Headscratchers: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Molly Vs Bellatrix
Did Mrs. Weasley really use the Killing Curse on Bellatrix Lestrange?
The Killing Curse isn't the only curse that can kill, it's just very effective at doing so. Considering where it impacted, that spell could have done a lot of internal damage just with a fair amount of force behind it.
If she didn't use the Killing Curse, she should have. The good guys were too nice and thus easily defeated; while they played with children's magic by knocking out the opposition, the bad guys played for keeps and would have crushed the resistance at Hogwarts if not for an incredible Ass Pull at the end.
Molly took Bellatrix out with one spell. How, exactly, is using the Killing Curse (which kills instantly) not as 'nice' as using a spell that still killed her but could have made it far more painful?
Indeed, the Killing Curse is probably the most effective spell in terms of lethality, considering that it's essentially an Instant Death Bullet.
How exactly is stupefying less effective than killing from the combat prospective? This way or that, the enemy is incapacitated.
Because a stupefied opponent can be put back in the fight immediately with a simple Enervate, as the Death Eaters demonstrated during the Ministry battle when they just kept reviving each other. OTOH, somebody who just had their kneecaps turned to gravel by a bone-breaker hex is going to be out of it and stay out until they've had a trip to St. Mungo's.
Killing splits your soul. Unlike our world, it's a BIG NO for normal wizards. Good point about mutilating curses, though.
No, murder splits your soul, not killing. Killing in self-defense has never been portrayed as evil in these books—though it hasn't happened very often.
Don't forget - European philosophy is a LOT more anti-killing than American. My European friends actively condemn cops for shooting criminals, saying "why didn't they talk it out". "he was just waving a loaded firearm about, he hadn't killed anyone", or my favorite "why didn't they shoot to incapacitate". The American reaction "what took you so long?" Just for grins: the Texas reaction "You call that marksmanship? He's still twitching?"
OotP finale: Harry wangsts that the Prophecy means he will either be murdered or become a murderer. Hb P; Harry grows a pair and wants to kill Riddle. DH: Harry is a Technical Pacifist and bores Riddle to death with Info Dump.
YMMV: I thought that was pretty awesome. "You've made a lot of mistakes, Riddle. Wanna hear some more before you die?"
But the original point: did it actually ever say they were only using "children's magic"? I believe Harry got a stern talking-to because he insisted on using "Expelliarmus" instead of a more powerful spell.
Harry was told off more because the disarming charm was Harry's signature move, he had used it in front of a bunch of Death Eaters to (apparently at least) repel Voldemort. In a situation in which Harry is supposed to be undercover, using Expelliarmus made him easily recognizable and thus endangered the entire operation.
No, Lupin explicitly stated he thought Harry should have cursed to kill with Confringo or something: Lupin: Harry, the time for Disarming is past! These people want to capture and kill you! At least Stun if you aren't prepared to kill!
Harry, Ron, and Hermione are the only ones whose spells we regularly see, and because they are still very young adults, they are not comfortable with the use of more lethal spells. We don't really see too many of the spells cast by the adult characters, especially during the final battle, and Lupin implies that the Order is more than willing to use Unforgivables to keep Harry safe. On the rare occasion that we do see an adult's spell described, such as McGonagall's flying dagger spam at Snape, they sound pretty lethal to me.
And "enervate" means to drain physical or mental strength or vitality, not to restore it.
Actually, JK realised that she'd made a mistake afterwards, and later releases used Renervate instead.
Furthermore, why was it that Mrs. Weasley insisted on fighting Bellatrix alone? Dramatics aside, tactical pragmatism dictates that you should use overwhelming force to defeat your enemy. Instead of pushing those attacking Bellatrix aside, she should have joined them and helped overwhelm the evil witch. It served no other purpose than to show that Mrs. Weasley is a Bad Ass.
Think of it as if Molly had just walked up and shot her. No dancing, and flipping, just in the middle of a sentence, raised up a pistol and shot her in the head. The fact that she is willing to straight-up kill to protect her children is the dramatic statement being made in that scene. Remember that wizards live in a crazy world where everyone is constantly armed. At any moment, if you really want to kill someone, you just say something, then they die. So, like any normal person, Molly has never looked at someone and decided, "I'm going to walk over there and kill them right now." Bellatrix underestimates her because she's not trained. She doesn't believe Molly will kill, and thinks she'll go with something easier to counter.
