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In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we see Alastor "Mad Eye" Moody dole out punishment to Draco, by turning him into The Amazing Bouncing Ferret. Of course, later we learn that it wasn't really Alastor Moody, it was a poly-juiced Barty Crouch Jr.

So was it something ole' Mad Eye would've done, or was it more Barty Crouch Jr. acting out revenge on the son of whom he probably considered a traitor?

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    Considering McGonnogal knew about the ferret, and Snape knew also, it's a fair bet Dumbledore would have heard. I would let this suggest that it was in character, but then this is the man who thought it was better for the Carrows to be in Hogwarts torturing children then being out helping Voldemort, so he may have thought there was something dodgy going on. Just something to think about :) – Mac Cooper Apr 19 '14 at 10:33
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    @MacCooper can you clarify that? Who thought it was better for the Carrows to be in Hogwarts? Moody, Dumbledore, or Barty Crouch Jr.? – ncm May 13 '14 at 16:41
  • @ncm Yeah I'm almost positive Rowling said it in an interview. I'll poke around. – Mac Cooper May 13 '14 at 17:22
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    @MacCooper - Dumbledore wasn't even alive when they started teaching. And his portrait never said anything.... – Adamant Apr 8 '18 at 9:30
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It was most likely the latter; Barty Jr. was acting out on revenge.

Moody was a hard wizard, but still upheld the rules. He was careful not to break any, as he had spent years fighting to uphold them (being an auror). He wouldn't have used transfiguration on a student, no matter how much he hated him. This would've been like stooping to Umbridge's level, which I'm certain Moody would never have done.

There are several references to Moody being a cautious guy. He enforces even the most superfluous of rules like "elementary wand safety".

"Never you mind, you just keep your wand out of your back pocket!" growled Mad-Eye. "Elementary wand safety, nobody bothers about it anymore. . . .”
- Order of The Phoenix, Ch3: "The Advance Guard"

*(I used this specific excerpt because in most others, he is cautious because he's paranoid. But in this specific one, it shows that he cares about rules, even the small ones.)

Even later in that conversation he doesn't let Harry talk about Voldemort there at the Dursley's house. He's very cautious and one who plays by the rules. And after decades of auror-life, has become a very paranoid.

Hard to imagine someone who cares even about "elementary wand safety" would transfigure a student. And hence the conclusion.

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    That seems plausible, but is there anything in canon to back it up? – SQB Apr 20 '14 at 6:52
  • I'm trying to find it, but there I can't find the exact excerpts. – Stark07 Apr 21 '14 at 1:49
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    I'm not sure that applies, because the impostor Moody might not have heared about the rule that Hogwarts doesn't punish students by transfiguration. I don't think that's a rule that comes up often. – b_jonas May 13 '14 at 16:18
  • It's not a question of rules, it's common sense. – Stark07 May 13 '14 at 16:27
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    I'm not sure elementary wand safety supports your argument for small rules. Moody is an auror, and his wand is his weapon, similar to a gun. With guns, there are Cooper's 4 rules of firearm safety that help prevent you from negligently hurting anyone. Moody's elementary wand safety is very likely similar in purpose to these four 'small' rules that, literally, prevent grievous bodily harm or death. Not so small when thought of that way. – atk Apr 16 '15 at 16:59
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Moody wasn't originally meant to be a nice and fluffy character in the first place, so it wasn't as "out of character" as it would be with someone like Lupin or Dumbledore.

Question: Can you give an example of a surprise in your writing process, such as a character you weren't expecting?
J.K. Rowling responds: Yes, it was a big surprise to me that Mad Eye Moody turned out the way he did. I really like him. I didn't expect to.
(src: "About the Books: transcript of J.K. Rowling's live interview on Scholastic.com," Scholastic.com, 16 October 2000")

Think of him as more of a Dirty Harry type cop... he's not at all concerned with shooting a bad guy dead, or roughing up a bully doing something bad.

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    Although I agree that Moody seems as a rough character wasn't he specifically noted to have always brought in his targets alive? Or at least never used the three Unforgivable Curses... – Clockwork-Muse Apr 20 '14 at 5:24
  • While I read him as a Dirty Harry at first too, we mustn't forget that for the entirety of GoF, it's not Moody, it's Barty. We meet the real Moody in OotP. – SQB Apr 20 '14 at 6:57
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    @SQB - "We meet the real Moody in OotP." True, but note that it's not until the Third Task that Dumbledore realizes that Moody isn't really Moody, so Barty Jr's actions the rest of the year had to have been enough in line with Moody's character as to not have aroused his suspicion. Note that it only took Dumbledore a single encounter with Barty Sr to pick up on something being odd (the night the champions were selected). – Adam V Apr 28 '17 at 20:35
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    @AdamV also see my question about the comparison between Mad Eye Moody and Mad Eye Barty. – SQB Apr 29 '17 at 14:26
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No I don't think it was out of character. As Sirius says he was no villain, didn't believe in descending to the level of his enemies, but he was tough:

'[...] I'll say this for Moody, though, he never killed if he could help it. Always brought people in alive where possible. He was tough, but he never descended to the level of the Death Eaters. [...]'

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - p.462 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 27, Padfoot Returns

He was hard as nails and he believed in tough justice, I think that's pretty clear from his words to Dumbledore in the Pensieve, just before Igor Karkaroff names names.

'Crouch is going to let him out,' Moody breathed quietly to Dumbledore. 'He's done a deal with him. Took me six months to track him down, and Crouch is going to let him go if he's got enough new names. Let's hear his information, I say, and throw him straight back to the Dementors.'

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - p.511 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 30, The Pensieve

He may not have been unscrupulous, but I don't think he'd have had a problem with Crouch Junior's "teaching".

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Yes, it was out of character. "Mad Eye Barty" was beating Draco. Mad Eye Moody would not "use transfiguration as a punishment"; Mad Eye Moody would not abuse a child.

Mad Eye Moody respected rules and Dumbledore. Nothing in his character or experiences suggest he would harm an innocent.

  • What about Hagrid? Hagrid also respected Dumbledore, but he still attempted to use transfiguration on a kid. And Dumbledore apparently saw Hagrid as good teacher material. – user68762 Apr 8 '18 at 12:55

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