Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #10: Beheadings

Each Harry Potter novel has featured characters who have been beheaded, nearly beheaded, or who are predicted to be beheaded. Ms. Rowling loves Tale of Two Cities, especially the ending, and a reader named “Reyhan” at predicted that Severus, if anyone, would play the Sydney Carton role and take it in the neck. What “beheadings” or neck deaths did you note in Deathly Hallows and were any on the Sydney Carton model?


  1. Fascinating! Well, Snape did take it in the neck, where Nagini bit him and he bled and was poisoned to death.

    We don’t know how Bathilda actually died, but Nagini came from her neck.

    Wormtail also was killed by being strangled by his own silver hand.


  2. Nagini was also beheaded, after harmeing the necks of others.

  3. Nagini met death through beheading also.

  4. I’m not sure why, but ever since the end of HBP, I have been sure that Snape would turn out to be good. My faith in this was sorely tested throughout most of DH. However, during the interlibrum, I became convinced that Snape would die a sacrifical death of some sort that would seal his identity as “Dumbledore’s Man” and make it possible for Harry to defeat LV. As a former student of British Lit, I am embarrassed to admit that I never read TOTC (having had to read “Hard Times” and “Bleak House” twice each pretty much Dickens’ed me out). In any case, I do have a cursory knowledge of the plot and agree that Snape’s character and manner of death is a definite parallel to Sydney Carton. In death, he also gives Harry the information he needs to defeat LV.

    BTW, there was one literal beheading in the book . . . Nagini, the snake horcrux. As far as other beheadings or “taking it in the neck (or head),” here is my count:

    George Weasley (loses an ear)
    Mad-Eye Moody (not sure exact manner of death, but his magical eye was removed from his head and placed in Umbridge’s office door)
    Bathilda Bagshot (Nagini comes out of her neck)
    Harry, Ron and Hermione (all physically injured to some degree by wearing the locket horcrux around their necks)
    Hermone (throat almost slit while in captivity at Mafoy Manor, blood is drawn)
    Wormtail (strangles himself after Harry reminds him of his life debt)
    Snape (bitten by Nagini in the neck)
    Neville Longbottom (Sorting Hat bursts into flame while on his head)
    Nagini (Neville beheads snake with Sword of Gryffindor — I guess it really belongs to Godric Gryffindor and not the Goblins after all)

    This is all off the top of my head as I’ve already lent my book to someone else.

    In addition, the statue and bust (head) of Rowena Ravenclaw figure prominently in the story (did anyone else catch that the old tiara in the ROR in HBP would become important?) At the time, it did not occur to me that the tiara would be one of the horcruxes, I thought it might turn out to be the tiara belonging to the Weasley’s Aunt Muriel. In any case, I knew that Harry would have to go back to that room and remember the tiara because JKR went into such detail about the hiding place of the Potions Textbook. I thought the textbook would need to be retrieved . . .

    I have many more observations to share, but they don’t belong in this thread. Will move on to the next point . . .


  5. hotochan says

    I also thought that Aunt Muriel’s tiara would be the horcrux .. as soon as it flashed in Harry’s head of the bust with the wig I remembed it from HBP .. In fact at the end of HBP, I furiously re-read all the other books looking for signs of the other horcruxes since I remembered that locket in the house of Black and was certain RAB was Regulus .. of course I totally overlooked the tiara .. but Hufflepuff’s cup which ended up in Gringotts was one I couldn’t find in any of the books .. prolly cos LV had Bellatrix lock it up ages ago.

    As to beheadings, I did like that she showed Sir Nicholas once more to direct Harry in his quest.

  6. Actually, I didn’t mean to imply that Snape would get beheaded like Sydney Carton. I meant that he might sacrifice himself to save the life of the person Lily loved, i.e. Harry, like Sydney Carton sacrificed himself to save the life of someone Lucy loved.

    This didn’t happen, of course, because Voldemort doesn’t believe in giving people the chance to sacrifice themselves. He does it for them.

    I didn’t think anyone would get beheaded. Imagine my surprise (and gross out) when Bathilda’s head pops off and Nagini comes out. Nagini’s subsequent beheading fits the strict definition too, although I was thinking of mammals rather than reptiles.

  7. korg20000bc says

    The Headless Hunt rode through Hogwarts in the last battle with heads under arms.

    Plenty of bodyless heads in the headmaster portraits.

    There also seemed to be many people who were inverted throughout the story- hanging upside down or falling head first.

    What’s the significance there?


  8. Matthew, I’ve got a new theory. And like all theories, it’s subject to evidence.

    I think JKR has started writing with an eye for how things will look for the camera, ie. more like a screenplay. It’s almost inevitable, after five of her books have been translated for the screen. The same thing happened to Michael Crichton.

    My point is, suspended bodies look impressive on camera.

  9. crookshanks says

    I think the whole “beheading” thread, starting with the post last week, has been a bit silly and an example of the extreme lengths to which HP readers will to to find arcane meanings and hints where none were intended. The only character in HPDH that lost its head was Nagini, and to make a connection between that and “A Tale of Two Cities” is – well, let’s just be polite and say “stretching it.”

    A previous poster asked, after reciting some far-fetched examples of “beheadings,” “What is the significance there?” The obvious answer is, there is none and never was.

    One of the things I like about Rowling is that her plots are not nearly as complicated as her readers anticipate they will be.

  10. korg20000bc says

    I was responding to the question in the post. Not trying to make a point.

    My question was what is the significance of the prevalence of inverted people throughout DH and much of the HP series.

    You say there is no significance and never was.

    Is there any other ideas?


  11. You ask about the significance of inverted people, Matthew.

    If the explanation that inverted people are interesting for shock effect as well as for the camera does not suffice, I have another.

    Have you ever heard of the Hanged Man? It’s a card of the Tarot.

    From Wikipedia:

    “The Hanged Man is a card of profound but veiled significance. Its symbolism points to divinity, linking it to the death of Christ in Christianity and the stories of Osiris (Egyptian mythology) and Mithras (Roman mythology). In all of these stories, the destruction of self brings life to humanity; on the card, these are symbolized respectively by the hanged man and the living tree from which he swings. Its relationship to the other cards usually involves personal loss for a greater gain.

    The Hanged Man is often associated with Odin, the primary god of the Norse Pantheon. Odin hung upside down from the world-tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days in order to gain knowledge of the runes, which the Norse cosmology regarded as the source and end of all mystery and all knowledge. The moment he glimpsed the runes, he died, but the knowledge of them was so powerful that he immediately returned to life. This interpretation highlights the necessity of undertaking acts of personal sacrifice in order to achieve one’s own higher spiritual good.”

    I’m not saying this is what JKR intended. But it’s certainly suggestive, isn’t it?

  12. korg20000bc says

    It’s certainly true that Rowling is taking imagry and myth from so many sources.

    Thanks for your replies. Good stuff for thought.


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