One theory here could be that while four against one may work great when it's four thugs in an alley against one thug in an alley, fighting with wands seems more comparable to duelling than to fisticuffs to me, thus it requires a certain amount of skill and tactics. Having four people who have not prearranged a strategy all going for the same person at the same time could have just confused things, and nobody would have gotten a perfect shot in. Plus I anticipate that the kids were not aiming to kill, whereas Bellatrix was, and sooner or later she would've gotten them, which Molly must have realised: she was aiming to kill. Given what had just happened to her son, I don't blame her.
You're not that far from the truth. As a personal defense instructor, I can tell you that unless a group of combatants is trained and practiced to work together, the advantage usually lies with a single well-trained defender — provided they know how to exploit pacing gaps, tactical angles, and are willing to put each opponent down HARD with a disabler, like broken bones. This changes, of course, once you get to "overbearing" odds, but three or four to one may stumble in each other's way.
Maybe you're right when it comes to close-combat. But we're talking about sided battle using ranged weapons.
We're talking about MAGIC for Christ's sake! It doesn't conform to the rules of ordinary fight, wether melee or ranged. It's supposed to be a duel of wills and emotions.
When push comes to shove, weapons, tactics, magic, allies etc means NOTHING. Someone tried to kill her child. Speaking as a mother and army brat that loves war games, all that shit goes out the window. It doesn't matter the best or most practical way to hurt this person. There is no time to even consider it. Hurt my kid, time to duck or die. If someone wanted to help, I'd have to deny them like she did because if I'm in for the kill, I don't want distraction/ally get in my way KWIM?
What bugs me about this whole situation is that Mrs. Weasley actually managed to defeat Bellatrix. I realize that the HP series is waaaay on the idealistic side of Realism vs. Idealism scale, but still - Bellatrix is a powerful witch, 'trained in the Dark Arts by the Dark Lord himself', and she's presumably extremely dangerous. Molly is a housewife. Her beating Bellatrix in a duel makes just as much sense as a housewife beating up a heavyweight boxing champion. How can you justify it?
Anecdotally, a housewife once did knock out a heavyweight boxing champion. She took him by surprise, though - although Molly might have gained the element of surprise by running in against Bellatrix.
Well, didn't JK Rowling confirm that Molly only managed to defeat Bellatrix because Bellatrix underestimated her? Also, at this point, Lestrange was the last Death Eater standing, so she was probably worn out. She was too busy cackling like the maniac she was to pay much attention to the battle.
I know far too many women like Mrs. Weasley to have any difficulty believing it. Without naming names, one of them, a short, thin, soft-spoken middle-aged woman, was upset at some teenagers fighting in front of the restaurant she worked at - so she went out and gave them hell, breaking up the fight, and causing them to leave chagrined. And then there's my other friend, who before settling down (somewhat...) worked as everything from a construction worker to a research chemist, traveled half the world... Trust me. There are quite a number of "housewives" I know that I'd never, ever want to face if they really got angry.
I take offense to the belief that housewives can't do anything. Also, neither of Harry's parents had jobs. JKR has said that all they did was fight in the Order, which Mrs. Weasley did as well. Therefore, she should be just as good at magic as either of them, if not better, since she had been out of school longer.
Lily and James didn't have jobs?! So Aunt Marge was right! Anyway, given that they were also only 20 when Harry was conceived, was he an accident? It certainly wasn't the best time to have kids with a war going on.
They were only out of school for four years or so when they were killed, and it was stated (early on, I believe) that Voldemort's first reign of terror lasted 11. The seventh year of living under the Dark Lord is probably not the opportune time to be out in the world for a couple of Gryffindors who support Dumbledore.
Bellatrix's allies had just killed her son. You would be amazed at what any mother can do when her children are on the line. On top of the Mama Bear thing, Bellatrix probably made the same mistake as the person asking the question - she just didn't take the woman seriously. The woman whose son's very recent death she was mocking just after nearly killing her other kid. Smooth, Bella, real smooth. She probably just saw her as just a housewife and didn't put any real fight into it. If she had, her chances would've been better.
