Why did Harry never use a killing curse?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by xyzzy, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. xyzzy

    xyzzy Squib

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    Why did Harry never used a killing curse against his enemies? For example, in OotP when Bellatrix was escaping, he was very angry, I thought he will try to kill her, not just make her suffer. Another example is when Crabbe tried to kill Hermione in the Room of Requirement, why did he just used a stunning spell, he was in war, his enemies had killed a lot of allies and friends, he should shot to kill, the less enemies, the less danger. And in the final battle against Voldemort, he risked a lot using Expelliarmus, although he knew that he was the master of the Elder wand.
     
  2. Tempestuous Ocean

    Tempestuous Ocean Second Year

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    I don't understand some people's fascination with this trope. Harry didn't use the Killing Curse. So what? There are many other ways to kill someone with magic. Ways which are easier than casting an Unforgivable. You should remember that he didn't even properly cast the Cruciatus Curse.

    Maybe because he's not a soldier? I know some people think that learning a few spells makes you competent in the battlefield, but it doesn't. You have to know tactics, discipline and have an understanding of what's acceptable when you're in a war.

    In canon, Harry is not a trained soldier though. He is just a kid who is in a really, really bad situation. He has been through a lot, true, but most of them were just him trying to survive. And he had the strength to deal with his anger and rise above his enemies. Even if he was willing to kill someone, he wouldn't try to systematically kill the opposition to have fewer enemies.

    For the record, I'm also frustrated with canon's concept of war. It wasn't displayed well, and it felt more like terrorism than a war. There was what, only Battle of Hogwarts and a few guerilla attacks? I also think Harry should've been more involved in the war. But even if he were to kill, it would be in defense of others, not in revenge. It wouldn't fit his character otherwise.
     
  3. Goten Askil

    Goten Askil Slug Club Member

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    He doesn't want to cut his soul? He'd rather not be condemned to life in Azkaban? Or maybe he thinks it would be amazingly stupid to try a spell for the first time in a life-or-death situation, especially when he has been said that he was from powerful enough to cast it efficiently in the first place.

    Frankly, even without talking about morality or the fact that assassinating anyone is totally opposite to Harry's character, there are plenty of reasons not to use it.
     
  4. Distaly

    Distaly Fourth Year

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    A teenager who is NOT willing to kill, my god what is wrong with him?
     
  5. BTT

    BTT Death Eater

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    So Harry's not inclined to use the Curse that killed his parents? Wow, really? That's a huge shock.
     
  6. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    We talked about this occasionally, but it's by any means a more interesting discussion than the OP's, so why not.

    The initial thing to consider is a conventional war, why it happens, and why it happens the way it does. There are territorial/expansion wars, say, e.g. WWI & II, but more interesting is probably a civil war. There, you have two opposing factions, both of which want to rule a country. In order to be able to rule, you need two things: 1) The top-level command structure (government), but, crucially, also the ability to enforce the rule across the land. The latter is the reason for armed forces: Generally, not everyone will be inclined to follow you, so you need your own men making sure they do. You can rule where they are, and you can't rule where they are not.

    Obviously, it's the same for the other side, so both sides will seek to 1) control as much of the land as possible, 2) prevent the other side from doing exactly that. In practice, this means moving your troops, and preventing the other side's troops from moving. The former can only happen throughout territory you already control, so the obvious result is one or more font lines, where the two sides meet, and try to push back the respective other. As a refinement, we can also say that you move troops primarily by road, so front lines may reduce to important roads and towns where they meet. Recall, for instance, the maps of Syria: They look exactly like that, simply because most of the land is desert.

    Now let's magickify that. For HP in particular, an important restriction is gone: Physically controlling a territory is not a requirement for moving troops there -- you can apparate anywhere, anytime. The result is a collapse of front lines, simply because you can't ward off your territory that way. It's always possible just to apparate inside.

    But that means you need to rethink what "war" means. The objective to control the country remains, but it's at the same time more complicated and easier. Easier, because you can just ignore the territory, you don't need it, more complicated, because instead, you need to control all institutions and places independently. For HP, this reduces to
    • The Ministry
    • St. Mungo's
    • Diagon Alley
    • Hogsmeade
    • Hogwarts
    • Dragon reserves?
    ... and possibly the mixed settlements Godric's Hollow and Upper Flagley. Therefore, any "battles" that will be fought will be fought there, and almost by definition, it's going to look more like terrorism, because you only need a small amount of people to occupy e.g. the Ministry. And that's entirely leaving aside that there are only 10k, give or take, wizards in Britain, which downscales everything from the get-go, and no real "troops"; so no "battles", more skirmishes, and guerilla attacks/small insurgences during the occupation.

