21

In The Prisoner of Azkaban, the escaped convict Sirius Black enters Hogwarts. When denied entrance to the Gryffindor Tower, he slashes the portrait of the Fat Lady (who is then replaced by Sir Cadogan).

At the end of the book we learn that

Sirius is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted.

What could explain his violent action against the portrait?

  • 1
    I thought that this was alluded to Sirius, but later made clear that it was Remus Lupin during one of his hairier phases? I might be wrong, haven't read the book in quite a number of years :) – Stormie Aug 10 '15 at 12:51
  • 3
    Me neither but I remember that the Fat Lady herself gave the testimony that Sirius attacked her with a huge knife. I think she could tell a difference between a knife and a werewolf. – Zikato Aug 10 '15 at 12:53
  • 10
    He was angry. Innocent or not, he clearly said he went there intending to kill Peter and that was the only thing on his mind. – George T Aug 10 '15 at 12:56
  • 13
    Innocent or not, Sirius had just spent thirteen years in Azkaban (after an implied mental breakdown on his arrest). The dude could not have been in the best state of mind, and being denied entry when he was this close to getting revenge could easily have led him to lash out. – DavidS Aug 10 '15 at 13:39
  • 1
    @DavidS would you mind putting that as an answer? – Zikato Aug 10 '15 at 13:41
35

Innocent or not, Sirius had just spent thirteen years in Azkaban (after an implied mental breakdown on his arrest). The dude could not have been in the best state of mind, and being denied entry (to his own common room, no less!) when he was this close to getting revenge could easily have led him to lash out.

  • 23
    or slash out... – j6m8 Aug 10 '15 at 18:37
  • 1
    Also, this "violent" behavior is a reinforcement to the story line, since, at the time of the event, everyone (include the readers) thought Sirius was evil. – Danilo Ramirez Aug 11 '15 at 20:26
54

For the exact reason given in the book, except he was trying to kill Peter Pettigrew, not Harry

Sirius was indeed trying to break into the Griffindor tower. When the Fat Lady did not let him enter without the password, he sliced the portrait either to gain entry forcefully or because he was angry. He was not able to enter, because she left the portrait and the door was not openable any other way.

Crookshanks later stole a piece of paper on which Neville had noted the password and Sirius was able to enter the Griffindor tower, now knowing the password. He tried to kill Peter that night but was stopped by Ron waking up and fled.

  • 2
    As I recall Prof McGonagall saying he had had the password and would have used it to try and enter, it did suggest the fat lady had denied him anyway. Knowing that the rat was in there, and having spent 13 years going pretty mad knowing he was innocent all that stood between him and sorting it out effectively was a door, Id probably try clawing my way through the door too. – BugFinder Aug 11 '15 at 14:19
18

“The Fat Lady had vanished from her portrait, which had been slashed so viciously that strips of canvas littered the floor; great chunks of it had been torn away completely.”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 8: Flight of the Fat Lady.

To say that Sirius is the one who had torn the portrait,

“Did she say who did it?’ said Dumbledore quietly.

‘Oh, yes, Professorhead,’ said Peeves, with the air of one cradling a large bombshell in his arms. ‘He got very angry when she wouldn’t let him in, you see.’ Peeves flipped over, and grinned at Dumbledore from between his own legs. ‘Nasty temper he’s got, that Sirius Black.”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 8: Flight of the Fat Lady.

Sirius took refuge around Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Forest after his escape from Azkaban, where he was spotted a few times and mistaken for the Grim. He made the acquaintance of Hermione Granger's cat Crookshanks, who had recognised that Sirius was not actually a dog, and who had also recognised Peter for what he was. Crookshanks attempted to bring Peter to Sirius, but Ron was very protective of his so-called pet (this sometimes resulted a fight between Hermione and Ron). Half-crazed and desperate, Sirius sneaked into Hogwarts through the old passageway from the Shrieking Shack and on one occasion slashed the Fat Lady's portrait when she refused him entrance to Gryffindor Tower ,probably due to anger as he is unable to enter his own groups common room on 31 October, 1993.

Eventually, he was able to enter the Gryffindor common room with a list of passwords Crookshanks had stolen from Neville Longbottom and shredded Ron’s bed curtains in his search for "Scabbers." Peter was nowhere to be found since Sirius's escape had prompted him to once again fake his own death and hide.

  • This appears to be a good, comprehensive recap of the events, but I don't see how it answers the question of why he reacted violently to the portrait... – KutuluMike Aug 10 '15 at 14:04
  • @MichaelEdenfield Thanks for pointing, Edited! :) – axelonet Aug 10 '15 at 14:10
  • 2
    So the actual answer is half a sentence, and the rest is just a recap of (some of) what happens in the book? "He was probably angry" doesn't really seem worthy of 13 upvotes, personally. – Anthony Grist Aug 11 '15 at 10:18
  • @AnthonyGrist Oh Apologies for too long answer, I mentioned the first two phrases from book for people who commented whether Sirius is the one who broke into the common room. And I also wanted to mention that there is no canon info on this particular answer regarding this question, so I just attached all the facts along with my logical reason in Bold(of course one line). So I don't think it makes any Offence, I Love Peace :) – axelonet Aug 11 '15 at 11:33
2

Yes, Sirius was mentally unstable and not able to concentrate very well due to years of being imprisoned. There were only two thoughts he could keep in his mind, "Track down Peter, and protect Harry Potter from him."

He was trying to get Scabbers from the Gryffindor boy's dorm.

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