Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #24: The Controversial Points

As expected, the Harry Haters and more thoughtful critics found fault with Deathly Hallows, counter-cultural masterpiece and Christian fantasy magnus opus that it is. The sniping and complaints at some Catholic weBlogs friiends have sent me urls to has been especially disappointing, even mind-numbing.

What are the complaints about? How has Ms. Rowling failed this time to meet the standards of acceptable story-telling? Three points come immediately to mind. Please list and discuss the validity and reasoning of others you have seen this past week.

(1) Mrs. Weasley calls Bellatrix Lestrange a “BITCH.”

(2) Harry and other good guys use the Unforgiveable curses, “Imperio,””Crucio,” and “Avadra Kedavra.”

(3) Snape killed Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower in what amounts to a “Mercy Killing.”

Travis Prinzi raised and responded to the second point at Sword of Gryffindor and Amy Wellborn noted on her weBlog, in answer to RadTrad horror about Albus’ euthanasia and Rowling’s implicit endorsement of the “culture of death” (!) that Aragon’s death was essentially the same agony and acceptance of mortality. But that was St. J.R.R.

Please share your thoughts on these three points, other points you have seen or heard raised as objections, valid and invalid, and interesting discussion of controversial elements or critical failings of the book. I confess to being something like aghast that people are raising the reasons they don’t like the book before saying loudly and clearly how grateful they are that Ms. Rowling wrote these books and ended them as she did. I cannot think of any artist of the 21st Century that has created a book that has “baptized the imagination” and “instructed (in the virtues so profoundly), while delighting” us to laughter and tears, against a rip-tide of pablum and soul-corrosive gunk in reading.

But let’s have some discussion here anyway about things folks didn’t like about Deathly Hallows, even if it is too much like the tourists in Rome who complain about the Michaelangelo painting being so high up on the ceiling and the nudity of the David


  1. I do have one thing that I am surprised hasn’t been a controversy. In fact, it hasn’t even been brought up. Towards the beginning, when Ginny pulls Harry into her room for his birthday, did anyone else wonder where that scene was going if Ron hadn’t walked in on them? It did sort of seem that Ginny was about to give her virginity as a gift to him, didn’t it? I, personally, was bothered by it, but thought that others might be.

  2. I meant to write that I WASN’T bothered by it. Sorry for the typo.

  3. Stacie–
    well, I noticed the Ginny scene, too, and I admit it made me wince. I think that’s the wrong message to send to young girls–and young boys, of whom my son is one. I don’t want him to take this attitude toward girls and sex.

    I still think Molly’s line is a little lame, but I agre with you on the other points.

  4. Stacie, I have to admit that I never thought Ginny was going to do anything other than re-affirm her love and concern for Harry. He broke off the relationship in HBP because of his chilvarous intentions to protect her. I think she was genuinely wishing he knew how much she cared, but I din’t expect any hanky-panky in the crowded Weasley household with Molly and everone bustling around for the wedding. Even as it was, Ron busted in on the scene without as much as a knock. So, I really think we have to give credit to Ginny’s intentions as honorable and not necessarily involving risque behavior beyond re-establishing her relationship with Harry.

    I would have been profoundly astonished if the course you anticipated had been followed. Even the long held consummation of Ron and Hermione’s relationship was cemented by a kiss only! Much to Harry’s consternation at the timing. I didn’t gather from the reaction Harry had to that bit that he had any suspicion that Ginny had intended otherwise.

    Of course, Harry and Ron and Ginny and Hermione are teenagers. I’m not denying that they are very aware of sexuality and its concomittants. I just didn’t get the idea that JKR intended to suggest what you perceived. In fact, given the cynical descriptions of “snogging” and the eel imitations in HBP, I would have been truly surprised if JKR had gone that route.

    Just my thoughts.

  5. Sexual morality seems to have a higher priority amongst wizarding teens than in in the Muggle population, or perhaps it’s just our trio? I don’t think there’s been another book published in the last 50 years involving three kids who frequently vacation together during their teen years, then spend an unchaperoned, pressure-filled year in a single tent with nothing more happening than a couple of kisses and some comforting hand-holding while sleeping in separate sleeping bags.