    And isn't that exactly what we see in Canon? First, the Ministry is occupied, which seems to give access to important things such as the Floo Network. And to keep control, there are guards at Diagon Alley, at Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. And the battle for liberation is fought in reverse, at Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, where the Death Eaters and the administration are defeated, and from there, they presumably moved to the Ministry, when Kingsley is declared interim Minister.

    So all in all, I'm inclined to give a lot of props to Rowling here. What she wrote makes coherent sense; in fact, the way Voldemort infiltrates the Ministry, as well as the scenes we have in Voldemort!Britain (Diagon Alley, Ministry, Hogsmeade), for me were the strongest, best parts of DH. I'd be very much interested in a story set alongside DH, just from the perspective of an average (pureblooded) wizard involved in Voldemort's plans, by her.

    If you want a conventional war, you need to do what e.g. The Phoenix and the Serpent did: Create a magical (plot-)device that nullifies magical travel, which brings you back to the situation described at the outset.


    As an aside, you might want to question what "control" means. The weakest part of DH (not coincidentally, IMO) is the ridiculous 7 Potters scheme to get Harry out of Privet Drive, because presumably, all routes are "blocked". I maintain that this is nonsense -- travel is forbidden by law, but as far as we can see, there is nothing physically stopping Harry from simply ignoring the law, and it also makes sense to ignore the law, given that it's clear that already Voldemort is pulling the strings.

    This shows a "control" problem -- every wizard unto himself is a force, armed, with the ability to travel anywhere, and you can't (physically) control them all. Hence, the need for spreading terror: Wizards and witches must stop themselves from acting up out of fear, because it's impossible to make sure every last entity (wizarding house) is following orders all the time.


    Edit: Obviously, the fact that most of the book is about Harry camping is a different issue. It makes sense from his perspective, but from a story-telling point of view, it's definitely underwhelming, I agree.
     
  7. Chengar Qordath

    Chengar Qordath The Final Pony Prestige

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    This is a really important point to remember. Harry's not a soldier, he's a kid who's in over his head. Deathly Hallows pretty much directly addresses this when Lupin tries to talk to Harry about how the conflict has gone past the point of using stunning and disarming spells, and Harry just refuses to listen. He doesn't want to cross the line into killing, even if the circumstances make that seem like the most reasonable course of action.

    Now, one could argue about whether they would prefer a more hardened Harry who accepts that war will require killing your opponents, but that's not the Harry we got in canon. Showing Harry going into child soldier territory probably would've pushed everything into a much darker direction that Rowling wanted for her books. One of the pretty consistent themes of HP is Harry trying to hold onto something resembling a normal childhood despite all the insanity around him, and his relative innocence when it comes to use of force is just one more example of this.
     
  8. Tempestuous Ocean

    Tempestuous Ocean Second Year

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    This was mostly what I meant to say. As you have explained, there is a war of sorts going on, and it makes sense that it is rather small-scale since the tools of the war are mostly magical. And Harry Potter Books was centered around the character Harry, so it makes sense that we see Harry's adventures only.

    But we didn't get to see the struggle a lot if the events didn't relate in any way to Harry. The escape of Death Eaters from Azkaban, the assassination of the Minister of Magic, racist politics inside the Ministry... These all happened off-screen. I know it makes some sort of sense that they were off-screen, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to read them happening. All those power plays, clever moves and duels... It is just- there are a lot of potentials there, and the books barely covered the surface.

    I was mostly satisfied with the way Rowling handled things when I first read the book. But then I read mostly clever characters, outsmarting their opponents rather than relying on luck. And I'm really obsessed with Worm for the past couple of months. So maybe that's why I find the Second War a bit lacking these days.
     
  9. AmerigoCorleone

    AmerigoCorleone Seventh Year

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    Except this isn't true. Remus Lupin chastised Harry for not killing Stan Stunpike, and Harry responded by saying that Stan was an innocent.

    Harry did, in fact, kill Death Eaters during the Battle of the Seven Potters.
     
  10. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Groundskeeper

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    The biggest problem with the canon "war" is that the sides don't make much sense. People like Malfoy pretty much control the ministry from book one, in book five that control is close enough absolute, and at that point people like Malfoy enter in open conflict -- against themselves?

