Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Bellatrix Lestrange
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black) is Sirius Black's cousin, and sister to Narcissa Malfoy and Andromeda Tonks, making her Nymphadora Tonks' aunt. Bellatrix is described as being taller than Harry, with thick, sleek, black hair, a thin mouth, dark, heavily lidded eyes, pale skin, and the Black family's patrician good looks and bearing. However, her features became somewhat hollowed out during her incarceration in Azkaban prison.
Bellatrix was presumably sorted into Slytherin House at Hogwarts. The first wand she is seen using is walnut and dragon heartstring. After her wand is captured in the final book, she procures another.
Role In The Books
Harry also witnesses her trial and conviction using Dumbledore's pensieve. Shortly after Lord Voldemort's disappearance, Bellatrix and three other young Death Eaters (her husband Rodolphus Lestrange, his brother Rabastan Lestrange, and Barty Crouch Jr.) attacked Aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom, torturing them with the Cruciatus Curse until they were rendered irreversibly insane. All four were sentenced to life in Azkaban Prison.
Several times while the cleaning is underway at Number 12, Grimmauld Place, Harry sees a Wizarding photo of Bellatrix. It seems she is among Kreacher's favorites, as, after retrieving her photo from the trash, he placed it centrally in his sleeping area.
Bellatrix escaped Azkaban prison in the mass breakout and rejoined Voldemort during Harry's fifth school year. She was with the Death Eaters at the Battle at the Ministry, and it was her deadly curse that killed Sirius Black. She escaped the battle, running for the Atrium, with Harry in hot pursuit. When Voldemort arrived at the Ministry, Bellatrix, trapped under a fallen statue, was the only Death Eater he rescued, though this may have been merely fortunate timing, as Bellatrix was in the Atrium when he appeared there, and Albus Dumbledore had already captured the other Death Eaters with an anti-Apparition charm.
Bellatrix accompanies her sister, Narcissa Malfoy, to Spinner’s End, where Severus Snape lives. Bellatrix had tried to dissuade Narcissa from going, and once there, both she and Snape agree that Narcissa should not discuss anything that Voldemort has told her. Bellatrix, distrusting Snape, poses a series of questions to him that seem solely designed to prove his disloyalty. Snape counters that the Dark Lord has already asked those same questions; as he is satisfied with Snape's answers, should Bellatrix not also be? He does, however, address all her concerns. Snape also explains that if he had killed Harry Potter, he would have lost Dumbledore's protection and would now be unable to act as Voldemort's spy.
With Bellatrix's suspicions at least temporarily quieted, Narcissa wants Snape to make an Unbreakable Vow to help her son, Draco perform Voldemort's task. Bellatrix, initially skeptical that Snape will comply, is surprised when he agrees. She performs the binding of the Vow.
We do not know if Bellatrix is one of the Death Eaters who invade Hogwarts later in the book — her presence is not mentioned.
Bellatrix first appears at Malfoy Manor, in council with Lord Voldemort and the other Death Eaters, though she is seated far from Voldemort. She presumably has lost his favour, partially due to the disastrous battle at the Ministry, as well being related to the disgraced Malfoy family, and also because her half-blood niece, Nymphadora Tonks, has married the werewolf Remus Lupin.
When Harry is moved from Privet Drive by the Order of the Phoenix, six members have disguised themselves as Harry decoys using Polyjuice potion. Ron, a decoy, is paired with Tonks, his protector. Bellatrix targets Tonks, and aunt and niece duel fiercely; Tonks and Ron escape uninjured. Meanwhile, when Harry first sees Andromeda Tonks at the safe house, he briefly mistakes her for her sister, Bellatrix.
When Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dean Thomas, and Griphook are captured and taken to Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix discovers they have the Sword of Gryffindor. Panicked, she halts Lucius Malfoy summoning Voldemort, wanting to authenticate the sword before alerting the Dark Lord, who she fears may fatally punish them if it is what it appears to be. Hermione, tortured by Bellatrix, insists the sword is only a replica. Knowing that goblins can detect a fake, Bellatrix has Draco fetch Griphook. Having been coached by Harry, Griphook claims this sword is merely a copy. Satisfied that the real sword is safe, Bellatrix rewards Fenrir Greyback by offering Hermione to him. Harry and Ron, having escaped their captors, burst in. Ron, with Wormtail's captured wand, Disarms Bellatrix, but she holds Hermione hostage with a knife, forcing Harry and Ron to relinquish their wands to Draco. Dobby, who has arrived to rescue Harry and the others, drops a crystal chandelier on Bellatrix, as Harry wrests the three wands away from Draco, tossing one to Ron. As the group Apparates to safety, Bellatrix throws her knife, striking Dobby, who dies soon after in Harry's arms.
