Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Themes

  • Death

    Given that Harry and his friends spend a good chunk of their time fighting folks called "Death Eaters," you probably got the memo: death is a big theme in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2…and, well, pretty much all the other movies, too.

    Harry's epic journey toward this showdown with Voldemort started with the death of his parents, and will end with either him or Voldemort dying—or maybe both.

    See, Harry's been working hard to destroy these things called Horcruxes, which house little bits of Voldemort's soul, but he encounters some pretty massive challenges at every turn. Then he gets some pretty shocking news: when Voldemort killed his parents, Harry became a Horcrux. That's right: In order for Voldemort to die, Harry needs to die, too.

    But you'll have to watch the movie (or check out the summaries above) to find out exactly what happens.

    Questions About Death

    1. What do you think goes on when Voldemort "kills" Harry?
    2. Is it important that Harry at least believes he has to die to defeat Voldemort?
    3. Why didn't Voldemort just try to win the Elder Wand from Snape, rather than killing him?
    4. Why does Harry drop the Resurrection Stone right before going to let Voldemort kill him?

    Chew on This

    Voldemort can't defeat Harry because he was weakened from all those soul divisions and he hadn't "won" the Elder Wand—it's as simple as that.

    Sure, Voldemort was weakened and using a wand that didn't work correctly for him, but we think Harry is working some special kind of magical protection when he chooses to sacrifice himself. By being willing to give everything up, he somehow gains some kind of magical protection against Voldemort's Killing Cpell.

  • Love

    Love is super powerful in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2—after all, it's the only reason Harry's alive. His mother's sacrifice cast a protective charm on him that lasted until his seventeenth birthday, and it was definitely key in fending off Voldemort's Killing Curse.

    Given all that, it's really no wonder that Dumbledore thinks love is basically the most important thing in the world. Whereas Voldemort is mostly fixated on death (or rather, avoiding death) and doesn't give a hoot about having love in his life, Dumbledore is of the mind that dying is really no big deal, but living without love in your life…well, that's a true tragedy.

    Different strokes for different folks, we suppose, but we know which side we're on.

    Questions About Love

    1. Which "love story" is the most powerful or compelling in the Harry Potter universe?
    2. Does Lily Potter's love still end up protecting Harry, when he tries to sacrifice himself to Voldemort?
    3. Do you think Snape loved Harry…you know, even while he hated him?

    Chew on This

    Lily Potter's love is obviously the most powerful example of love in the whole story—it protected Harry against a Killing Curse, for crying out loud.

    Snape's love for Lily is the big game-changer in this story: If he hadn't loved Lily so much, Harry wouldn't be alive. Case closed.

  • Good vs. Evil

    Well, this theme should come as no surprise, given that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 features the epic showdown between Harry (a super brave, insanely nice, and more or less innocent teenager) and Voldemort (a psycho murderer who literally would do anything and kill anyone to get what he wants).

    Of course, Harry and Voldemort also share some similarities—you know, like the ability to talk to snakes, their upbringing as orphans, and their affection for Hogwarts—so you can't quite say they are total opposites…but they're definitely the faces of two very different ways of life.

    Questions About Good vs. Evil

    1. Why give Harry and Voldemort some common characteristics? What does that say about how we think about who is "good" and who is "evil"?
    2. Do any characters live between the whole "good" and "evil" divide?
    3. Is Snape redeemed for his past "Death Eater" sympathies in the end?
    4. Is Dumbledore as pristine/good as we originally thought?

    Chew on This

    Harry and Voldemort's similarities suggest that there are really no such things as pure "good" and "evil," per se—it's all about how you're raised and what happens to you. If Voldemort had had more love in his life, perhaps he wouldn't have gone so dark.

    Harry lived without love for a long time (remember the Dursleys?) and still ended up being a great guy. Some people are just stronger, braver, and better than others.

  • Courage

    We've known Harry is heroic for some time, but he really takes things to a new level in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Some of it is the standard stuff: Harry encounters dangerous situations that he has no right to escape from, and he escapes.

    Pretty much par for the course for the last seven films, right?

    Sure, but just when we thought we couldn't be surprised by how brave this kid is, he decides he's going to just sacrifice his life so Voldemort can be defeated. He just walks up and lets the dude kill him.

    You see, Harry learns late in the game that he himself is one of Voldemort's Horcruxes, which means Voldy can't die unless he dies. So, in order to save man- and wizard-kind, Harry does what he has to do.

    We're not sure what other seventeen-year-old would have the guts to do that, but, of course, Harry is definitely not a normal seventeen-year-old.

    Questions About Courage

    1. So, decision time: Who's braver, Snape or Harry?
    2. Do you think Voldemort has any level of courage? Or is that just a weird question? Let's put it a little bit differently: Do you think he's ruled by strength or fear?
    3. Does anyone else's bravery surprise you in this film?

    Chew on This

    Voldemort talks a good game about strength and all that, but he's not courageous at all. In fact, his whole evil scheme for world domination is about fear: fear of dying. Doesn't sound very brave to us.

    Snape is even braver than Harry, sorry. Harry was never attracted to the Dark Arts, so he never had that struggle. Snape was attracted to the Dark Side and overcame it. We'd say that takes some extra strength-level courage.