It should also be pointed out that there were clues that Molly Weasley was rather skilled in magic before. Like her clock. A clock that can query the state of the universe and ask, "Hey, is this particular person in mortal danger right now?" Even for JKR-style magic, that's pretty powerful. And she almost certainly did not purchase such an artifact.
I always figured she bought the clock. Remember that in book 6, she says she doesn't "know anyone else who has a clock like this", implying that there are other clocks like that, she just doesn't know anyone who has them. If she had made it herself, then she would know that no one else had one. She also says she doesn't know if it's normal for everyone's hand to be pointed at "mortal peril" in circumstances like that. She's probably know more about it's operation. Lastly, if she made it, why didn't she add her as-good-as son Harry to it? Or Hermione, who spends just as much time at her house as Harry does?
Also, remember, Molly can have five or six spells going at once and still Accio Ton-Tongue Toffees from Fred and George. I know she didn't actually do this, but how hard is it to switch from a potato-peeling charm to a person-peeling charm?
I'm skepical of the assertion that cooking, practiced in the sanctity of your own home, can turn you into a dueling badass.
No, years as part of the Order of the Pheonix, living through a genocidal war, having your child killed and the rest of your family's life on the line during said war, and said dead child mocked in front of you while your daughter and an as-good-as is also being threatened (not to mention raising Fred and George) can turn you into a dueling badass. Never underestimate a mother who's family's lives are on the line. Or any mother at all, for that matter.
Also, I think it should be noted that she's Molly Weasley nee Prewett. The Prewetts were extremely powerful wizards (it took quite a few Death Eaters to take out two, and most of the time, they were playing).
Being a magical housewife means you get to use magic even more often than others.
What, so Molly would use Avada Kedevra while weeding the garden?
You tell me what else works on crabgrass?
After her scare with the boggart, it's possible that Molly trained herself up as a duelist in private, zapping gnomes and fending off animated objects, while the kids were off at school. We know her daughter managed to become a competent Quidditch player by practicing solo when her brothers weren't around, after all.
Plus, Bellatrix is described as laughing in the same way Sirius did when she killed him. The way this troper read that scene was Sirius relaxing his defenses just to get a taunt in, and Sirius and Bella are both arrogant enough (and from a somewhat unstable family) to consider this a worthwhile strategy.
My objection to Molly Weasley's Sudden Superpowers has nothing to do with her day job and everything do to with the fact that Ginny, Hermione, and Luna were having difficulty facing Bellatrix. Let's recap: these are two leaders of La Résistance and a woman who's been dodging Death Eaters for months on a wild cross country trek, and all three of them together can't take out Bellatrix. Then, Molly, who up until now has pretty much exemplified Adults Are Useless, steps in and suddenly there's no problem? I don't think so.
Pardon, but did you actually, you know, READ the books? From the beginning, it's obvious that the entire Weasely family is terrified of Molly's rages. Her husband certainly backs down to her, and he is no dueling slouch, either. Add into that the references to the power of the Prewett line she is descended from, give her plenty of practice in recent events as an Order member, and then maim one of her beloved children, murder a second, and then threaten her only daughter. You have poked a sleeping bear. However, at NO TIME WHATSO-FRIGGIN-EVER did Molly EVER EVER EVER exemplify Adults Are Useless. She's been fighting as a member of the Order for AT LEAST three years by now, not counting whatever she did in the first Dark War.
Seconded. She can't handle the boggart, she denies Harry critical information for emotional rather than rational reasons, and one of those times she is extremely rude about it. Mama Bear isn't scary just because she's pissed, she's scary because she has hundreds of pounds of teeth, claws, and muscle 'and' she's pissed. I buy Molly being enthusiastic, I just don't buy her suddenly becoming a skilled combatant.
