|First appearance||Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix|
|Last appearance||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2|
|Created by||J. K. Rowling|
|Portrayed by||Helena Bonham Carter|
History and Background
Bellatrix Lestrange is the first female Death Eater introduced in the books, and one of the most faithful members of Voldemort's inner circle. She is described as being highly attractive yet emaciated due to her time in Azkaban and described as having long, curly black hair and dark heavily lidded eyes. Bellatrix is portrayed as paranoid, mentally unstable and fanatically devoted to Voldemort. She takes an obvious pleasure in acts of torture and cruelty. Despite her apparent mental instability, she is a witch of prodigious ability, as demonstrated by all her victories in duels against other characters, and as noted by Harry in the final book.
Bellatrix was born Bellatrix Black to Cygnus Black and Druella Rosier in the year 1951 and has two sisters, Andromeda and Narcissa. She is also a first cousin to Sirius and Regulus Black, and an aunt to Draco Malfoy and Nymphadora Tonks. Bellatrix married Rodolphus Lestrange after leaving Hogwarts because it was "expected of her to marry a pure-blood". However, Rowling stated in an interview that Bellatrix's true love was Voldemort, and she had a non-sexual relationship with him. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Rowling uses Dumbledore's Pensieve as a plot device to reveal that Bellatrix, rather than deserting Voldemort after his downfall like many other Death Eaters, is part of the group of dark wizards – along with Barty Crouch Jr, Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange – that tortured well-known Aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom in an attempt to gain information about Voldemort's location. For using the Unforgivable Cruciatus Curse to torture the Longbottoms to insanity, Bellatrix and her three associates were sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban. During the trial, she said Voldemort would rise again and reward them. When Voldemort is raised, he says the Lestranges will be deeply rewarded when Azkaban is broken open.
Fourteen years after Voldemort's fall, Bellatrix is one of the many Death Eaters who escapes Azkaban and rejoins him. She is present at the battle of the Department of Mysteries in the climax of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in which a group of Death Eaters attempts to steal Sybill Trelawney's prophecy pertaining to Voldemort's downfall. Rowling let Bellatrix prove her magical powers during the mission when she overpowers her niece Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt in one-on-one duels, kills her cousin Sirius by blasting him through the veil in the Death Chamber, and deflects one of Dumbledore's spells as she makes her escape. Harry attempts to use the Cruciatus Curse on her in revenge for killing Sirius, but the curse is ineffective due to the lack of real cruelty behind it. Before she can do any more, Bellatrix is subdued by Dumbledore in the Ministry of Magic's Atrium while Harry duels Voldemort. Voldemort intercedes on Bellatrix's behalf, grabbing her and taking her with him as he disapparates, though not before being glimpsed by Ministry officials.
At the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Bellatrix attempts to keep Narcissa from confiding Draco's secret mission to Snape at Spinner's End. Rowling used the conversation between Snape and Bellatrix to imply that Voldemort is still furious at Bellatrix's failure in the previous book. That conversation also suggests that Bellatrix mistrusts Snape not only because of his low birth, but also for many valid questions about his loyalty to the Dark Lord. Snape surprises Bellatrix by replying to each of her arguments and by agreeing to create an Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa to assist Draco in his mission to kill Dumbledore. Later in the book, it is mentioned by Snape that Bellatrix had been teaching Occlumency to Draco, in an effort to aid him with his mission. In the film, she and Fenrir Greyback arrive at the Burrow (the Weasley house) and burn it down. Harry and Ginny chase after them, with Bellatrix taunting "I killed Sirius Black!".
