Peter Pettigrew was a despicable character in the Harry Potter series. He was known for betraying his best friends and getting them killed.
He was always the odd one out among his group of friends who called themselves The Marauders. This group comprised of James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew. Apart from Peter, the other three were highly popular and charismatic characters.
Let’s decode the reason why he betrayed such good friends and chose to become a Death Eater.
Why did Peter Pettigrew become a Death Eater?
Here are five reasons why Peter Pettigrew became a Death Eater:
#1 Peter Pettigrew’s Personality Type
Peter Pettigrew was a weak and spineless man, always hiding behind powerful friends. He had very little confidence in himself. Thus, even within The Marauders, he was the weak link. On one occasion, Professor McGonagall even claimed that Pettigrew “hero-worshipped” James and Sirius.
Hence, he was a follower and not a leader. When his friends joined the Order of Phoenix, he went along too. However, he did not feel any real allegiance toward the ideology.
Peter realised that Voldemort was getting more powerful with each passing day. This led him to become a Death Eater. He was ruled by cowardice and fear and thought joining the dark side was his ticket to survival.
Sirius actually underestimated him and convinced Lily and James to trust Peter as their Secret-Keeper, which was a decision that went horribly wrong.
#2 Peter Pettigrew Was An Opportunist
As part of the Order of Phoenix, Pettigrew knew the exact capability of the Order. He realised that if the First Wizarding War occurred, there was little chance of them winning. Hence, he chose the side he thought was more powerful.
One thing that has been established time and time again is that Pettigrew was a selfish man and would go to any lengths to save his skin. He did this when he gave away Lily and James Potters’ hiding place to save his own neck. Moreover, he framed Sirius Black for his betrayal and lived as a rat for twelve years.
This shows that he would rather spend his life living as a sneaky rat than risk his life.
#3 Peter Pettigrew Was A Coward
In the Prisoner of Azkaban, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black confronted Pettigrew in the Shrieking Shack for selling his soul to the devil. In his defense, Peter cried that ‘they’ would have killed him. This shows that he was a coward and could be easily pressurised with threats.
Moreover, it took the Sorting Hat five minutes to decide to put Pettigrew in the Gryffindor House. This is referred to as a ‘Hatstall’.
The Sorting Hat clearly made a mistake as Pettigrew was not courageous at all, a trait that defined the essence of Gryffindor House.
Therefore, his fear got the better of him. Pettigrew became a spy for Voldemort and the Death Eaters as he believed that was his ticket to survival.
He always had the tendency to become a sniveling follower of those he perceived to be stronger.
#4 Peter Pettigrew’s Insecurities
One major reason why Peter Pettigrew chose to become a Death Eater was that he wanted to reinvent himself and gain some respect. All through school life he had lived in the shadow of his superior and highly talented best friends. These friends did not do much to improve his self-esteem. He was fully aware of how people looked at their quartet and judged him from being a misfit. Moreover, even James and Sirius looked down upon him on occasions.
All these feelings of inadequacy led Peter to join the dark side. When the opportunity came, Pettigrew took it as a means to break free from his current situation. He wanted to gain some respect from this new, very powerful cult called the Death Eaters. He knew he had the insider knowledge that would be useful for Voldemort.
Peter believed that by acting as a spy, he would gain some much-needed validation from the most powerful lot.
Hard as it may be to empathize with Pettigrew after his betrayal, he did face a lot of bullying in his teenage years. Coupled with these feelings of insecurity was his love of being around powerful people. This made him swear allegiance to the Dark Lord. This was his way of reinventing himself, at the cost of his friends’ lives.
You can find out how the Death Eaters’ name came about here.
#5 Peter Pettigrew Was A Poor Wizard
As said by Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban, Peter “Hero-worshipped Black and Potter. Never quite in their league, talent-wise. I was often rather sharp with him… Stupid boy… Foolish boy…”.
These are words coming from a highly respected teacher. She had assessed Peter’s caliber in his formative years. Hence, Peter knew from an early age that he could not compete with the rest magically.
Peter realised that they were on the verge of war against a seemingly more powerful side. He also knew he did not own the magical capabilities of his friends. In case of war, he would be an easy target. This caused him to join the Death Eaters as he felt their allegiance would be more beneficial for him.
Peter Pettigrew was a result of his circumstances. He was a weak man who derived a sense of power by surrounding himself with powerful people. He became a Death Eater because he was hungry for power, opportunistic as well as insecure.
This is slightly different from how Snape became a Death Eater, which you can find out more here.
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