  6. hambrick91 says

    In regards to Molly, I agree with the person earlier who said that if a psychopath was attacking my kid, I doubt the b-word would be the ONLY word out of my mouth…it emphasized the danger and the heat of the moment.

    I haven’t been able to make my mind up fully regarding the curses. My husband was finally able to get to that section last night, so I asked his take on it. You should know, BTW, that he is a soldier. His take was #1 Are the curses still unforgiveable, given that Voldemort has taken over the ministry? (Yes, ethically, undoubtedly, but legally?) If they are requiring students to practice Crucio on one another at Hogwarts, has the unforgiveable status been temporarily lifted? But more than that, #2 A situation of war involves different rules. For instance, in ordinary circumstances, if my husband drew his weapon and killed someone, he would be prosectued for murder–and should be. But in a battle, or a bodyguard situation where his chaplain is threatened (he is a chaplain’s assistant–part of his job is to protect the non-combatant chaplain assigned to him) if he kills someone, that person is a casualty of war, and my husband is not criminally liable. His personal take on the use of the curses is in a battlefield context. And after thinking about it, I agree. Lupin seems to make it plain that we’ve gone into a battle scenario when he tells Harry to at least stun if you’re not prepared to do worse.

    I don’t see what happened with DD and Snape as mercy killing. On the one hand, yes, DD says he prefers a quick death to a drawn out one, but that was also in context to the kind of death he’d recieve at, say, Bellatrix’s hand. Given the choice, I’D prefer Avada Kedavra to Bellatrix! I also see it in the context of protecting both Draco and Snape and furthering the cause towards winning the war against Voldemort. I have to say this part didn’t shock me at all; I’d thought since the ending of HBP that DD’s death must have been arranged between he and Snape well in advance, and that DD’s “Severus, please” on the tower was a plea for Snape to do what he’d earlier sworn to do.

    For what it’s worth…

  7. inked–I think that you are absolutely right about Ginny wanting to reaffirm her love for Harry. I don’t even think that she was necessarily intending to give away her virginity from the start or if that was definately where the scene was going. I also don’t think that Rowling would allow her book to go to that place. I do, however, perceive that maybe Ginny didn’t think things through before she invited Harry into the room and what was to be an affirmation of love excalated into what was described in the book as pretty intense making out. The emotions that they had been denying for eachother were finally being pushed to the surface by very intense and mortally dangerous situations. I think what was happening is similar to a military officer marrying a girl that he’s only dated a month knowing that he’s being shipped off to war a week later. The possibility of eternal earthly separation can sometimes push people to early expressions of love that under normal circumstances would happen much later in a relationship.

    Trish–I am not bothered by the scene mostly because within the unreigned passion is seen that Ginny and Harry are truly in love with eachother. I also think that Ron puts a pretty strong stamp of disapproval on the situation after he bursts into the room. He absolutely lets Harry know, in his own “Ron” way, that getting involved with eachother in that way would be emotionally detrimental and unfair to them both considering the challenges that were ahead. Harry then recognizes that he cannot fall victim to that temptation, lest it damage himself and the girl that he cares for most. I think that it can open a great dialogue between parent and child about appropriate displays of physical affection. It’s a great way of saying that it’s okay to show your physical love for someone, but whenever you get to the point where you can’t control your actions, even if it’s just when you’re kissing, you’ve gone too far.

  8. savingpeoplething says

    (1) Mrs. Weasley calls Bellatrix Lestrange a “BITCH.”

    As much as I don’t cuss, I actually thought Mrs. Weasley’s line was hilarious.
    Of ALL the people I thought would take Bellatrix out, she was NOWHERE even NEAR my list.
    It could have probably been a line with a little more decorum about it, but when I think about the context, I think it’d be hard to keep being polite, when one of yours sons has died, your friends are dying, and evil is all around you, trying to kill another one of your children.
    It was war. They had battled. People had died. And, in fact, Mrs. Weasley called Bellatrix what she was.

    It’s probably a little much for a children’s book, but I don’t know if I can’t fault Mrs. Weasley for what she said.
    After all, Jesus called the Pharisees out on their actions and was pretty harsh on them.

    (2) Harry and other good guys use the Unforgiveable curses, “Imperio,””Crucio,” and “Avadra Kedavra.”