Who's to say this skill is sudden? Just because she wasn't an Auror doesn't necessarily mean she wasn't good at Defence Against the Dark Arts. She was recruited into the Order of the Phoenix, you really think they would take in useless nobodies who had no idea how to fight? Not to mention Mad-Eye would have undoubtedly been running intense practice duels at all available times. And why do we even automatically assume Bellatrix is going to be more skilled? She spent fourteen years in Azkaban without a wand, how much practice do you think she got in? And as for taking on the Boggart, that wasn't about skill, that was because she made the mistake of taking it on alone in a dark, creepy house. Compare to how the kids faced the Boggart in Lupin's class, where everyone's happy and the sun is shining (and even jaunty music in the movie version). Lupin states that the most important part of dealing with a Boggart is having the right mindset.
Likely Molly has dealt with boggarts before, as they're part of the DADA curriculum. No one particularly seems to think of them as a big deal — Lupin is utterly blase about his worst fear, for example (though that may just be because the real moon randomly appearing from a cupboard is pretty unlikely), and that one boggart is only left alone just because it might possibly be something worse. So quite likely Molly has an expectation of what she'll see when the boggart transforms — and instead is confronted with the corpses of her family. Who on earth could make that sight more comical on the fly?
And why do we even automatically assume Bellatrix is going to be more skilled? She spent fourteen years in Azkaban without a wand, how much practice do you think she got in?" She escaped from Azkaban back in book 5, so she has had over 2 years to get back in shape before she faces Molly.
Not to mention not having something genuinely horrible for it to draw on. Molly's boggart-induced vision of her family being dead goes as far beyond, say, Ron's fear of spiders as Harry's hearing his Mom die goes beyond what other characters experience from dementors.
"You really think they [the Order of the Pheonix] would take in useless nobodies who had no idea how to fight?" Yes. Yes I do. And you know I'm right. Pretty much the only real criteria the Order has for admission is being 17 years of age and having a pulse. Please witness giving McFletcher the duty of tailing Harry, twice. Please witness that the Order had zero concept of counterintelligence and need-to-know. Hell, even Dumbledore was willing to compromise their plans to give Snape a little more credibility.
Mudungus was mainly kept on for his connections to the black market though, not for his combat abilities. They let him follow Harry partly to show him they trusted him and partly because Voldy seemed to be busy elsewhere.
Personally, this troper never found it that far of a stretch that Molly Weasley could take out Bellatrix. She raised seven children, two of them being Fred and George. Through the years, I bet she developed good dodging and spell reflexes if she didn't have them already.
Okay, trying to apply Occram's Razor: Bellatrix let her guard down. Molly Weasley got the element of surprise thanks to her anger and being fueled by adrenaline. Really, it doesn't take more than that.
Exactly. Hasn't anybody ever heard of people performing feats of strength under dangerous circumstances that, normally, would have been physically impossible for them?
It doesn't even take a feat of strength. There's more to a fight than direct statistical matchup. The best fighter will not always be the winner. Under controlled circumstances with both of them going at it their hardest, Molly probably wouldn't have won, but when out on the field, it's different. Bellatrix has been dueling one person after the next, and was in the middle of dueling three people immediately prior. She was tired, she was angry, she was cocky, her whole mindset was completely out of the right zone for optimal combat, and she had her guard down when Molly struck. That's all it took.
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
For people wondering why Luna, Hermione and Ginny couldn't take down Bellatrix - she wasn't holding back. She knew they were threats and she treated them as such. In Book 6 she acknowledges how well they fought against her at the Ministry. So she treats them as formidable opponents. But she views Molly as a worthless blood traitor and housewife. She underestimates her. She let her guard down. And that was her undoing. Villains in the HP Universe are frequently destroyed by underestimating their opponents.
Mundungus served a very explicit purpose, which I believe was even mentioned: "He knows all the crooks", and thus, is useful. And counterintelligence was pretty easily resolved; the Order knew, possibly hours later, that Pius Thicknesse had been Imperiused, for example, due to their spies in the Ministry. Also, it is possible that they relied on Dumbledore for counterintelligence, which he took care of through Snape. He might have informed them they have a spy, but not told them who it was exactly, for security purposes. Someone gave The Departed as an example earlier, and I'll reference it again: the cops trusted Martin Sheen to take care of counterintelligence, making the exposure of DiCaprio to everyone unnecessary. Point being: The Order of Phoenix knows what it's doing, and it's very likely, with two highly skilled brothers, that she received training. Just because she never really exposed her magical ability by basically devoting her life to her kids, does not mean she lacks it. Not to sound like an ass here, but it's an awfully Death Eater-ish argument some people are giving here, as if love and sacrifice weakened people, and implied they were somehow useless. Besides, I don't see anyone questioning Neville's transformation from an almost-Squib to a BAMF. It could be a mere line-of-sight thing.
