The Deathly Hallows

chapter twenty-two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry distances himself from his friends as he descends into a constant obsession over the Deathly Hallows, convinced that Voldemort is after the Elder Wand. Meanwhile Ron manages to find the radio show Potterwatch, which provides a distraction – at least until Harry speaks Voldemort’s name and their tent is immediately surrounded.
 

The Deathly Hallows, by Hannah-Dora

“That’s what he’s after.”
The change in his voice made Ron and Hermione look even more scared.
“You-Know-Who’s after the Elder Wand.”
He turned his back on their strained, incredulous faces. He knew it was the truth.


 

Just a Fairytale, by Agatha Macpie

“‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’ is a story,” said Hermione firmly. “A story about how humans are frightened of death. If surviving was as simple as hiding under the Invisibility Cloak, we’d have everything we need already!”


 

Harry's Dark Quest, by Elspethelf

But Harry hardly slept that night. The idea of the Deathly Hallows had taken possession of him, and he could not rest while agitating thoughts whirled through his mind: the wand, the stone, and the Cloak, if he could just possess them all….


 

Night Shift, by FrizzyHermione

As the weeks crept on, Harry could not help but notice, even through his new self-absorption, that Ron seemed to be taking charge…. the one now encouraging and exhorting the other two into action.


 

Potterwatch, by reallycorking

For the first time in weeks and weeks, Harry was laughing: … Hearing familiar, friendly voices was an extraordinary tonic.


 

about the chapter

 

I’ve always thought of this as one of the most eloquent chapters of the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling was in a difficult position when writing it: she had to find a way to show the readers how Harry descends into an obsession bordering on delusion, yet continue to write the chapter from his perspective. Yet at the same time, it’s crucial that we understand his excitement about these new, mythical objects, and that on some level we share it with him. Balancing the need to see Harry’s excitement and the need to see how crazy he looks to Ron and Hermione is a tall order, yet this chapter flows brilliantly and simultaneously lets us see the situation through Ron and Hermione’s eyes, yet understand that there’s something indefinably true in Harry’s obsession. Part of the brilliance, of course, is in the fact that both the book and the chapter are titled “The Deathly Hallows” – so while we read about how crazy Harry is acting, we (like him) know there’s something very, very exciting hidden in these objects. Are they the Answer? We have no idea, but the way Rowling leaves us wondering is utterly brilliant.
 

Something You May Not Have Noticed

A fun little aside to the broadcast of Potterwatch is the code names used by Lee Jordan and his cohorts:
River (Lee Jordan) – The River Jordan is the border between Israel and Jordan (among others), and a biblical landmark;
Royal (Kingsley Shacklebolt) – An obvious play on Kingsley’s first name;
Romulus (Remus Lupin) – Romulus and Remus were the mythical twin brothers who founded Rome;
Rodent (Fred Weasley) – A play on the twin’s weasel-like last name.
Of course, these aren’t particularly difficult to decipher, which makes me wonder – why use code names at all? After all, the list of wizards openly opposing the Death Eaters can’t be particularly long, and there’s no doubt that at least three of these four gentlemen are near the top of it. But then it occurred to me that these code names are also a statement about what the Order thinks of the Death Eaters’ intelligence – sort of intended as an inside joke between the broadcasters and their listeners (or the author and her readers, if you prefer to look at it that way), and a wink to the fact that most Death Eaters probably aren’t bright enough to figure any of these things out. Though I’d still have to imagine that Draco or somebody who was at Hogwarts with Lee would recognize the voice that announced all of the school’s Quidditch games….
 

The Power of Magic

The idea that the Deathly Hallows, if united, would make one “master of Death” is an interesting concept, and one that isn’t really explained. For instance, Harry thinks of the three objects as though they alone would give him the power to overthrow Voldemort:

And he saw himself, possessor of the Hallows, facing Voldemort, whose Horcruxes were no match…. Was this the answer? Hallows versus Horcruxes? Was there a way, after all, to ensure that he was the one who triumphed? If he were the master of the Deathly Hallows, would he be safe?

Later Harry even thinks that if Voldemort “had known about the Deathly Hallows, he might not have needed Horcruxes in the first place.” But aside from Xeno’s statement that the possessor of all three would be “master of Death,” there isn’t really anything to indicate that the Hallows would work the same way Horcruxes would. Horcruxes have a very specific spell that preserves a person’s soul on this earth if their body is killed; how could the Deathly Hallows mimic this effect? It’s unclear, but an interesting fascination all the same.
 

Something to Remember

Harry pulls out an interesting tidbit of Dumbledore’s personality while arguing with Hermione, and her reaction is enlightening. Here’s the passage:

“Dumbledore usually let me find out stuff for myself. He let me try my strength, take risks. This feels like the kind of thing he’d do.”
 
“Harry, this isn’t a game, this isn’t practice! This is the real thing….”

But what jumps out, of course, is Hermione’s use of the word practice. After all, if Dumbledore’s letting Harry “find stuff out for [him]self” was indeed practice, it makes logical sense that Dumbledore would let him do so because he expected Harry to need this skill when the ‘real thing’ came along. Dumbledore left Hermione the book, with the symbol of the Deathly Hallows drawn over the story, and together the trio figured out what it meant. Harry’s right that this is exactly the sort of thing Dumbledore would do; the question now is, why?
 


