What’’s Eating Cornelius Fudge?

by Jacob Gowans

Debates are swirling as to the motives of Cornelius Fudge. I think most can be summarized into three main categories which will be discussed thoroughly: Cornelius is controlled by Voldemort or followers; he is acting of his own accord and really hates Dumbledore; or he is an agent of Voldemort by his own free will and choice. What this article will do is use deductive logic and reason to separate the most likely of these three choices. At the end the question that MUST be answered by ALL Harry Potter fans will be treated and hypothesized: HOW did Voldemort ENSURE the deserted Ministry of Magic the night Harry went to save Sirius?

First, the theory that Cornelius is controlled by Voldemort and company or is a “Polyjuicer” will be treated. It doesn’’t surprise me that this theory is so popular. It seems so blatantly obvious at times that maybe I should stop typing. I, for one, have considered the possibility that transference of the Percy-Wormtail theory can easily be put on a new Cornelius Fudge-–Wormtail theory. This is that somewhere along the line, probably recently after Wormtail’s renewal of Voldemort to power, he got to CF and is now impersonating him. This isn’t very likely, if we consider what this would entail. Does Wormtail have the ability to impersonate Fudge that well for that long of a time? Does Fudge have that much hair? If he does, why does he cover it with “an “ugly lime green bowler”? Does JKR want to wear out the polyjuice solution (it could begin to remind us of the horrid plot of Mission Impossible: 2– when in a sticky situation, make a mask of someone else’s face)?

I, personally, now doubt that Wormtail is able to carry off that kind of a task. One, he doesn’’t know CF that well. Two, he isn’t that bright. Three, he isn’’t that capable. Could someone else besides Wormtail be acting as Fudge? Yes, but it’s not probable. Where is Wormtail then? That is a whole other editorial. This covers the polyjuice factor, but what about Imperius? I believe there is hard evidence against any theory that CF is under the imperius curse and it comes from our late friend, Broderick Bode. You see, JKR gave us a great hint about something we didn’’t know regarding those under the Imperius curse, as he was. Look at what it says:

““Morning, Arthur,”” [Bode] said in a sepulchral voice as the lift began to descend. ““Don’’t see you down here very often…”…”

“”Urgent business,” Bode,” said Mr. Weasley, who was bouncing on the balls of his feet and throwing anxious looks at Harry.

““Ah, yes,”” said Bode, surveying Harry unblinkingly. ““Of course.””

Harry barely had emotion to spare for Bode, but his unfaltering gaze did not make him feel any more comfortable. (OotP p135)

These are the signs of someone under the Imperius curse: lack of emotion, dead gaze and so forth–the lack of any signs of acting under their own free will! Fudge doesn’’t show ANY signs of this at all. Therefore, I think we can easily count out this theory.

Lastly, we’’ll treat the two remaining theories together, since they are at odds with one another. We must look at the deeds of CF to determine what he was like BEFORE Voldemort returned to power. This is the ultimate test in my opinion. First, how did CF treat Dumbledore and Harry, Voldemort’’s greatest enemy? Even when he waged a private war of words against Dumbledore, he never did anything illegal or morally wrong. The closest he came to this was to try to cheat Harry out of a fair hearing. Still, he really did believe that he was doing what was right.

Now, what can be said of all this? Had CF ever shown himself to be a power-hungry man before Voldemort’’s return? Had he ever shown contempt to Dumbledore or Harry, even in Book 4, after learning news of Voldemort’’s return? No. We know that he treated Harry with forgiveness, almost a parent-like friendship, and Dumbledore with respect. He was concerned about the removal of Dumbledore in CoS, and very concerned for Harry’’s well being in PoA–more concerned than would’’ve been shown had he been a past or present supporter of Voldemort. He grew defensive in GoF, but clearly the evidence favors Cornelius Fudge being a man with good intentions but going “bad” somewhere along the way.

If not through Fudge, then how did Voldemort make sure he would have the ENTIRE Ministry to himself that night? How did he do it if not with the help of the Minister of Magic? Why, by the little bird on his shoulder, the one who corrupted Cornelius Fudge and sought to undermine him all along, a servant of Voldemort–Dolores Jane Umbridge.