The Sacking of Severus Snape

chapter thirty of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

McGonagall arrives and she, Harry, and Luna take care of the Carrows. Then McGonagall agrees to help secure the school, drives Snape out, and begins organizing an evacuation. Harry and Luna return to the Room of Requirement to find it packed with members of the D.A. and the Order, and as everyone leaves to fight, even Percy arrives. Harry is interrupted, though, by a vision of Voldemort standing at the gates of Hogwarts.

Minerva McGonagall, by TBranch

“You’re acting on Dumbledore’s orders?” [McGonagall] repeated with a look of dawning wonder. Then she drew herself up to her fullest height. “We shall secure the school against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named while you search for this – this object.”

(by TBranch)


Harry Christmas, Snape, by Patilda & Vizen

McGonagall… halted, raised her wand ready to duel, and said, “Who’s there?”
“It is I,” said a low voice. From behind a suit of armor stepped Severus Snape.

(by Patilda & Vizen)


In Action, by anguinea

For a split second Harry thought that Snape must crumple, unconscious, but the swiftness of his Shield Charm was such that McGonagall was thrown off balance.


Filius Flitwick, by White Elzora

Flitwick… pointed his wand through the smashed window and started muttering incantations of great complexity…. “The diadem of Ravenclaw?” squeaked Flitwick. “A little extra wisdom never goes amiss, Potter, but I hardly think it would be much use in this situation!


Do Your Duty! by TBranch

All along the corridor the statues and suits of armor jumped down from their plinths…. “Hogwarts is threatened!” shouted Professor McGonagall. “Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!”

(by TBranch)


Harry - A Hero, by Cambryn

“What first, Harry?” called George. “What’s going on?”
“Voldemort’s on his way…. they’re evacuating the younger kids and everyone’s meeting in the Great Hall to get organized. We’re fighting.”

(by Cambryn)


Ginny Wants to Fight with Everyone Else, but Molly Quite Adamantly Objects, by Drew Graham

“I can’t go home!” Ginny shouted, angry tears sparkling in her eyes. “My whole family’s here, I can’t stand waiting there alone and not knowing!”


Percy Weasley, by LMRourke

“I was an idiot, I was a pompous prat, I was a – a – “
“Ministry-loving, family-disowning, power-hungry moron,” said Fred.
Percy swallowed. “Yes, I was!”


Lord Voldemort, by LMRourke

The Room of Requirement vanished: He was looking through the high wrought-iron gates with winged boars on pillars at either side, looking through the dark grounds toward the castle, which was ablaze with lights…. He was possessed of that cold, cruel sense of purpose that preceded murder.


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

I’ve mentioned before my theory that McGonagall wouldn’t have been a member of the Order of the Phoenix were it not for the Order’s need to have one of their own directly supervising Harry at Hogwarts. But here she proves herself more than up to the challenge. After all, think of all the times Harry has been confronted by Order members this year: Molly, Lupin, Bill…. all wanting more information, all insisting that Harry misunderstood Dumbledore, that he shouldn’t be charting the course he’s chosen. McGonagall herself even confronted him about it immediately after Dumbledore’s death. Yet here, as soon as Harry mentions he’s acting on Dumbledore’s orders, McGonagall has heard quite enough – and based on this sentence alone, is prepared to evacuate Hogwarts and battle Voldemort to the death in its halls. It’s lucky for the Order that McGonagall was involved, and lucky for Harry that she liked him so much (and happened to be the one to show up besides!).

The Wizarding World

It almost never stops being fun to think about how crazy Harry looks to those around him as he searches for Voldemort. Here McGonagall shows up in Ravenclaw Tower in the middle of the night, and out of nowhere, there’s Harry Potter! And Luna Lovegood, who last anyone heard was in Death Eater captivity (and who wouldn’t be the first person you’d expect to be accompanying Harry under the best of circumstances)! No wonder McGonagall was so overwhelmed she “staggered backward and fell into a nearby chair.” How on earth did Harry get here? Or Luna? And what are they doing in Ravenclaw Tower? If I were in McGonagall’s shoes, personally, I’d be screaming out. “Stop. Stop. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE???”

Life at Hogwarts

Once McGonagall gets over her initial shock at seeing Harry and Luna, it’s funny that she doesn’t seem to betray any sense of wonder at where, exactly, they came from. And in fact, if you read closely, you’ll notice that she instructs the two of them to “return to your friends and bring them to the Great Hall” despite never having been told that any of said friends are nearby. Part of this is logical, of course; McGonagall surely assumes that Ron and Hermione are somewhere close (and she knows from news reports that they’re traveling with Harry). But if you think about it, I’d be willing to bet she has a pretty good idea of what’s going on right now. She knows, after all, that the D.A. was caught two years previously in the Room of Requirement; she also knows that most of the older students in her house have been mysteriously vanishing over the past couple of weeks. And while she likely doesn’t know how, surely she’s also worked out that they’re somehow communicating with each other on the sly. She’s smart enough to put all of this together in her head, and I’d bet that when she arrives in the Great Hall to find most of the Order and a whole collection of former students, she isn’t the least bit surprised.

The Boy Who Lived

When Harry used the Imperius Curse while breaking into Gringotts, I think many people reacted with slight disappointment, that such a good and noble and brave person would stoop to the level of using an Unforgivable Curse. However, at the same time, we understood: he was in a tough spot, he desperately needed the Horcrux, and frankly, he didn’t seem to have any other choice. Similarly, when he attempted the Cruciatus Curse on Bellatrix in the Ministry of Magic, he was fighting an evil person who had just killed someone he loved; who could blame him? Yet in this chapter, Harry breaks out an Unforgivable one more time, this time using the Cruciatus more successfully on Amycus Carrow, in a situation where it was frankly unnecessary. A simple Stunning Spell would have been more than sufficient.
In doing this, Harry of course joins a long line of leaders in history who have found it too tempting to stoop to the level of the evils they are fighting to eradicate. Nevertheless, his doing so – seemingly without a twinge of regret, and immediately complimented by McGonagall as “gallant” – disappointed a lot of people, including yours truly. There’s certainly an argument to be made for Amycus deserving it, but it’s a very rare moment that I simply wish Harry could have back. He’s never been perfect, especially in the heat of the moment. But I will never quite view Harry Potter the same way having read that moment in his life, and I can’t help but wonder, years later, how he views himself in light of it as well.