Bellatrix's extreme reaction to seeing the Sword of Gryffindor convinces Harry that she feared it had been stolen from her Gringotts vault, thus leading him to suspect that a Horcrux may also be hidden there. When the Trio break into Gringotts Bank to retrieve the Cup Horcrux, Hermione has assumed Bellatrix's appearance with Polyjuice potion, and is wielding her captured wand, though it performs poorly for her.
Bellatrix is present when Voldemort receives word that her Gringotts vault was breached and the Cup Horcrux stolen. She and Lucius Malfoy barely escape Voldemort's murderous rage upon hearing the news.
When Harry views Snape's memories in Dumbledore's Pensieve, one scene shows Dumbledore shortly after the Ring Horcrux destroyed his hand. Snape revived him, and contained the curse, but has informed Dumbledore that it is unstoppable and he only has about one year left to live. Dumbledore, knowing Draco Malfoy was tasked by Voldemort to murder him, seeks Snape's promise that Snape will kill him in Draco's stead. Snape demurs, but Dumbledore insists he prefers Snape rather than a Death Eater, such as Greyback or Bellatrix, who enjoy taunting their victims.
Harry, upon learning he carries Voldemort's soul shard, determines he must be killed by Voldemort before Voldemort can be slain. When they meet in the Forbidden Forest, Bellatrix is beside Voldemort, offering comfort. After Harry is almost fatally cursed and returns from the King's Cross simulacrum, he hears Bellatrix attempting to resuscitate Voldemort, who apparently fell when Harry did; Voldemort brusquely pushes her away.
Bellatrix is killed in the Hogwarts battle by an enraged Molly Weasley, presumably with the Killing Curse or combined defensive charms, in a duel triggered by one of Bellatrix's lethal curses nearly striking Ginny Weasley. Furious over losing his staunchest supporter, Voldemort attempts to fatally curse Molly in retaliation, but Harry's Shield charm blocks him.
Bellatrix is incredibly powerful, and appears proficient in many magical branches, foremost the Dark Arts. She never hesitates to use the Unforgivable Curses, seeing them as being the most powerful. Albus Dumbledore characterizes her as "... dear Bellatrix, who likes to play with her food before she eats it." This, along with how she abuses Neville Longbottom at the Department of Mysteries, clearly illustrates Bellatrix's sadistic and positively evil nature, as she willingly tortures, or even kills, her opponents. She is so single-minded in her aims that she counts family, such as her cousin Sirius Black, her niece, Nymphadora Tonks, and even her sister, Andromeda, among her enemies, and attempts to kill Tonks and Sirius, succeeding in Sirius' case (and possibly in Tonks' as well, the book does not say who was actually responsible for Tonks' death). While even Voldemort decides against killing a Muggle boy as "unnecessary, quite unnecessary" when it is (the occasion happens before the killing of the Potters and is reported in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), we see Bellatrix Lestrange throw the Killing Curse at a merely suspicious bush, without caring whether the noise comes from a fox (as was actually the case), a Muggle or wizard, or the Auror she might have suspected to be there (in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). In many ways it is a fearsome strength, as she will do whatever is necessary to gain Voldemort's favour and help him conquer the Wizarding realm.
She is obsessively devoted to and in love with Voldemort, putting him above anything else, including her family; this obsession consumes everything in her life. Bellatrix's evil nature borders on total insanity, causing her to act rashly and fervently. In the Department of Mysteries, it is noted that the other Death Eaters present seem disturbed by Bellatrix' intensity, and, at one point, Lucius Malfoy must restrain her.
Relationships With Other Characters
Though she is married to Rodolphus Lestrange, Bellatrix has long harbored a passionate desire for Lord Voldemort. It is unclear whether she is truly in love with him or merely besotted by his power, but regardless, her obsessive lust leads her to being among his most devoted and fanatical Death Eaters. However, her feelings are hardly reciprocated, as Voldemort believes love is a weakness, nor is he even capable of experiencing that emotion. Though Voldemort utterly trusts and relies on her, he would likely sacrifice her, as he did Snape, if it served his evil purpose.