What? Who said 'Molly shouldn't have been able to kill Bellatrix because she LOVES!'? There's nothing DE-ish about wanting Molly, if she had to have killed Bellatrix, to have had even a passing reference to have been a skilled duelist in the past. There's also nothing DE-ish about wanting Molly, if she had to have killed Bellatrix, to have a personal reason to dislike Bellatrix. Had Bellatrix killed Fred or had it been mentioned that she was one of the ones who killed Gideon and Fabian, it would have seemed a lot less like it was out of nowhere. Say Augusta Longbottom had killed Bellatrix instead. She appeared in the series maybe twice and yet not only had she been established as being formidable by getting away from the D Es sent to capture her, but given what Bellatrix did to Frank and Alice, she would have had a very good reason to want to take her out. Molly lacks both the established fighting prowess and personal motivation to make her coming out of nowhere, knocking people out of the way, and then killing Bellatrix in such a literally battle-stopping event to have been properly set up.
I don't think you can really claim she didn't have the motivation. Sure, Bella didn't kill Fred, but she is an important part of the group that caused his death (shortly before), caused her eldest son to be maimed, and kept trying to target her family and put her other children at risk. And then Bella is fighting with her YOUNGEST child and ONLY daughter, almost killing her. No, Bella didn't kill Fred, but she was hardly uninvolved. Whatever about Molly's skills (which, while not mentioned previously, there are no real reasons to doubt), she had PLENTY of motivation.
Bellatrix: What will happen to your children when I've killed you? When Mummy's gone the same way as Freddie?"
Molly: You — will — never — touch — our — children — again!
There's also the fact that Slughorn specifically remembers Molly as being a very gifted witch when she was at Hogwarts. There are many hints and such that Molly has a good deal of skill, and no doubt a lot of experience. Remember also when the Order was fighting in the past. If you work out the timeline, she had five small children when Voldemort tried to kill Harry. This means that at some point during the war, she was PREGNANT while fighting. I think she can handle herself. Also with Hermione, Ginny, and Luna; Ginny and Luna haven't had Hermione's experience, it's true, but Hermione's also not slept in a couple of days, and has never been that great at dueling (better than Ron, hell yes, but not dueling in general).
Even better, ALL SEVEN of her children were born when Voldemort went after the Potters. Ginny was only two and a half months old. And depending on when Voldemort revealed himself to the public (it was sometime in 1970), it is quite possible that ALL of the Weasley children were born during his original rise to power (Bill was born in late November, 1970).
If Molly was indeed such a gifted student, why is her family living on a single, low-level income? Is the wizarding world behind us in terms of married women in the workplace? No, I just don't see Molly as being particularly gifted. While we're on the subject, why would Molly not be in employment? Her kids are grown up, and if house-elves are morally acceptable slaves, why don't the Weasleys have one?
Yeah, her staying home definitely has nothing to do with her 7 kids. Also, if they can't afford to get Ron his own *wand*, would they really be able to afford purchasing a house elf?
As far as "staying home" goes, five of her kids have left home by the sixth book (although, yes, the war had begun, so getting a job probably wasn't a priority), and they all went to boarding school anyway. Molly is a witch, so what did she do all day while the bewitched house cleaned itself? This isn't an anti-housewife tirade, but Molly's workload during the series really was not that extensive. Besides, her occupation has nothing to do with her magical ability, but I don't think she'd have been able to take on a master of the dark arts like Bellatrix without being underestimated, as JK Rowling has confirmed.
Umm...she's magically keeping the family rnning on little money. The Weasleys manage fine on low income - why should she get a job when the family is fine?