The Final Word

“Harry is not, and never has been, a saint. Like Snape, he is flawed and mortal. Harry’s faults are primarily anger and occasional arrogance. On this occasion, he is very angry and acts accordingly. He is also in an extreme situation, and attempting to defend somebody very good against a violent and murderous opponent. “–J.K. Rowling, July 2007

73 Responses to “The Sacking of Severus Snape”

  1. Wow Josie… the end is moving fast! I’m excited and sad at the same time to read thoughts about the last few chapters.

    I noticed one typo in the SYMNHN section… I think you mean “McGonagall herself” instead of “McGongall himself” unless I misunderstood.

    And to tag onto “The Boy Who Lived” section, I think what disappointed me just as much as Harry using the Cruciatus curse in this chapter was McGonagall using the Imperius curse. The use of this unforgivable curse also seemed completely unnecessary in this situation… she could have easily stunned Amycus again, removed the wands by hand and used a hovering charm to move the Carrows close together and bind them. This is a sad moment for the valiant Gryffindors :(

  2. Regarding The Boy Who Lived: Yup, Harry has his faults. I think that is part of the appeal of the series. His feet of clay are sturdy enough to accomplish great things. Yet, his failures of judgement when angry strike a responsive cord in us. (And that list of failures of judgement is a long list indeed.)

  3. Oh, I just noticed for the first time… after Percy appears in the ROR and apologizes to his family for being such a prat, it says that Mrs. Weasley “pushed Fred aside and pulled Percy into a strangling hug.” That seems to be the last moment Mrs. Weasley will have with Fred… oh dear, that’s so sad.

  4. Thanks for catching the typo, Andrea. Fixed now.

    Regarding pushing Fred aside: I noticed that too, I was looking today at Goblet of Fire where Fred says “Now, Mum, if the Hogwarts Express crashed tomorrow, and George and I died, how would you feel to know that the last thing we ever heard from you was an unfounded accusation?” and thinking how similar that was to this moment.

  5. Josie i have to disagree with you. The use of unforgivables in harry’s case seem justified considering it is Bellatrix,the carrows and in the Gringotts incident he didn’t have much time to think. I don’t think it tarnishes his Griffyndor image at all. still think your site is brilliant! Keep it coming.

  6. kluch, it’s not so much Harry’s Gryffindor image specifically that I think is tarnished, as just my view of him as a person. Using an Unforgivable on Amycus is a fairly Gryffindor thing to do, actually – reckless and impulsive, right? Whereas a Hufflepuff would have been appalled. I have a good deal of Hufflepuff in me so maybe that’s where my reaction is coming from….

  7. All of the drawings are just simply AMAZING. The sketch of Percy made me stare for a while, all that detail is beautiful…especially the eyes. Voldermort has never looked so malevolent, great picture!!!!!

    I think Kluch and Josie Kearns have good points over Harry’s use of the spell. I, personally, did not feel any sort of disappointment over Harry using it. The more i read through the posts, the more i thought that his use of it might be an omen of things to come later on, as well as showing that this return back to Hogwarts is nothing like his former years under Dumbledore.

    McGonagall is AMAZING in this chapter. Everything that Josie Kearns mentioned about her made absolute sense. Loved reading about her and how she went from being Harry’s teacher to the leader against Voldemort’s attack. She takes charge and keeps the students safe while helping the other teachers in forming some sort of resistance.

    Snape plays his role beautifully. He seems to be doing what is required of him on both sides. Snape is definitely interesting and intriguing to read about, especially in the next couple of chapters to come.

    Percy’s presence and the family reunion was very moving. It was great that he finally saw where his allegiance is after spending most of his life working on his ambitions.
    Voldemort being at Hogwart’s gates is a beautiful end to the chapter…right at the edge of a war.

  8. Two thoughts:

    This chapter, the artwork and the accompanying comments made me tear up a bit. We know what’s coming and we fear for Harry and his friends. We know this is the last time we’ll se or hear from a few of them. We know Harry has a pretty good idea of what the battle is going to be like, since he knows Voldemort so well and due to the connection between their minds; he is a man on a mission, a runaway train and nothing can stop him. However, what makes me emotional is the sheer bravery and enormous courage shown by Professor McGonnagall. It is obvious, as Josie said in The Wizarding World, that she must be shocked, confused and more than a little scared. She has enough experience of the world to know that this could be it, that she, or any number of teachers, students and other friends, could die any minute from now, yet she never wavers in her support of Harry (and Dumbledore).

    Re: Harry’s use of the Unforgivable curses, I don’t mind as much. I know it feels out of character for some, and it may well taint how Harry is seen from here on now. But, speaking from experience, I have also done a few things I’m not at all proud of (nothing like torturing people, but you know what I mean) and I wish I could undo. The truth is, the few times Harry succumbs to the temptation to use these curses is when he is under enormous pressure and terrible emotional stress AND he does not know what to do. Think about it: Crucio at the Ministry… he is emotional, hurt and angry, and he blames himself. Imperio at Gringotts… he is so nervous he hardly slept the night before and he has realized their plan does not consider a number of situations (Travers being there, goblins being warned, etc.) Crucio at Hogwarts… he is offended that McGonnagall is insulted in such a crude manner and he is desperate to find one more Horcrux because he knows that, whatever the outcome, this is when it all ends. On the other had, when he faces Voldemort in the end, despite the impossible strain he must be under, he is rather calm, and does not ressort to an unforgivable curse. He knows what to do, he knows what is going to happen: either he is right about the wand and he will live, or he is wrong and he will die.

    I imagine that once the heat of the battle and his emotions have cooled off, Harry would feel the same that many of us have felt when we have done bad things: regret. He would go back and forth between the “I didn’t know what else to do and this was really important” justification and the feeling that he could have found a better way. He would be afraid of having irreversibly changed who he is as a person, of having become “bad” (like he wonders in his conversation with Sirius in OotP). Eventually, he would come to terms with what he has done and moved on with his life, remembering what he has done, so that he doesn’t do it again.

