselves in the Shrieking Shack and Sirius and Lupin told Harry, Ron, and Hermione their unbelievable story. But it became less unbelievable when Pettigrew was forced to return to his human form.

While Sirius and Lupin planned to kill Peter, Harry convinced them to spare him. He said that his father would not want his two best friends to become murderers. Keeping Peter alive would also enable them to clear Sirius’ name. This intervention created a life debt between Harry and Pettigrew.

This plan was upset when the troop emerged into the full moon, and they realized that Lupin had forgotten to take his Wolfsbane Potion. He turned into a werewolf, and in the confusion that followed Pettigrew was able to escape, return to his rat form, and flee.

Sirius and Lupin threaten to kill Pettigrew

Pettigrew Finds His Master

With his identity exposed and both Sirius Black and Remus Lupin keen to track him down for revenge, Peter Pettigrew had few options. He decided to try and find his old master. He retrieved Lord Voldemort’s wand from where he had hidden it and headed to Albania, which was the last place that Voldemort was rumored to have been.

In his rat form, Pettigrew heard from other rats that there was a dark creature in the Albanian forests that the animals feared. The being would sometimes take over their bodies, which would eventually kill them.

On his way to find Lord Voldemort, Pettigrew ran into Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry official who recognized Pettigrew from school. She was curious, and he lured her into the forest where Lord Voldemort has hiding as an offering. While the Dark Lord deemed her body unsuitable to occupy, he used Legilimency to learn many secrets from her.

Interrogating Bertha Jorkins

He learned from Bertha first that the Triwizard Tournament would take place at Hogwarts in the coming year. Voldemort also learned that Barty Crouch Jnr, a loyal Death Eater assumed dead, was in fact hidden in his father’s home, controlled by the Imperius Curse. This gave the dark wizard a plan.

Pettigrew milked venom from Lord Voldemort’s snake Nagini to give him strength and provided the Dark Lord with a rudimentary body. The pair then took up temporary residence in the old Riddle House in Little Hangleton while they developed a plan to restore Voldemort’s true body.

Voldemort insisted that the restorative spell would need the blood of Harry Potter as his enemy. Pettigrew argued that it was too dangerous as Potter was too well protected and that they should use another wizard. He said that he would go and catch another wizard for Lord Voldemort so that they could complete the spell right away. But Voldemort suspected that this was an attempt to desert him.

Voldemort had noticed how Pettigrew flinched whenever he laid eyes on his master and shuddered when he had to touch him. The Dark Lord suspected that Pettigrew regretted his decision to return, but knew that he needed Pettigrew, whom he called by his Marauder’s name “Wormtail”, to keep him alive.

Pettigrew and the Triwizard Tournament

Once Lord Voldemort was strong enough, Pettigrew took him to the Crouch family home where they freed Barty Crouch Jnr, and placed his father, Barty Crouch Snr, under the Imperius Curse.

They kidnapped Alastor Moody, the ex-Auror who was about to start working at Hogwarts as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Crouch assumed his identity using Polyjuice Potion.

His mission was to ensure that Harry Potter was entered into the Triwizard Tournament and win. This would mean that he would be the first to touch the Triwizard Cup. While Portkeys were usually banned within Hogwarts, an exception had been made for the cup. So, the cup would be able to transport Harry from Hogwarts to Lord Voldemort, where the Dark Lord could use his blood to restore his body, and then kill the boy.

Everything went according to plan, except on one occasion when Pettigrew failed in his duties to keep an eye on Barty Crouch Snr, and he escaped and almost exposed the plot. Crouch Jnr punished him with the Cruciatus Curse for his failure.

Restoring Lord Voldemort

But Harry Potter was eventually transported to Lord Voldemort, who was waiting in a cemetery in Little Hangleton. Unexpectedly Cedric Diggory, another Hogwarts student, was transported with him. Lord Voldemort ordered Pettigrew to “kill the spare”, and Pettigrew cast the Killing Curse on Cedric with Lord Voldemort’s wand.

Pettigrew was then able to perform the spell to restore Lord Voldemort’s body.

Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son. Flesh of the servant, willingly sacrificed, you will revive your master. Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken, you will resurrect your foe.

Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

When Lord Voldemort’s body was restored, he used his Dark Mark to call his loyal Death Eaters to him to witness his return. He also rewarded Pettigrew, who had cut off his own hand to add to the position as the “flesh of the servant”. Lord Voldemort gave him a new silver hand.

Pettigrew then witnessed the duel between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter which unexpectedly resulted in Lord Voldemort’s wand performing a Priori Incantantem effect and Harry escaping.

Pettigrew restoring Lord Voldemort

Pettigrew and the Rise of the Death Eaters

With his body restored, Lord Voldemort no longer required Pettigrew’s help and seems not to have wanted the wizard near him. He sent Pettigrew to live with Severus Snape and assist him in his duties.

Snape hated Pettigrew from the time he bullied Snape with James Potter and Sirius Black. Snape set him menial tasks such as cleaning the house and receiving guests. Pettigrew, while unhappy, stayed where he was for fear that he would receive a worse position if he complained.

Pettigrew was there when Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange arrived to talk to Snape and request his protection for Draco Malfoy. However, Pettigrew was sent away for the other three to talk, implying that he was not trusted among the Death Eaters.

Pettigrew at Malfoy Manor

When the Death Eaters took control of the Ministry of Magic and Snape went back to Hogwarts as headmaster following the death of Albus Dumbledore, Pettigrew was transferred to Voldemort’s new base at Malfoy Manor.

Among his tasks was keeping an eye on the prisoners kept in the basement. Among these were wandmaker Garrick Ollivander, as Voldemort hoped that he could explain why his wand had acted strangely when he used it against Harry Potter.

Hogwarts’ former Muggle Studies teacher, Charity Burbage, was also there for a period. But Lord Voldemort killed her in front of many of his Death Eaters, including Pettigrew, and fed her to his snake Nagini. Luna Lovegood was also held there for an extended period of time to stop her father Xenophilius Lovegood from publishing content in support of Harry Potter in the Quibbler.

Pettigrew’s Death

While Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley were looking for Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes to destroy them, they were captured by a group of Snatchers. The Snatchers were not sure of their identity but suspected that they might have Harry Potter. They took the trio, and some of their other prisoners, to Malfoy Manor for identification.

Once Harry was identified, Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange were keen to hand Harry over to Lord Voldemort and claim the glory. But the discovery of Gryffindor’s sword among the trio’s possession gave them pause. As Bellatrix Lestrange tortured Hermione for information, Harry and Ron were sent to the basement with the other prisoners.

When the house-eld Dobby apparated into the basement to help Harry, the sound was heard. Pettigrew was sent to investigate. When he entered the basement, Pettigrew was tackled by Harry and Ron, and Ron wrestled his wand from him. Pettigrew began to struggle. But Harry reminded him that he owed Harry his life, since he had convinced Sirius and Lupin to let Pettigrew live.

This caused Pettigrew to pause briefly in his struggle. But the hand that Lord Voldemort had given him was enchanted in more ways than one. The moment of mercy that Pettigrew showed triggered his hand to strangle him. Pettigrew died, despite Harry and Ron trying to prevent the hand.

Pettigrew betrayed by his silver hand

Peter Pettigrew Personality Type & Traits

While Pettigrew was sorted into Gryffindor House, which prioritized bravery and strength, he comes across as a very weak character. Unsure of himself, he hung onto the coattails of his fellow Gryffindors. Afraid of the wizarding war, he played both sides. Assuming that Lord Voldemort would win, he passed on information and found himself on the wrong side of history.

When his choices backfired, rather than face the consequences, he went into hiding. He seems to have been quite happy to live as a pet rat until his identity was exposed. Only then did he return to the Dark Lord, since all of his other bridges were burned.

Pettigrew was able to do terrible things to support his master. But mostly because he felt that he had no choice. He was one of life’s eternal victims. He always felt like he was backed into a corner rather than doing what is right or taking real risks.

The moment of mercy that he showed before his death probably points to what was left of the young boy who sat under the Sorting Hat and was placed in Gryffindor.

Peter Pettigrew Zodiac Sign & Birthday

We do not know Peter Pettigrew’s birthday, but he must have been born in 1959/60. He personality suggests that his zodiac sign may be Cancer. People born under this sign tend to want to fit in and are happy supporting others and mainly staying out of the limelight. They are sensitive souls, which can feed fears and insecurities. These seem to have driven many of Wormtail’s decisions.