56 Responses to “The Deathly Hallows”

  1. Wonderfully done. I always noticed (and laughed) at the Potterwatch code names, but didn’t ever think that they might be a jab at Death Eaters intelligence. However, it’s pretty likely that most Death Eaters wouldn’t even know that Potterwatch existed, let alone how to find it. The Order members are the ones who set the pass, and judging by what Ron says, not even they know exactly what it is (“Bill’s got a knack for guessing them”), so it’s probable that Draco and the Death Eaters (which sounds like a band name) at Hogwarts a) don’t know about it, or b) can’t listen to it, thus canceling out the need for Lee to disguise his voice.

  2. The artwork is stunning for this chapter, it really is. Harry’s eyes in Elspethelf’s piece are really piercing, such a gorgeous colour, and his hair almost looks real. I also just adore FrizzyHermione’s piece. A picture really does speak a thousand words and this one gets across what the book implied but did not say outright. It makes me really feel for Ron. And I love the hope shown in reallycorking’s piece. This chapter was definitely a pivotal one in the book. Only one horcrux destroyed, no idea what the other horcruxes are but now they, and we, have hope. It really is nonstop from here on in.

  3. Aw, the picture by FrizzyHermione is so cute! I like seeing any Ron love after the movie so brushed him off.
    I remember finding Harry’s leaps of logic, on first read, baffling. Almost far-fetched (jumping from what Voldemort’s after, to what’s in the snitch, etc). It’s only on re-reads, when the truth of it all is already a given, that those leaps of logic flow more naturally.

    If you don’t mind my going on an aside, this is kind of a continuation of the discussion in the last chapter’s posts about the trio choosing the three hallows… SPOILERS:
    It just (just!) occurred to me what the idea of the stone in the snitch says about what has been “searched” for all through these books: some way to regain those who are dead. The whole series has been dealing with that question –you could say on many levels it’s now been revealed that’s what Harry’s been searching for, metaphorically but also I think literally in his personal growth.
    Of course, it’s a theme that was introduced with the Mirror of Erised, continued on with the echoes brought on by the Dementors, by the Priori Incantatem spell, even by the memories in the Pensieve and the “memory” in Riddle’s Diary; turns out the game of quidditch has, on a symbolic level, been about that quest too. How to ‘defeat’ i.e. come to terms with death, and whether Voldemort’s approach (avoiding the problem through not loving anyone, you could say) is the right one; if not, what the right one is.

    I’m not someone who has answers to these big questions in a personal faith, and I have been lucky enough not to have had to deal with them yet through losing loved ones; but I know I will have to someday.. So somehow it’s comforting to know that one of my most beloved childhood books is hugely dealing with this question.

    //end of aside. :)

  4. And then there’s the concept that ‘master of death’ doesn’t mean what Voldemort takes it to mean but more like what Dumbledore said back in (book 1, I think)- to the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure- something like that (don’t think I got it just right but the general idea). So master in the sense that death isn’t the one calling the shots, the person isn’t afraid of death but is master of it.
    The book really takes off from this point on, in my opinion. And, I love how Harry’s mind clicks into gear and starts making things fit.

  5. ps- I, too, especially loved the artwork on this post!
    @hazelwillow- love that snitch/resurrection stone/quidditch connection!

  6. I didn’t realize any of the code names except for Kinsley’s… And I loved reallycorking’s picture. That fit how I imagined it a lot better than the movie where they all looked perfect and wore designer clothing.

  7. Re: Something You May Not Have Noticed

    I have always thought it funny that Fred argues to be called by the code name “Rapier” instead of “Rodent”… these two code names together immediately make me think of Reepicheep the mouse wielding his little rapier in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian.

    I’ve never really thought about the code names being an insult to the Deatheater’s intelligence before, but I always thought it was kind of funny that the trio don’t seem to catch on to the significance of the fairly transparent code names either, but rather seem to recognize the Order members by their voices instead.

    Re: Thoughts on the updates page

    Josie, I like your summary of moments in which Harry has been incredibly wrong in previous books (to some horrible consequences, e.g. Sirius’ death), but how through these experiences he has developed good instincts that are now leading him to make some huge leaps of understanding by trusting his ‘gut.’ I never really noticed that it was in Half Blood Prince (the book of course where Dumbledore dies) that Harry steps up and finally gets things ‘right’ for the first time. Now, he has other people touting his “instincts”… Dumbledore’s last words to Lupin & Kingsley were “Harry is the best hope we have. Trust him.” And Lupin in the Potterwatch broadcast in this chapter says that if he could talk to Harry, “I’d tell him to follow his instincts, which are good and nearly always right.” Of course, Lupin is undoubtedly referring to the personal advice he got from Harry to go home to his pregnant wife & not abandon his family. However, even though Lupin’s words on the broadcast were exactly what Harry needed to hear in this moment as he struggles with his ‘obsession’ with the Hallows, if Lupin really thought it through, there wasn’t really tons of evidence of Harry’s good instincts… yet.

    P.S. Love all the artwork — especially FrizzyHermione’s beautiful piece that captures Ron’s new leader role in the trio in a unique way… and love the lumos wand headlamp too!

  8. hazelwillow, I hadn’t thought about catching the snitch as being a metaphor for bringing back lost loved ones – that’s interesting. But it had occurred to me that the whole game of Quiddich has been set up as a metaphor for the plot of the books, and especially for Harry’s role in the story.