    Sorry for the long post :)

  9. I consider myself a Hufflepuff personality and morals-wise, and I think Harry’s response to Minerva being spat it is awesome. ;D

  10. I’m with you, Sarah, and also Valeria – I think I’m probably in the Gryffindor house – so I see nothing wrong with Harry using the unforgiveable curses in these situations. It’s not as though he’s using them for fun – this is serious stuff! And he’s using them to go forward to the end he sees coming (although he doesn’t know the outcome yet). And I also find his response to someone he really respects and looks up to being spat at as awesome.

  11. Valeria: it was lovely reading through your post. Loved the thoughts on McGonagall

  12. Does anybody else gets a bit itchy when they read the dialogue between Molly and Ginny? I understand that you don’t want your child in a battle-zone, but honestly, all Molly’s children are there, and the only one she’s objecting to being there is Ginny.. I get that she’s underaged, but it also feels slightly sexist. Ginny has proven herself numerous times and she Nevilla and Luna took care of the DA last year, so why do people still perceive her as the vulnerable one?
    Or maybe I’m just getting itchy because it reminds me how protective (and unfair, comparing to the freedom they are giving my brother now at the same age) my parents were when I was 16/17… :P

  13. What I thought was a bit weird about the Crucio scene is the way it almost makes light of “needing to really mean it”, which was treated so seriously the last time he tried this curse after Sirius’s death. It’s not what Harry does that doesn’t sit right with me… I’ve never wanted him to be a total saint and I think he’s a slightly more interesting character if he does things that are questionable sometimes. It’s something about the way the scene is drawn that bothers me… the fact that his breaking point is so seemingly trivial. When compared with someone killing his godfather, McGonnagal being spat on seems like a weak reason. There’s the surrounding situation too, of course, which is very horrible and VERY stressful, but somehow in the way the scene’s written I don’t get the overt impression that this is a breaking point from all the surrounding stress.

    Or maybe it is. Maybe Harry’s reacting to how sad and horrible it is to see his beloved school so changed. Maybe it’s partly the stress of the last twelve hours and Carrow spitting on McGonnagal is simply the last straw. That would make sense, but is it implied?

    I suspect the triviality of it is partly the point. To indicate how the world has changed (this spell is now being taught at Hogwarts, remember), and also partly to make a point that such important moments are sometimes small, such as Harry’s grabbing those wands out of Draco’s hand in M. Manor. But even with these reasons for it be trivial, what still makes the scene “odd” for me is that it’s not just Harry’s reasons, it’s also the book that treats the whole thing trivially. There’s no indication this is a big deal.

  14. Good point about the picture, Edt, on the other hand maybe I’m wrong but I think Voldemort’s picture was recovered from OotP chapter 36 (and now in is place there’s a picture from Caladan). Voldemort has the silver shield he conjured to deflect a curse from Dumbledore.

  15. When I read that passage where the Unforgivables are used, I was actually kinda pleased that the spells used by Death Eaters were used back on them. In addition, I did not think any less of the characters, as I had always thought of magic as being amoral regardless of its origin – it’s like a weapon such as a firearm; it’s not the weapon itself, but what you intend to do with it. For murder? For defense? That’s how I see it.

  16. I’d also like to point out on the note about unforgiveables that previously Harry has been told that The Carrows have been using the Crucio as punishment for students during the school year and forcing them (the students) to use it on each other. I think Harry chooses that spell in small part because of that. i.e. a student does bad they get Crucioed, you insult a teacher that’s something a student would get punished for (e.g. Neville did) so here’s your punishment as per school rules

  17. Oh my goodness….things are starting to move fast! The first time I read this book (especially after the slow moving earlier chapters) I was thrilled to experience the ramped up pace of this chapter. All knew that the crescendo was starting and we would soon know how this exquisite journey would unfold and end. I love these books! I absolutely had no qualms when both Harry and Minerva used Unforgivable Curses. This was war…the final battle..the fight for existence. If there was anytime that a Unforgivable Curse was warranted…it is now. The Carrows were despicable enemies and needed to be silenced once and for all. At least they didn’t use the killing curse on them. Both Harry and Minerva proved they were true Griffyndors!

  18. Looking now at the way the story evolved, it was logical that Voldemort would return, at some point, to the lake to check the Horcrux. If Dumbledore had not drinked the potion it might have occurred to him to set a trap to Voldemort, just imagine the cave collapsing as soon as Voldemort reached the stone basin… That would not kill Voldemort, but would have made him lost time figuring out a way to get out of the cave.

  19. I’m looking forward to seeing this scene (and of course, the Battle) in the film. I wonder if the Ravenclaw common room will match that in my imagination? The duel between McGonagall and Snape will be awesome (assuming it’s not cut) and I know I will probably let out a small squeal of delight when the suits of armour come to life.

    I remember when I was reading this chapter for the first time. I was so excited about the impending battle that I had to re-read each line at least twice because I wasn’t properly taking them in!

  20. @ hazelwillow I think him spitting was the last straw. Harry has seen the state of Neville and I think he assumes (quite rightly in my opinion) that Neville is making out like it was no big deal. Even so it still sounds bad and in reality it was even worse than that. Harry has seen what the Carrows have done to his friends and wants to make them suffer a tiny proportion of what they made Neville et al. suffer. It jarred when I first read it but after considering the above I wouldn’t expect Harry to act in any other way. He is only human after all.

  21. I was disappointed in Harry’s use of unforgivables here, but agree with others that they had become so common (as someone pointed out, TAUGHT at Hogwarts) that they were no longer considered “unforgivable.” I just hope that after the war was over, they returned to that status.

  22. @ kim – I completely understand what you’re talking about concerning the “itchy” situation between Molly & Ginny. It’s true that Ginny is the youngest and most inexperienced of Molly’s children. But more than that, I don’t think it’s exactly “sexist,” but Ginny is Molly’s only daughter after a long line of boys… and in this situation it’s not hard to sympathize with Ron’s underlying perception that he is “least loved always, by the mother who craved a daugthter.”

