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Monday, July 27, 2015

Crabbengoyle? Or Crabbe and Goyle?

I have been planning this post since I came across a brilliant one dissecting the dissimilarities between Fred and George Weasley. The topic had passed my mind completely, but thankfully it resurfaced on a Sunday afternoon.

Barring Fred and George, there were characters in the entire series who were always referred to as a pair; they lived together (at least in the view of the readers), and just like the Weasley twins, they died separately: Crabbe and Goyle.

While Fred’s death made a lot of people cry (fine, I was one of them), few remember Crabbe’s (barring the Fiendfyre bit, that is). This is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is the fact that Crabbe died and Goyle lived on (at least he outlived Crabbe) went almost unnoticed, and is seldom referred to.

Rowling decided to break the pair in death, for they were as dissimilar a pair that could be. Had there been no Draco, they would probably not have talked to each other despite their fathers being huge Death Eaters.

Here is why.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Crabbe and Goyle are introduced together: “Both of them were thickset and looked extremely mean. Standing on either side of the pale boy, they looked like bodyguards.” (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)

So far, so good. It seems they were blissfully Crabbengoyle. But then, Draco decides to invade Harry and Ron’s stockpile of food, and invariably it is Goyle who lunges forward — and gets bitten by Scabbers (nice touch, a Death Eater warding off a former colleague’s son!).

Draco and Crabbe back out while Goyle gets bitten — an incident Ron fondly recollects in Prisoner of Azkaban. Is this where Rowling starts emphasising that even the 11-year old Crabbe has a brain of his own, unlike Goyle at the same age? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it is a one-off.

But that could have been an incident in passing. Draco and Crabbengoyle are happily acting model Slytherin students till The Midnight Duel, when Draco challenges Harry to a wizard’s duel. While Ron nominates himself as Harry’s second, Draco names Crabbe as his.

Crabbe. Not Goyle. This single choice is enough to suggest that Crabbe has already proved the more reliable of the two, at least in the eyes of the boy they hang around with. Goyle is the one who steps forward to snatch food. Crabbe is trusted as a duel second. Rowling has defined the roles by Philosopher’s Stone: both are oafs, but Crabbe is the more evil of the two, and Goyle the stupider.

If you still need proof of Goyle’s IQ level, here it is: “They had hoped that Goyle, who was almost as stupid as he was mean, might be thrown out, but he had passed, too.”(The Man with Two Faces)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This is the first mention of a Crabbe act when Goyle does nothing: “‘Eat slugs, Malfoy,’ said Ron angrily. Crabbe stopped laughing and started rubbing his knuckles in a menacing way.” (Gilderoy Lockhart)

Once again, Crabbe is being portrayed as the meaner of the two (was Ron’s statement really worth a reaction?). This may also have been a coincidence.

Goyle, on the other hand, has certainly not turned reasonably brighter, and Harry chooses to target him in Potions class:

“Knowing he had only seconds, Harry straightened up, took aim, and lobbed it into the air; it landed right on target in Goyle’s cauldron. Goyle’s potion exploded, showering the whole class ... Goyle blundered around, his hands over his eyes, which had expanded to the size of a dinner plate.”

Comic relief? No, Rowling does not do that. But the fact that it was not Crabbe is perhaps relevant.

Chamber of Secrets also has a significant line in The Polyjuice Potion: “Crabbe and Goyle, who always did whatever Malfoy did, had signed up to stay over the holidays, too.” This will change over time.

It is to be noted that Goyle’s polyjuice potion is booger-coloured; Crabbe’s was “dark, murky brown”. You cannot miss the hint.

To add to Goyle’s image, an amused Ron mentions how bizarre it is to see Goyle thinking. The chasm deepens.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Rowling decides to give Crabbe and Goyle more well-defined, distinct looks. Is this where she makes up her mind to show they are not Crabbenhoyle? Are these descriptions deliberate? “Crabbe was taller, with a pudding-bowl haircut and a very thick neck; Goyle had short, bristly hair and long, gorilla-ish arms.” (The Dementor)

Fast-forward to Snape’s Grudge. Harry turns up in Hogsmeade, thanks to the Marauder’s Map and invisibility cloak. Thanks to his general idiocy he cannot resist throwing mud at Draco.

