Fulfilling the Prophecy
By Torey Swink
Choosing to Fulfill the Prophecy
Although Harry accepts that he is destined to face Voldemort again for an ultimate battle to the end, Dumbledore cautions him, saying, “You are setting too much store by the prophecy!”24 Why would Dumbledore say such a thing? Is it wrong for Harry to trust in the prophecy? Whereas Harry needs to know about the prophecy and understand how it has affected his life, Dumbledore does not want Harry to allow the prophecy to make decisions for him. Despite the existence of the prophecy, Harry still has a certain degree of free choice. Dumbledore verbally prods Harry:“If Voldemort had never heard of the prophecy, would it have been fulfilled? Would it have meant anything? Of course not! Do you think that every prophecy in the Hall of Prophecy has been fulfilled?”
“But,” said Harry, bewildered, “but last year, you said one of us would have to kill the other—”
“Harry, Harry, only because Voldemort made a grave error and acted on Professor Trelawney’s words! …25
After Dumbledore explains how Voldemort’s own trust in the prophecy was a huge mistake, the conversation continues:“But, sir,” said Harry, making valiant efforts not to sound argumentative, “it all comes down to the same thing, doesn’t it? I’ve got to try and kill him, or—”
“Got to?” said Dumbledore. “Of course you’ve got to! But not because of the prophecy! Because you, yourself, will never rest until you’ve tried! We both know it!26
Harry’s choice to try and kill Voldemort is motivated by thoughts of “his mother, his father, […] Sirius [… and] Cedric Diggory” and of “all the terrible deeds he knew Lord Voldemort had done.” Unless Harry’s attitude drastically changes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he will “want him finished” and will “want to do it.” Dumbledore concurs:“Of course you would!” cried Dumbledore. “You see, the prophecy does not mean you have to do anything! But the prophecy caused Lord Voldemort to mark you as his equal…. In other words, you are free to choose your way, quite free to turn your back on the prophecy! But Voldemort continues to set store by the prophecy. He will continue to hunt you … which makes it certain, really, that—”
“That one of us is going to end up killing the other,” said Harry. “Yes.”
But he understood at last what Dumbledore had been trying to tell him. It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew—and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents—that there was all the difference in the world.27
Attitude is an important part of choice. And the above quotes underscore the importance of choice as a theme in the series. While one cannot always determine the options or choose the circumstances, Harry realizes that one always has a choice in how one will face life and death. By the end of book six, Harry is resolved to hunt down and destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes and to willingly face and destroy his enemy.
Whether because of the prophecy or in spite of it, the seventh Harry Potter book is certain to contain a showdown between Harry and Voldemort. Whereas Voldemort is motivated by the prophecy, Harry is motivated by love and the desire to rid the world of one who destroys lives and kills out of fear and selfish desires.
Unlike events in previous books, no one will come to save Harry Potter from Voldemort when they finally meet at the end of the seventh book. Nor will anyone prevent Harry from killing Voldemort if he is given the opportunity. That is not to say that Harry will not show mercy—something Voldemort has never done.
Unlike his ruthless opponent, Harry will not choose to use dark magic (i.e. the Avada Kedavra curse) but will vanquish the Dark Lord once and for all with the honorable arts and skills befitting a hero. Before this can happen, however, Harry must begin and complete a Horcrux hunt that will remove Voldemort’s protections and enable him to be killed—the ultimate form of vanquishing.
How Harry will do it is yet to be seen and nearly impossible to predict. Nonetheless, one should expect love and Harry’s friends to play a significant role in getting him into the arena and ultimately winning the match. What is certain is that killing Voldemort will change Harry and alter his future forever.
Decision or Destiny?
Should readers rely on Trelawney’s prophecy? If they heed Dumbledore, then they should be cautious and not be “setting too much store by the prophecy.” Instead, readers should choose to begin the final installment with open minds and be ready for multiple surprises. However, one should not be too surprised if the prophecy is actually fulfilled.
J.K. Rowling has said, “Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”28 The Harry Potter books are full of examples of characters making large and small choices with often surprising results. Harry’s decision of how and when to confront Voldemort bodes to be the climax of the series, and however he manages to defeat the Dark Lord, Harry will have faced his fate and fulfilled his destiny with dignity.
As J.K. Rowling writes the final chapters of the seventh and last Harry Potter book, she has the freedom to choose what her characters will do, who will die, and who will ultimately live to see another day. While it is the author’s prerogative to kill off her main character and ensure no authorized sequels are written beyond her seven books, it is doubtful that Rowling will choose such a tragic end for her beloved character. Instead, one expects Rowling to give Harry the happy ending he rightfully deserves—the opportunity to vanquish Lord Voldemort, to see the prophecy fulfilled, and to truly live a long and magical life with those whom he loves and calls friends.
1. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 841.
2. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 549.
3. Ibid., Official site, “What is the significance of Neville being…?”
4. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 510.
5. Ibid., “ ‘Cub reporter’ press conference.”
6. Ibid., Official Site, “The prophecy Harry hears in Dumbledore’s office suggests…?”
7. Ibid., Official Site, “What is the significance of Neville being…?”
8. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 842.
10. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 509.
12. Ibid., Official Site, “What is the significance of Neville being…?”
13. Anelli & Spartz, “TLC/MN interview Part Three.”
14. Rowling, Order of the Phoenix, 843–844.
15. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 509.
16. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 217.
17. Ibid., Prisoner of Azkaban, 237.
18. Ibid., 406–7.
19. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 262.
20. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 841.
21. Ibid., 844.
22. Webster’s New World Dictionary, s.v. “vanquish.”
23. Rowling, Half-Blood Prince, 511.
24. Ibid., 509.
25. Ibid., 510.
26. Ibid., 511.
27. Ibid., 512.
28. Ibid., Official Site, “What is the significance of Neville being…?”
Anelli, Melissa and Emerson Spartz. “The Leaky Cauldron and MN interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three,” The Leaky Cauldron, 16 July 2005. http://www.leakynews.com/#static:tlcinterviews/jkrhbp3.
J.K. Rowling Official Site. “FAQ: The prophecy Harry hears in Dumbledore’s office suggests to me that both he and Voldemort will have to die, is that true?” http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/faq_view.cfm?id=23 (accessed 11 November 2006).
J.K. Rowling Official Site. “FAQ: What is the significance of Neville being the other boy to whom the prophecy might have referred?” http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/faq_view.cfm?id=84 (accessed 11 November 2006).
Rowling, J.K. “Edinburgh ‘cub reporter’ press conference.” ITV, 16 July 2005. Transcript, Accio Quote. http://www.quick-quote-quill.org/articles/2005/0705-edinburgh-ITVcubreporters.htm.
———, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.
———, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000.
———, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005.
———, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003.
———, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.
———, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1998.
Webster’s New World Dictionary. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Press, 1986.