    @ hazelwillow – Thanks for pinpointing why the use of the Unforgivable Curses seems so out of place here. I also never thought of Harry as perfect, but his comment after using the Cruciatus curse here does seem very flippant. I guess I wish Harry hadn’t “sunk” to the Carrows level in this situation, regardless of what curses they had been using to punish students. The “eye for an eye” mentality here seems to go against Harry’s nature (his “signature” spell was supposed to be “Expelliarmus” after all). And Harry seems so “noble” later when he uses Expelliarmus to defeat Voldemort… that stands in sharp contrast to this moment.

  23. Ozzie, since we have to wait until July for the movie, if you look at the new trailer from DH part 2, there’s two short scenes with statues and suits of armour.

  24. About the Life at Hogwarts section: I always assumed that Harry HAD told McGonnagal that there are friends nearby. After all, he proposed the passageway to the Hog’s Head, so he must have explained that it leads into the Room of Requirement and therefore it is also not so unlikely, that he mentioned that there are other students in there. But of course it is also likely that McGonnagal had already guessed where the missing students are…

  25. I always liked that line where McGonagall says to Harry “We teachers are good at magic too” or something to that effect.

  26. Everyone’s reactions to Harry’s Cruciatus are interesting. It seems I’m in the minority (at least among commentors) where I thought I wasn’t. I think hazelwillow’s assessment is brilliant. But I also stand by what I said on the page, that what bothers me most is that it’s completely unnecessary. Amycus is already in a compromised position, which is completely different from both Bellatrix and the people Harry Imperiused at Gringotts. And the commonplace, “no-big-deal” use of the Cruciatus curse is one of the hallmarks of the world Harry is working to defeat. He and we may think the Carrows “deserve” it, but the Carrows clearly believed their misbehaving students “deserved” it too. Why are any of us in a position to judge who deserves to be dehumanized to such a degree? What gives Harry the right, but not the Carrows? If a society is truly just, *nobody* should have that right, whether we think we’re in the right or not. It’s like people who try to prevent those they disagree with from spreading their views: a society with free speech gives you the right to say what you think, but it intrinsically also denies you the right to prevent other people from saying what they think, no matter how vehemently you might disagree with them (or how “evil” you might believe they truly are). We’re all human, and treating each other as such is what makes the just society that Harry is trying to fight for.

    (Sorry, political rant over….)

    Andrea and kim, I read the GInny scene the same way I read it when Molly kicked Ginny out of the kitchen at Grimmauld Place two years ago. She tried to keep *all* of her kids out but was overruled when it was pointed out that some were of age, and in the end she simply insisted on exercising control over what little she could. The same is true here: I believe she would send every one of her children out that door in a heartbeat, but she simply can’t: they’re of age and they can decide. So she protects the one that she has the power to protect. I think if Ron had been younger than Ginny, say, the scene could have played out exactly the same way with a son in place of the daughter.

  27. Considering all he’s been through it is still remarkable Harry doesn’t resort more often to Unforgivables. Voldemeort is known to be getting closer and closer, his murderous thoughts occassionally interjecting into Harry’s mind. That’s going to make you edgy and do things you wouldn’t be proud of later. Harry has always had a dark part to him when under emotional strain he taunts Dudley, he lashes out at Ron and Hermione all through the fifth book and I always felt there was a desire to hurt others there. It’s vindictive and cruel and just a little childish, exactly like casting Cruciatus because of an insult to a beloved teacher. Not that I think this makes him a worse person, it just makes him interesting. That desire to hurt when you are under stress is one I’ve felt on occasion myself. It’s nothing you are proud of, you certainly regret it later but it’s always there. It’s a question of control. After so little sleep and being under so much strain for so long I’m not suprised this side of him emerges for a little while at least.

  28. Well said LizB, that’s a good point.

  29. I’m not pleased with Harry using an Unforgiveable Curse, but he’s human, he’s not perfect. Like they always say, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire

  30. Thanks for the great discussion about Harry’s use of Unforgivables. And, Josie, I know so many readers that were disappointed with the fact that Harry used them. Although, humorously, I had one roommate practically squeal with glee because it “prove[d] Harry is no better than Draco.” :)

    And I’m sure I’ve said it more than once before, but I love Professor McGonagall. She’s such a fantastic character–I wish we could see more of her. I love TBranch’s artwork; the tartan is a nice touch. :)

  31. This website is so amazing, I thank you for it! I wish I could have found it sooner so I could write my research paper on Harry Potter. Your analysis has been very valuable and has helped me come up with my own questions and thoughts regarding the chapters and the various things you mention that I have never thought of. I would very much like to research these on my own. Maybe it’s not to late…I should ask my professor…anyway, Thank you so much for this wonderful website!

  32. Andrea, I agree with you about Ginny. Molly probably was resigned to the fact that she might lose some if not all of her sons in the battle, and she could not face losing Ginny, too.

  33. Harry using the cruciatus curse here is not as out of character as he might wish. It comes from the same place in him that made him blow up Aunt Marge in the third book. I would be more comfortable with it if it had seemed to bother him more.

  34. Harry’s use of the Cruciatus curse never bothered me. People had family and friends being slaughtered and tortured left and right, and the response always seemed to be hide, Stun, or do nothing. The “stay safe until Harry saves the world” strategy didn’t leave a lot of room for going around and picking off Death Eaters. It was nice to see someone just get ticked off and take it out on someone. (An even better example takes place several chapters later, of course).

  35. I have actually always had somewhat mixed feelings regarding Harry’s use of the Cruciatus, while leaning more towards the accepting side of the debate spectrum. I have always agreed with hazelwillow’s argument, but I would just like to add that Harry had only just heard that the Carrows were in charge of punishment, more importantly using the Cruciatus on the students and forcing other students to use them on each other. Harry’s Hogwarts, his home, his haven, has been destroyed by them and Snape (and Harry already tried to Crucio him a few times already without much success). Another important point that I think is often forgotten is that Amycus Carrow was the one who was attempting to Crucio Ginny at the first Battle of Hogwarts less than a year before, and I think if Harry is capable of holding a grudge against Snape for as long as he did (before he killed Dumbledore) Harry is perfectly capable of harboring a deep and total hatred of the monster who tried to torture, and most likely did torture throughout the year, the girl he would not only one day marry, but the girl who he loved enough to break his own heart and leave behind.
    Another thing, thank you so much Josie for starting this site! I only recently found it and I truly find it phenomenal. I always love to read comments on ideas I hadn’t noticed before and I truly adored your essays. Thank you so much. I’ll try to comment again before you finish the series!