    I started thinking about this when Josie pointed out (several books ago) how lopsided the scoring opportunities are in Quiddich. Unless their team is down by more than 150 points, it doesn’t really matter what the chasers, beaters and keeper do as long as their seeker captures the snitch. This is the way it is in the fight against Voldemort. Unless Harry defeats Voldemort, his team will lose despite their best efforts.

    Harry needs his team as the Chosen One in the same way he needs his team as seeker. He needs them to protect him (as the beaters do in Quiddich) and to keep fighting and playing their positions until he can make that play only he can make. He’s a member of the team, but his role on the team is unique. And just as the seeker is the only one who can end a Quiddich game, Harry is the only one who can end the war against Voldemort.

  9. Wow Bille & hazelwillow… deep thoughts on Quidditch! I’m impressed! Billie, loved how you extended the metaphor to Harry’s role in the whole series…

  10. It’s cliff hanger chapters like this one that makes you want to keep on reading Harry Potter.

  11. Something about the code names on Potterwatch: part (or most) of them were already on the run, so I guess they would’nt care much about the possibility of being identified by the Death Eathers. If they were captured the outcome would be the same anyhow: Azkaban or death…
    On my first reading of the book I arrived to a point at some length in which I forgot that the Deathstick was made from an elder tree. I started thinking about the Elder Wand not as being made of elder, but as being elder (ancient) :)

  12. Also Harry has a kind of arrogant proud in saying Voldemort’s name, and he simply cannot avoid doing it, especially if someone else says not to do it, just look at this first example from book one:
    “Yeh could’ve died!” sobbed Hagrid. “An’ don’ say the name!”
    “VOLDEMORT!” Harry bellowed, and Hagrid was so shocked, he stopped crying. “I’ve met him and I’m calling him by his name.”

  13. @ Billie – great point about the way Quidditch is designed! That’s a very good parallel, it actually makes the game of Quidditch make a little more sense, at least metaphorically :P. Certainly what Harry thinks before using the stone “the long game was over, the snitch was caught” makes a direct parallel between life and a game of Quidditch…

    I didn’t exactly mean catching the snitch is a metaphor for bringing back lost loved ones, not exactly… I was thinking more about the role of seeker and less about what catching it must mean. Just that Harry is a “seeker” and what he has been “seeking” all along has been some way of regaining people he’s lost/”overcoming” the division that is death. The connection between the snitch and the stone suggest to me that that has been the object of Harry’s quest, if you like, all along; that’s all.

    If we go with your awesome parallel then the act of *catching* the snitch itself must relate to… accepting death? That’s how Harry ultimately performs his part in the “game” against Voldemort, after all…
    He *thinks* he’s seeking for the stone to bring his loved ones back, but really he will use it to accept death and join them.

    //hope that wasn’t totally redundant :P

  14. The thing someone mentioned above about there not being evidence of Harry’s good instincts. Personally I feel there are a huge number of examples of this that Lupin would know about, the two main one’s being that Lupin is present two times when Harry waits to confirm who the people in his presence are before lowering his wand, 1st in book 5 when the Order pick him up from the Dursley’s and later in Book 7 when Lupin comes to the house but Harry questions him before lowering his wand.
    Also we see that Harry has very good instincts about spells being thrown about and other dangers, in book 4 at the world cup the Ministry workers all throw a stupefy an its Harry moments before they even yell it that tugs the other two to the ground. Also in book 5 we see him grab Hermione and drag her behind a tree moments before grawp grabs her. when he duels Voldemort he always times his spells to meet Tom’s correctly and he can sense the dementors and understands that he’ll hear them before he see’s them, which will give there exact position in the mist in book 5 again.
    Harry’s instincts for fighting and on the spot decisions are precise and clearly there but he also makes the hard decisions and trusts his instincts there too; 1st year when Ron sacrifices himself to the chess set and before that when he trusts Hermione to fend of the Devil’s snare.
    Plus he has trust his instincts very much when running around with his eyes closed when fighting the Basilisk!

  15. …so about the “Master of Death” question in the “PoM” section: yeah, that’s something that’s pretty important to clarify, but doing so at this point would be jumping the gun a little, right? :P At this point, Harry’s thinking about it the way Voldemort does, I think. Master of Death meaning you’re safe from being killed.

    To me, the idea that the Deathly Hallows could function to prevent you from being “taken” by death –i.e. preserve you from being killed, like a Horcrux –is suggested in the Tale of the Three Brothers. The three brothers have cheated death at the river, when he rightfully should have taken them. (This could be a parallel to the way Harry cheated death (in the form of Voldemort’s curse) as a baby). The three brothers are trying to make this cheat permanent, just as Harry would very much like to. But death, once cheated, is always trying to catch up with them, just as Voldemort (and hence death) is with Harry. The goal of each Hallow is to protect against death somehow: to protect against being killed in a duel, to protect against your loved ones being taken, and to protect against being found by death yourself. None of them work in the long run, but the idea that if you had all of them it might work makes some sort of sense.

    I can imagine why the phrase “master of death” would mean invincibility to harry at this point: he has practically no hope of surviving. :(

  16. I think hazelwillow’s right on the way the Hallows protect the possessor from death, but I also think it’s interesting that the phrase ‘when united’ is used of the Hallows (“…which, if united, will make the possessor master of Death”). Does that mean that someone could possess all three Hallows, yet not be the master of Death? And the way they’re drawn separately yet as a single unit again suggests that there’s something extra needed that would make them greater than the sum of their parts (like the potion antidotes in HBP!).

