Who was your favourite member of Hogwarts staff? Fabulous Dumbledore? Trusty McGonagall? Lovable Hagrid? We’re guessing Argus Filch isn’t exactly hitting your top five.
It’s easy to understand why. Filch definitely wasn’t a ray of sunshine throughout Harry’s years at Hogwarts – in fact, he was a real snitch (and not the good, Quidditch-y kind). What about that time he accused Harry of opening the Chamber of Secrets? Or his classic catchphrase ‘students out of bed!’ Filch, you killjoy.
But please heed our words and consider that there was a reasonable explanation for all of this, and that Filch was a nice fellow deep down really. No, really. Come on, he might have been.
We all know that Argus Filch liked to play by the rules. Every year, there were more items added to his list of forbidden objects, new corridors that were off limits and, in the case of Harry’s fifth year, the dreaded Educational Decrees.
But here’s the thing: Filch was just doing his job.
Yes, we’ve heard him relishing the thought of catching students with a troubling amount of enthusiasm…
‘Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in a corner.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
But to be fair, this stuff was probably in the man’s job description. Any caretaker of schools magical or otherwise has to keep the building clean and keep an eye out for unruly students – that’s just standard caretaking decorum.
Heaven forbid he actually kept young children away from corridors containing gigantic three-headed dogs or Forbidden Forests that were home to countless dangerous creatures! Guys, Filch was just looking out for everyone. Rules are cool.
So Filch had a temper on him, but this made slightly more sense when we discovered he was a Squib. A Squib, also known as a non-magical person born to wizard parents, sounds like one of the cruellest lotteries in the wizarding world, so no wonder Filch wasn’t skipping down the corridors. Add that to the fact he worked in an entire school full of mischievous magical people, all day, every day, and suddenly his disdain for Hogwarts students seems sort of reasonable.
The revelation came when Harry found a Kwikspell letter on Filch’s desk (which, by the way, he totally just read without any regard for Filch’s personal property), which turned out to be a course in beginner’s magic.
‘If I thought you’d read my private… not that it’s mine… for a friend… be that as it may… however… Very well… go… and don’t breathe a word…’
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Filch rained contempt on anyone who dared stand near him, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have love in his heart.
The caretaker was beyond devastated in Chamber of Secrets when his beloved pet cat, Mrs Norris, was Petrified by the Basilisk, weeping ‘dry, racking sobs’ when he found her lifeless body. See? He just needed to get in touch with his emotions.
Filch spent the majority of the book devastated by his feline companion’s unfortunate circumstances, and eventually, this love would extend to human beings too.
Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves, but we don’t think it’s an entire coincidence that Filch and Madam Pince, the school librarian, attended Dumbledore’s funeral together…
Admittedly, it was pretty tough to defend Filch when he believed Dolores Umbridge was the best thing to ever happen to Hogwarts – but deep down, we still believe he had his heart set out for the greater good. No, really. We really do think that.
Just take the Battle of Hogwarts; a night that brought out the best in a lot of unlikely people. Alright, it’s not like he was destroying Voldemort with the sword of Gryffindor or anything, but Filch did play his part by assisting McGonagall in evacuating the school of students – bringing them to safety. You could argue that Filch had been wanting to evacuate the entire school since day one, but we’re sure he had everyone’s best interests at heart deep, deep, deep, deep down.
Each month Pottermore will try to defend the more… questionable characters from the Harry Potter stories. Come back next month when we make the case for Ernie Macmillan.