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In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry, Ron and Hermione turned into three of the Slytherins using Polyjuice Potion. If they could brew such an immensely complicated potion, why didn't Harry, Ron and Hermione use Veritaserum or a Confundus Charm instead of Polyjuice Potion?

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. As it stands, this question doesn't really explain how one could replace the other; you should edit your question to make it clear what they were trying to do and why the alternative would have worked just as well.
    – DavidW
    Aug 13, 2021 at 17:49
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    Veritaserum is only legally allowed to be administered by legal authorities, Also - the victim would likely remember events under the effects of Veritaserum so that would undermine the whole covert aspect of the operation. Confundus would likely just confuse the victim into saying all sorts of random nonsense.
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 13, 2021 at 17:52
  • @NKCampbell my understanding is that Veritaserum is also a complex and time consuming potion to create, so it likely wouldn't even have alleviated their time pressure.
    – user93707
    Aug 16, 2021 at 8:48

3 Answers 3

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I'm ignoring here how they would be used as the question just assumes they could be.


Out of Universe

It hadn't featured yet. Veritaserum makes its first appearance in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Confundus Charm is mentioned in passing in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It's possible that JK Rowling hadn't even thought of them when she was writing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

In Universe

They hadn't learned them yet, and possibly even hadn't learned of their existence.

Veritaserum is typically taught to students after they've passed their O.W.L. The Confundus Charm was typically taught to fifth year students in preparation for their O.W.L.

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, they're in their second year. They simply hadn't learned the spells yet.

Polyjuice Potion, however, has been mentioned by Snape during potions class, which is how Hermione learned of it.

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    I find it really hard to believe that Ron had never heard of Veritaserum, it sounds like the kind of thing that would be mentioned a lot (similar to how people hear about the polygraph in the real world). Aug 14, 2021 at 9:35
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    @AnalysisStudent0414: Sure, but Ron would also have had to think of it being relevant for what they wanted to do and actually mention it. He probably assumes they wouldn't have access to it, and/or that there's no practical way to make use of it if he thought of it at all. (Capture and interrogate someone? Or secretly administer and then straight up ask questions, as straycat points out.) Aug 14, 2021 at 14:38
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Using Polyjuice potion is much stealthier

While SQBs answer is spot on and lists the most important out- and in-universe reasons, there is another aspect: When using Polyjuice potion, the victim may never become aware he or she was spied on. Even if the deception is discovered, this doesn't mean there is any clue leading to the perpetrators (except cui bono and possibly modus operandi, neither really hard evidence).

Veritaserum may be applied secretly, but the victim will still be aware that he or she was asked, by whom, and which questions -- not really the hallmark of successful undercover work.

The Confundus Charm, on the other hand, can be used to make the victim spill the beans and then forget the whole affair, but that takes considerably more skill than the simpler applications of the charm. In particular, I deem it difficult to coax reasonable statements out of a confused victim; "Millenium hand and shrimp!" is more like what I would expect to hear. Moreover, any failure happens directly in front of the victim -- a sudden end for the stealthy approach. In contrast, Polyjuice potion takes no real skill to use, and the one failure with it (you may remember Catgirl Hermione) happened away from the action and did not impact the success of the surreptitious questioning in any way.

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    As I recall, but I don't have the books on hand, one other benefit is the stealthy approach of where said asking questions happens - specifically as I recall, they were in the Slytherin House Common Room. Having Malfoy try to blurt out details outside of that area seems prone to someone else catching on to the question asking, whereas it would be more likely to be common behavior in that room to discuss what his father knew about the Chamber of Secrets. Aug 14, 2021 at 7:21
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    well, polyjuice requires some skills too, but of the non-magical category: you need to be able to play the assumed role and covertly interrogate. Ron and Harry didn't do a particular good job at that and were lucky they still got what they wanted undetected. A certain other character later showed much more skill as a covered polyjuice operative. Aug 14, 2021 at 19:44
  • There is also that aspect of getting the target to drink the veritaserum. I don't know how they would pull that off in the Great Hall being at different tables and eyes everywhere.
    – rtaft
    Aug 26, 2021 at 19:34
  • The same way they administered the Sleeping Draught to Crabbe and Goyle? :) OK, for Malfoy it probably needs to be something more sophisticated. To quote Prof. Snape: "But unless you watch your step, you might just find that my hand slips — right over your evening pumpkin juice." (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) Also: Who says a Veritaserum-enhanced interrogation has to be pulled of during the Christmas party?
    – straycat
    Aug 27, 2021 at 18:47
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Both Veritaserum and Confundus are highly intrusive and violate the integrity of the mind of the victim. This really doesn't fit the tone of the novel nor the characters of supposed heroes. Their use might become justifiable in the later, increasingly violent novels, but not in the second one, which is still more like a boarding school novel where the children play tricks on each other.

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  • Love potions are also highly intrusive and violate the integrity of the mind of the victim. Yet they are mentioned in the second book (by Lockhard).
    – RalfFriedl
    Aug 16, 2021 at 14:37
  • @RalfFriedl I don't remember any of the heros using a love potion to rape their crush, though.
    – Nobody
    Aug 16, 2021 at 14:59

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