Did Rita Skeeter Cross the Line?
Besides the obvious villains, such as Voldemort and Dolores Umbridge, Rita Skeeter is one of the most universally hated Harry Potter characters. Skeeter made a name for herself as a gossip columnist at the Daily Prophet, but her reputation is in tatters. What’s so bizarre about Skeeter is that she doesn’t understand how despised and ill-regarded she is. While Skeeter does somehow manage to turn any criticism against her into a money-making story, she will never be more than a petty writer.
While it wasn’t surprising for me to find out that even the wizarding world has gossip writers, Skeeter takes her job too far. Instead of sticking to only the writing, Skeeter goes to elaborate lengths to hurt people’s feelings. First, Skeeter snuck into the Triwizard Tournament tent during the events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She then proceeded to take photos of the competitors without their permission. Um, taking pictures of underage students? Definitely not morally right. Skeeter toes the line between creepy and vulgar. It’s understandable that Harry, who usually is polite when it comes to dealing with fans and the press, reaches his limit with Skeeter.
Later, Potterheads find out that Skeeter committed another horrific act. When Skeeter was writing her supposed expose on the life of Albus Dumbledore, she visited his former neighbor Bathilda Bagshot to interview her. Skeeter dosed Bagshot with Veritaserum, which forced Bagshot to tell Skeeter whatever information Skeeter wished. First, picking on kids, then elderly wizards? Skeeter really has no shame.
Let’s not forget that, when she wanted to interview Harry during the events of Goblet of Fire, she shepherded him away from any other people, pushed him into a broom cupboard, and asked him loads of personal questions. The first time I read this scene, I was convinced Skeeter was going to kidnap 14-year-old Harry. She takes advantage of Harry’s naivety of the wizarding world and exploits his polite behavior toward her. In hindsight, it’s not surprising that Skeeter has committed illegal acts in order to embarrass people since we find out later she is an unregistered Animagus. It’s kind of ironic that someone like Skeeter, who has such strong survival instincts, would willingly go through a dangerous and risky process, such as becoming an Animagus.
Writing about and taking photos of adults is one thing but Hogwarts students? I believe Skeeter crossed the line when she was allowed basically unlimited access to the Hogwarts grounds in Goblet of Fire. She was allowed to interview the Triwizard champions all alone, which feels creepy in hindsight. Also, I find it absurd that Skeeter was allowed to roam the grounds and sneak into random tents during the first Triwizard Tournament task. Did Dumbledore and the other professors not realize how dangerous she was?
Not only are Skeeter’s actions invasive and violating but they seem just as illegal as what other villains in the Harry Potter series get up to. While Skeeter never killed or injured anyone, she did ruin plenty of people’s lives. She besmirched the legacy of Dumbledore, spread hateful stories about Hagrid, and managed to significantly contribute to Hermione’s bullying at Hogwarts. Hagrid almost resigned from his job at Hogwarts, and Mrs. Weasley was allowed to think the worst of Hermione. Speaking of Hermione, it may seem harsh that she captured Skeeter while in her Animagus form. However, I understand why Hermione did what she did. Skeeter would stop at nothing to harm the reputation of others, and I see Hermione’s response as clever and brave. She was the only person willing to stand up to Skeeter, and Hermione’s response was far less cruel than what Skeeter did to everyone else. At least Hermione was trying to do the right thing. While Skeeter didn’t try to take over the world like Voldemort, she made the wizarding world a much more hateful place to live in. Similar to Skeeter giving Bathilda Bagshot Veritaserum, Umbridge also force-fed her students truth serum while she was headmistress of Hogwarts, but she ended up serving time in Azkaban. While we don’t know for sure what happened to Skeeter post-Battle of Hogwarts, here’s hoping she was never allowed to write again.
Do you think Rita Skeeter ever crossed the line? Was her right to publish her own opinions justified? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.