Almost immediately only Crabbe jumps into action. It is Crabbe who lunges for the invisible source; it is Crabbe’s foot that makes the cloak slide off Harry’s face, albeit momentarily and involuntarily. Goyle remains a spectator. Maybe the entire concept of retaliation does not occur to him.

On a side note, Prisoner of Azkaban also mentions their full names for the first time in the series.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Goblet of Fire renders the pair to near-uselessness, but they do have their moments. There is a minor yet subtle discrimination, right after Moody (once again, a Death Eater tormenting his former colleague’s son) turns Draco into a ferret: “... Crabbe, who had just frozen, about to pick up the white ferret.” (Mad-Eye Moody)

Harry and Draco battle a duel in The Weighing of the Wands, where the spells ricochet off each other. While Draco’s spell resulted in huge teeth for Hermione, Harry’s hits Goyle, whose face “resembled something that would have been at home in a book on poisonous fungi.”

Once again, the ubiquitous stupid oaf.

Goyle gets into the thick of things again, trying to steal leprechaun gold in The Madness of Mr Crouch. It was perhaps a Crabbe thing to do, but then, getting caught by Hagrid is something only Goyle can achieve.

Then, again, Rita Skeeter’s Scoop publishes a Draco interview: “‘I was attacked by a hippogriff, and my friend Vincent Crabbe got a bad bite off a flobberworm.’” When cornered by Harry, Crabbe “was sniggering, apparently very pleased with himself”.

See the emerging difference?

The most amusing bit comes at the end of the book, where both Crabbe sr and Goyle sr are summoned by Voldemort. They are the largest in the gang, and as expected, they stand together and act rather clumsily.

How come the fathers are also inseparable? Is this Crabbengoyle thing genetic?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The first reference is a passing mention of Goyle, where Ron happily dreams getting him to do lines: “I... must... not... look... like... a... baboon’s... backside...” (Luna Lovegood)

Crabbe and Goyle both make it to the Slytherin Quidditch team (how?), both as Beaters. The difference in their performances is too obvious to overlook: while Crabbe bothers Harry multiple times during the clash.

Crabbe even hits Harry with a Bludger after Harry grabs the Snitch, triggering a series of events. Do note the disdain towards rules and the vengeful attitude.

Within a couple of minutes Harry and George are sprinting to pounce upon Draco in full public view. Crabbe is seen “cackling in the background”.

Goyle hardly gets a mention. Once again, Crabbe seems the more determined of the two. The best he can manage is to hit Katie with a seemingly harmless Bludger.

The stage is set. There is no Crabbengoyle anymore. When Umbridge visits Hagrid’s class, she picks out Goyle (why?) as the first candidate, enquiring of injuries. Goyle responds with “a stupid grin” before Draco steps in.

When Umbridge and the Inquisitorial Squad capture members of Dumbledore’s Army, Crabbe holds Neville in a near-fatal grip (Neville “looked in imminent danger of suffocation”).

Thankfully, Snape intervenes: “Crabbe, loosen your hold a little, if Longbottom suffocates it will mean a lot of tedious paperwork, and I am afraid I shall have to mention it on your reference if ever you apply for a job.” (Out of the Fire)

[Was it me, or did others find a shade of Roger from Lord of the Flies in Crabbe?]

Goyle is nowhere (too dumb to be even included?).

Rowling, that genius of an author, now throws in another seemingly harmless mention, this time at Ministry of Magic. Lucius organises the Death Eaters to chase the schoolchildren, he commands Jugson, Bellatrix, Rodolphus, Crabbe, Rabastan, Dolohov, Macnair, Avery, Rookwood, Mulciber ... but no Goyle.

No, the fathers are not Crabbengoyle either.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The duo makes their first appearance in Half-Blood Prince on the train (The Slug Club). Crabbe is reading a comic. Goyle is doing nothing. How unusual.

Draco’s plan unfolds as the book goes on, as does the difference between Crabbe and Goyle. Hermione’s Helping Hand has a line from Hermione: “Crabbe had a shrunken hand confiscated”. The hand is apparently a dark object. Crabbe is finding a parallel way into the dark world on his own. He is not going to remain Draco’s minion.