  36. Josie, I think I’m with you here. Harry’s Cruciatus is not exactly out of character: it equates to taunting Dudley, “wanting to fight” Malfoy, blowing up Aunt Marge… etc. But it isn’t necessary: he could have Stunned and Disarmed the Carrows, using the same tactics he used in the Battle of the Seven Potters. And he shows no regret afterwards, and nor does McGonagall. The Carrows “deserve” it, but that is hardly the point. I wish JKR’s editor had checked with her whether this was really the type of hero she was trying to portray.

    I suspect this might be an attempt at imagery. As the final battle approaches, Harry is symbolically “crushing Satan underfoot”. (Satan is represented by a serpent, i.e. the Slytherins.) Most of JKR’s images are good. But this particular image, at this time and place, and presented in this manner, doesn’t quite work.

  37. At that point in time when Harry uses the Crucio spell, I don’t think he really has time to feel the regret he might otherwise, the last time he had done it (with Bellatrix at the Ministry) he had time afterwards, a break in the action to pause and think, that was wrong but he the action is moving so fast he doesn’t have time to think about his regret over the action, he has to move on to the next thing and the next. The whole episode is frantic up until that point when he’s about to take his long walk. I think he would regret it later but up till that point his use of the spells also bring him closer to understanding Dumbledore later; Dumbledore later regreted his actions but he did those things he did for the susposed greater good.

  38. Spoiler: I don’t know if it was the connection with Voldemort at the time that made Harry perform the Cruciatus curse, but on the next chapter Harry has another fury, this time with Crabbe because he tried to Kill Hermione, and the best thing that Harry uses to punish Crabbe is a Stunning spell.

  39. Jose Lopes, that’s a funny point that I hadn’t noticed.
    Spitting in the face of a beloved teacher = torture.
    Attempting to kill a best friend = stun.

    That’s a strange comparison. Amycus is “more evil,” but Harry knows Crabbe has been enjoying using the Cruciatus on fellow students just as much. And your explanation is a good one – at this moment Voldemort is discovering his Horcruxes are lost (and is in a very bad mood) but when Harry’s in the Room of Requirement, it’s just about the time that Death Eaters are penetrating Hogwarts (good mood).

  40. I can’t believe how thorough you are in your reading- it’s wonderful!

  41. I’ve said it before, but I agree wholeheartedly with Josie regarding the Cruciatus. I’ve never had a problem with anything Harry has done before – not his angsting in Book 5, not the Imperio in Gringotts (he was very hesitant, and had no other choice), not his attempted Crucio at the murderers of his father figures. But in this instance, his use of Crucio is despicable – he has barely interacted with Amycus, and the provocation was spitting at his teacher! It was not necessary in the slightest, and Harry has experienced Crucio and should really have thought twice about this. It showed that he really is no better than the Death Eaters in this respect. And this really bothers me: these curses are supposed to be unforgivable, not “unforgivable for bad guys only.”

    And I was even more frustrated with the treatment of Ginny – in my opinion, it is absolutely sexist. Ginny is 16 years old, led Dumbledore’s Army for half a year, has battled at Hogwarts a year ago and at the DoM two years ago. And yet, all the characters decide that it is inappropriate for her to fight in this battle. Why? Because somewhere along the way, Ginny went from a badass love interest and equal to Harry, to being a damsel in distress and a lover for Harry to come home to.

    I can understand Molly’s treatment of her, because as was mentioned, Molly is all about the mollycoddling. But when all the guys – including those only a year older than Ginny – nod their heads sanctimoniously and say that Ginny should wait for the grownups to fight, it makes my blood boil. At this same age, Harry was hunting Horcruxes alongside Dumbledore, and all the rest of them had already battled at Hogwarts and the DoM. Three years younger, Harry and Hermione had been charged by Dumbledore with rescuing Sirius Black. Four years younger, Harry and Ron had gone to the Chamber of Secrets, and five years previously had battled Quirrellmort. These guys really have some nerve to demand that Ginny sit this battle out.

    Now, on to the positives: McGonagall!!! I can’t even express how much I loved her in this chapter. Her duel with Snape, in my opinion, is the most epic of the series (maybe second only to Dumbledore versus Voldemort in DoM). And here, she proves herself a very worthy successor to Dumbledore, and reminds me of Dumbledore a lot. She is wise enough to trust Harry. She performs magic that we’re absolutely awed by (the knights!). She takes charge and mobilizes the school. And, like Dumbledore, she is ready to die just to help Harry on his way. And lastly, she does it all and has some great one-liners as well.

    In fact, McGonagall is really the only feminist character left in the last two books, whose very existence doesn’t seem to hinge on the actions of the man she loves (well, besides Luna, who’s generally upbeat regardless of other people). And I love TBranch’s drawings of her, they make her look so cool! Sorry for rambling on a bit, but I find this to be a very busy chapter! :)

  42. Re: McGonagall
    After reading the insightful post by Jose Lopes and Josie’s response, I think I’m actually more disappointed by McGonagall’s subsequent use of the Imperius curse. If Harry’s connection with Voldemort can be used to help explain his choice to use the Cruciatus curse on Amycus, then how should we explain McGonagall’s use of an Unforgivable curse? I realize that she didn’t make Amycus do anything terrible to hurt himself or others. But as hpboy13 said, these curses are “not unforgiveable for bad guys only.” McGonagall certainly had other options here.

  43. Josie, I agree with you about the Crucio. It was unnecessary, and as the scene is written, it was clearly a case of Harry acting in anger and “meaning it” (wanting to hurt Amycus, not simply stop him(.

    We are never shown Haeey reflecting back on his action in that scene, yet personally I think we are shown enough to believe he knows what he did is wrong and regrets it. Why? Because of what he does in the final chapter. He offers Voldemort, his worst enemy, a chance to surrender, and then in their final duel, uses a spell that is completely harmless and defensive. That, and hisa decision to give up the Elder Wand, recognizing it is a dagerous temptation to have such power.