    I actually had a problem with the Order members using the Unforgiveable Curses. It just seemed really hypocritical.
    I know it could be justified with “they had no other option”, but is that really an excuse?
    What separates the Order from the Death Eaters if they BOTH use those curses? There should be a difference.

    (3) Snape killed Dumbledore on the Astronomy Tower in what amounts to a “Mercy Killing.”

    I guess that’s what it was, a “Mercy Killing”, but in the end, I think it was all strategic. Dumbledore knew that if he was gone, Voldemort would feel overconfident and would underestimate Harry, which I think both had hands in his ultimate downfall.

    – Rebecca

  9. I don’t know if it is in the US version, but in the British version, Harry and Ron use the adjective “effing” a couple of times. I actually liked that – it gave me more of a feeling for them as normal teenagers.

  10. Molly using the word “bitch” made me wonder whether J K Rowling was influenced by that spectacular moment in the Film Alien 2 where Sigourney Weaver confronts the queen alien who has the little girl.

  11. I know this is late in the game, as they say, but regarding the third point, I think the moral issue is clouded by centering discussion on whether Snape’s action should be called a “mercy killing” or not. Call it what you will. The question I still ponder is whether Snape was right (morally speaking) to kill Dumbledore at all. The main points have been gone over fairly well above, so we don’t need to rehearse them, but I think it’s important to state that the good that came (even the “strategic” good) from Dumbledore’s death doesn’t clearly excuse or justify Snape (or even Dumbledore’s request).

    Having said that the moral issue is clouded by discussing whether we should call what happened a “mercy killing,” I’m now going to cloud the issue by discussing that. In asking Snape to kill him, Dumbledore does not refer to the curse that will eventually kill him, which is what one would expect him to want to be spared from by a “mercy killing.” Dumbledore wants to be spared being tortured by Greyback, et al. That certainly doesn’t seem to fall under the normal scope of the meaning of the phrase “mercy killing.”

  12. TheHarryinMe says

    Well, I think I have left one comment here in all the time I’ve had membership, but now’s good for another ripe attempt.

    To the first point, I can understand the language use. However, I have always found use of such language rather base and simple. There are many other ways to insult or express rage against someone, and I found Mrs. Weasley’s use of it kind of falling flat on its face. For the situation it fit, but it just seems to not fit in quite with how the story is written – I think the scene should have been slightly reworked to make it fit, as it was probably called for.

    To the second point, I can also understand it in context. I have to strongly disagree on its use, however. We learnt from Bellatrix in Order of the Phoenix that you couldn’t simply say the incantation – you must mean it. This mirrors what Barty Crouch Junior told us in Goblet of Fire as the impostor Moody during the Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson – Dark Curses require a powerful bit of magic behind them. In saying this I don’t doubt Harry’s ability to cast them in certain circumstances – I merely question how and when they were used.

    The argument that all is fair in war is baseless, as I see it. Would it have been acceptable for an Allied Nation in World War II to imprison German citizens of their countries and torture them just because the same was happening to German citizens who did not meet specific regulations? I would say not. I believe the same goes in warfare – simply because the enemy uses a tactic against you doesn’t make it acceptable for your use. The same goes for the Unforgivable Curses. It seems, from unmentioned experiences in the books, that the Imperious Curse is the easiest to perform, followed by the Cruciatus Curse, and the Killing Curse being the most difficult. We also know there is much more Dark Magic that wizards like Dumbledore are “too noble to use” – this suggests that the average wizard has the capability to perform one, two or all three of the Unforgivable Curses.

    So, Harry casts the easier of the two curses – no sweat, right? Wrong. As you mentioned in Finding God in Harry Potter, there is a difference between the magic the “good guys” use and the “bad guys” use. And many of the circumstances in Deathly Hallows called for such use by our heroes. Even the Bible states that people must go to war and fight for their country if ordered to by their king. This doesn’t mean, though, that killing as suddenly become “acceptable” – you will still suffer the spiritual implications of taking another life. Likewise, Harry will suffer the spiritual implications of using the Unforgivable Curses. I am bothered most by this because of the ease that Harry uses the curses. The situations called for extreme action, and these methods may have been the only solutions, but the ease of mind in which Harry performs the Imperious Curse disturbs me – taking away God-granted free-will is no laughing or spiritually pure matter. Likewise, with the Cruciatus Curse, Harry needed to mean it in order for it to inflict pain. Since he chose to lift it, the notion is that he had control over it (unlike in the Department of Mysteries, where it was a brief burst of “righteous anger”) is not unreasonable and calls into question Harry’s character. True, he is not the perfect hero and this exemplifies that point, but wanting to cause another such pain and having control over the timing clearly tells he has full control of it and his soul was possessed by enough evil to perform the curse properly.

    I think it was tasteless of Rowling, much like the language of Mrs. Weasley, to use such methods of storytelling, even though the story called for both methods to be used. This was simply a poor choice on Rowling’s behalf.

    As to the third point, I do not see it as a “mercy killing”. Dumbledore, in his own near-sightedness and foolishness, knew it was a Horcrux and knew there must be protection on it, but was so possessed with the thought of seeing his sister again that he withdrew caution for a moments comfort from an echo of the past. Not his wisest decision, to say the least. However, his death was imminent because of this instance, and Severus merely stopped the curse per request of Dumbledore. Likewise, Severus guessed at Voldemort’s intentions of personally having him kill Dumbledore, and Dumbledore wished Severus to remain a planted spy until the necessary time, which was with Nagini at the end of Deathly Hallows. In order to keep his loyalty to Voldemort secure amongst the other Death Eaters, he took a risk with the Unbreakable Vow – a risk Dumbledore had calculated for. So, I find no problem with Severus killing Dumbledore. It was called for and morally acceptable, as the alternative is having both Severus’s and Dumbledore’s souls in jeopardy, one for betraying the vow (a solemn oath, much as I would see as taking an oath to God) and the other for causing such a situation to arise through carelessness. Dumbledore was being the good, old Gryffindor noble.

    That’s all I have to say.

  13. I had a thought about point number 2. It’s probably wrong, but….Deathly Hallows is the first book in which Harry is, to me, a complete Christ symbol. In Mr. Granger’s book he explains what is technically wrong with each of the three unforgivable curses. For example, the imperius curse “supplants the principal gift of God to man, his free will”. Theoretically, couldn’t God take back this gift any time he wanted to? Also, couldn’t God decide to punish man at his discretion (the Cruciatus Curse)?
    So, my thinking is that if Harry were to truly represent Christ and God, he would gain not only the ability but also the right to use the unforgivable curses .
    Then again, that would only explain Harry, and not members of the Order.

  14. To my mind it’s the Voldemort part of Harry that allows Harry to perform these curses with such ease. That and Harry is filled with so much hatred towards Snape and Voldemort, his hatred for Snape being the fuel he needed that he didn’t have in five, where he still didn’t really seem to hate anyone… completely enough to do it. We’ve seen Harry attempt these curses, Cruciatus is particular in book 5 and 6 on Bellatrix and Snape. He’s had a temptation in year five and six and finally gave into it in his seventh year. Also like Barty Crouch, Harry has a strong belief in giving out justice. Not a bad thing in and of itself but when you begin to use any means of bringing about justice.. Ah. That is where it becomes wrong. Other things in the stories echo Harry’s skewed sense of justice, for example, when he suggest that Sirius should have his soul sucked out by the dementors… thinking that some people do deserve it. Lupin tries to correct him there. Harry never really received much correction for his moral decisions except by Snape and occasionally Dumbledore.

  15. I was not particularly shocked by the use of the “b” word from Molly, although it was a bit distracting as it felt like a bit of humor in an otherwise deadly serious scene. I don’t want to discount the scene, however, because I was thrilled that Molly was given that powerful moment in killing Bellatrix Lestrange. I have been very sad that in the HP novels, strong female characters are present but are usually made secondary or negligible (or villains).

    Regarding the Unforgiveable Curses and the murder of Dumbledore, I think that one of the best things that Rowling offers us is material that leads us to reflect on our own humanity. There are not easy or clear answers to any of these questions and I think Rowling is at her best when Harry’s inner monologue reflects on these issues (although this reflection is sadly lacking around the use of Unforgiveable Curses).

    All of the characters – though most often Harry – have to struggle to figure out what is right and wrong, and to have the strength to do what is right once they know it. We see human ambiguity in nearly all characters, even those Harry wants to revere. For example, Godric Gryffindor is accused of have stolen the famous sword. Dumbledore may have once been an advocate of wizard dominance.

