Hey everyone, Welcome to another installment of Harry Potter Theory. In today’s theory, we’re going to be discussing just exactly how Harry came back from the dead in the final installment of the series. I’m, of course, referring to how Harry was able to return to the world of the living after Voldemort hits him with his Avada Kedavra – or Killing Curse – in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. So, what do we know? Well, we know that Harry dies – or at least, we THINK he does.
Setting the scene – we are in the Forbidden Forest as Harry comes face-to-face with Voldemort after years of encounters with He Who Shall Not Be Named. But unlike previous confrontations – from his meeting with a fragmented Voldemort attached to Professor Quirrell, to their duel in the graveyard of Little Hangleton – this time Harry does not intend to defend himself or fight back. He’s come to die.
Fans of the book will remember the chapter as the aptly named “The Forest Again” and movie lovers will certainly know this scene as the one right after Harry sees his dead loved ones through the magic of the Resurrection Stone – one of the three fabled Deathly Hallows. Voldemort and his followers are waiting for Harry to turn himself over – a deal Voldemort has proposed in exchange for the safety of the other wizards who have been fighting alongside Harry in The Battle of Hogwarts. Initially, Harry approaches the group under the cover of his invisibility cloak, taking in the scene. He overhears that Voldemort thinks he hasn’t come: “‘I was, it seems…mistaken,’ said Voldemort. ” To which Harry reveals himself with a simple: “You weren’t.
” From there, things move rather quickly. Harry, having discovered that he must die in order to defeat Voldemort, doesn’t even draw his wand as Voldemort curses him dead: “He saw the mouth move and a flash of green light, and everything was gone. ” So, what exactly happens next? I suppose you could argue that maybe Voldemort never actually utters the Killing Curse – the words “Avada Kedavra” don’t actually appear on the page. However, as one of the three Unforgiveable Curses, we know that it projects a bright green light when it’s cast.
So, there’s one for the Killing Curse. Also, in the movie, we most definitely hear Voldemort utter the words “Avada Kedavra. ” And so, one might assume that Harry has instantly died – as EVERYONE does when hit with the curse (with the exception of infant Harry, who survived due to his mother, Lily, sacrificing her life for his). So, if Harry’s died, what comes next? Perhaps now we move onto one of the other main character’s perspectives – but this is HARRY POTTER, so that can’t be right. Well, then maybe we get a glimpse into where Harry goes in death.
In that assumption, you would be correct – well, ALMOST. We’re taken to a kind of limbo – a strange in-between reality. Harry is not alive – but he’s also not dead.
How do we know that it’s purgatory and not just some place of magic? We’re actually provided with many a clue. Initially, Harry simply lies in a blanket of bright mist “not like mist he had ever experienced before” until his conscious awakens to the fact that he still exists. As he slowly begins to discover his surroundings, the mist begins to clear, and he realizes that he’s naked.
Hmm, bit weird but okay. Then, clothes magically appear as he needs – or rather, as he WANTS – them. Later, his location reveals itself inexplicably to be King’s Cross railway station. Harry also discovers a grotesque being struggling to survive nearby… Of course, all this could be chalked up to magic. After all, this is the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
BUT THEN, Dumbledore – who we all know to be dead – approaches him. We now understand, he is in a place where he can interact with the dead (without the magic of a Resurrection Stone). It would be reasonable at this point to conclude that Harry himself is dead. That he has come to a sort of afterlife. In fact, that’s the conclusion that Harry comes to as well, having the following exchange with his old Headmaster: “But you’re dead,” said Harry.
“Oh, yes,” said Dumbledore matter-of-factly. “Then … I’m dead too?” “Ah,” said Dumbledore, smiling still more broadly. “That is the question, isn’t it? On the whole, dear boy, I think not.
” Alright, so what makes Dumbledore so sure then that Harry isn’t DEAD? I’m most certain Dumbledore would be glad you asked. For, as readers of the series will remember, Dumbledore then goes into great detail about how Harry could’ve survived yet ANOTHER Killing Curse from Voldemort: “But if Voldemort used the Killing Curse,” Harry started again, “and nobody died for me this time – how can I be alive?” “I think you know,” said Dumbledore. “Think back.
Remember what he did, in his ignorance, in his greed and his cruelty. ” … “He took my blood,” said Harry. “Precisely!” said Dumbledore. “He took your blood and rebuilt his living body with it! Your blood in his veins, Harry, Lily’s protection inside both of you! He tethered you to life while he lives! … You were the seventh Horcrux, Harry, the Horcrux he never meant to make.
He had rendered his soul so unstable that it broke apart when he committed those acts of unspeakable evil, the murder of your parents, the attempted killing of a child. But what escaped from that room was even less than he knew. He left more than his body behind. He left part of himself latched to you, the would-be victim who had survived.
” Put all that together with the fact that Harry’s life-long lightning bolt scar has disappeared. What seems to have taken its place is the nearby “agonised creature,” who keeps quietly moaning in the background. A creature that Dumbledore insists is beyond help. And so, it stands to reason that perhaps the scar was the embodiment of Voldemort’s seventh Horcrux WITHIN Harry. This would make sense as a Horcrux is a hidden fragment of a Dark wizard’s soul.
This would also explain the link Harry had with Voldemort throughout the books and how the scar would sear with pain when he would get a glimpse into Voldemort’s mind. So, with the vanishing of his trade-mark scar and the presence of this “stunted creature,” one can assume that the creature now represents the Horcrux and its removal from Harry’s body and soul. Dumbledore all but confirms this theory when he assures Harry that the part of Voldemort’s soul that was inside of him was destroyed when Voldemort hit Harry with the Killing Curse this time around, saying, “Your soul is whole, and completely your own, Harry.
” Okay, so now we’ve laid the groundwork for the WHERE and the WHY of Harry’s not-quite-death after being hit with the Killing Curse. He’s in limbo, alive but not in the world of the living due to his link with Voldemort who, of course, still lives. Which brings us to the HOW. HOW did Harry return from this alternate plane of existence? Well, in my opinion, we’ve already sort of answered this question. Harry didn’t die because Voldemort still lives with Harry’s blood in his veins.
What was destroyed instead was Voldemort’s Horcrux, and now Harry’s soul is devoid of Voldemort. His soul is whole and pure – giving him the opportunity to return to his life as just Harry. All he has to do at this point is CHOOSE to go back.
Being that his version of purgatory is at King’s Cross station, Dumbledore suggests that if Harry chooses to move on into death, he would likely board a train and carry on. But, of course, Harry chooses to return to the world of the living in order to try to finally defeat Voldemort and help save as many people as he can from further death and destruction. At this point, Dumbledore begins to disappear into a descending mist, and you may begin to wonder if any of this has actually happened. Maybe Harry just hit his head really hard. Of course, Harry has this exact same thought, asking Dumbledore one final question before he completely disappears.
Harry wants to know – and I can hardly blame him – if any of this was real or if it was only happening inside his head. To which Dumbledore responds with one of my all-time favourite lines: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” Next thing we know, Harry is back in the Forbidden Forest, lying face down once again – this time ALIVE…he has officially returned from the “dead” – and now you know HOW he did it! This, of course, brings us to the end of this theory! If you enjoyed the content, I’d be grateful if you liked it and subscribed to the channel. As always, happy to hear your input on this and other Harry Potter theories – just leave them in the comments below. And please feel free to share any topics you’d like to see in upcoming theorys! You guys always have great ideas. For more theorys like this one, be sure to check out the Harry Potter Explained playlist.