- "And Death spoke to them."
- —The Tale of the Three Brothers
Death was a character used by Beedle the Bard in his famous tales. In this story, he was the one who witnessed the three Peverell brothers defy him by successfully crossing a deadly and dangerous river using magic. He was upset because he could not take them for his own, so he offered to give each brother an artefact of great power. The Peverell brothers chose the Elder Wand, Resurrection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility. These items later became known as the Deathly Hallows.
- "He pretended to congratulate the three brothers upon their magic, and said that each had earned a prize for having been clever enough to evade him."
- —Hermione Granger reading the Tales of Beedle the Bard[src]
Death is a minor antagonist featured in the last of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, The Tale of the Three Brothers. In the story, the three Peverell brothers (Antioch, Cadmus, and Ignotus) are featured out travelling the world, when at twilight they came to a treacherous river, one that had been known to claim many lives when attempting to cross it. The Peverells, who were powerful wizards, merely whipped out their wands and created a bridge out of thin air, and casually began to cross the river, when they were met by a black hooded figure midway across, blocking their path.
This figure was none other than Death himself, who is outraged that he has been cheated out of new victims, due to their magical abilities, and enqually enraged that he cannot take them as his own. But Death was cunning and pretended to congratulate the brothers on being powerful enough to elude him, before offering each of them a prize for their skill. When Death made it clear that he would not let the brothers pass across the bridge without him fulfilling each of their personal desires, the wizarding siblings decided to go along with Death's offer, but each for different motives and reasons. Death proceeded to give the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility to each of the brothers, a collection of items that would come to be known in time as the Deathly Hallows.
Secretly each of these objects was part of an elaborate scheme devised by Death to reclaim each of the brothers as his own. Indeed, as the story progressed, each of the brothers in turn lost his life at the indirect hands of his own gift (Antioch being murdered due to the lust created by the Elder Wand, and Cadmus having committed suicide upon seeing the Resurrection Stone's limitations), restoring to Death's clutches two of his victims.
However, the Cloak of Invisibility enabled Ignotus to elude Death for a good many years, and finally when he had reached a ripe old age and lived a happy, long life, he took off the Cloak, gave it to his son, and departed the "mortal coil" with Death as an old friend, but on his own terms and not those of Death.
In Beedle the Bard's story, Death was described as an imposing hooded figure - this motif is typical for many depictions of death in literature: a skeletal figure garbed in an ancient dark robe, minus the scythe. It was stated in the story that he also has wings that he can retract from his attire as a means of flight so he could stalk on his victims.
Personality and traits
- "He was angry that he had been cheated out of three new victims, for travellers usually drowned in the river. But Death was cunning."
In both instances, he is described as being agitated when he feels he has been cheated or beaten at his own game (in this case being outsmarted by Ignotus). He is also shown to be a very cunning character, plotting an elaborate scheme using the Deathly Hallows to reclaim each of the brothers for himself.
However, he is not beyond being outwitted, as demonstrated when Ignotus sees through his façade and turns his scheme on its head, by asking for something that would make it impossible for him to be followed by Death.
It was also stated by Ron that Death occassionally gets tired after stalking his targets for so long, especially if they see him coming; which is why he relies on his Cloak of Invisibility to sneak up on them unawares.
Magical abilities and skills
- Wand maker: Death is able to create powerful wands, as he created the most powerful wand to ever exist, the Elder Wand.
- Tracing: Death is able to track people easily if they are not under magical concealment, as he tracked down Antioch and Cadmus Peverell to bring them to their deaths.
- Resurrection: Death is able to bring dead people back to the living world through the Resurrection Stone. However, as there is no true way to bring dead people back, this method only brings them in a spectral state, and they are not truly among the living.
- Manufacturer: Death is able to create three powerful objects: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility.
- Flight: Death is able to hover and levitate using his two wings.
Behind the scenes
- It is actually unknown what kind of being Death is.
- Death, as a character, appears in many other pieces of literature.
- Albus Dumbledore, however, speculated that these artefacts weren't truly given to the brothers by Death. He completed his reasoning by saying that it was far more likely the brothers were simply very gifted wizards and they succeeded in creating the three objects. It is, however, unproven by anybody, although this does remain the most logical answer.
- Death strongly resembles a Dementor with its cloak on, whether this is coincidental or not is unknown. It should be noted, however, that the Dementors as designed for film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban were based off classic personifications of Death.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Mentioned only)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Notes and references
Altheda · Amata · Amata's lover · Antioch Peverell · Antioch Peverell's killer · Asha · Babbitty · Brigade of Witch-Hunters · Cadmus Peverell · Cadmus Peverell's fiancée · Captain of the Brigade of Witch-Hunters · Charlatan · Death · Evil Sorcerer · Gigantic white worm · Ignotus Peverell · Ignotus Peverell's son · King · Kinsfolk · Maiden · Old man · Old man's donkey · Old man's family · Peasant woman · Peasant woman's granddaughter · Sabre · Sir Luckless · Warlock · The Warlock's friends · Wizard · Wizard's father · Young woman · Young woman's child
Altheda's potion · Altheda's wand · Cloak of Invisibility · Creepers · Crystal casket · Elder Wand · Enchanted garden · Fountain · Gold statue of Babbitty · Hairy Heart · The Hopping Pot · Never-ending hill · Poisonous toadstool · Poultice for warts · Resurrection Stone · Silver chalice