Really, don't know if I buy the idea of Molly fighting in the first war. She's not mentioned in the picture of the original Order of the Phoenix (Not all told that that group was all that effective). Hagrid explicitly states that when Voldemort went after someone, that person was dead. My guess is that the first time around, the Weasleys kept their heads down just like everyone else. In the 14 year interim period, the wizarding world was in a state of We Do Not Talk About You-Know-Who. I doubt very many people had access to get training, especially not for a family with really limited income. I mean, the only interaction with anti-dark books we see is with Lockhart.
Molly is implied to have inherited considerable magical talent, have plenty of motivation, and (this one's a bit of speculation) received actual training. She was sister to Gideon and Fabian Prewett, who needed 5 Death Eaters ganging up on them to take down. It's highly unlikely she'd be ignored in the magical training. Moreover: Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. Just because she prefers to stay at home and raise a family doesn't mean she's not capable of taking up arms when needed. So the picture didn't include her. That's understandable. She probably didn't go out and fight overtly — she doesn't strike me as the kind of person to do so — but she probably did receive the training to do so in case of need.
Molly didn't fight in the first war. In Order of the Phoenix, Lupin says "look, I can't promise no one's going to get hurt, nobody can promise that, but we're much better off than we were last time. You weren't in the Order then, you don't understand. Last time we were outnumbered twenty to one by the Death Eaters and they were picking us off one by one..."
Molly wasn't in the Order during the last war because if (as noted above) Voldemort came forward in 1970, and, as we know, he fell in 1981, then Molly would have been pregnant for almost the entire war. Bill was born in late '70, Charlie at the end of '72, then the largest gap, with Percy coming in mid '76, Fred and George in April '78, Ron in March '80, and Ginny in August '81. It would have been extremely dangerous for Molly to be near the frontlines at any point, her family was brand new, and continually growing. She was not out of the war because she was incompetent, she was out because she had other responsibilities.
That's going a bit too far. In a war, it doesn't matter whether or not you're a member of a resistance, you're going to fight if you have to. What with all the uncertainty and peril going around, I wouldn't be surprised if at one point Molly was forced to confront a Death Eater without Arthur. Let's not even get to the fact that, if one of her children had accidentally wandered into the path of danger, she would have sprung into action like any other mother would.
Defending yourself when an individual enemy soldier tries to kill you as a civilian (either because s/he is breaching discipline or because s/he has been ordered to commit an atrocity) is NOT "fighting in a war," it's a common sense survival instinct and falls squarely into self-defense. Fighting in a war is when you join or form a group (your country's army, the local resistance guerrillas, etc...) and support or conduct efforts to damage to enemy forces regardless of whether they are targeting you at the moment or not, with the knowledge that by doing so you will yourself be becoming a target for the enemy as well, is a whole other story.
But that doesn't change the fact that she must've had to roll up her sleeves and kick ass once in a while.
Is it me, or was that just a jerkass thing for Lupin to say? I think she understood all too well what happened last time, which is probably why she had her objections. Losing two brothers to Death Eaters, who outnumbered them, would kind of stick in the memory.
Honestly, where is this "Molly was useless" crap coming from? Every instance of her character throughout the books portrayed her as a savvy, respected, cautious, and powerful witch. The multiple-spells-at-once should have been a dead giveaway. Who else in the ENTIRE series pulled anything remotely close to that off? She simply had other things to worry about than glory-hogging! Sweet Jesus, people, go up to your own mothers, those of you who had "only housewife" moms, and tell them they're all but useless! See if you don't come away with less than a black eye.
There is no indication that Molly is any better at housework than any other adult witch or wizard. No one says anything about how multiple housework spells going on at once is at all unusual, and it probably isn't. No one is saying she was useless or that she wasted her life raising children. What people ARE saying is that her being able to do housework and raise children is not an indication that she is good at fighting. It doesn't mean she automatically can't fight, either. Her housework-doing and child-rearing really have nothing to do with her fighting abilities, which are never at all mentioned.
Which reminds me, Neville's grandmother is like this as well. "Little old witch living alone, they probably thought they didn't need to send anyone particularly powerful." Her son and daughter-in-law were in the Order and were both Aurors, so she, like Molly, were more badass than they let on.
Not to mention that boasting about your badassery would be an extremely stupid thing to do when you're a parent and find yourself on the weaker side of a war. