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"At once, the spider's legs bent in upon its body; it rolled over and began to twitch horribly, rocking from side to side. No sound came from it, but Harry was sure that if it could have given voice, it would have been screaming. Moody did not remove his wand, and the spider started to shudder and jerk more violently-"
— "Moody" demonstrating the Cruciatus Curse on one these spiders[src]

One of these spiders being struck dead with the lethal Killing Curse

These three spiders were kept by Bartemius Crouch Junior in a glass jar.[1]


"The spider leapt from Moody’s hand on a fine thread of silk and began to swing backward and forward as though on a trapeze. It stretched out its legs rigidly, then did a back flip, breaking the thread and landing on the desk, where it began to cartwheel in circles. Moody jerked his wand, and the spider rose onto two of its hind legs and went into what was unmistakably a tap dance."
— One of these spiders under the Imperius Curse[src]

Barty Crouch Junior (as Alastor Moody) teaching fourth years about the Unforgivable Curses using these spiders

Bartemius Crouch Junior impersonated Alastor Moody for the 1994–1995 school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, posing as a Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.[2] In his first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson with fourth year Gryffindors in September 1994, Barty used these spiders to show students the effects of the Unforgivable Curses.[1]

The first spider was placed under the Imperius Curse, and was made to dance and perform acrobatics. Everyone in class were laughing, until he suggested to students that he could force it to commit suicidal acts or crawl down someone's throat, as well as putting the curse on them.[1]

The second spider was tortured by the Cruciatus Curse, much to the discomfort of Neville Longbottom as his parents were tortured into insanity with this curse by Death Eaters (unknowingly, one of those Death Eaters was standing right in front of him), and only stopped at Hermione Granger's behest. The Engorgement Charm was used on the spider beforehand to have a better visualisation of the spider's sufferings on the curse. He then shrank it with the Shrinking Charm and placed it back in the jar.[1]

"There was a flash of blinding green light and a rushing sound, as though a vast, invisible something was soaring through the air — instantaneously the spider rolled over onto its back, unmarked, but unmistakably dead."
— One of these spiders having been struck dead with the Killing Curse[src]

The third spider was struck by the Killing Curse, and died instantly. Somehow knowing its impending doom, the third spider even tried to avoid Barty's grasp in the jar and even tried to scuttle off the table to survive. The use of this heinous curse had a profound effect on Harry Potter, as he was aware that both his parents were murdered with that very curse by Voldemort the night he got his scar. Ron was also very startled with the sudden use of this curse, and many girls in the glass even stifled cries, having witnessed such a disturbing demonstration of the Dark Arts.[1]

Behind the scenes

A scorpion being used instead of a spider in the film adaptation

  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, these spiders are replaced by a single scorpion, specifically an Amblypygi, also known as a "whip spiders" or "tailless whip scorpions". The scorpion in this film should not be confused with a spider, since scorpions are an entirely different, but similar (particularly with their physical appearances) species of arthropods. Also in the film, Barty calls the scorpion a female, and quips that her bite is lethal.[3] In reality, amblypygi (or tailless whip spiders) are completely harmless to humans, and are quite good-natured. So, this is possible that he merely wanted to scare the students.


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 14 (The Unforgivable Curses)
  2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
  3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) - Chapter 7 (Mad Eye Moody)