Bellatrix Lestrange's sisters are Narcissa Malfoy, Draco's mother, and Andromeda Tonks, mother to Nymphadora Tonks. The three women's father is Cygnus Black, who is Sirius Black's uncle. The extensive inbreeding within the "pure-blood" wizard lines can be measured by examining the Black family tree, which shows that Bellatrix is related distantly to many major players in the story, including: the Weasleys, both directly and via the Prewetts; the Tonks; the Longbottoms; the Macmillans; the Crouches; and even Harry himself. Note that though related to the Tonks clan by Andromeda's marriage to Ted Tonks, Bellatrix has disavowed the relationship and has expunged Andromeda from the family tree, and even physically attacked Andromeda's daughter, her own niece, Nymphadora Tonks.
Bellatrix has few personal relationships, though she appears to be close to her other sister, Narcissa Malfoy, and dotes on her only nephew, Draco, Narcissa's son, though she and her brother-in-law, Lucius Malfoy, also a Death Eater, seem barely cordial with one another. It is unknown what Bellatrix's and her husband's marriage is like, as they are rarely seen interacting with one another, nor does she mention him. Their union is childless.
Bellatrix strongly distrusts Severus Snape. Given that she is sufficiently skilled as an Occlumens to be teaching the technique to Draco, we can imagine that this suspicion is partially due to Snape's own ability in that field. Bellatrix no doubt has attempted to use Legilimency on Snape and had been blocked, though she may have been unaware. Her ongoing distrust regarding Snape may largely be due to her inability to read his motives, along with the fact that Snape seems to have replaced Bellatrix in Voldemort's councils. It is possible that the two got along at least slightly better when they were younger, and that the distrust stems from relatively recent events. We note that Sirius mentions they were friends or at least acquaintances during their Hogwarts years.
As much as Bellatrix loves Lord Voldemort, she equally hates Harry Potter, considering him the greatest threat to Voldemort and his plans. She will do anything to assist the Dark Lord's desire to defeat Harry.
Even by most Wizarding world standards, Bellatrix is considered more than slightly insane. In Dumbledore's Pensieve, we see her screaming defiance at the Wizengamot. After finding her portrait that Kreacher had hidden away at Grimmauld Place, Harry remarks on her insane appearance. Of all the Death Eaters in the battle in the Ministry of Magic, she alone is restrained from attacking Harry before he has relinquished the Prophecy. She also wants to torture Neville, just as she did to his parents many years before, to force Harry into yielding the Prophecy. Interestingly, while at Snape's home in Spinner's End, she is the voice of moderation, urging Narcissa to avoid getting into trouble by seeking Snape's help against Voldemort's wishes.
Like Voldemort, Bellatrix does not understand love. She has an obsession with Voldemort, which she may mistake for love, but it is not reciprocated: he regards his followers as servants and tools for his own ends. When meeting with Narcissa Malfoy and Snape to discuss Draco's mission, she does not understand why Narcissa is so worried about Draco. She says that if she had children of her own, she would gladly sacrifice them to do Voldemort's work. Rowling wrote elsewhere that her defeat at the hands of Molly Weasley is a symbolic victory of Molly's motherly love over Bellatrix's obsessive love.
Much like Charlie Weasley, Bellatrix seems to have two canon ages given in the series. Originally Sirius mentioned that she and her husband were friends of Snape's when they were at Hogwarts together. Over the next few books however we learn that she is the oldest of her sisters, both which seem to be a bit older than both Snape and Sirius. Andromeda, her younger sister, has a daughter (Nymphadora Tonks) who's said to be about 22 when she was first introduced, and about 24-25 by the time of her death. This would make Andromeda at least 40 by the time Nymphadora was introduced (if we assume that she didn't have a child until after Hogwarts) which would make Bellatrix 40 or older. Given that Snape and Sirius have been given birth years of 1960, this would make both of them only about 5 years younger than Andromeda and likely 6 or more than Bellatrix. Even if the two were at Hogwarts together, it seems strange that a 6th-7th year Bellatrix would even notice little 11 year old Snape. It's unknown why this is, but it seems to have been a simple mistake on the part of JK Rowling.
Note: JK Rowling also released a family tree for the Black Family that gave us a birth year for Bellatrix, 1951 (9 years older than Snape's 1960). This would've made it impossible for the two to have attended Hogwarts together. The tree is ambiguously canon however as there are many other errors that don't fit the canon given in the books.