Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Magic/Avada Kedavra

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Magic
Avada Kedavra
Type Spell (Curse)
Features Kills instantly
First Appearance Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (though not identified until Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

Overview[edit]

Avada Kedavra, also known as the Killing Curse, kills a person instantaneously and without injury. There is no countercurse for it, and only one person, Harry Potter, has ever survived it. Along with the Imperius Curse and the Cruciatus Curse, the Killing Curse is considered to be one of the most terrible curses in the magical world, called the Unforgivable Curses; the use of any of the three on another human being is punishable by a life sentence in Azkaban.

Extended Description[edit]

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

The Avada Kedavra curse is recognizable by the flash of green light and the rushing noise emitted from the caster's wand. Along with the Cruciatus Curse and the Imperius Curse, Avada Kedavra is considered to be one of the most terrible curses in the magical world, called the Unforgivable Curses; the use of any of the three on another witch or wizard is punishable by a life sentence in Azkaban. Avada Kedavra is an Aramaic phrase that means "I will destroy as I speak." Whether the words were chosen to be similar to the Muggle mock incantation "abra cadabra" is uncertain, but seems likely. It is also known by most wizards as Lord Voldemort's signature curse.

The Killing Curse is used numerous times by "evil" wizards, and very occasionally by "good" wizards:

Analysis[edit]

The idea of causing death by a word is, perhaps, one of the ideas that makes one wish that magic actually existed, as the world would be, one supposes, much more civil if retribution for evil acts could be so quickly, easily, and finally applied. Of course, even in the Wizarding world, it is not so simple. From the outset, we have been told that the spell-caster's mindset is crucial to the operation of any spell, most notably with the Riddikulus spell used against Boggarts, and the Patronus spell used against Dementors. Additionally, Bellatrix Lestrange taunted Harry for his inability to cast a good Cruciatus curse during the battle at the Ministry. We imagine that in order to cast a Killing Curse that actually works, your mind must be filled with some emotion antithetical to your target. Whether that would be hatred, as required for the Cruciatus curse, or perhaps rage, which Voldemort seems to be so very good at, we do not know. A fair amount of mental power may also be required; it is possible that weaker wizards can't actually cast this spell.

Of course, the need for a specific mind set to cast the spell is not enough to prevent its being cast; the mind set can be learned. Hence the need to have use of the curse result in life imprisonment. This may seem a little harsh, given that there may be circumstances where the killing curse is your only option; but again, these are books written for children, and children need that reassurance that crimes will be punished.

Questions[edit]

Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

  1. How did Harry Potter alone survive the Avada Kedavra?
  2. Did Lord Voldemort survive the curse when it backfired on him, and what state of life did he come into if he did?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

It is perhaps important that Harry never uses this curse himself, despite using the other two Unforgivable Curses. Voldemort's demise is caused by his own use of the curse against Harry, and the rebound of that curse.