The first chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows implies that Voldemort is still angry with Bellatrix, as evidenced when he makes fun of the fact that her niece Tonks married werewolf Remus Lupin. However, Voldemort gives Bellatrix a chance to "prune" her family tree during the Death Eaters' attempt to capture Harry as the boy departs from the Dursleys' home, during which Bellatrix unsuccessfully tries to kill Tonks. In this book, Rowling reveals that Bellatrix is the guardian of Helga Hufflepuff's cup (though she is unaware of its true nature), which Voldemort has entrusted the Lestranges to keep in their Gringotts vault. Bellatrix and the Malfoys detain Harry, Ron, and Hermione at Malfoy Manor, and Hermione is tortured by Bellatrix when she suspects the trio has broken into her vault, but Dobby appears and saves the prisoners, though not before being hit by a knife thrown by Bellatrix as they disapparate to safety. Later in the book, Harry, Ron, and Hermione use a stray hair of Bellatrix's to disguise Hermione as Bellatrix using Polyjuice Potion, in order to gain access to the Lestrange's Gringotts vault. Though Voldemort apparently punishes Bellatrix and the Malfoys severely for interrupting his Elder Wand side quest only to have Potter escape and steal the cup, she nevertheless fights for her master in the Battle of Hogwarts towards the end of the novel. Rowling stated in an interview that, during the battle, it was Bellatrix who killed Tonks. When the battle resumes inside the Great Hall after Harry's supposed death, Bellatrix simultaneously duels with Hermione, Ginny, and Luna, none of whom is a match for Bellatrix, who nearly hits Ginny with a Killing Curse. An enraged Molly Weasley engages Bellatrix in a duel and fires a curse that hits Bellatrix right over the heart, killing her. Rowling revealed that, though there was speculation that Neville would kill Bellatrix, she had always intended Molly to do so because the author wanted to match Bellatrix's obsessive love with Molly's maternal love.
In the film series, Bellatrix is played by Helena Bonham Carter.
IGN listed Bellatrix Lestrange as their tenth top Harry Potter character, and IGN's Joe Utichi listed Bellatrix as his fourth favourite Harry Potter character, calling her the "most pitiable" of Voldemort's servants. In NextMovie.com's Harry Potter Mega Poll, Bellatrix was voted as the No. 1 villain in the series.
Bellatrix took the pure-blood values of her family very seriously, as indicated by her marriage into a known pure-blood wizarding family and her zealous belief in Death Eater ideology. She had no feelings of affection for those in her family deemed blood traitors by disgracing and dishonoring her family by not fanatically honoring the prejudiced values she did, and readily attacked and killed them on many occasions. She seems to have had a fairly close and affectionate relationship with her younger sister Narcissa, whom she called "Cissy." Despite distrusting Severus Snape and attempting to dissuade her sister from approaching him, Bellatrix accompanied Narcissa to Spinner's End to request Snape's help in seeing Draco through the task assigned to him by Lord Voldemort in 1996.
After Snape agreed to make the Unbreakable Vow, Bellatrix acted as Bonder, ensuring that Snape would fulfil his promises to Narcissa. Narcissa and Bellatrix occasionally clashed over the former's protectiveness towards her son; Bellatrix argued that Narcissa should be proud that her son was a Death Eater, while Narcissa consistently demonstrated that the safety of her son and husband were her first priorities. Still, the two seemed close, and, at some point, Bellatrix trained Draco in Occlumency to aid him in his mission.
On the other hand, Bellatrix hated her "blood traitor" relatives. After her sister Andromeda married a muggle-born and was disowned, Bellatrix never saw her again. She shared a mutual loathing with her "dear cousin" Sirius Black, and the two taunted each other as they duelled during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. After killing Sirius, Bellatrix jeered at Harry about the death of his godfather on multiple occasions.
Bellatrix also eagerly attacked her niece, Nymphadora Tonks, on at least three occasions — this was likely for a combination of reasons, including Tonks' being a half-blood, an Auror, and member of the Order of the Phoenix, the fact that she had married a werewolf and Voldemort's comments to her about "pruning her family tree". Bellatrix eventually killed Tonks during the Battle of Hogwarts in 1998.
Come out, come out, little Harry! What did you come after me for, then? I thought you were here to avenge my dear cousin!...Did you love him, little baby Potter?—Bellatrix taunts Harry about killing Sirius., Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
It is possible that Bellatrix was on good terms with her other cousin, Regulus, who was a Death Eater during the First Wizarding War. Regulus initially espoused the pure-blood supremacist line associated with his family, and like Bellatrix, was sorted into the Slytherin house during his time at Hogwarts. It is unlikely that he revealed his change of heart to Bellatrix, or anyone else, prior to his death in 1979.
