Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Fate

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DUMBLEDORE: This memory is everything. Without it, we are blind. Without it, we leave the fate of our world to chance. You have no choice. You must not fail.

Hmm, well, the fact is, Harry does have a choice—he could totally run screaming from all this responsibility. He won't, though, since the entire Wizarding world hangs in the balance. He's just brave like that.

So, we suppose Dumbledore is kind of right: He doesn't have a choice, since the idea of not stepping up just wouldn't compute for Harry.

SNAPE: Once again, you astonish with your gifts, Potter. Gifts mere mortals can only dream of possessing. How grand it must be to be the Chosen One.

Ha. Not everyone is as enthusiastic about Harry's special place in life. Here, Snape is making fun of all the rumors that Harry has somehow been chosen or singled out to defeat Voldemort. Well, really, he's making fun of Harry for saying he "just knows" that Malfoy cursed Katie without offering any evidence…but the other stuff is embedded in the dig as well. Shade.

HERMIONE: Hey, she's only interested in you because she thinks you're the Chosen One.

HARRY: But I am the Chosen One. [Hermione smacks him with a paper.] Okay, sorry, um, kidding.

Harry doesn't take his whole "special status" as the Chosen One very seriously at all, as you can probably tell from this exchange. Romilda Vane thinks it's a big deal, though, and according to Hermione, it's why she's interested in him .

SNAPE: I swore to protect you. I made the Unbreakable Vow.

MALFOY: I don't need protection. I was chosen for this. Out of all others, me! And I won't fail him.

SNAPE: You're afraid, Draco. You attempt to conceal it, but it's obvious. Let me assist you.

MALFOY: No! I was chosen. This is my moment.

Harry might be the "Chosen One" who's headed for a date with destiny (i.e., killing Voldemort), but Draco is feeling just as locked in to his own fate. Sure, it sounds like he's getting a little bit of an ego boost from the fact that Voldemort singled him out for this mission, but he's also kind of trapped, right? Once Voldemort asks you to do something, you'd better do it, or something pretty nasty is going to happen.

HARRY: So, what happens to you? What happens if you break an Unbreakable Vow?

RON: You die.

[The scene changes.]

LUPIN: Voldemort has chosen Draco Malfoy for a mission?

HARRY: I know it sounds mad.

LUPIN: Has it occurred to you, Harry, that Snape was simply pretending to offer Draco help so he could find out what he was up to?

Speaking of choices and things you can't get out of: Snape has made an Unbreakable Vow to help Malfoy out with whatever mission Voldemort has assigned to him. If he fails? He dies. So, yeah, it sounds like he really doesn't have much of a choice if he wants to survive to help…well, whichever side he's actually helping.

HARRY: I'm going to tell you something. Something others have only guessed at. It's true. I am the Chosen One. Only I can destroy him, but in order to do so, I need to know what Tom Riddle asked you all those years ago in your office, and I need to know what you told him.

Ah, so finally, Harry admits it out loud: He is the Chosen One. However, until he gets the full 411 on Voldemort's relationship with Slughorn, that knowledge isn't doing anyone any good. He may have been "chosen" to defeat the Dark Lord, but he needs to figure out, well, how.

DUMBLEDORE: Draco, you are no assassin.

DRACO: How do you know what I am? I've done things that would shock you.

DUMBLEDORE: Oh, like cursing Katie Bell and hoping that in return she'd bear a cursed necklace to me? Like replacing a bottle of mead with one laced with poison? Forgive me, Draco, I cannot help feeling these actions are so weak that your heart can't really have been in them.

DRACO: He trusts me. I was chosen.


DUMBLEDORE: Draco, years ago, I knew a boy who made all the wrong choices. Please let me help you.

DRACO: I don't want your help. Don't you understand? I have to do this. I have to kill you. Or he's going to kill me.

Okay, so the truth comes out: more than feeling special because Voldemort singled him out for a mission, Draco is terrified that if he fails, the Dark Lord will kill him. So, yeah, he's not really feeling like he has a lot of choice in the matter.

But as far as the choices he is making go: his attempts to kill Dumbledore have been pretty ineffectual to date, to the point where even Dumbledore wonders if Draco is failing on purpose (or, at least, choosing not to try very hard).

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