Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Now I was re-reading the Harry Potter series for old times sake, getting to the final climax of the last book, when a line stood out to me: Professor Sprout talks about using mandrakes, a creature whose screech can kill a man. And that got me thinking: Using all the resources available in the wizarding world, just how easy would it be to win the Battle of Hogwarts? Well, lets find out.
First off, lets examine the killing curse. Why? Because at the heart of it, there’s nothing that explicitly states that Avada Kedavra is, strictly speaking, fatal. And I don’t mean the whole ‘boy who lived’ part, but the casting of the spell part. To quote the character that first introduces it:
“Avada Kedavra’s a curse that needs a powerful bit of magic behind it â€” you could all get your wands out and point them at me and say the words, and I doubt I’d get so much as a nosebleed.”
Now this is interesting, because it implies that the spell isn’t always fatal. After all, a bunch of kids could conceivably cast it and nothing would happen, implying that there was more to it than that. Now, the character says ‘a powerful bit of magic’, but how powerful? How common is the spell in the wizarding world? We see people like Voldermort can cast it, and the Aurors were given permission to use it, but beyond that we’re given little context. But is there something else hiding in the text, something we didn’t see coming?
Well, perhaps there is. For there are three Unforgivable Curses, of which Avada Kedavra is the worse. What of the second curse, the Cruciatus Curse. Harry Potter casts it twice, with the first time being a bit of a damp squib. Why? Well, to quote Bellatrix:
“You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain… to enjoy it… righteous anger won’t hurt me for long… I’ll show you how it is done, shall I? I’ll give you a lesson â€””
So clearly there needs to be some level of wanting the other person to suffer when it comes to this curse. Well, what if the Killing Curse works under the same logic? The torturing curse only works if you really want to cause the other person unbelievable pain. You have to mean it. Likewise, you have to really want to kill the person you’re fighting. So what if you don’t? What if you merely want to stun them, or stop them? Well, then the cure would do just that. It would stop, but it wouldn’t kill. But why is this spell better than the stunning spell, a spell that already exists? Well, because you can block a stunning spell, but you can’t block the Killing Curse. So if you use the Killing Curse in a manner that won’t kill the person, but merely incapacitate them, you have a much more powerful weapon. Given that it’s a one-hit KO that won’t kill, but will go through almost all their defences, you’re bound to have an easier time. You just have to not want to kill the other person. But that’s just one spell. What else do we have to work with?
Well, lets go back to the mandrakes. Their scream can kill anybody that hears it, so the logical thing to do would be to throw a mandrake into the middle of a battlefield. If you have time to prepare (and the staff of Hogwarts certainly do), you could easily give out earmuffs or cast spells to stop people from hearing anything. Then, when the invaders come, just chuck the mandrakes in front of them while they scream. Even if you didn’t want to kill, you could easily use baby mandrakes. Bottom line, the only way to stop it would be to block off your own hearing, which would just leave you vulnerable (or silence the plant, which requires enough focus to do so efficiently). But, a surprise attack with a mandrake will take out a lot of the enemy. But that’s just one section of the magical world. What else do we have?
Well, what about Transfiguration? The simple matter of turning one object into another object. Now we don’t get much in the way of explanation of what Transfiguration is, except that it usually involves turning a living object into an inanimate object. Moral conundrums aside, even a partial transfiguration is enough to slow your enemy down. If you turn your opponent into a dog, then they won’t be able to fight back in much the same way. It’ll slow them down enough that you can get the upper hand. Even if you’re only halfway through it, it’s still gonna shock the enemy for a few moments (how would you react suddenly being turned into half a dog?). But even then, there are two other sides of Transfiguration: Vanishment and Conjuration. Vanishment, well, makes things seemingly disappear into the ether (although in such a way that they should be able to come back if need be). Aim that at your enemy and they’re no longer going to be a threat. The flip-side is Conjuration, the art of making things appear, which is apparently even harder than making things vanish. Now the uses for this are somewhat endless, so lets not waste time talking about them here. But here we have two different styles of attack: Either create something that can used against your enemy (for example, a piece of furniture turns into a rabid dog, forcing your opponent to refocus) or turn your enemy into something you could potentially use. Failing that, sneak attack them and banish them, or their wands. Without that they’re history, and an easy enough prey to take on. So that’s two subjects. What about the others?
Well there’s charms, and Harry Potter already showed the benefit of using Wingardium Leviosa in the first book. And aside from the Stunning Hex, there’s little else that would be of much use. Having bats fly out of your opponents nose or turning their legs to jelly so they can’t stand up is somewhat useful, but the best way of winning a battle is stopping your enemy from attacking you. So to that effect, simply stunning them (or using the killing spell, as mentioned earlier) is pretty much a sure-fire way to win. As for potions… while there’s a lot there that could damage your opponent, since all of them requires getting your opponent to swallow it. There are probably potions you could take to boost your stats, so to speak (make you faster, stronger, aim better etc.), but that would require one to plan ahead of time. Plus there may be all sorts of complications that come with taking those potions that make it a bad idea in the long run.
So at the end of it all, how would someone win the battle of Hogwarts? Well, by using a non-lethal version of the killing curse, by using a certain plant to knock your enemies out, by changing them to something they’re not expecting (or distracting them in battle by changing something else) and using simple stunning spells with potions that boost up your power. Given that the teachers had no time to prepare for this, it’s not surprising they were caught off-guard. But a clever military general, given all this at his command, would have no doubt turned the tide of war easy enough.
So there you have it. My analysis of the Battle of Hogwarts. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.