Her relationship with Draco seemed to have some affection; though she seemed to disapprove of his inability to kill and dislike for torture. She taught him Occlumency and possibly non-verbal spells. His blood relationship with her is probably the only reason he is still alive; due to his father's failure and his failure of his 1996-1997 task. Seeing Lucius's extreme failure and the confiscation of his wand, Bellatrix saw her brother-in-law with disdain and contempt, showing him little to no respect during their argument of summoning Voldemort for capturing Harry.
In marrying Rodolphus Lestrange, Bellatrix made a "respectable pure-blood marriage", as was expected of her. There is no indication that her relationship with her husband went beyond this, as Bellatrix loved Voldemort and never expressed any affection or concern for her husband. They were both Death Eaters and seemed to work together in this role, as Rodolphus tortured Alice and Frank Longbottom with his wife, as well as his brother and Barty Crouch Jr. in 1981, and was paired with Bellatrix during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. He was also by her side during the Battle of the Seven Potters, as Nymphadora Tonks mentioned cursing him and being pursued by Bellatrix. Sirius Black described them as part of the same "gang of Slytherins" at Hogwarts, which also included Lucius Malfoy, Evan Rosier and Severus Snape.
Quite the opposite of her sister, Narcissa, Bellatrix showed virtually no affection towards or otherwise acknowledged her husband, and Rodolphus's feelings for his wife are unknown. Other than marrying for the purpose of entering a "pure-blood marriage," it is likely that Bellatrix and Rodolphus did not love, or were not particularly attracted to, each other. Bellatrix felt that Narcissa ought be proud that Draco was called into service as a Death Eater; she once told her sister that if she had sons, she would "be glad to give them up to the service of the Dark Lord", once again showing her fanatical devotion towards Lord Voldemort. No children appear beneath Bellatrix and Rodolphus's names on the Black family tapestry, which indicates that Bellatrix died childless.
Lord Voldemort was unquestionably the most important person in Bellatrix's life. Bellatrix seemed to have a strong obsession with Voldemort, to the extent of being romantically and possibly sexually infatuated with him. More than just being obsessed with Lord Voldemort, Bellatrix was obsessed with Voldemort's ideals of blood purity and fascination with the Dark Arts. She is described as regarding Voldemort with "worshipful fascination" and speaking to him as if to a lover. He did not reciprocate, as Voldemort did not know love at all. When he praised her in during the meeting at Malfoy Manor in 1997, Bellatrix's face "flooded with colour" and "her eyes welled with tears of delight"; a display of emotion which Voldemort ignored entirely, opting instead to humiliate humilate and jeer at Bellatrix and the Malfoys being related to Remus Lupin, a werewolf, by marriage.
Voldemort chose to jape at her about this directly after she showed him loyalty by saying that there was "no higher pleasure" than having him in her family's house. It was this cold reaction from her master that seemed to make Bellatrix even more determined to kill her niece, Nymphadora Tonks and "prune" her family tree. For her, satisfying Voldemort was of the utmost importance, and therefore the thought of disappointing him was something of a deep, inner fear to Bellatrix.
Despite this, he still considered Bellatrix among his most valuable and loyal Death Eaters. He trained her in the Dark Arts and when she was killed in a duel with Molly Weasley in the final battle, Voldemort's fury was said to "explode like a bomb" and hers was the only death that he attempted to avenge before Harry Potter intervened. Unlike many other Death Eaters, Bellatrix never attempted to deny her loyalties when Voldemort fell in 1981, instead she proudly claimed that she was his most loyal and trusted servant and that he would rise again, and willingly endured the horrors of Azkaban prison for her undying loyalty.
Bellatrix was slavishly devoted to Voldemort and flew into a mad rage if she ever felt he was being insulted, such as when she screamed at Harry Potter for using his name. Consequently, she was intensely afraid of Voldemort's displeasure, begging him for forgiveness when the prophecy he sought was smashed in 1996. However, despite the thwarting of his plans, Voldemort acknowledged Bellatrix's usefulness and risked being seen by the Ministry officials while he took the time to rescue her before disapparating from the Ministry. Prior to the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix again showed her deep fear of angering her master, shouting at her brother-in-law to not summon him when it became apparent that Godric Gryffindor's Sword was not where Voldemort had instructed her to ensure it was.
