Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
by J.K. Rowling
Barty Crouch, Sr.
Ministry: Head of Department of International Magical Cooperation
Plays by the Rules
From the first minute we meet Mr. Crouch, we know that there's something a bit odd about him. Even though it seems to be common wizard practice to wear bright, gaudy robes, Mr. Crouch appears "dressed in an impeccably crisp suit and tie. [...] Harry doubted even Uncle Vernon would have spotted him for what he really was" (7.126). Mr. Crouch is a man who excels at obeying rules, and "Mr. Crouch had complied with the rule about Muggle dressing [at the Quidditch World Cup] so thoroughly that he could have passed for a bank manager" (7.126).
Obviously, following the rules is generally a good thing. But we also see the bad side of Mr. Crouch's attachment to regulations almost immediately. When his house-elf, Winky, is found with the wand that cast the Dark Mark, Mr. Crouch fires her straight away – even as she weeps and begs for forgiveness. (Though, as we learn later, he is madder about the whole losing track of Barty Crouch, Jr. thing than he is about the big ol' Dark Mark.) And that's not all! Later in Goblet of Fire, Sirius adds,
You saw him dismiss a devoted house-elf because she associated him with the Dark Mark again – doesn't that tell you what he's like? Crouch's fatherly affection stretched just far enough to give his son a trial, and by all accounts, it wasn't much more than an excuse for Crouch to show how much he hated the boy ... then he sent him straight to Azkaban. (27.159)
Mr. Crouch is so ambitious – and so obsessed with fighting the Dark Arts – that he has authorized the use of Unforgivable Curses against suspects and he has sent people, including innocent Sirius, to Azkaban without a trial. The only thing that stopped him from becoming Minister of Magic was the arrest and trial of his son: "Once the boy died [in Azkaban], people started [...] asking how a nice young lad from a good family had gone so badly astray" (27.168).
… And Breaks Some
We know a lot about what makes Mr. Crouch bad. He's power-hungry, and he's willing to sacrifice his own family to achieve his professional goals. He's also so intense about finding Dark wizards that he's willing to use pretty Dark magic himself to do it. But what's much more interesting is the hidden core of emotion underneath the "bank manager" shell. We know that Mr. Crouch is willing to swap his dying wife for his son in Azkaban as a last request to his wife. We also know that, once he has been taken prisoner by Voldemort, he has the strength of mind to break free and try to warn Dumbledore. Very interesting, indeed.
After a long "illness" (in which Mr. Crouch has in fact been kept a prisoner in his own house by Wormtail and Voldemort while Barty Crouch, Jr. has been impersonating Mad-Eye Moody), Mr. Crouch suddenly appears at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. He gasps at Harry, "I need ... see ... Dumbledore ..." (28.182). But before Harry can bring Dumbledore back in time, Mr. Crouch disappears. His son later admits that, while Harry was away, he spotted his father, murdered him, and transformed him into a bone to keep him from spoiling Voldemort's plan. Holy moly.
So here's the thing we find intriguing: yes, it does seem like Mr. Crouch must have had some part in raising his son to be a Death Eater. Obviously, his son profoundly resents him and has turned to Voldemort, of all people, to find a new father figure. At the same time, Mr. Crouch listened to his wife when she begged him to rescue his son from prison. And he listened to Winky, the house-elf, when Winky begged Mr. Crouch to allow Barty Crouch, Jr. to go to the Quidditch World Cup. While no one could describe Mr. Crouch as a loving man, he does seem to feel some sympathy – it just seems to be too little and too late.