Dumbledore’s Army: A Mirror to the Death Eaters?

by Nynaeve

During the Harry Potter series, various groups are founded, including, of course, the Order of the Phoenix, the Death Eaters, and Dumbledore’s Army. The last two have more in common than you would think at first glance; in fact, they resemble each other the way a dark mirror image resembles its light likeness. But how can this be when these two associations appear to be as different as possible?

To start with, there are the two leaders of the groups: Harry versus Lord Voldemort. Lord Voldemort and Harry seem different, but they share a number of commonalities. Tom Riddle’s younger self explains to the 12-year-old Harry that they are “both half-bloods, orphans, raised by Muggles” (CoS 317). But unlike Voldemort, whose only aim is “to conquer death” (GoF 653), and who does not care about anybody else’s death, Harry fights for good, for love, and for peace in the world. Another contrast comes up in the way they become leaders: Both are at school, but unlike Harry, who is democratically elected (OotP 391), Voldemort rules the Death Eaters through fear, pain, punishments, and murders.

Secondly, the names of the two associations are contrasts. The name Death Eaters, of course, stands for a very disrespectful way of dealing with death and mortality; that they figuratively want to eat death means Voldemort intends to destroy it and become immortal. On the other hand, Dumbledore’s Army is named after “the greatest wizard in the world” (CoS 314), “the greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had” (SS 58), according to Hagrid, and “the only one Voldemort ever feared” (HBP 72). If one believes the Dumbledore Is Death theory, one will get a completely different name for the DA by replacing “Dumbledore’s” with “Death’s”: Death’s Army. In this case, Harry and his friends are fighting against not only Umbridge but also everything Voldemort stands for. They defend death itself and alongside death, love and the living. Dumbledore (/Death) says, “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love” (DH 722). The DA fights for the chance to die and for the possibility to choose when to do so, like Harry and his mother, who sacrifice themselves. If one replaces “Death” with “Dumbledore,” one will read “Dumbledore Eaters,” which also fits because Voldemort and his colleagues despise the “champion of commoners, of Mudbloods and Muggles, Albus Dumbledore” (GoF 648). The DA and the Death Eaters, therefore, share a topic in their names – the reference to death/Dumbledore – but in a way that could not be more different.

But what about the purposes and aims of the two associations? It may seem like their goals are opposite, but there is a parallel: the pedagogical aspects. The DA was founded to give the suppressed Hogwartians a possibility to learn how to defend themselves against Voldemort: “It’s about preparing ourselves […] for what’s waiting out there. It’s about making sure we really can defend ourselves” (OotP 325). Voldemort likes teaching too – not Defense Against the Dark Arts but the Dark Arts themselves. Some Death Eaters, like Bellatrix (OotP 811), claim to have learned the Dark Arts from him. Even Peter Pettigrew accuses Sirius of learning “a few tricks” (PoA 368) from Voldemort, indicating Voldemort does teach sometimes. So maybe Dumbledore is wrong to say, “You do not want to teach” (HBP 445) to the young Voldemort when he applies for the Defense Against the Dark Arts job. Since he doesn’t get it, he might have started teaching the Death Eaters instead of Hogwarts students to prepare them for their encounters with the Order of the Phoenix and the DA. So here we have our parallel – teaching – but of course, what they teach is a huge contrast.

There is another (obvious) parallel in the groups’ summoning system. Lord Voldemort’s inner circle has the Dark Mark branded as a sign of loyalty. When he wants to summon his companions, Voldemort presses his “long white forefinger to the brand” and thereby delivers a literally burning message to all who wear the Mark (GoF 645). Hermione mentions to Harry that the Dark Mark inspired her to create the communication system for Dumbledore’s Army: the false Galleons that are hexed with the Protean Charm. Thus, they get hot (exactly like the Dark Mark) when a new meeting date is arranged. But Hermione “decided to engrave the date on bits of metal rather than on our members’ skin” (OotP 399), which makes it very hard for Umbridge to detect the illegal group. In contrast, Voldemort (perhaps in an attempt to show off his power) brands it on the skin, which makes it easily detectable.

Let’s continue with the members of the group and how this contrast is reflected in their Houses. Death Eaters are all Slytherins: first and foremost, Tom Riddle, who “was placed in Slytherin House almost the moment that the Sorting Hat touched his head” (HBP 360). During Voldemort’s seven years at Hogwarts, he gathers about him a group of Slytherins who are “the forerunners of the Death Eaters” (HBP 362). On the other hand, DA members are all non-Slytherins.

Furthermore, even certain members have their opposite mirror images in the antagonist group: not only Harry and Lord Voldemort but also others, like Ginny Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange. Those two are (apart from Harry and Voldemort) the most obvious mirrored antagonists you can find in the series. We can see this first in their positions. They are both highly ranked among their group members, though for very different reasons. Bellatrix is feared because of her closeness to the Dark Lord and her cruelty, whereas Ginny is highly popular because of her closeness to Harry and her fairness. Moreover, both witches are talented and have great potential, although they use it as differently as possible. Ginny protects those she loves fiercely; for example, she defends Harry indirectly by hexing Zacharias Smith, who questions her incessantly about the Battle of the Department of Mysteries (HBP 147). Bellatrix also defends Voldemort indirectly, driving the Longbottoms to insanity by torturing them with the Cruciatus Curse.

That leads us to the second point: their love for their leaders. Harry and Ginny get married in the end. Ginny falls in love with Harry when she meets him for the first time, whereas Harry develops feelings for her much later on. They belong together. But Bellatrix? There is one line in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that is convincing enough to prove Bellatrix has feelings for Voldemort. Shortly after Harry’s sacrifice when all Death Eaters thought him dead, Bellatrix speaks to Voldemort, saying, “‘My Lord… my Lord…‘ It was Bellatrix’s voice, and she spoke as if to a lover” (DH 724). In my opinion, she not only admires Voldemort but also really loves him. Therefore, it is no surprise the way Bellatrix dies: killed by her antagonist’s mother, who has precisely “the same shade of brown [eyes] as Ginny’s” (DH 88). Ginny and her mother are very close, and it is logical that Molly jumps in to defeat her daughter’s dark likeness after Ginny is almost hit with the Killing Curse: “’You – will – never – touch – our – children – again!’ screamed Mrs. Weasley” (DH 736). Ginny and Bellatrix are as destined to be antagonists as Harry and Voldemort are.

In the end, there will be hopefully no doubt left that the DA and the Death Eaters are counterparts, exactly mirroring each other with the only difference being the side they are fighting for. Lastly, here is a table to sum up the editorial and to make the parallels and contrasts clear:


This is a table showing the parallels and contrasts between Death Eaters and Dumbledore's Army


The fight between Harry’s friends and Voldemort’s followers is therefore destined from the very beginning, taking place in a universe so detailed and well planned that we can discover fantastic things like this.


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