Despite Bellatrix being fanatically devoted to the ideology of blood purity, she did not seem to mind that Voldemort was a half-blood, even though she flew into a rage when Harry spoke of this heritage. This may be due to Voldemort lying to his subordinates about being pure-blood, and that Bellatrix fully chose to believe her master's lie over the truth from the enemy.
Bellatrix Lestrange saw Harry Potter as her master's most hated enemy, constantly mocking and underestimating him. She goaded him with baby-talk when he was tricked into coming to Sirius's rescue, and was outraged at his showing disrespect to Voldemort, calling him a filthy half-blood; only her brother-in-law, Lucius Malfoy, was able to restrain her at that moment. She took sadistic pleasure in killing Sirius and seeing how much it hurt Harry. In their brief duel, when Harry struck her with the Cruciatus Curse, she called him weak and told him that one had to "mean it," to really want to cause pain, when using an Unforgivable Curse. Bellatrix despised Harry for the inexplicable threat he posed to the Dark Lord, and wanted him dead.
Harry had hated and feared Bellatrix ever since he first saw her in the Pensieve, learning that she was responsible for the attack on Alice and Frank Longbottom. Harry's attention was immediately drawn to Bellatrix's picture when the news of the ten escaped Death Eaters appeared in the Daily Prophet, and whenever he saw her image on wanted posters after that. During the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Harry fully intended to kill Bellatrix in retaliation for her murder of his godfather, and at the onset of the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix's appearance in the fray caused his fear to reach a new high. Bellatrix also killed Dobby the house-elf and Nymphadora Tonks, and when she attempted to murder Ginny Weasley during the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry was diverted from his goal of destroying Voldemort in the hopes of attacking her; he was stopped only by the sudden intervention of Molly Weasley.
After the fall of the Dark Lord in 1981, Bellatrix along with three other Death Eaters (including her husband, Rodolphus Lestrange) set out to attack members of the Order of the Phoenix, hoping to interrogate them for information on Voldemort's whereabouts. She personally attacked Alice and Frank Longbottom, torturing them by means of the Cruciatus Curse in her attempt at forcing them to yield the information she wanted. The event rendered the Aurors clinically and permanently insane, therefore condemning them to St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries for the remainder of their lives. Prior to the Longbottoms' capture and torture, Alice had given birth to a baby boy, Neville Longbottom.
Neville was left with parents incapable of even recognising him let alone caring for him, and so was raised by his grandmother. Bellatrix seemed to find the fact that she had caused Neville's family tragedy highly amusing. Upon first meeting Neville, she proceeded to mock his loss, extremely angering him in the process. Ever since he was old enough to understand why his parents needed to be hospitalised, Neville had despised Bellatrix Lestrange, but given his benign nature, he never sought vengeance against her. Instead, Neville honoured his parents by showing more bravery than anyone could have expected of him, retaliating, when Bellatrix taunted him, rebelling against the tyranny of the Carrows during his seventh year at Hogwarts and subsequently fighting during the 1998 Battle of Hogwarts against Voldemort and his forces.
Severus Snape was a Death Eater prior to the end of the First Wizarding War, changing sides shortly before Voldemort's 1981 downfall, and becoming a triple agent for Albus Dumbledore. Bellatrix was highly suspicious of him, possibly because of Snape's half-blood status, though mainly citing his evading a sentence to Azkaban "in Dumbledore's pocket;" mistrust may also have been Bellatrix's only real way of expressing her envy of the position of trust and respect Snape enjoyed under Voldemort. In 1996, Bellatrix followed Narcissa to Snape's house, trying to dissuade her from seeking his help in guiding and guarding Draco in the task of killing Albus Dumbledore. Bellatrix was taken aback by Snape's conformance in making the Unbreakable Vow, for which she acted as a Bonder. Both she and Snape fought at the Battle of Hogwarts, Bellatrix dying, however, before being able to discover that her initial mistrust of Snape had been valid after all.
Albus Dumbledore knew Bellatrix to be a highly dangerous Death Eater since the First Wizarding War, having also witnessed her trial and imprisonment, after she tortured the Aurors Alice and Frank Longbottom to insanity and beyond.
Though Bellatrix was fanatically loyal to Voldemort, and believed that he was greater and more powerful than Dumbledore, she would not brave Dumbledore in a duel, as she recognised him as a far more superior wizard than she was a witch. During the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Bellatrix fled rather than engage Dumbledore in battle, deflecting his spells as she made her escape, and was the only Death Eater in the Death Chamber who succeeded in escaping from him - a testament of her prodigious magical skills.