    How can we draw neat lines between those who are good and those who are bad? We are forced to ask ourselves how far one can go in doing what is generally considered evil, with the intention to bring about what is good? When do we become what we hate?

    It is no surprise that Rowling doesn’t always answer these questions for us. The questions are more important.

  16. #1 – While I wasn’t offended, it just didn’t seem to fit Molly’s character. Aunt Marge on the other hand…..

    scatty – I, too, picked up on the “effing” term used liberally throughout the book. Kind of distracted me, since I don’t remember it being used before Book 7. True, it’s reality these days (I have a 17 year old daughter), but I still cringe when I hear it come out of her mouth!

    #2 – Didn’t mind the two Unforgivables being used. Was relieved, though, that the good guys didn’t resort to AK.

    #3 – I believe that JKR went to great lengths to make DD’s planned death “acceptable”. Remember, DD was on his last leg after drinking the cave potion and probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer any way. She didn’t finish him off while still powerful and whole. His arranged death with Snape served a greater purpose than simply having him avoid a painful death ala Fenrir or Bella.

    BTW – I don’t recall who first pointed this out, but it was very astute whoever notice that the AK that Snape cast upon DD did not seem to result in the same “death appearance” as other characters in the previous books. Other characters died with their eyes open, looks of surprises on their faces. Not so with DD. Congrats to whoever picked up on that one!

  17. Are the Unforgivables such because the Ministry declared them so, or has the Ministry so decreed them because they are inherently evil?

    There are other ways of killing by magic than AK; one could use Sectumsempra, or one could use Wingardium Leviosa to drive a knife into someone.

    There are other ways of torturing besides Cruciatus. One could use Aguamenti to waterboard someone, for example.

    There are other ways of coercing someone besides Imperio. Confundus, for example. So why those three?

    I think that Crucio and Imperio are malum in prohibendum; they are Unforgivable because the government has decreed them so. Not that they are necessarily right or good, or that it is OK to use them, but they are not as inherently wrong as Avanda Kevadra.

    The clue is in the language. The first two curses are in Latin, the language of law; the last is either Hebrew or Aramaic, the languages of the Bible, and thus of Faith. Man’s law vs. God’s Law.

  18. Elkhound, maybe that’s because the Unforgivable Curses always have the effect to kill, torture or enslave a person. That’s their sole purpose. The effect of the other spells depends on how somebody uses them. They aren’t inherently good or evil. With Aquamenti you could drown someone or save him from dying of thirst. You could stab someone with a knife or cut bread with it. But the Unforgivable Curses always dehumanise the victim to a certain extent.

  19. _________________________
    Elkhound Says:

    August 8th, 2007 at 8:47 am
    Are the Unforgivables such because the Ministry declared them so, or has the Ministry so decreed them because they are inherently evil?

    …I think that Crucio and Imperio are malum in prohibendum; they are Unforgivable because the government has decreed them so.

    I think you’re right on this point, especially as regards Imperio. The best I can say about Harry’s use of Crucio is that it was in angry response to a wrong done to someone else, McGonagall, rather than an offense against himself, and he didn’t maintain the curse in force for any length of time, as had been done by Bellatrix when she drove the Longbottoms mad, for example. This doesn’t make it all right, but I think it does offer a little bit of mitigation. He could have avoided the use of magic altogether and achieved almost exactly the same effect with a kick to the groin. Not commendable, not something you want held up as an example, but it was one swift, angry response, not a sustained infliction of pain for the extraction of information or the delectation of the inflicter.

    On the other hand, I find a lot to commend in Harry’s and McGonagall’s uses of Imperio. He could have Stupefied his “victim” in the tunnels of Gringotts, but instead he Imperio’d him– and sent him off to hide, thereby removing the danger to himself and putting his opponent into a place of safety as well. It is actually much more merciful than most of the alternatives he had available. Likewise, McGonagall used the spell to take the Carrows into custody, just as an Auror might, with no danger or injury either to herself (and by the way she clutches her chest, she may not be fully recovered from those Stunners she took to the chest in OOTP) or to the Carrows themselves. In the Muggle world, after all, it’s an offense worthy of a life sentence in some jurisdictions to kidnap someone– and kidnapping is also an affront to personal will and freedom– but it’s not an offense when a policeman puts the handcuffs on.

