Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Fawkes
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character
|Red and gold plumage (except on burning day)
Overview[edit | edit source]
Role In The Books[edit | edit source]
Fawkes is not directly present, though it becomes apparent later that one of only two feathers he ever gave to Mr. Ollivander is the core of Harry Potter's wand, and the other one is the core of Lord Voldemort's wand.
We are introduced to Fawkes initially when Harry is called into Albus Dumbledore's office; Fawkes, looking very ill, is then at the end of his life and bursts into flame while Harry watches, appalled. This is Harry's first exposure to the phoenix; he doesn't realize that Fawkes will be reborn shortly from his own ashes.
In the climactic battle with the returning Tom Riddle, Fawkes appears in response to Harry's declaration of faithfulness to Dumbledore. Fawkes brings with him the Sorting Hat, and pecks the Basilisk's eyes out so that Harry will not be destroyed by them. When Harry takes an envenomed wound from the basilisk, Fawkes sheds tears on it and heals Harry. And finally, he lifts Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Professor Lockhart out of the Chamber of Secrets and returns them to safety.
Fawkes is not mentioned in this book; we assume that he is sitting on his perch in Professor Dumbledore's office, but Harry has no reason to visit Dumbledore's office during the course of the year.
Fawkes does not appear to directly play a significant role in this book. He appears briefly when Harry makes two visits to Dumbledore's office. During the second visit, which occurs after a confrontation between Harry and Voldemort accompanied by his Death Eaters, Fawkes heals Harry's injured leg with his tears.
Prior to this visit, Harry and Voldemort attempt to duel using their wands. Two spells - an Expelliarmus from Harry, and an Avada Kedavra from Voldemort - intercept each other in mid-flight, and an unusual effect occurs: Priori Incantatem. Harry and Voldemort are surrounded by a web of light strands, which is then accompanied by phoenix song - Harry recognizes this song as the same music that he heard in the Chamber of Secrets. It is not explicitly Fawkes' music, but it is clearly phoenix song.
The Priori Incantatem effect is explained by Dumbledore during Harry's second visit to his office; Harry and Voldemort's wand cores are phoenix feathers, both of which were given to Ollivander by Fawkes.
Dumbledore wakes Fawkes up so that he can be warned if anyone is approaching while Harry and the others are being sent to Number 12, Grimmauld Place. Fawkes delivers the message to Molly Weasley that Arthur Weasley is injured, provides a warning of Professor Umbridge's approach, and then delivers the message from Molly to Sirius Black and the Weasley children that Arthur is safe.
In the climactic battle at the Ministry, Fawkes saves Dumbledore from Voldemort's killing curse by swallowing the spell. This, of course, kills him, but he regenerates instantly as a chick. When Dumbledore returns to his office, the first thing he does is tenderly place Fawkes into the bed of ashes under his perch.
Fawkes is largely unseen this year. Although Harry makes many visits to Dumbledore's office, Fawkes is only mentioned in the narrative in passing.
Shortly after Dumbledore's death, Fawkes takes flight around Hogwarts, singing his music. The main characters clearly identify his music as a lament: eerie and beautiful, yet speaking of loss and despair. Later in the evening, Fawkes apparently departs, as the phoenix lament stops.
His location is not known at the end of Half-Blood Prince.
Fawkes is mentioned only in passing, in the discussion of how to destroy a Horcrux. Apparently, a Horcrux will mend itself if it can do so by ordinary magical means; one of the few things that can destroy it is Basilisk venom, because the only thing that can heal that is Phoenix tears, and the Phoenix is definitely not ordinary magic.
Strengths[edit | edit source]
His tears have healing powers.
He can carry immensely heavy loads.
He cannot die - If he sustains fatal wounds he will merely burst into flames and be reborn from the ashes.
He can teleport from one place to another instantly, regardless of magical enchantments that prevent Apparition/Disapparition. This is used very rarely; we only see it in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Dumbledore sends Fawkes on a number of errands following Harry's dream of the snake, and when Dumbledore escapes arrest.
Weaknesses[edit | edit source]
Relationships With Other Characters[edit | edit source]
"They make amazingly loyal pets." Fawkes is Dumbledore's pet, following instructions from him and assisting him in a number of ways. It appears Fawkes also extends this loyalty to Harry, so long as Dumbledore is alive, as Harry is loyal to Dumbledore.
Analysis[edit | edit source]
In Muggle mythos, witches and wizards tend to have animal familiars, much as Muggles have pets. Possibly the belief is that as we ascribe human-like characteristics to our pets, so must wizards; but with the advantage of magical powers, wizards may be able to enhance the characters of their companion animals to make them more helpful to their owners. We have seen earlier that Hogwarts allows bringing pets, to a limit of one; we see that all three of the principal characters have pets (Harry has Hedwig, Ron starts with Scabbers, then adopts Pigwidgeon, and Hermione has Crookshanks), and Neville has Trevor. We also have seen that Percy has Hermes, and Draco may have a pet eagle owl. It is not surprising, then, that Dumbledore would have a pet, and we could guess a fairly exotic one, given his age and stature, both in the story and in the Wizarding world. What better than a phoenix?
It is worth note, perhaps, that the various attributes ascribed to phoenixes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are not part of the Muggle myth. We do note that every attribute ascribed here to Fawkes is used in the story. It is uncertain whether Fawkes was planned to be in attendance at the duel at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, or whether he was added at the last minute, but it is to the author's credit that he seems organic to that battle.
We are told that Fawkes has only ever provided two of his feathers for wand cores. These wands are owned by Harry and Voldemort respectively. This "twin wand" issue will allow Harry to hold his own against Voldemort in the duel in the cemetery in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and will prove a major distraction to Voldemort in the final book.
Questions[edit | edit source]
- Phoenixes are immortal. The person to whom he was loyal (Dumbledore) passes at the end of book 6. Where is Fawkes now?
Greater Picture[edit | edit source]
The cycle of renewal that is the life of a Phoenix may symbolize the renewal that Dumbledore himself went through as a younger man, when he was forced to react to the way his youthful, idealistic plans had been subverted. In the final book, we will learn that Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald had considered overthrowing the Wizarding world's governing structure in favour of one that would allow wizards and Muggles to co-exist in full knowledge each of the other, with wizards ruling all "for the greater good". When Grindelwald perverted this idea into an excuse for dominating and destroying Muggle civilization in Europe, Dumbledore was eventually forced to duel his one-time best friend. This no doubt either caused his decision, or cemented an earlier resolve, to avoid leadership, including the post of Minister for Magic once offered to him.