  44. Regarding the difference between Harry’s response to Crabbe trying to kill Hermione and Carrow spitting at McGonagall, in the former situation I believe that Harry reacted with Stupefy because it was a more likely effective spell, used due to a direr situation. Carrow was being a nasty little *rse; Crabbe was attempting murder – as such, it makes perfect sense to me that with Crabbe, Harry’s first, instinctual response should be to neutralise rather than to humiliate. Furthermore, it’s documented that the UCs require a large amount of emotional effort to cast; faced with Hermione’s life being in danger, Harry wouldn’t have had the time to summon that level of effort, and is to be commended, where Crabbe is concerned, for putting practicality above righteous anger. Personally, I’m not disappointed at all with Harry using the Cruciatus Curse on Carrow in that moment; it isn’t rationally justifiable, but Harry’s gone through a lot at the hands of the Death Eaters, including witnessing murders of his friends and family, and his life is still in danger. I don’t applaud what he did to Carrow, but if it had happened in real life I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it either. I’m sure Harry would have resolved afterwards, when he’d had the chance to calm down, that it would be better if he didn’t get worked up enough again to Cruciate someone. However, “even the best wizards cannot always control their emotions”.

  45. I was personally slightly disappointed in Harry when he used the Cruciatus Curse but, speaking from prior experience, when youre that emotionally exhausted, sometimes its the minor things, rather than anything major, that makes you just snap.

    Having said that, I do very much like the point about Voldemort’s emotions playing into this.

  46. Sorry for the double post, but I would just like to add that I LOVE McGonagall in this chapter; she’s always been one of my favourite characters in the series but she pretty much owns in this chapter :).

  47. hpboy13, you put the finger on the right spot: Ginny get’s shifted as a character from damsel in distress to badass-equal-to-Harry, to damsel in distress again. I understand that she couldn’t have come with the Trio on horcrux-hunt, but at least make her an equal in the fight.
    Lucky for us, Ginny is way too stubborn to lay low during the battle of Hogwarts…^.^

  48. A few thoughts on Crucio. . .
    1) I think there’s a disconnect among a lot of HP fans between the name of the spell and its function. The Cruciatus curse is TORTURE, plain and simple. It is (magically) brutalizing another human being. It’s easier to accept what Harry did when you don’t think about what the spell actually does (or exactly what torture is). Things might look a little different if fans replaced the word “Crucio” with the word “torture”.

    2) There’s a lot of talk about Harry “not being perfect” or regretting his actions later. I would be completely behind this. . .if it played out in the text. The fact remains that at no time does Harry feel remorse or guilt. Neither Harry nor anyone else in Ravenclaw Tower seem to believe that Harry did anything wrong. The only indication that Harry was in the wrong, aside from the reader’s own moral/ethical beliefs, is Jo’s quote above.

    3) Concerning Harry’s Cruciatus moment (and even his Imperius moment), we’re clearly not meant to judge Harry negatively. Harry doesn’t and neither do any other characters who witnessed it. But, Harry’s wand is a multi-purpose tool; he has an arsenal of spells at his disposal. He CHOOSES to use Imperio and Crucio, when other spells(anything else) would have sufficed.
    I think Warren Lewis(above) is right about “[thinking] of magic as being amoral regardless of its origin”. At least that’s how the books present magic. Torture is bad when the bad guys use it. Torture is not necessarily good when Harry uses it, just morally neutral. Harry is a good person not matter what his choices are. Harry is a good person despite his choices.

    4) I’m also disappointed in Jo’s quote above: “Harry is not…a saint”. He may not be a saint, but he’s definitely supposed to be Christ-like.

  49. I’ve always liked McGonagall and this chapter just shows how badass and assertive she is. Definitely worthy of being the Hogwarts Deputy headmistress, Gryffindor headmistress, and member of the Order of the Phoenix!

  50. Andrea I think after all that McGonagall has been through in the last year her moral compas becoming skewed is also understandable. All year she’s had to face the fact that Dumbledore, someone she greatly admired and probably felt a bond of friendship with was killed by a man she must now take orders from. Not only that but she has always been portrayed as deeply concerned about those she teaches, she doesn’t demonstrate it openly always but I have always got the impression that protecting and helping those she is responsible for is paramount to her. She has had to sit back and watch those she’s watched grow up be tortured and encouraged to torture others at the hands of the Carrows. Her actions are also understandable, in times of war and let’s not forget that this is a war, people justify actions in their own heads they would never do otherwise.

    McGonagall has always been a favourite character of mine, and she remains so, but her use of the Imperius did trouble me. It made me truly wonder exactly what she’d been through to result in her performing that spell.

  51. We see once more, that McGonagall enjoys great respect from her students and the other staff, and so anyone, who assaults her, will pay for it instantly.

    Remember, that in Harrys 5th year 4 Aurors had stunned McGonagall and got severely beaten by Hagrid for it. And now Carrow had suffered the Cruciatus Curse for spitting at McGonagall.

  52. I agree wholeheartedly with MartinTenbones above, especially about the amorality of magic (I’m sure there are situations where even the killing curse would be used by a “good” person). Everyone’s said so much about this, but there is one thought I’d like to add: Would it have been much better if Harry had used a nasty, but not unforgivable, curse at Amycus? Sectumsempra perhaps? I think his use of a curse at all, nevermind unforgivable, is quite jarring here.

    I know there’s been discussion here before about the ineffectiveness of the Death Eaters, and it seems like the Carrows don’t make that much of a challenge either.

    The one thing I remember most vividly about reading this book is when I got to the part about McGonagall bringing the armor to life, I immediately started thinking of the “Substitutionary Locomotion” song from the end of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It gave me a much needed moment of hilarity!

  53. I have a theory. I think JK may have just wanted Harry to use the other unforgivable’s as a precursor to the final unforgivable. After all, it’s entirely possible that it was Harry who said Avada. In fact, after reading this, I think it has solidified my view of Harry saying Avada. He’s grown up a lot, he killed Voldemort, using an unforgivable or two is hardly something to get upset about, he killed someone, if you’re going to get upset about something, get upset about that.