Throughout the book we see Crabbe’s disdain towards Draco increase. He questions, even challenges Draco. After all, Lucius and Crabbe sr are on the same boat at this time.

“Malfoy had flushed a dull pink; he looked furious as he stepped away from Crabbe, with whom he appeared to have been having a whispered argument.” (Birthday Surprises)

“...Malfoy, who was taking advantage of the general upheaval to continue his argument with Crabbe, standing five feet away and looking mutinous.” (Birthday Surprises)

“I heard him telling Crabbe it wasn’t Crabbe’s business what he was doing... so what’s he telling all these... all these...” (Harry to Ron and Hermione, The Unknowable Room)

Goyle, obviously, is not smart enough for all this, but he has a wonderful moment, albeit not of as significance as those of Crabbe. Harry spots Goyle (disguised as a girl) on the Marauder’s Map, tiptoes up to him, and asks him: “Hello... you’re very pretty, aren’t you?”

The filmmakers should be admonished by the world for not using the following scene: “Goyle gave a high-pitched scream of terror, threw the scales up into the air, and sprinted away, vanishing from sight long before the sound of the scales smashing had stopped echoing around the corridor.”(The Unknowable Room)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Before I begin this, here is a surprise fact: Crabbe and Goyle have not spoken (technically they have, but the reader has not overheard them) in the first six books.

For a moment I thought Goyle is turning into a Crabbe. As Neville says, Crabbe and Goyle love performing the Cruciatus Curse instead of detentions. But then, Goyle was never a Crabbe.

Fred and George were not Fredngeorge. But then, they were not stark opposites of each other the way Crabbe and Goyle turned out to be in The Battle of Hogwarts. This is how things panned out in the Room of Requirements:

What Crabbe does

1. Tells Harry they had stayed back to capture him and hand him over to Voldemort.
2. Tries to bring the wall down with descendo, presumably to harm Harry.
3. Participates in this conversation that was, in hindsight, more spine-chilling than most. The conversation, along with the string of events that precede (Half-Blood Prince) or follow this, prove one thing: Draco cannot kill; Crabbe can.
Draco: No! If you wreck the room you might bury this diadem thing!
Crabbe: What’s that matter? It’s Potter the Dark Lord wants, who cares about a die-dum?
Draco: Potter came in here to get it, so that must mean —
Crabbe: Must mean? Who cares what you think? I don’t take your orders no more, Draco. You an’ your dad are finished.
4. Attempts the Cruciatus Curse on Harry.
5. Clearly mentions he has no hesitation whatsoever in killing Harry.
6. Actually tries to kill Hermione: Avada Kedavra, no less. Misses.
7. Tries to kill Ron. Misses again.
8. Unleashes Fiendfyre.
9. Destroys the diadem unknowingly
10. Dies.

What Goyle does

1. Says this absurdly cute line for someone in a war: “We was hiding in the corridor outside. We can do Diss-lusion Charms now! And then you turned up right in front of us and said you was looking for a die-dum! What’s a die-dum?”
2. Loses his wand.
3. Is stunned by Hermione.
4. Is dragged on to a broomstick (still unconscious) by Ron and Hermione. Draco clutches Goyle in his arms (did anyone notice this?) till they are rescued.

So, do you still think they were Crabbengoyle? 



  1. No. They were not.

  2. A brilliantly analysed post.

    No connection, but for some reason I always saw Crabbe and Goyle as Cinderella's step sisters.

  3. Why is this tagged 'Totally random'?
    Happy to read about this unusual 'couple'. :) I have said before and will repeat again, that I am not a die-hard, devoted, delusional Potter/JKR fan, but I love the discussions. You (and Amritorupa) are doing a great job refreshing the minds of people like me, who last *read* Potter in 2007, and sometimes skimmed through some pages upto 2009. After which, I focussed on fairy-tales and fables. :D
    Keep them coming. Tag them 'Potter', and I bet it will be my second favourite section of this blog after 'Mythology'. :)

    1. Thank you. Makes me wonder — is Harry Potter mythology as well?

    2. No. It is more fairy tales and fables. :)

    3. Explain why it is not mythology. Why is it anything short of an epic?

  4. How do we know the two large deatheaters in the graveyard were the fathers of Vincent and Gregory? Could they not have been the mothers instead?