One ambiguity in J.K. Rowling’s works is the definition of “Dark Magic.” The implication is that certain spells, especially the three “Unforgivable” Curses, are inherently evil, and even if you have the power to cast them, only bad guys every would. But is that because the spells’ effects are horrific, or because there’s something evil about the magic itself?
Witches and wizards of the Wizengamot, this is the question you must consider in this trial. The accused, Mr. Harry James Potter, stands charged of having cast two Unforgivable Curses, the Imperius curse and the Cruciatus curse, on the 1st and 2nd, respectively, of May 1998. As is well known to you, the use of either of these curses upon a fellow human being is punishable by a life sentence in Azkaban. As is also well known by now, Mr. Potter allegedly cast these spells as part of his quest to defeat Lord Voldemort. Many have said that, given the circumstances, the accused’s use of these curses should be overlooked and not punished. Nevertheless, the law is very clear. I ask you — can use of the Unforgivable Curses be forgiven?
Learned members of the high wizarding court, why do our laws condemn the use of these curses so completely? Is it because the crimes of slavery, torture, and murder are so heinous, that they can never be excused? Certainly, each of these is a horrendous offense. Even in muggle courts, these felonies carry the stiffest of penalties. I need not explain why. Nor did those wise wizards of old, who set down these laws, need to justify their motives in outlawing these tools of evil. But if, in this rare case, the Imperius curse was used to aid in the destruction of Lord Voldemort rather than to control another for one’s own gain, if the Cruciatus curse was used to defend a school teacher instead of to inflict needless pain, then perhaps you may decide that we can overlook their use in this case.
It seems shortsighted of our lawmakers, however, to have believed that such spells could never be used except to evil ends. I propose that, instead, they knew that there was something more behind these spells than their obvious effects. I propose that these spells are Dark Magic, not just because their effects are harmful, but because the spells themselves are inherently evil.
(To be continued)