  20. Helen–
    Your example of kidnapping brings up another point. Didn’t Harry and Ron essentially kidnap Gilderoy Lockhart when they forced him to come with them in CoS? This is another one I’m having a little trouble with.

  21. says

    Stacie & Trish & lmf3b: I appreciate all your comments: you expanded on things I either did not see or took for granted. I did not get the impression that Ginny & Harry were on the road to the bed out of wedlock. I was putting it more into a “I love you, and always will, and I’m behind you and will be waiting for you” message. I especially appreciated the allusion to the necessity of Ron’s blunt talk with Harry. Thank you for sharing your discussion.

  22. says

    Oshove & Mark Windsor” I am currently preparing a short essay on HP and the Just War (Jus ad bellum) tradition. Bottom line: J.K. Rowling disagrees with Thomas & Augustine. My draft essay generally shies away from /jus in bello/, but I do think that Mark’s conclusion concerning the cruciatis curse is flawed, at least from a Lutheran perspective, which differentiates between behavior appropriate to “the kingdom of grace” and that appropriate to “the kingdom of law”.

    Re the Cruciatis curse. Both Robert Heinlein (Starship Troopers) and Gene Wolfe (The Book of the New Sun (trilogy)) have a different take on the infliction of pain as a punishment than is the first reaction in our culture.

  23. Maple and Dragon Heartstring says

    I hope I’m too late in joining this conversation. Let me first answer the three questions, and then expand upon the second one with something I’ve thought about for a week or so.

    1) Certainly, you can’t accuse Mrs. Weasley (or Rowling) of slander. If ever someone deserved to be called a “bitch”, it’s Bellatrix. I suppose the word could be considered out of place and unnecessary, but I think it worked as a war-cry accompaniment to Molly’s heretofore unseen dueling skills.

    Here’s something else no one has mentioned yet: Molly’s proclamation that Bellatrix would “never touch our family again”. Who’d Bellatrix touch? Ginny? Perhaps. Fred? Certainly the loss of her son to other Death Eaters fueled Molly’s rage towards Bellatrix, but Bellatrix didn’t kill him. No- she’s talking about Harry, who she loved like her own son and who she believed was dead. Bellatrix rather loudly laughed at Harry’s death just a few minutes before this, remember. Hell, with all that was going on, I’d call Bellatrix a lot more than “bitch” if I were in Mollywobbles’ shoes.

    3) I’m doing the “assisted suicide” topic next because it’s shorter and easier than the unforgivable curse controversy. Very simply- of course it’s an assisted suicide, and of course it’s justified.

    At that moment, on top of the highest tower, 4 things were happening:
    1) Dumbledore was sick, weak, and seemingly unable to defend himself.
    2) Draco was in grave danger of losing his soul.
    3) Snape had to not only fulfill his vow, but maintain his cover as a spy.
    4) And THIS is something not many people have pointed out- Harry was in very real danger. There were two brooms up on that tower, and at least a few Death Eaters knew Harry had an invisibility cloak. As Scrimgeour said later about the incident, he could “add two and two together”… and so could Voldemort’s “B-Team”.

    It’s easy to understand the silent (or perhaps legilimency-inspired) communication between Snape and Dumbledore: “Harry’s here. Get it over with, then get out before they find him”.

    Though it’s not a perfect analogy, I also see a similarity between Dumbledore and how Cato is presented in Dante’s Purgatorio. Not only was Cato, a pagan, given the distinct honor of making it to Purgatory (which means he’ll most certainly obtain Heaven at some point), but Cato had also committed suicide. Dante justified Cato’s action, and his placement in Purgatory, by calling it an “honorable suicide”. Cato killed himself, much like Saul, specifically to avoid falling to the hands of his enemies after losing a battle.

    Dumbledore had the same thought- a long, protected, messy death at the hands of Fenrir or the Carrows not only would have been a horrible way to bring about the immediately inevitable, but it would have destroyed morale even more than did his death at Snape’s hands. AND he saved Draco’s soul to boot.

    Now, on to #2, the Unforgivable Curse controversy.
    I agree with previous posters that in war, what was once unforgivable becomes sadly necessary. During a war, especially a war against something or someone that’s clearly evil, you have to compromise your own values to obtain an ultimate good.