  17. RE: Potterwatch

    You need to have a password to get the potterwatch station, and I highly doubt the death eaters (possibly ANOTHER stab at their intelligence?) would know to even be looking for it, let alone be able to correctly guess a password that changes every night. So I don’t really think Malfoy would ever even have heard that potterwatch even existed, let alone heard it, and thus they don’t really have to worry about people figuring out who they are.

  18. Oh wow, so many amazing points! For starters, the parallels to Quidditch had my jaw drop on the floor!

    But I would like to address the question of the Death Eater’s stupidity. Is it just me, or have the Death Eaters been made more stupid as time went on? In GoF, people speak about them with almost as much fear as about Voldemort himself. In OotP, when ten of them break out of Azkaban people are going crazy and freaking out. Then in the battle, we see them at least put up a good fight, and if not for the prophecy/Order they would have won. Then suddenly in HBP, they’re a joke. They are little more than a few pathetic henchmen there for Draco as backup. And in DH, everyone from Potterwatch to Aberforth is insulting them and making a mockery out of them, they’re almost completely ineffectual in the Final Battle (seriously, do we see ANYONE killed by a Death Eater?), and it seems all of their mystique and brains and power were transferred to Bellatrix. Anyone else get the feeling that the DEs were watered down as the books went on?

  19. hpboy13, I agree with you, to a point. I think I would point to it being inconsistent more than a gradual weakening. For example, I thought the Death Eaters made a pretty pathetic show at the Dept of Mysteries in book 5, and while we may not have *seen* them kill anyone, there were dozens of people killed in book 7 despite the Death Eaters being fairly substantially outnumbered (including some pretty skilled wizards in Lupin and Tonks). But: you probably remember that I have pointed out my frustrations with the group’s inadequacies in the past….

  20. Gosh, interesting thought on the Death Eaters, hpboy13! Something just occurred to me in that context – could their diminshed performance in the Final Battle have something to do with Harry’s Blood Sacrifice? He states himself that he has done for all of his followers what his mother did for him – his willingness do die for them made Voldemort’s curses against them harmless. Could this effect have somehow extended to the Death Eaters, seeing as they are so much under Voldemorts’s influence? Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but I guess it could work. If this is true, however, it would take a lot of significance away from Molly Weasley’s heroic defeat of Bellatrix, one of my very favourite scenes.

  21. Judith, they had a diminished performance even before Harry’s sacrifice though. Josie, while it’s true we see people get killed, at no point do we hear about Death Eaters actually killing someone. People die because of explosions, giants, acromantulas, etc, or we just hear later that they died – I feel it would have been a good touch to actually see one or two of them killed by Death Eaters.

    The thing about the Department of Mysteries is that, while they made a weak showing, it was believable. Hermione was nearly killed; Ron, Ginny, and Luna incapacitated; and this is all keeping in mind they had to focus on getting the prophecy from Harry and not killing them. And they had just about won when the Order showed up, and they held their own against the Order, even taking out Moody (the rest of the damage was Bellatrix’s doing). And they were fighting in a bizarre battleground, with all kinds of crazy stuff going on.

    So my point is that, even if they were kinda ineffectual, they made a good show. Whereas in the Final Battle, they are on a clear battlefield, with superior numbers, and dueling a bunch of teenagers (and maybe a dozen adults). Count me unimpressed.

  22. hpboy13 and Josie – I think you make some good points, but I’m going to disagree with both of you. I don’t think the Death Eaters weaken during the last few books, and I don’t think the way they’re portrayed is inconsistent.

    Here’s the way Dumbledore describes Tom Riddle’s followers at Hogwarts to Harry in book 6: “This group had a kind of dark glamor within the castle. They were a motley collection; a mixture of the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking some shared glory, and the thuggish gravitating toward a leader who could show them more refined forms of cruelty. In other words, they were the forerunners of the Death Eaters…”

    It’s a good description of all the Death Eaters we see in the books. They’re not the best and brightest. Some, like Lucius, Snape and Bellatrix, are capable and intelligent (“the ambitious seeking some shared glory”), but others need are leaning on a leader and/or protector to make up for their own deficiencies.

    The Death Eaters are dangerous and feared because they’re cruel and remorseless, not because they’re the smartest or the best at magic. And before Voldemort’s return to power, they retain that “dark glamor” in the memories of their victims and their victims’ families. Their legend has increased over the fourteen years that they’ve been off the stage. But when we actually get to see them in action as part of Voldemort’s new regime, they don’t look as impressive as remembered.

    But they’re still extraordinarily dangerous. Remember all the people who are killed during the last two books. Amelia Bones, Emmeline Vance, Hannah Abbott’s mother, Ted Tonks, Dirk Cresswell – that’s only a few of them. And more than fifty people die during the Battle of Hogwarts. Jo has said that Bellatrix killed Tonks and Dolohov killed Lupin, so the Death Eaters are obviously killing people personally during that battle.

    I think Jo has been deliberate in the way she’s portrayed the Death Eaters. They are the stuff of legends because they’re ruthless and powerful. But when we actually see them, we see infighting, conflicting ambitions, bad judgment, and a certain amount of ineptitude. Kind of like the followers of Hitler that they’re patterned after.

