At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film). As such, spoilers will be present within the article.
Modesty was born about 1918 in the United States. She lived in a tenement in The Bronx with her mother, father, and nine siblings. However, she was adopted by No-Maj anti-witchcraft activist Mary Lou Barebone, perhaps because her parents had more children than they could care for or because they were magical. Afterward, she missed her brothers and sisters, and would talk about them to her older adoptive brother Credence. The fact she remembered her original family suggests she was at least two or three when Mary Lou adopted her.
Under Mary Lou's rules, Modesty spent much of her time singing anti-witchcraft rhymes while playing hopscotch:
My momma, your momma, gonna catch a witch,
My momma, your momma, flying on a switch,
My momma, your momma, witches never cry,
My momma, your momma, witches gonna die!
A precocious child, Modesty learned to hide disobedient behaviour from her strict mother, as she was aware of the abusive treatment that her older brother, Credence, received. but out of sight of her mother (and her similarly zealous older adoptive sister, Chastity), she rebelliously threw away New Salem Philanthropic Society leaflets.
On 7 December 1926, Credence went into Modesty's room and found a toy wand under her bed. Modesty arrived and protested the it was just a toy, but as they argued Mary Lou entered and was appalled to see what Credence was holding. As Credence removed his belt so his adoptive mother could punish him again, Modesty confessed saying the wand was hers. Suddenly, the belt whipped out of Mary Lou's grasp, injuring her hand. As she went to pick it up, it was magically flung away.
Turning to confront the children, Mary Lou was attacked by an Obscurus, flung against the rafters of the chapel and fell dead with tell-tale scratches covering her face.
Terrified of the incident, Modesty ran away to her old childhood home to hide. With the help of Credence, Gellert Grindelwald in disguise as Percival Graves found her, believing her to be the Obscurial he was after. Graves found Modesty hiding in a corner, shaking, terrified, and confused, whimpering at the sound of Credence's name. Just as she was about to come towards Graves, an opening in the walls broke open revealing Credence to be the true Obscurial. Confronting Graves for his betrayal, Credence quickly lost control of his power and became a fully corporeal Obscurus flying away with Graves following, leaving Modesty all alone once more.
Personality and traits
Modesty was described as a "haunted" girl with "inner strength and stillness." She also possessed an ability to see into people's psyches and understand them.
Behind the scenes
- Modesty Barebone is portrayed by Faith Wood-Blagrove in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
- She is possibly a witch as she possessed a wand, despite claiming that it was just a toy, and because she was adopted by Mary Lou who was actively looking for orphans with magical powers through her "philanthropic activities". Furthermore, while Mary Lou was about to beat her two rebellious children, Credence and Modesty, one of her children performed magic on the belt she was holding. Since Obscurials were stated to not be able to perform regular magic, the event seems to imply that it was Modesty who did it. Later, just after Grindelwald told Credence that he had the ability to detect traces of magical power within an individual, he still believed that Modesty was an Obscurial, again implying that she had latent powers.
- The anti-witchcraft rhyme Modesty repeatedly sings were all references of non-magical people's stereotypes of and against witches, as well as the witch-trials that were designed to "persecute" them with.
- "Flying on a switch" is a reference to broomstick flying ("switch" was a type of thin stick of wood), a stereotype from the Middle Ages.
- "Witches never cry" is a reference to the stereotype of witches almost always cackling.
- "Drown in a river" is a reference to the myth that witches never cross bodies of water.
- "Gotta noose to give her", "Gonna watch her burn", & "Flogging take a turn" were all references to punishments meted out against suspected witches (i.e. the Medieval Inquisition and their respective auto-da-fés, and the Salem Witch Trials).
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
- The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- LEGO Dimensions
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, Scene 7 - She is described as being eight years-old in December 1926.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "Full Character Descriptions" from FantasticBeastsMovies.com
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, Scene 96
- ↑ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, Scene 27
- ↑ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, Scene 62
- ↑ "Casting call for 'Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them' " from Warner Brothers UK
- ↑ "Fantastic Beasts actress chosen from open auditions" from CBBC