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"Moody" (Barty Crouch Jr) suggests this to Harry after he is almost caught out of bed in the middle of the night.

"You ever thought of a career as an Auror, Potter?"

"No," said Harry, taken aback.

"You want to consider it," said Moody, nodding and looking at Harry thoughtfully.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter-25, The Egg and the Eye

Considering the events of the night, Harry was completely fooled by fake Moody.

Harry walked slowly back to Gryffindor Tower, lost in thought about Snape, and Crouch, and what it all meant....Why was Crouch pretending to be ill, if he could manage to get to Hogwarts when he wanted to? What did he think Snape was concealing in his office?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter-25, The Egg and the Eye

Did "Moody"(Crouch Jr) suggest it only to lead Harry to believe that he was thinking along the right lines, and thereby throw him off scent from discovering his (fake Moody's) true identity? Or was it a genuine suggestion, based on a full term of teaching Harry DADA?

The latter doesn't seem likely considering Barty Crouch Jr was plotting Harry's death by the end of the year. But he could have just been doing his undercover job to perfection.

In either case, Harry does go on to reflect how ironic it was that it was a Death Eater in disguise that first put this idea in him.

My question is, was it an actual observation based on Harry's abilities (ignoring the murder plan), or was it a clever defense mechanism, by way of flattery, by the Death Eater to keep his identity concealed, considering his actual name had just been seen on the Marauder's Map?

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    To whomever cast the close vote: I don't see how this is POB? – Mat Cauthon Aug 31 '17 at 11:59
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    Excellent question! I am surprised anybody downvoted this. o_O – RichS Aug 31 '17 at 14:28
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    What better way for the DeathEaters to know where Harry is than for Harry to go after them? – LincolnMan Sep 1 '17 at 5:38
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    Good question. I bet the book - i.e. the year long plot to get Harry to the Goblet of Fire - would have been more believeable if "Moody" had been encouraging Harry to bring out his dark side (and ultimately join Voldermort...) – Matthew Wilcoxson Sep 4 '17 at 10:09
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First of all, Barty was Harry's teacher and he certainly recognised that Harry had the aptitude for the job: the boy was good with DADA spells, had a strong will - he even succeeded to resist the Imperius curse put on him by Barty himself. It was also evident that Harry had courage, performed extremely well under pressure, had good reflexes and a quick response. In addition Harry had, as Hermione put it 'a saving people thing'.

All those qualities made Harry a logical candidate for being an auror, something that the real Moody, (who was an excellent auror with vast experience and also a veteran who trained young aurors) would have certainly recognised.

All that Barty did was is staying in character - he indeed did an excellent job at playing the role of Alastair Moody. Barty probably thought that it is exactly what the real Moody would have done: Prepare the students and especially Harry for the battles to come, teach constant vigilance and identify the Unforgivables, even how to resist the Imperius curse (!) and recommend his profession to those who showed capabilities for it.

Barty did all this to maintain his cover under the watchful eyes of Dumbledore.

Also, maybe having an above average intelligence and succeeding in fooling everyone at Hogwarts made Barty somewhat overconfident and he probably concluded that it wouldn't matter in the end - Harry wouldn't live long enough to use all the acquired knowledge, as he, Barty, the Dark Lord's most loyal follower will use his considerable talents to hand him over to his master, so the boy won't be able to grow up, became an auror and cause any real trouble to Voldemort and his followers.

What makes Barty such an intriguing character that the advice he gives is usually on the point - he boosted Neville's confidence praising his herbology skills, in a really tactful way, and did the same with Harry. Empty flattery wouldn't have achieved the same results. Barty seems to have really excellent people skills, as opposed to Moody who is a bit dry and uninspiring. It seems that Barty, regardless of his objectives and blasé attitude towards torture and murder made a better job at being Moody than the original.

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    Thanks. I figured during re-readings that that scene was probably more than just Crouch Jr playing his under cover role to perfection. It was probably also a defense mechanism to prevent any suspicions after seeing the name Barty Crouch on the Marauder's map. Careful flattery, he probably thought, would do the trick. Given how Harry was completely off with his suspicions during that particular scene (not such a great Auror moment), it is unlikely for Crouch Jr to have chosen that moment to reveal his observation about Harry's Auror skills, just to play his part well. – Anya Mae Aug 31 '17 at 13:01
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    Glad you agree :) And you're right. Good analysis of BC Jr's character. Harry did gain a lot of xp thanks to Crouch Jr, unintentionally making him Harry's best DADA teacher. Also, Crouch Jr basically aided HP's triumph over Voldemort, by teaching him valuable survival skills, and by enabling Voldemort's intake of Harry's blood (one of V's biggest blunders), which eventually caused him to live, in Book 7! – Anya Mae Aug 31 '17 at 13:36
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    I get the feeling that BCJ is an incredibly deep character, that despite his reverent loyalty to Voldemort was nonetheless attached to his students. I also think that his confidence in Voldemort encouraged him to strengthen Harry in order to make their ultimate battle more epic, and therefore add glory to Voldemort. I don't think he believed Harry would actually die so soon, otherwise he would have been more surprised at Harry's return. – BlackThorn Aug 31 '17 at 15:41
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    I also like how BCJ did Vs bidding by applying real DA in DADA. HP got certainly got some XP from resisting IC. BCJ fooled D into thinking BCJ was AM and even fooled HP after seeing BCJ instead of AM on the MM. H&R CC HoM ASoIaF. – Celos Sep 1 '17 at 9:08
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    @Celos WTH, GJ. – Rand al'Thor Sep 1 '17 at 11:17
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In addition to the good answers already given, it actually makes a lot of sense for another reason besides "putting him off the scent/staying in character":

Barty's plan is to guide Harry to win the Triwizard Cup (and then get ported to his master when he touches it). He does so very subtly, e.g. when he drops a hint to Neville about breathing underwater in the hopes that Harry would pick it up.