  23. Billie, I totally see what you’re getting at. But here’s what I still can’t get over:

    -In the Department of Mysteries, if the Death Eaters were truly ruthless, dangerous, cruel, and/or remorseless, they would have simply killed all of Harry’s friends until Harry handed the prophecy over. It would have been by far the simplest way to get it, and in fact Lucius even says “you can kill the others if necessary.” Yet here are the spells the Death Eaters shoot at Harry’s friends: one attempt at Avada Kedavra, Stupefy (x5), Impedimenta (x2), a spell that shoots “streams of silver light” (x2), Crucio, Accio, and of course, Tarantallegra. In my mind, the fact that every one of those spells wasn’t an Unforgivable is a joke. Think of how different the situation would have been if the Tarantallegra that hit Neville had been a Killing Curse, for example.

    -Ditto the Battle of the Seven Potters. As soon as it is determined conclusively that a fake Potter isn’t the real thing, the fake and his/her protector should instantly be killed.

    -Ditto the scene at Malfoy Manor. Bellatrix knows Harry well enough to know that killing Ron or Hermione would force him to do whatever she wants. She does it, game over. Voldemort wins.

    These are what make the Death Eaters seem bungling to me. Obviously it’s necessary for the plot, but to have all six members of a core group of teenagers survive when pitted against the fiercest, most evil group in history just doesn’t seem like the group we’re told about in the rest of the series, you know?

  24. Josie – Point taken. Can we explain it by saying that the Death Eaters have some remnants of a conscience, and that in spite of all their bluster they’d rather avoid killing kids?

  25. Haha, yes! Maybe that’s it. ;)

  26. Billie: that was awesome!! =)

    Judith: I doubt that Harry’s sacrifice counts much in a tally of the DEs inadequacy, since it happens so near the end… at that point, the battle has almost dwindled to its showdown: there’s a few last battles (incuding the epic: “not my daughter, bitch”!!!!), but what everyone’s really waiting for is Harry v. Voldemort. The DEs have shown their weaknesses way before that.

    But could it be that since book 4 there’s been a change of perspective in the info we’ve been given about them??
    — book 4: we hear about DEs from a father of 7, who was young and eloping the first time they were around and probably stronger, and now has 8 people ( 2) he feels compelled to protect. Return of the DEs = scary as hell.
    — book 5: after the mass break out, we see the reaction of students, mostly of wizarding ascent, who’ve only heard their parents talk of how scary DEs are. Azkaban breakout = the boogey man coming out of the closet (LOL… not in *that* sense!!) At the MoM, they don’t seem much organized, but our side prevails only when the Order arrives… maybe the kids would have yielded had they been left alone (I do agree that the DEs firepower was greatly overwhelming, though).
    — book 6 and 7: we stop getting outside perspectives; DEs are only ever mentioned in relation to the Trio, the Order or the DAs, who are way beyond them, both mentally and magically, and are aware of the dangers they pose but are past being terrified of them. DEs = henchmen of the enemies… a nuisance, more than anything, except for a few top notch dark wizards.

    Let’s not also forget the core difference between the two sides: Order members tend to be strong, opinionated witches or wizards, who won’t stand for oppression, dictatorship, and injustice; DEs are herd sheep, henchmen, tools to be disposed of by the one supreme commander: they have to be stupid enough to be mere followers (think of THE LION KING’s hyenas)… the strongest and smartest are cleverly juggled by the puppeteer, so that they fight among themselves for second place, without ever attempting to dethrone the one at the top. Clever people, those with the real smarts, are either on the good side or keep themselves away from trouble as much as possible, because they understand that what the Bad Guy’s offering is just smoke and constant subservience to him: being too good, when on the bad side, tends to get you killed (see Regulus).
    That established, there’s bound to ba a relevant cultural gap between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”.

  27. P.S. Sorry: I had started to write my post earlier and didn’t refresh the page before finally posting… But I see Billie made my same point, so I guess I quote the following addendums. =p

    I don’t completely reject the notion that the DEs at the MoM might have purposedly avoided killing:
    1) they might have started out thinking that a bunch of kids was no match for them, and Unforgivable curses were unnecessary (and by the time they realized that that wasn’t the case, it was too late);
    2) ever since most of them had been DEs in the 70s, they’ve now acquired families of their own and some of them have children who are these kids’ age (Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Macnair…)… children that they even care about, at least in Malfoy’s case. That must take at least some of the fuel out of one’s ruthlessness!!

  28. Most of the spells used on the MoM battle were jokes like you said, Josie, but you seem to have forgotten one thing: Crucio [Cruciatus curse] IS an unforgivable curse. Bellatrix used it on Neville and attempted to use it also on Harry (after Harry himself used the same curse on her, with little damage).

  29. I did forget to mention the purple flame that hit Hermione, that was no joke either. Incidentally we never knew what kind of spell was…

  30. Jose Lopes, you’re right, and actually Dolohov *did* seem pretty serious – he attempted an Avada Kedavra first, and then the purple spell thing once he could no longer talk. It’s not a stretch to suggest that this would have been another Killing Curse if he’d been able to say the words (after all, even Voldemort has to say the words for that one), but since he’d been Silencio’d he just picked another super damaging spell.

    The Crucio was on my list I think, and in my eyes totally legitimate. It’s really the endless Stunners (as Lupin would say, it’s a useful spell, but…) and above all the Tarantallegra that get me.