  54. Ali, I think if you re-read the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort you’ll find it’s pretty clear Harry cast the Expelliarmus. Voldemort’s spell casts a “jet of green light,” for example, and the Elder Wand comes flying at Harry, “a master it would not kill” (meaning its owner almost certainly just tried to kill him). Also, if Harry cast the AK, that means Voldemort cast Expelliarmus, which would be pretty out of character for him, I think.

  55. LizB, I think you make some great points about McGonagall. Since McGonagall doesn’t have any family, I always got the impression that her students are like her own children to her. So just like how Molly is willing to kill Bellatrix to protect her students, McGonagall will do almost anything to protect her students. And I’ve never had a problem with Imperio here (or throughout the seventh book) because it seems like the only Unforgivable that is actually necessary to use in a time of war.

  56. I know the first time I read about Harry using crucio I was thrilled to be honest and still am. Sure it’s unforgivable but to me spitting in someones face is the ultimate insult. I can just picture Harry throwing off his cloak in a rage of fury and using that spell to make his point that you don’t mess with my teacher. McGonagall has been there for Harry. She got him on the quidditch team in his first year. Calmed him down after Umbridge and said she would do whatever she could to help Harry become an Auoror. McGonagall means a lot to Harry and seeing her insulted like that musta upset him greatly. I know I would be pissed if someone did that to one of my favorite teachers. The fact that McGonagall herself said thank you but I think you went overboard a little just for me was extreme but I think all that was happening plus the insult, which like I said in my opinion is the worst one a person can do, just made it easy for Harry to do. I think it was brilliant the way McGonagall used imperio to make the carrows tie themselves up and hand over their wands. To me it just made it so they wouldn’t be in the battle to come, which I don’t think they were mentioned but am not 100% sure

  57. Great chapter and analysis, and I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about the use of the Unforgivables. Definitely some things I’ve never thought about before.

    One other person mention this, but one of my absolute favorite lines in the entire series is “‘Our headmaster is taking a short break,’ said Professor McGonagall, pointing at the Snape-shaped hole in the window.” I died laughing at that part, just imagining exactly what a Snape-shaped hole would actually look like. Fantastic mental picture (at least for me, since I pictured a perfect outline of Snape running, hair and all.)

  58. MartinTenBones: Harry’s story is one of reality in a fantastical world: as such, we are not supposed to infer that everything he does is positive. Not everything anyone does in life is positive. As for the idea that Harry is supposed to be Christ-like: if this means that he is supposed to be “without sin”, then that is utter skrewtspit. Nobody is: that’s the point of the “without sin” story, for one thing. For me, Harry Potter is Harry Potter-like; life lessons can be inferred from what he does without any necessary reference to a man who probably did something similar in real life two millennia ago. Tafka: an essential distinction is between “Unforgivable”, an official term, and “unforgivable”, a philosophical concept. To the well-organised mind, nothing is unforgivable as long as the culprit is repentant and the victim willing to forgive. As for the Carrows, my view is that their defeat is not necessarily so much down to their ineptitude as to Harry’s newfound potency.

  59. rtozier, a Christ-figure does not need to be Christ-like. Jesus saves us from our sins; Harry only saves us from Lord Voldemort. He doesn’t need to be sinless to do that; he only needs to be not-Voldemort. And Harry is, in fact, a sinner, as Rowling clearly states in the quote above. I don’t for one moment believe that Harry is Jesus in the same sense that, say, Aslan is Jesus.

    Having said that, a convincing Christ-figure still has to be a hero who commands our respect. Harry usually achieves this because he is usually decent. But my trust faltered at the Cruciatus episode. The real point here is the one that you made yourself: nothing is unforgiveable if the culprit repents. What makes Harry’s use of the Cruciatus distasteful is that we see no evidence that he ever repents. Casting Cruciatus is such a drastic thing to do; it was really important that JKR show us Harry’s retrospective attitude to having done it. She didn’t. There is simply no hint whatsoever that Harry ever regretted it. His failure to repent is a far greater character-flaw than the simple fact that he did it.

  60. What I have noticed:what was Cho Chang doing in Ravenclaw’s Common Room? Maybe I have bad translation version(I’m from Poland),but in tird or fourth book was said that she is one year older than Harry.Harry’s now on senior year-shouldn’t she be anywhere else?

  61. Zuzanna, Cho Chang isn’t in the common room – she’s one of the D.A. members who comes into the Room of Requirement (through the Hog’s Head) after Harry, Ron, and Hermione are already there.

  62. Deviating from the “crucio” comments back to the treatment of Ginny, I don’t understand how anyone could *not* see her as a feminist character. Kim says she gets “shifted as a character from damsel in distress to badass-equal-to-Harry, to damsel in distress again” but don’t we see her defying her parents’ orders and jinxing DeathEaters (as Aberforth cheers her on!) just a few moments later? I think it’s only natural that her parents and brothers will feel protective of her and want to keep her from the fight. JK is probably drawing upon her own experiences as a woman, mother, and older sister when she writes those lines. Maybe it rankles a bit that Ginny (reluctantly) chooses to respect her parents enough to stay safe so that they have one less worry. But lets not forget that she runs out at the first opportunity to join the battle, and that cements her (in my opinion) as just as much of a bad-ass as she was when she was fighting with the DA – just as JK intended. As to hpboy suggesting McGonagall is “more feminist” somehow because she is fighting to defend Hogwarts and the students she loves instead of the man she loves… Well, personally, I think a key part of feminism is getting to fight for whatever you damn well please.

  63. After reading everyone’s comments on Harry’s use of the Cruciatus curse I can’t help but notice that a lot of the fans appear to be going through what Harry was when he learned that Albus Dumbledore was not perfect in every way. Can you imagine someone reading the biography of their hero, who was always the symbol against dark magic, learning their hero used the dark arts when he was 17?

