Last May, Argus Filch was awarded the house cup for his outstanding duties as the caretaker of Hogwarts. Filch is known for his grumpiness and is disliked by many students. Yet there is a story behind his behaviour and actions. A story that might change your attitude towards our caretaker.
Unfortunately, not much is known about Filch’s youth as he never talks about it—or talks in general. Where he was born remains a mere guess, however, a student who spent many days in detention informed us that there are some banners from the Montrose Magpies Quidditch team in his office amongst a lot of other crazy items. A further hint towards the place where he was born is a vaguely recognisable rose symbol on his worn and dusty robes. The Filch family is known to reside all over Scotland, so it would not be an impossible guess. But these banners may well have been confiscated from students, and the rose symbol might mean something entirely different.
One can only imagine how it would be to grow up as a squib in part of a century-old pure-blood family. In such families, squibs are often looked down upon, disowned, and even erased from family histories. Such situations are very hard for the child as he or she only wants to be accepted and to belong to a community. The difficulties that came with growing up as a squib most likely hardened young Filch into the very bitter and grumpy person he is today. Such a situation most likely caused Filch’s disdain for Hogwarts students, as they are accepted into the magical community—something he never was.
But why did he then choose to come and work for Hogwarts, a place which is a daily reminder of him being a squib? Growing up without magical abilities and seeing other young wizards and witches attend Hogwarts must have made him feel very left out and lonely. On top of that, many squibs from pure-blood families have almost no chance to marry and start their own families with other wizards or witches. Both his longing to belong and the impossibility of a magical familial future might have spurred Filch to live the lonely hermit life at Hogwarts.
Filch came to Hogwarts around 1973, taking over the job of caretaker from Apollyon Pringle. Relishing in punishing the—in his eyes—privileged young wizards and witches, Filch filled around one thousand and fifty-six boxes with punishment records at the end of the 1970s. Some of these boxes are stored in Filch’s living quarters, a dingy and windowless room. Apart from these boxes, Filch’s room is decorated with chains and manacles that hang from the walls. His hopes of using those torture instruments are luckily never acknowledged by the headmasters, with the exception of Dolores Umbridge.
The picture drawn of him until now seems to be very grim. However, Filch is capable of showing affection and love. Filch is very attached to his cat Mrs. Norris. When poor Mrs. Norris was petrified due to the Basilisk, Filch was heartbroken. The connection between Mrs. Norris and Filch seems to be of the unusual. As Filch is a squib, he is unable to perform magic, yet the bond shared by both seems to be more than just ordinary. During late night walks around the corridors, Mrs. Norris often finds rule-breaking students. Only a minute later, she is joined by Filch. This suggests that she is somehow able to alert Filch without any communication. It could be that Filch is simply following Mrs. Norris, but many students are startled by how fast Filch seems to appear on the scene. It really seems as if Filch has eyes all over the castle, which maybe has to do with him being a namesake of Argus Panoptes.
Let’s also not forget that Filch is quite good at his job. Caretakers are supposed to keep the castle clean, catch rule-breaking students, and confiscate dangerous objects. He keeps students away from the lesser known parts of the castle and the forbidden corridors. When castle property is damaged, Filch is known to be upset about it, but is always able to fix it in no time. This is all done without any use of magic, a feat which is very hard to challenge.
It seems that Filch does whatever he thinks is right. During the battle of Hogwarts in 1998, he fought alongside the other Order members. Of course, having no magical abilities, Filch took care of the rudimentary issues such as the evacuation of students who were unable to defend themselves. Apart from that, Filch was also asked to look for Peeves and to ask him to join the battle. This shows he is not evil at heart and often might have been misguided or just plain bitter.
Speaking of Peeves . . . Filch has an ongoing war with Hogwarts’ own poltergeist. Peeves has been a thorn in the side for many past caretakers of Hogwarts, constantly tormenting them by breaking things and causing general mayhem all around the castle. We can hesitantly add that Filch does not dislike all of Peeves’ actions, as Peeves also shouts out when he spots students out of bed and wandering the corridors at night. Additionally, Filch might like the extra attention and work, as not all nights are as eventful as others. Nevertheless, Peeves still manages to continuously get into Filch’s hair.
Knowing all this, you might want to think twice before judging our grumbling, bitter, but good-hearted caretaker. His behaviour is not the most pristine, but he takes his job very seriously. Next time you see him, maybe offer him a simple smile or inform him about some spots in the castle which could be cleaned up. We bet he would like such basic gratitude and attention!