    Irene M. Cesca, your point about the Death Eaters getting older is interesting. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and Nott all have kids exactly Harry’s age. I can see where that would make one hesitate, at least, to kill unnecessarily (most of the Death Eaters are human, after all, other than perhaps Bellatrix). We know the Lestranges don’t have kids, and Bellatrix is one of the ones casting Unforgivables. The same would seem to be true of Dolohov, since he’s been imprisoned. So that fits pretty well.

  31. I think the reason there weren’t more AKs being flung about is once again that “dark glamour” thing going on. Whenever the DEs kill (at first) it’s with a lot of drama…they make a show of it (no doubt learned from their master). Since they didn’t perceive the teens to be a threat, they would try to have some fun with them.

    Also, one must keep in mind that the DEs at the DoM are just a hench squad, not the entire force. And it’s not the most elite squad either; there seem to be a lot of thuggish gravitating toward a leader (Crabbe, Goyle, Macnair, etc). The elite DEs – Lucius, Bellatrix, Dolohov – are the ones who do quite a bit of damage.

    As to the Tarantallegra, I view that more as desperation than anything else. I forget which DE cast it, but the DEs had lost half their squad, were facing down the Order, and it seems to me just cast whatever random spell jumped to mind. I don’t think it’s exactly a staple in their arsenal.

  32. Hi HP readers, just stumble to your blogsite and I just want to share my thoughts on the final chapter. I havent done back reading but just my analysis on the final battle why Harry by far has the upper hand on defeating Voldermort. Its because Harry’s wand posseses the power of the Elder Wand (one of the deathly hallow). So you’ve notice that even a disarming spell beat Voldemort’s killing curse. And the transfer of power (Elder Wand) happened at Book 6 where Draco Malfoy killed Dumbledore. Where by fact that if any sorcerer defeat (by killing) the owner of the wand, the true power of the wand will be shifted to the successor. Its not the physical wand that has the power but the victor sorcerer as well. So from book 7 Harry Potter snatch Draco’s wand wherein by Default Draco’s wand is the current Elder Wand. Hope it adds up to the clarity. =)

  33. In the final book and in the fifth we see the DE’s use a lot of non harmful spells like you all say but I have another point about it.

    At the Ministry in book 5 all but two; Harry and Hermione are purebloods as far as I’m aware and as Neville says later in the seventh, they hesistate to harm other purebloods (even those against them, there really aren’t enough pureblood left for the DE’S not to hesistate I would think). Hence Dolohov hits Hermione with a truly damaging spell.

    Second, at the ministry also, Lucius makes it clear that to get Harry to co-operate it would be easier to threaten his friends but not yet seriously harm them to get what they want. Bellatrix is clearly psychotic and not likely to listen to Lucius, so attacks them however.

    Also at the final battle, I always assumed that like Voldemort the DE’s were kept mostly back (but who would stop Bellatrix? and potentially Dolohov or even Fenrir who is seen maulling Lavender Brown), especially with the final scene where they are all with Voldemort when Harry turns up.

  34. Read book 6 final chapters again, zack31, Malfoy was unable to kill Dumbledore, it was Snape who had to do that job…

  35. @ Emma – Good point about the pureblood angle…

  36. I always thought that the most powerful weapon that Harry has is his power to love, but more than that, in order to defeat Voldemort, he had to suffer. I was impressed at the way Dudley and Harry are compared by Dumbledore in HFP. He says that while it appears that Harry was abused by Vernon and Pentunia when he was growing up, it is to their son Dudley that they have done the most damage by spoiling him. Dumbledore says in OOP that Harry could have been raised by a wizard family, but then he would have been raised as a celebrity; not as a “normal” boy. We have learned that Dumbledore had a sorrowful life, and he defeated Grindewald. I wonder, did his own suffering have more to do with his perspective on “The Greater Good?” Did Dumbledore think the only way to defeat Voldemort was to choose a man of suffering like himself?

  37. Emma, I don’t really think the pureblood angle works here for anyone but Neville and perhaps Luna. We know Harry’s a special case, but Hermione is Muggleborn and Ron/Ginny are blood traitors (which is “next to Mudblood” in Bella’s book). Only Neville comes form good pureblood stock, and we know Luna’s parents were wizards, though we don’t know their parentage, so she could be either pureblood or halfblood.

  38. @GinGin4- Dumbledore didn’t choose Harry, Voldemort (essentially) did as Dumbledore explained at the end of OotP. I do think Dumbledore chooses to direct Harry’s life as he does because of the mistake he (D) feels he made.

    re all the discussion of the Death Eaters and their seeming diminished ferocity- I’ve always had the feeling that it’s basically a way to keep the important people alive till the end. In an earlier book it was mentioned that many of the DE’s are feared nearly much as Voldemort himself but, as has been pointed out, they don’t seem all that fierce in ‘real life’. After all, this is a work of fiction and JKR had to keep a bunch of teenage unqualified wizards alive so they couldn’t just be brutal. Although, as has also been pointed out, Bellatrix is. (And- in my opinion, so is Fenrir.)

  39. While it’s true about the blood traitor angle, we find that Ginny at Hogwarts even though a blood traitor is only punished for disobedience they don’t go out of there way to kill her and at the DoM she only has a broken ankle.

    Secondly, until the moment when they realise that Ron isn’t actually ill at the Burrow they have left him to his illness, they have tried to simply ‘euthanase’ him for being a supporter of Harry. So despite being blood traitors, they are some what protected by their status of as pureblood’s.