  64. @David: A very good point. I think, however, that a lot of the disappointment is that we don’t read that Harry had remorse for his actions. Even Dumbledore gets that reprieve in the King’s Cross chapter. And while some assume that he would feel bad and later regret what he did, because it’s not printed/canon, it’s still a hot topic. :)

  65. I absolutely love this chapter! I missed Hogwarts so much throughout the seventh book; I was so glad to be back! I love getting to see the Heads of House using what they know best to protect the school. It very much reminded me of how they each set up a defense to protect the Sorcerer’s Stone so many years ago except this time it’s times 10!! And to think that even their combined efforts can’t keep out Voldemort indefinitely shows just how frighteningly powerful Voldemort is at this point!

  66. The last contact Ms. Weasley had with Fred was pushing him to the side to hug Percy, That’s so sad. I’ve always had some problems with the way Ms. Weasley does some things, and she’s always kinda annoyed me. I mean wanting to hold back all this information from Harry when just 2 years later it would be his job to kill Voldemort? It just seems crazy. And why did she care so much about Ginny, she was only a year younger than Ron and she didn’t even say a word about him fighting. It seems like with all her children fighting, the fact that she won’t let Ginny fight, though she’s proven herself to be a gifted wizard, aggravating.

  67. I wonder just how well Harry’s Cruciatus Curse worked, anyways, as, if Bellatrix is to be believed, righteous anger can’t work for long. …It is righteous anger, right?

  68. As for Harry and crucio. I was spat at once when I was a teen and I have to admit that I LOST IT despite my normally peaceable nature. That said, I also wince a bit when Harry responds with Crucio – it is in fact torture. I guess having magical abilities comes with great responsibility. The worst I could have given my aggressor was a painful punch (but had I a wand and crucio in my back pocket I can’t honestly say that I wouldn’t have used it).

    Imperious I believe is all about intent. Making someone hand you their wand and then stand in a corner is actually quite tame.

    As for Ginny becoming damsel in distress again. I think it would have been out of character for Molly to NOT put her foot down on Ginny joining the fight. As others have said, she was underage and so one child that Molly could control. But,*** SPOILER***, JKR did not just leave Ginny as damsel, no, Ginny joined the fight anyway – revealing her toughness. hehe. And I’m def not an apologist for Ginny. I fervently believe that she should have been given more screen time as it were, and that her relationship with Harry came out of nowhere. I did not read any blogs or anything other than the books until this website, so I wasn’t aware of the relationship discussions that were taking place.

    (Moderated for language)

  69. Hey Josie, I love reading your site. I don’t know if this has been mentioned already, but the suits of armor seem to bring me back to Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Have you heard any mention of JKR being a fan?

  70. I’m really sorry for not reading through all the comments; there’s just too many!
    However it’s a really interesting discussion about the Cruciatus curse. To be completely honest I haven’t even noticed before you pointed it out, Josie. I’m not sure of how I feel about it, but I think I forgive Harry for using it since he’s under such pressure here, and I think it is somewhat necessary to show the readers that he now is prepared to use the heavy arsenal… but still, the discussion around it is very interesting indeed, and perhaps Harry’s character would have benefited of not using that particular curse.

    Another thing I find interesting is the way the Ravenclaws get into their common room. Imagine having to just dash up there to fetch a book you’ve forgotten for class or something, and you get stuck on a question! That must be inconvenient :P Although, the questions asked seems to be the kind without clear answers, where you have to come up with the answer yourself. It’s not like the door asks what year the last goblin war was fought and you have to re-read your notes from Professor Binns’s class…

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there’s a typo in “The Wizarding World” section – I think the word “curcumstances” should be “circumstances”? :)

  71. Hey, there is quite a few comments. I will have to go over them later and I am sorry if somebody else already brought this up.

    About the Unforgivable curses;
    Harry is only a seventeen year old boy and no ordinary one at that.

    He actually has a peice of Voldemort in him, so I don’t think he should be judged too harshly.
    Besides, I’m not even sure the Imperious curse could really be considered “unforgivable” in all cases. It does seem different in tone to the Cruciatus (sorry if mis-spelled) and Avada Kadavra..

    I was not disappointed at all when Harry used the curses in the situation he is in.
    These are extreme times and very unusual circumstances. If he did not use these curses, we as a reader would of had less insight into the way these curses worked!

    Harry is far from a perfect saint and if he were perfect, he would not be nearly as entertaining to read about.

  72. I forgive Harry for his Crucio.
    He’s been going since 6 o’clock that morning; it’s now 11:30pm. A lot of that time he’s been going on adrenaline for most of it.
    As others have said, Voldy is also in a Very Bad Mood, so bad that Harry has to fight off visions frequently.
    The Carrows have been described as “worse than Umbridge” – and she gave people scars on their hands and ruled with an iron fist.
    I’m not even sure, despite what Harry says, if he even did it properly.
    I mean, doesn’t the Curse, Bellatrix-esque, make one feel as though they have thousands of white-hot needles jabbing them? Harry’s curse only makes Carrow scream once, then pass out…kind of like a knife swishing through the body *once*.
    So yeah, it’s horrible. Justified? Maybe not. Explainable? Most definitely.

  73. Regarding the Unforgivable Curses. I notice that nobody is wringing their hands over the use by both sides intentionally of the least forgivable of all, the Avada Kadavra. It is war. Usually nobody can defend killing someone. Harry knows what it means when a loved one is killed. We don’t question any of the DA or Order members killing Death Eater opponents. Which Harry never did, by the way, even in the final encounter.
    But Cruciatus was imposed on a Carrow, because of a gross insult to a respected teacher. It came in the heat of the moment, an immediate reaction to the insult. That same Carrow had encouraged students to punish each other with the same curse in the Dark Arts classes. And there is weeping and nashing of teeth among the fans over this one? For me, it’s the same war, whether one is killing, maiming or otherwise hurting opponents. If the Imperious Curse could be justified at Gringotts, why could this one not be as the battle has begun at Hogwarts?

    I don’t disagree with the fact that Harry lost his head, maybe could have done something else, but it was too late to use a Protego spell. Would it have been worse to have a Patronus stag butt the man out of the way as if he were a dementor? Or not as bad? Maybe Levicorpus and just leave him hanging there, till the blood runs to his head and he passes out? Is that harmelss, while Cruciatus is not? I am asking, I don’t know. There were limits to what Harry could do in response, and not responding would be impossible for a Gryffindor.

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