Telling Harry that he should consider becoming an auror is yet another subtle nudge. Getting told by a master at his job that he has what it takes will surely give a boost of confidence to Harry and thus decrease the chance that he will at some point get cold feet and resign from the tournament. Which would horribly screw with the plan. So, Barty has many good reasons to say it.

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    Drops a hint to Neville? Seems you are forgetting the books in favor of the movies. In the books, Neville got a book from Moody, but never was involved with Harry's success in the Task. – Wildcard Aug 31 '17 at 21:11
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    @Wildcard, Barty intended for Neville to give Harry the answer, though. It didn't work, but that was the plan. – Harry Johnston Sep 1 '17 at 1:33
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    Annatar, I've made a slight edit to your answer to address Wildcard's concerns. I hope this meets your approval; please do revert the edit if it does not. – Harry Johnston Sep 1 '17 at 2:16
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    -1. I agree with the premise that this is an attempt to boost Harry's morale/courage (so that he could win the tournament), but there was never any worry of Harry "getting cold feed and resigning from the tournament." Magically, he couldn't. – tonysdg Sep 3 '17 at 18:07
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    @tonysdg Yeah, that definitely was a slip-up at my part. I only vaguely remembered that Harry tried to resign before and got talked out of it (and I thought he was just like "me, okay, whatever, let's give it a shot, if you really want me to" instead of "well, I have to, or else"). He still could have intentionally finished in 4th place though if he thought that he wasn't "worthy" for the Cup. – Annatar Sep 4 '17 at 6:08
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This has to be speculation but there are very similar in and out of universe explanations.

In universe:

"Moody" is playing a character, he is essentially under cover. He has to say and do things which the person he is portraying would do. He is helped by the fact that everyone thinks the real Moody is mad so he can get away with a fair few quirks. But he has to still be true to the character he is playing.

We can be sure that Crouch Jr was not giving genuine career advice as he was not expecting Harry to last long enough to take a career. So the "put him off the scent" option seems likely.

As to whether Crouch Jr thought that Harry would make a good Auror we can never know. It is quite possible he never considered it.

Out of universe:

Is very similar to the in universe explanation, we are being lead to believe that Moody is an eccentric man, but who has some likable qualities. Encouragement towards Harry re enforces this view. It also helps to balance out some of the less savory things that he does.

This then makes the shock of finding out it is not who you thought more powerful. It puts into doubt any things that he said and gives rise to questions like this.

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I think it's also worth considering that Moody made a similar comment to Hermione later on- "You're another who might think about a career as an Auror. Mind works the right way, Granger."

Crouch's character does a beautiful job of manipulating characters throughout the book, and part of what allows him to do this is his ability to recognize the nature of those around him. He learned of Neville's interest in herbology, he knew Cedric would be decent and tell Harry about the egg, he knew Dobby would do anything to help Harry. The Auror suggestion wouldn't have made sense if it didn't ring true- if Harry was the worst in DADA, for instance. So in a way, you could argue Crouch said this both because it made some level of sense, but he also said it to keep up the misdirection, getting Harry to like Moody so he won't pick up on anything odd in Moody's interest in him. Harry is, as mentioned, intrigued by the suggestion, so it works.

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I read that scene in a more interesting way the second time I was going through the book-- I read it as Crouch looking at Harry with the eye of a Death Eater and recognising that this was someone he'd have to watch. Before then, Harry had been a bit of an idiot--he's always been a bit oblivious. (Turning his back on Malfoy, being all honourable when telling Cedric about the dragons etc., may be signs of honour when we read it, but I believe that fake-Moody may have read them as obliviousness and weakness). But in this scene, Crouch sees a shadow in him that is just enough to put him on his guard. I read it as Crouch thinking specifically of Harry as a potential threat, and possibly realising why Voldemort may be so frightened of the boy. He's finally realised he's been underestimating Harry's intelligence.

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    That's an interesting perspecrive and i mainly agree. But i think sharing info with cedric payed out, as it generally does, more than hoarding it. – user68762 Sep 8 '17 at 8:49
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    yes definitely, and I think that was the point of it--once Harry had done it, and fake-Moody had seen, he knew that Cedric would repay the favour, and was able to manipulate him into doing it. But I think that since he knew that Harry wasn't trying to manipulate Cedric, he was just trying to even the playing field, which to Crouch, was seen as weakness--why even the playing field when you're at the advantage? Crouch wouldn't have done it because he didn't see anything in it for him, and interpreted Harry's act as stupidity because of it. – Lily Kendrick Sep 8 '17 at 9:09

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