    I would think they were doubly protected to a certain degree by the fact that as far as we can tell they are the only pureblood family with more than two children. To the other pureblood’s I’d think those genetics would be extremely useful and worth keeping alive if a little beat-up

  40. I absolutely adore the piece by frizzyhermione. The fact that Ron is not only holding Hermione, but also has his arm around Harry is so touching to me. It shows that as much as he loves Hermione, Harry is equally as important, and Ron would do anything to protect them both.

  41. Weasels are mustilidae, nothing like rodents at all, but I guess small furry things are all the same to Rowling and enough readers.

  42. Why was Harry unable to fully see into Voldemort’s mind in this chapter?

  43. Thanks for pointing out what River meant, the other three were obvious but somehow I’d missed that! Upon reconsidering this chapter I’m curious as to how Lee would know that Dean’s Muggle relatives were desperate for news (hopefully my newborn theory will find its way into a fic soon).

  44. Just to add to the discussion about the Death Eaters…

    I’ll make my point upfront, because the rest of this explains it in huge detail and is rather long (which I apologize for). Basically, I don’t think the DEs are any less powerful, they are just out of their element with the different aims or Voldemorts second rule and they are viewed as less terrifying because this new situation makes them look inept and therefore less scary.

    I feel as though in Voldemort’s first rule, the DEs were being very inefficiently fought against and most of their feared actions were sort of stealthy. They were feared not as much for their skill, but for but their disregard for rules and decency. I don’t think the pure blood angle works until the 7th book, because in Voldemort’s 1st reign a good deal of pure bloods (James Potter, the Longbottoms) are harmed (I’m aware of the fact that the Longbottoms aren’t killed, but the purpose of keeping the pure bloods alive is to keep the blood alive and I highly doubt that in their current states they’ll be reproducing and would not be by the DE’s standards ‘useful’).

    We never really hear of battles occurring in the first regime. Mostly we hear of people being killed unsuspecting in their own homes, which is much more terrifying a prospect than choosing to fight a battle knowing that you may die. The terror he causes the first time around was by being unpredictable and causing panic. It is also important to note that the killings were the focus of this regime, so the majority of those who died were killed because of direct orders to kill them. The DEs are more like hit men in this regime than anything else.

    The second regime is full of battles, which the DEs would be ill prepared for if they were used to very specific orders and details about who they are meant to kill. They are attempting to be soldiers, which many of them were not trained to be the first time around. Also, in this regime while some people are killed, most of the focus revolves around Voldemort regaining a body (which is not as simple as most of his tasks in the 1st regime and is quite a public happening) and finding the means to and succeeding in killing Harry. These clear goals give the Order and those with Anti-Voldemort leanings something clear to protect (resulting in battles and confusion for the DEs), while giving most of the wizarding community a certain degree of comfort (They will be less afraid of being killed if they know Voldemort’s focus lies elsewhere as long as they don’t get in his way).

    Point being. The focus of most of the battles (ie second regime) is to achieve a point other than killing. For example, the DoM fight is about the prophecy so the DEs are not focusing on harming the kids, but on not harming the prophecy. As most of those present are usually sent to do harm, they’re not exactly in their element trying to prevent harm. The purpose of the Battle of Hogwarts is to allow Voldemort to kill Harry with a secondary aim of killing few purebloods (and seriously damaging the future of “pure” wizardkind). Voldemort must know that to lure Harry out of the castle people must be suffering (in order for him to want to stop it) but there must still be hope for some to live (in order for him to sacrifice himself to ensure it). Therefore the DEs are probably instructed to fight and kill those who aren’t relevant to propagation (Tonks as a blood traitor and half blood and lupin as a werewolf) and to distract everyone from the fact that harry is leaving to sacrifice himself (which most of the people involved would not let him do).

    I will just restate the point from the beginning, so that it makes more sense after all those detials. Basically, I don’t think the DEs are any less powerful, they are just out of their element with the different aims or Voldemorts second rule and they are viewed as less terrifying because this new situation makes them look inept and therefore less scary.

  45. I wonder if the reason the DEs don’t fire Unforgivables all the time is because they simply *can’t*. They don’t have sufficient skill, or power, or intent, or determination…whatever. If Voldemort, one of the most powerful wizards of the age, still has to speak aloud the words “Avada Kedavra” to make the spell work (even with the Elder Wand), then I imagine your run-of-the-mill witch or wizard would be completely unable to perform it. There are other ways to kill a person, of course, (e.g. the red spell Molly used against Bellatrix), so simply because the DEs were able to murder loads of people doesn’t mean they are particularly powerful or clever.

  46. Elspethelf’s portrait absolutely took my breath away! Piercing green eyes aside, I just love how Harry’s hair seems almost grayish – a sure mark, indeed, of the many sufferings he has to endure and the emotional burden he’s carrying.

  47. ThoughtYouOughtToKnow- I love the point you made.
    Also, I think in the final battle, the reason most DEs might seem incompetent is because by now there are many new ones, and since they’re all new, they aren’t as trained or used to fighting.

  48. I just noticed the arch of words over Agathum’s charming portrait of Hermione. Does anyone know what the words are? The artist is from France, so I assume the language is French.