    The concept of a civil war with HP magic is interesting, but for it to work you need to have clear goals for each side. As it is, canon baddies pretty much want power simply because that's what evil dudes do. And so the fights don't really have any real weight: why are the people on Voldermort's side so willing to throw themselves against the defenders of Hogwarts?
     
  11. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    I don't see this, simply on an empirical level. If you compare the world at book 5 and at book 7, it's fundamentally different. In book 5!world, Muggleborns may be disadvantaged, but they are a part of society. In book 7!world, it's literally Hitler including the next best thing to concentration camps.

    So it stands to reason that was what people like Lucius wanted, and couldn't achieve before. For obvious reasons, IMO: Dumbledore's political weight would have resisted the changes, as well as all the Ministry officials they cleaned out before they made their changes. Having infiltrated the Ministry to a degree that they then could dispose of the rest that stood in the way by force was crucial. That couldn't have happened in book 5.

    So I see a pretty clear objective, and it's the kind of Ministry -- and the kind of world -- we see glimpses of in DH (the Diagon Alley, Ministry chapters). That there is no need for a full scale civil war (and like I said, "war" isn't war), and most of it was a silent coup d'etat, is a different issue.

    In fact, I'd flip your assertion around: I'm not quite sure what the non-Voldemort side wanted. If there was unified opposition against all of the new language coming out of the Ministry, there could have been the usual reaction to coups unsupported by the majority: Strikes, physically detaining officials and preventing them from doing their work, invoking a counter-government to de-legitimise the official one, creating autonomous zones ...

    That all of this didn't happen (as far as we know), I'd pin on three things. First, there was no goal everyone not in favour of these kind of changes could rally behind and/or not enough people in fact were opposed to them. Second, there was no figurehead they could rally around, with Dumbledore gone and Harry AWOL, and Voldemort was smart to stay in the shadows, removing also the person to rally against. It was just another Ministry, with just another Minister. And third, you have to account for the imbalance in magical skill, since with Dumbledore's death, Voldemort was unmatched. If you consider open resistance, that will matter to you.

    The battle of Hogwarts provided the second, which created the first ("follow the Chosen One") and forced Voldemort out of the shadows. And suddenly, the resistance was there. Presumably, had Harry gone there sooner, it would have been a lot easier, or the coup might have failed altogether; but of course the issue were the Horcruxes, which kind of created a race against time.

    And that Voldemort's followers fought for the world they built at Hogwarts (they were the defenders, the attackers were the people in Hogwarts, it was a a counter-revolution) -- well, I don't think that is surprising? Or did I misunderstand you?
     
  12. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Groundskeeper

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    Sure, but are you honestly saying that the purebloods simply wanted to bully the muggleborn, and that running concentration camps was the _reason_ for the "revolution"? That being homicidal sociopaths was all there is to them?

    I mean, even the Nazis had a theory of a global conspiracy of Jews that they claimed was oppressing the "ordinary people", and you could in fact argue that Jews were generally better off than the average people and use that as evidence. And even then the Nazis had much broader platform than just genocide, and some of their policies actually made life better for some of the post-WWI germans (not that I'm in any way defending Nazis, they just make more sense than Voldemort - and doesn't that say something of Voldemort as a character...).

    In case of purebloods, it's about the elite starting a terror campaing for the right to hunt muggles. Which they could pretty much do anyway, as the ministry didn't care and/or was corrupt. Sure there was the claim that muggleborns were stealing magic, but if that was even a part of their genuine motivation, why was there no mention of that theory in the first six books?

    The canon civil war just makes no sense. It's literally just evil dudes doing evil things because they are evil. There's no attempt to expand on the reasoning behind Voldermort and Death Eaters, they are just a bunch of crazy people. And a bunch of crazy people is about as boring a villain as you can get.
     
  13. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

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    Yes. But the second doesn't follow.

    More precisely, I'm not saying that, that's what Voldemort is saying, and what his followers are rallying behind: That Muggleborns do not deserve magic, that they are polluting the magical blood -- or that there even don't exist Muggleborns as such, but that they stole their magic, and need to be exterminated, or "real" wizards will lack magic.

    That has nothing to do with being "homicidal sociopaths", it's the exact opposite. They aren't killing Muggleborns for shits and giggles (Bellatrix aside, maybe), they have a well-defined ideology they are implementing. That's why I considered the Voldemort!Britain impressions the best parts of the book, it was a chilling window into a totalitarian, ideology-driven state.