While Bellatrix most likely never had so much as a full conversation with the Headmaster, Dumbledore seemed to understand her very well; he admitted to Severus Snape that he would prefer to not fall prey to Bellatrix Lestrange in his weakened state (caused by Voldemort's cursed Horcrux ring), as she liked to "play with her food before she eats it".
Bellatrix was not likely to have viewed many of the other Death Eaters as her equals, as she believed both her skill and devotion to Voldemort to exceed that of others. Undoubtedly, she considered Voldemort's most loyal Death Eaters to be those who, like her, were imprisoned in Azkaban at some point: namely, Barty Crouch Jr., and her husband and his brother. While it's unclear exactly how much genuine respect the other Death Eaters had for Bellatrix, it was clear they were familiar with her view of herself, as Travers became less suspicious of Hermione Granger, disguised as Bellatrix via Polyjuice Potion in 1998, only after Hermione took on a much haughtier persona.
Order of the Phoenix and enemies
Most of the Order of the Phoenix knew Bellatrix as one of the most dangerous and sadistic of Lord Voldemort's followers, especially considering Bellatrix managed to kill, seriously injure, or duel and successfully defeat several Order members. She despised her "blood traitor" cousin and niece, Sirius Black and Nymphadora Tonks, both of whom she eventually killed; she bested Kingsley Shacklebolt at the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, was disgusted by Remus Lupin, as a werewolf, marrying into her family through Nymphadora Tonks, and of course, took part in torturing the Aurors Alice and Frank Longbottom.
At the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, she singled out Hermione Granger, as a Muggle-born, to torture and interrogate, though she offered to take Ron Weasley next, as a member of the Weasley family, well known in pure-blood supremacist circles as "blood traitors." During the Battle of Hogwarts, Bellatrix cruelly taunted Molly Weasley about the death of Molly's son, Fred, and when she tried to attack Molly's daughter, Ginny, she instigated a vicious battle between Molly and herself. This battle ended in the death of Bellatrix, who continued laughing derisively at the efforts of her opponent until the moment she realised Molly had defeated her.
Kreacher was the last house-elf of the House of Black, and he mimicked his family's pure-blood supremacist values. Presumably by showing Kreacher a bit of kindness, Bellatrix and Narcissa managed to convince the lonely house-elf, who had lived by himself for years at 12 Grimmauld Place following the death of his beloved Walburga Black, to give them information about the nature of Harry Potter and Sirius Black's relationship — information they were able to use in a scheme that ultimately led to Black's death. Kreacher later helped Bellatrix by injuring Buckbeak, Sirius' hippogriff, and by lying to Harry that Sirius was gone, when he had actually only gone upstairs to tend to Buckbeak's injury. Harry went to the Ministry of Magic to save Sirius, who in turn went there to save Harry and was killed in a duel with Bellatrix. After Sirius's death, Kreacher hoped to move into Bellatrix's possession, but Sirius's will transferred ownership to Harry. Kreacher finally gave his loyalty to Harry in 1997, and fought against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, Bellatrix included, during the Battle of Hogwarts.
- [HP4], chapter 33
- [HP7], chapter 23
- "J.K. Rowling Web Chat Transcript". The Leaky Cauldron. 30 July 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2007.
- [HP4], chapter 30
- [HP6], chapter 2
- [HP7], chapter 1
- [HP7], chapter 5
- "New Interview with J.K. Rowling for Release of Dutch Edition of 'Deathly Hallows'." (18 November 2007). The Leaky Cauldron. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- Edward (20 October 2007). "J. K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall Reveals Dumbledore is Gay; Neville Marries Hannah Abbott, and Much More". The Leaky Cauldron. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- Brian Linder, Phil Pirrello, Eric Goldman, Matt Fowler (14 July 2009). "Top 25 Harry Potter Characters". IGN. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- Joe Utichi (3 November 2010). "The Top 10 Harry Potter Characters". IGN. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- Scott Harris (14 July 2011). "'Harry Potter' Mega Poll: The Mega Results!". NextMovie.com. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
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