  49. I want to add something to my thoughts (WAY earlier in this thread) about Quiddich being a metaphor for the plot of the books. Twice in the books, we do see a team lose the game even though their seeker catches the snitch: in the World Cup in book 4, and in Ginny’s first game as seeker in book 5. That would have been possible in the war against Voldemort as well. Imagine if the war had dragged on for years and the Death Eaters had defeated most of their enemies, recruited more members, and established themselves securely as the rulers of the wizarding community in Britain. If Harry had managed then to destroy the last Horcrux and kill Voldemort, his side would still have lost. The Death Eaters might have struggled among themselves for supremacy, but they could have continued to reign without Voldemort.

  50. Billie, that’s an interesting comparison. On the flip side, if Harry had made the choice in King’s Cross to “go on,” assuming that somebody still defeated Voldemort in the ensuing battle (it was Voldemort versus the world by the time Harry’s choice to return had any influence on what happened), Voldemort would have caught the Snitch, in a sense, but still lost.

  51. This is the chapter where I’m completely annoyed with Hermione and her logical, rational thinking. It was her idea to find out what the symbol meant and now that she’s heard the story, she suddenly thinks it’s not important. And why? Because the story came from Xenophilius Lovegood. She does have narrow thinking – and for the most part, it serves her well and keeps her sensible. But it also limits her ability to see the magical side of magic. She’s a scientific mind who was thrust into a fantastical world.

  52. Josie, I hope your comments mean that you’re planning a Quiddich essay!

  53. What I love about the chapter is the taboo on Voldemort’s name. For six books I’ve been mentally slapping people over the illogical fear of a word, and suddenly it’s not illogical. I wonder now if something similar was around the first time Voldemort was powerful, which would certainly explain the fear of the name.

  54. Going back to when you were all discussing the Hallows (and which characters favoured a particular one.)

    It brings me back to the mirror of Erised (desire)
    in the philosophers stone, book 1.

    It is hardly surprising that Harry, (who’s greatest desire as shown in the mirror, was his dead parents,) chose the hallow that would “bring them back.”

    Then we have Ron.
    In the mirror he envisioned himself in a place of high power and valued above his peers. So he would want the wand..
    It makes me really curious as to what Hermione would have seen in the mirror?

  55. The most significant example of Harry’s “good and nearly always right” instincts that Lupin would have been aware of is in the famous Time Turning and rescue in the climax of Prisoner of Azkaban. Hermione had the Time Turner, and knew how to use it. But she had to ask what she and Harry were to do with it. Harry heard the statement of Dumbledore’s that they might have the opportunity to save two innocent lives. He figured out (by inductive, not deductive reasoning, which is Hermione’s strength) that they can first save Buckbeak from execution, and then use Buckbeak’s flying ability to rescue Sirius. He actually saved Sirius twice, first from the dementors by casting his Patronus successfully, for the first time and under great duress. This saved Hermione and himself, as well.

    Before all this, Harry asked Lupin for help in protection against dementors, and Lupin tried to teach him. It took a while, but Lupin saw potential in Harry to learn this spell. Remember, Harry was in his third year at Hogwarts during all this. He was 13.

    Yes, he obviously had developed a fighter’s instincts to act reflexively in an attack, by the time of the Battle of the Hall of Mysteries. He also, and earlier, had developed remarkable skills at inductive reasoning, remarkable that is for someone of his young age. And he could take latent talent as a spell caster and use it in ways that not only were effective, but helped rather than harmed others around him. As the use of Expelliarmus in Little Hangleton in Goblet of Fire, and in the chase of the Seven Potters at the beginning of this book. Lupin was the one to reprimand him for using a spell that made it possible to identify him as the real Potter. This is why they are ‘nearly’ always right. And of course, the most poignant was Harry’s reprimand that shamed Lupin to return to his wife and the baby they were expecting.

    Lupin has had many opportunities to coach Harry in his instincts, to witness Harry’s use of them, and to hear of other circumstances of them. Other than the rest of the trio, Lupin knew more about them at the time of the Potter Watch broadcast than anyone else who cared about Harry. It was a truly generous gesture on Lupin’s part to say that for Harry’s personal hearing. Hermione affirms it. Two of the three people Harry most trusted at the time say this and mean it. It makes this yet another moving scene in this book full of moments of high emotion.

  56. I have not read through all comments so if someone already mentioned this, I’m sorry ;)

    But I definitely agree with Billie! Death Eaters are just made to sound as if they are very skilled and smart bad guys, but the fact is that only a select few of them are. The others are just like Wormtail; wizards who fear Voldemort and the skilled Death Eaters, wizards who play it safe by joining them. They don’t possess a lot of magical skill and aren’t the smartest.

    That is why I think that they didn’t use unforgivable curses during the Battle at the Department of Mysteries. Doesn’t it require a lot of power and skill for someone to cast an unforgivable spell (just like it requires a lot of power and skill to cast a patronus)?? That would explain why some Death Eaters didn’t cast them and instead knew the best other spell they could come up with.

    They appear to be watered down in every book since we first heard of them. But like Harry (and the others like Lee, Abeforth, etc.) we are starting to see how they really are and change our opinions accordingly. It’s one of those things that I admire in J.K. Rowling, she understands human behavior very well and you can see this in her character development! She introduces the Death Eaters as these very fearful people who are very powerful and smart so that we, the reader, would fear them too. But now that they’re operating (and gathering more followers) again, people start to see how weak (and dumb) most of them actually are and thus react differently and start calling them names and such. So that’s why it seems like they are watered down.

    Again, if somebody already mentioned this… apologies ;)

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