    I don't think Muggles were even mentioned. They aren't the point, they are literally irrelevant. I'm not sure where you got that from. Sirius' Aunt liked to hunt Muggles IIRC, but any of the usual suspects were always going on about Muggleborns, and how they weren't deserving of "privileges" such as an education, not Muggles.

    The fact that we don't hear about steal-magic theory until book 7 isn't that much of a stretch. Either it was a nutty fringe theory until Voldemort let loose the crazy, or it was invented specifically for the purpose of justifying their actions to and convince people who didn't share their ideology. Jews poison wells, refugees bring Ebola. That tactic is older than Jesus (almost).


    I dunno, all that was really obvious to me. Like, all the series is about blood purity, from the day Voldemort finds out he's just a halfblood, to Fudge, who always put too much stock in blood, to the Malfoys, who'd like a Hogwarts free of Muggleborns, to Slughorn, who's not racist, because I got a black friend, man (the blood equivalent), to the final result of that ideology, enabled by the latent blood-racism and too many people who just don't care: blood registers, Muggleborn purges, a totalitarian nightmare. Was your impression so different?
     
  14. arkkitehti

    arkkitehti Groundskeeper

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    Sure, no question about that. It's only the framing of the "war" that makes no sense.

    It would make some sense if DEs were sort of magical version of KKK formed after a previous civil war that increased the rights of muggleborns, but the situation with blood purity has literally been the same ever since Salazar left the other founders thousand years earlier.

    Like, maybe if there was some back story about Dumbledore being more active in his role as the "champion of muggleborns". For example if he forced some new legislation through, or made muggle studies compulsory in Hogwarts, or hailed Lily Potter as a hero, or even did something to the rampant bullying in Hogwarts. But none of that happened. It's just muggleborns being treated as second class citizens for a thousand years, and then Voldemort comes along and is like "hey, they don't have it bad enough". That just reads to me as lazy characterization.

    Of course HP canon is a children's story and black and white morality and uncomplicated villainy is expected, but that doesn't make it any less jarring.
     
  15. Faun

    Faun First Year

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    I read DH at 15, I don't think I would have wanted to read about a 17 year old going around killing people. My parents wouldn't have approved either.
    HP is a children's series. It was never meant for mature audience.
     
  16. Methos

    Methos Seventh Year

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    The above post is the main reason.
    In story reasons:
    Harry following what he precieves his mentor (Dumbledore) path
    In addition Harry comparing himself to Tom Riddle.

    Interesting premise might be:
    Hermione dies in battle shortly after the wedding, especially to a stunned enemy who was revived, it might be worthy to explore the effects it will have on Harry.
    I rarely see fics that involve Hermione dies and Harry needs to figure to where he go.
     
  17. ChosenOne

    ChosenOne Squib

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    What I liked was Remus telling Harry to cut it out with Expelliarmus and to do something else. Granted the kid doesn't listen but I found it funny that even Rowling thought he was a shitty wizard. I think it was the best when Remus blasted Harry across the room.
     
  18. CaptainFlowers

    CaptainFlowers Fourth Year DLP Supporter

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    This may not add to the discussion, but I always saw the war against Voldemort as a more terrorist/civil war affair.

    And it always amazed me that, as a terrorist-like organization, the Death Eaters never used Apparition fully when coupled with say, Fiendfyre.

    Imagine the havoc it would cause if someone teleported into Diagon Alley, unleashed some Fiendfyre (cursed that that's incredibly hard to dis-spell), and then just popped away to somewhere else.

    That sounds worse than any sort of bomb in my opinion.

    Once again, sorry for not really adding to the discussion.
     
  19. Erotic Adventures of S

    Erotic Adventures of S Denarii Host

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    Harry Potter magic is so epic that it can fuck the world in a day. Imperio a bunch of muggles and incite riots, get Obliviators out, imperio them, take over the ministry in a day.

    Imperio is the most over power curse ever. You can rule the world by proxie so easily. And it is supposedly really hard to detct and dispell.
     
  20. Dresden11

    Dresden11 Second Year

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    Yeah... but the death eaters never wanted to destroy Diagon Alley. They shopped their too after all. They targeted very specific individuals in Diagon Alley, but there was never any huge destruction within the alley. Actually, I think if you look into it, most of their real attacks were only upon individuals against them or their creed and against muggles. Most of the fanon of these massacres of large groups of random wizards doesn't seem to be supported in the books. At least thats how I remember it.
     
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