10

Peeves seems to be almost an oxymoron. On one hand, he can pass through walls (no quote, but there's a line in Sorcerer's Stone about Peeves trying to get through a wall that Harry and Ron think is a door). On the other hand, he wears a bow tie to Sir Nicholas's Death Day Party (Chamber of Secrets) and throws water balloons (Prisoner of Azkaban, maybe?) He seems to interact with the physical world more than other ghosts.

Is he different than the other ghosts (i.e. is a poltergeist inherently different than a plain ghost)? Is there any canonical information about who Peeves was in the past?

8

I wrote a bit about Peeves here, but will copy it into this post.

Poltergeists do not spawn from the spirit of a person who has died, like a traditional ghost; a poltergeist is an evil or malevolent energy that forms from negative or tumultuous feelings or vibes from a living person. Peeves is a bit of an exception, for he is corporeal. Traditionally, poltergeists are not (they knock on things and make scary noises, and seem to exhibit the most activity in relation to one specific person whose energy the poltergeist is feeding off). Poltergeists can be quite damaging to property, though, as Peeves demonstrates throughout the series. Anyhow, Peeves could not have been a spirit that had once been a person.

Here's a little more information about Peeves from a question I answered here:

ES: Why does Dumbledore allow Peeves to stay in the castle?

JKR: Can't get him out.

ES: He's Dumbledore: he can do anything!

JKR: No, no, no, no, no. Peeves is like dry rot. You can try and eradicate it. It comes with the building. You're stuck. If you've got Peeves, you're stuck.

ES: But Peeves answers to Dumbledore -

JKR: Allegedly.

MA: Allegedly?

JKR: Yeah. I see Peeves as like a severe plumbing problem in a very old building, and Dumbledore is slightly better with the spanner¹ than most people, so he can maybe make it function better for a few weeks. Then it's going to start leaking again. Would you want Peeves gone, honestly?

MA: If I was Harry I might, but as a reader I enjoy him. I enjoyed him most when he started obeying Fred and George at the end of Book 5.

JKR: Yeah, that was fun. I enjoyed that. That was satisfying. [Laughter]

MUGGLENET - J.K. ROWLING INTERVIEW - EMERSON SPARTZ and MELISSA ANELLI - 7.16.05

What isn't clear is how long Peeves has been at Hogwarts. His bowtie and bowler hat indicate he might be from a more modern time than from 1000 years ago; otherwise, I imagine he would be wearing a ruff and a jester hat or somesuch.

  • Where is your information about poltergeists from? Is that for a general poltergeist or one specific to the potterverse? – chama May 17 '12 at 19:27
  • That's from a general Poltergeist and it's just general information I recall from reading lots of books on spooks and scary things when I was younger. But here's the Wiki entry for Poltergeist: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poltergeist It is not a Potter-specific description. – Slytherincess May 17 '12 at 19:44
  • @chama - "Ghostbusters" seems like a good reference? :)))) – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 18 '12 at 0:17
  • Got another canon quote to shed some light – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 10 '14 at 1:43
  • @DVK - Awesome! +1 from me :) – Slytherincess Mar 10 '14 at 19:58
4

The canonical information is that he was NOT a person in the past. He's a a spirit of chaos (probably distantly related to my children - DVK).

Camille: What or who is peeves exactly, is he linked with the blood barons story?
J.K. Rowling: No, Peeves is not linked to the bloody Baron’s story.
J.K. Rowling: He is a spirit of chaos that entered the building long ago and has proved impossible to eradicate!

(src: J.K. Rowling Interview; The Deathly Hallows Web Chat; July 2007)

2

It has been reported in many cultures and there is a strong association with the places where young people, especially adolescents, are living...

It was inevitable that, in a building bursting with teenage witches and wizards, a poltergeist would be generated;

As you can see Peeves was generated into existence because of the vast amount of Adolescent Witches and Wizards.

As for timing he has been around for almost as long as Hogwarts has existed, either exactly as long or within a few years of it's inception:

Peeves is well-named, for he has been a pet peeve of every Hogwarts caretaker from Hankerton Humble (appointed by the four founders) onwards.

All quotes are from Pottemore - Peeves.

  • He is corporeal or at least he can interact with things so he could have been created with a jester hat and then switched to more modern attire. – Pwassonne Dec 3 '15 at 8:23

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