Among the many reasons to love the Harry potter books is the wealth of minor characters filling the pages, from Harry’s classmates to Order members with bits and pieces. In this series of essays, we’ll explore the bad guys: Death Eaters.
One of the things Jo did masterfully in the Potter books personified the servants of Lord Voldemort. All too often in the genre, the Dark Lord’s minions are nameless, faceless henchmen who are scored out in every scene – calling them “one-dimensional characters” seems too generous because they aren’t really characters. . Harry potter Would lend itself well to the convention, given an already prominent role and the Death Eaters’ choice of fashion masks.
But that’s not what happened. Rather than facing off against “Death Eater # 7” and “Death Eater # 31”, Harry and his friends duel like Rookwood and Yaxley. I say this in a complimentary sense, but Death Eaters are one-dimensional characters – their motivations and stories aren’t too complex or well-developed, but they are characters rather than the literary equivalent of a CGI army.
Obviously, some Death Eaters transcend this – Lucius, Draco, Bellatrix, Pettigrew, Snape, and Crouch Jr. are all supporting characters in their own right with important roles to play in the story. But I’m interested in exploring beyond that, watching Death Eaters show up just for Death Eater battles and meetings. By carefully following the names that recur in these scenes, we can paint more complete images of these secondary Death Eaters.
The Battle of the Department of Mysteries
Throughout the upcoming Trials, we’ll be focusing on when the Death Eaters come together and see what we can glean from who was there and what happened to them. However, there was a battle where the legwork was already done for us.
In the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Lucius very helpfully pronounces the 12 names of the Death Eaters present. Armed with this, readers can find out who did what – and this work has already been done by Kendall Smiley in her seminal Lexicon essay: “The Battle of the Department of Mysteries: An Analysis of the Chase and Battle, June 1996.” “
I will borrow the nomenclature of this essay: Death Eaters who reintegrated into society between Vold War I and Vold War II are called the “Respectables”. Opposite them are the Azkaban Ten, who escape from Azkaban in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with great fanfare.
With my compliments to Kendall’s stagecoach, here is a brief summary of what is happening to the twelve Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries.
- Lucius Malfoy (Respectable) – Lead the expedition. He tries to get Harry’s prophecy in the death chamber. He is hit with a Jinx Impediment by Harry but shakes him up and briefly confronts Lupine.
- Macnair (Respectable) – Very goal-oriented, pursues Harry and prophecy even when the Order presents itself. He suffocates Harry when he brings Neville’s wand to his eye and is then knocked out by Harry.
- Avery (Respectable)
- Crabbe Sr. (Respectable) – Stunned by Hermione and turned into a babyhead. We’ll never see him again, so presumably that magic was impossible to reverse.
- Nott Sr. (Respectable) – Nott is hurt by the fall from the shelves of prophecy at the very beginning and does not actually participate in the battle. We will never see him again in this story, so presumably the injuries were serious. We also never check in with Theodore Nott after the battle, but his absence from Draco’s troop suggests that there may have been quite a story in the Nott family during Vold War II.
- Bellatrix (Azkaban Ten) – Among the four Death Eaters who pursued Ron, Ginny and Luna in the space room. Hunt the children to the Brain Room, then Harry to the Death Chamber. Defeat Tonks, Sirius, and Kingsley in one-on-one duels. He manages to escape after Dumbledore appears.
- Rodolphus (Azkaban Ten) – Among the four Death Eaters who pursued Ron, Ginny and Luna in the space room.
- Rabastan (Azkaban Ten) – Stunned by Harry in the Time Room but back for the Death Chamber battle.
- Dolohov (Azkaban Ten) – Silenced by Hermione, whom he strikes with a curse of purple flames in retaliation. He breaks Neville’s nose and wand with a kick. He is hit with a body binding spell by Harry in the study. But he’s back in the Death Chamber Battle where he duels Mad-Eye Moody. He demonstrates creative spells by hitting Neville with Tarantallegra and is busy pursuing the prophecy when Sirius begins to fight with him. In the middle of the duel, he is hit by another body curse from Harry.
- Rookwood (Azkaban Ten) – Kingsley duels in the Chamber of Death. He manages to hold on until Dumbledore arrives.
- Mulciber (Azkaban Dix)
- Jugson (???) – Hit with a body curse by Harry in the office but back for the Death Chamber battle.
It’s interesting to consider how proficient the different characters are at dueling – especially the fact that some of the Death Eaters look really rusty in this battle.
Death Eaters MVP
- Bellatrix – eliminates three members of the Order in one-on-one duels and escapes from Dumbledore.
- Dolohov – eliminates an Order member and a DA member, in addition to breaking Neville’s wand and nose.
No one else presents a very impressive performance. Voldemort can’t be very happy!
MVP Order / DA
- Harry – Stuns or binds four Death Eaters (Dolohov twice).
- Hermione – Silences Dolohov and stuns two Death Eaters.
- Sirius / Kingsley – each eliminates a Death Eater before being defeated by Bellatrix.
Due to the longevity of the Death Eater organization, there is an entire age group present at this battle. On the one hand, you have the young whippers who are in their mid-thirties like Avery. But there are also Death Eaters who have held the title for 40 years but who continue to break into government buildings to attack teenagers. To examine the latter, let’s focus on “Lord Voldemort’s Request,” the first chronological point where we meet.“those who call themselves – or at least rumor has it – Death Eaters” (RAP 444). For the historical context, the “request of Lord Voldemort” takes place during the winter of 1956-1957. (This is a matter of debate in the fandom. For my reasoning, look at Dumbledore: Life and lies, pages 178–79.)
Dumbledore mentions four of Voldemort “Devoted friends”/“Servants” in this scene : “Nott, Rosier, Mulciber, Dolohov” (RAP 444). It’s possible that some of them are part of a Death Eater dynasty, and we’ll explore that in future essays. But others are among the oldest Death Eaters still active.
There is no indication of any other Dolohovs in the series, so we might as well accept that this is Antonin Dolohov. This certainly makes Dolohov even more impressive, given that he is getting old as he vividly slashes teens with fiery curses. But if Dolohov hasn’t slowed down in years, Nott is.
The Nott Sr. of the 50s is certainly the same one who got injured in the Battle of DoM – Jo described him as a “Very old widower” on its website. It is also described as “a stooped figure in the shadow of Mr. Goyle” (GoF 651), enhancing the image of an elderly person. It might help explain why he was injured – his reflexes don’t have to be what they used to be. It seems that few Death Eaters take early retirement. As Sirius said, “It’s a life of service or death” (OotP 112).
Next stop: Part 2, where we dive into Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and see who showed up for Voldemort’s resurrection.
Part 3: The Battle of the Tower
Part 4: The Ten of Azkaban
Part 5: The Death Eaters of the “Deathly Hallows”
Part 6: The Battle of Hogwarts