Killing people. It’s a tricky one, isn’t it?
We… (and, in this instance, by the word ‘we’ I mean that rather narrow band of people who produce and consume the artefacts of the Western narrative culture industries) … we want to tell ourselves – in those bourgeois morality plays we call entertainment – that killing is WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The killing curse is an ‘Unforgiveable Curse’.
“Make the foundation of this society a man who never would”.
Luke can’t be won to the Dark Side because he won’t kill his father.
“Coward. Every time.”
“Stop! I command it! There will be no battle here!”
Etc, etc, etc.
But lookity here… our heroes kill people, or they support the necessity of killing people. Even the ‘moral’ ones (i.e. the ones who aren’t James Bond) do so. Luke is nobly refusing to kill his father even as Han and Leia and Lando are killing loads of Imperial soldiers in the big battles. The Doctor refuses to kill the threatened people of Earth even as the survivors of the Gamestation are fighting and trying to kill Daleks, and Rose solves the whole thing by coming back as the Bad Wolf and committing magical genocide. The Doctor decrees the end of the battle, but relies upon soldiers: the Brigadier, Bambera and Ancelyn… maybe even Ace too… and the Brig saves the world by pumping silver bullets into the Destroyer.
Etc, etc, etc.
Harry Potter never kills anyone. He barely ever fights anyone. But he manages this by hiding in a tent when the war comes, while Neville actually fights the Death Eaters in Hogwarts, and his mates form a resistance cell and an underground radio station. Yet Harry accepts the necessity of killing Voldemort. He passively accepts (as he pasively accepts everything) that killing Voldemort is his destiny. Luckily, as in every other instance (something Voldemort rightly points out), something comes between him and the ugly necessity. Wormtail dies when his own hand strangles him, assorted Death Eaters fall over and accidentally kill themselves and their friends in order to oblige Harry. In the same way, Voldemort gets shot by a wand, acting of its own volition out of loyalty to Harry.
In the Potter stories, killing is categorically wrong, evil, unforgiveable. So the goodies fight the magic-Nazis with jinxes that make you fall over. Luckily, the magic-Nazis also (for some reason) generally refrain from using the killing curse. Meanwhile, Voldemort clearly and explicitly needs killing… and Harry is Chosen to do it… yet he can’t do this without either
a) using the unforgiveable killing curse, or
b) getting very lucky (i.e. Voldemort accidentally trips over the hem of his own robes and falls onto the tines of a passing threshing machine).
Luckily, luck always comes to Potter’s rescue (as, once again, Voldemort rightly points out), and – through sheer good fortune – there’s some complicated business that means Voldemort gets killed by a sentient wand that, like so many expedient creatures before it, stands in front of Our Hero and does all the difficult, icky stuff for him.…