    I reject moral equivalency (and I think it’s obvious that JKR does as well). There is a very clear difference between the allies bombing Dresden and Hitler bombing London. There is a difference between Harry imperiousing the goblin from Gringotts and Yaxley imperiousing Thicknese. The allies and Harry used an evil tactic to bring about an ultimate good in an imperfect world. Hitler and Voldemort used the same tactic to advance evil and terror in a world they helped make imperfect. It’s not really about the curse- it’s about your intentions.

    As for Harry using “crucio” on Carrow- I chalk that up to anger and vengeance. Harry’s not perfect. He’ll make mistakes and lose his temper. What’s important is that while Harry did get have a moment of perverse pleasure from using the curse, he did NOT continue using the curse and enter a realm that could be considered “sadistic” or “Bellatrix-esque”. The bad guys use “crucio” for perverse pleasure or torture. The good guys use it because they momentarily lose control of their emotions. There’s a very key difference.

    This brings me to something I’ve been considering ever since JKR revealed in a post-DH interview that Remus Lupin was killed by Antonin Dolohov. If you remember, this is the same Dolohov who killed Ron’s uncles (Molly’s brothers), the Prewetts. It’s also the same guy who damn near killed Hermione in the Dept. of Mysteries. And here we find him at the mercy of our three heroes in that crappy little cafe off Tottenham Court Road early in DH. Remember? He and Rowle tracked down Harry & Co. after Harry said “Voldemort”, which has just become jinxed. They fought, and Harry and Co. subdued the two Death Eaters. But then they couldn’t decide what to do with them.

    Now, call me a cold-hearted bastard, but I’d have started warming up my Avadra Kedavra. Sorry, but this IS a war, remember? Furthermore, Ron and Hermione are looking at a man who had a profoundly negative impact on both their lives. But in the end, the three wuss out and merely wipe away Dolohov’s memory. They don’t even take his wand, for goodness’ sake!

    What was the result of this show of mercy and compassion? Dolohov killed Lupin, the very man who wisely warned Harry that “the time for disarming is past”. It’s all about intentions. Would murdering Dolohov have been evil? Do ALL murders tear people’s souls? What about self-defense murders? Voldemort murdered Cedric Diggory… because. But our trio would have killed Dolohov in an effort to bring about an end to a war and save lives. Isn’t there a difference?

    Killing Dolohov might have saved Lupin’s life down the road. Does that make it justifiable, and, more pointedly- did they make an immoral decision by NOT killing or even incapacitating him?

    I’m interested to hear what other people have to say about my feelings on the Dolohov situation. I hope my post wasn’t too long and boring.

  24. hambrick91 says

    In regards to point #2, I’ve had another thought. So far, all the discussion I’ve seen on this says it was either right or wrong to use Unforgiveables.

    Again, my view is colored as a soldier’s wife. But I wonder, did they have an alternative? They are in battle, Death Eaters are shooting killing curses, and there are all these kids (yes they’re mostly “of age” but still pretty young–and a few younger kids, like Ginny, slipped through the cracks) around fighting with them, so the kids have to be protected, too.

    Is there a way other than Avada Kedavra to kill someone? Or is that the only spell? Though it’s not explicit, it is obvious “our side” killed a fair number of Death Eaters. Capturing them would have been pointless, since the Ministry was overrun by Voldemort. Following the point made earlier of “killing is wrong but allowing Evil to take hold is more wrong and you might have to kill to stop Evil,” I don’t see that they had any choice but to use the spells that would otherwise have been Unforgiveable. It was that or be killed themselves. And if they’d allowed themselves to be killed, Evil would have won the day.

    Yes, Harry’s purely vindictive use of them in one situation is absolutely wrong. But that situation highlighted both his youth and his anger. I agree with the others that his use of the simple “expelliarmus” in the final battle indicates he had risen above using them vindictively and was a beautiful, poignant and full-circle kind of way for Good to win the final battle.

    But the use of the Curses in other contexts–Mrs. Weasley taking out Bellatrix, for instance (though I don’t think it’s explicit on the point, she must have used Avada Kedavra), I think in the context of war and not letting Evil win, and protecting those around them, that the Order members had little choice.

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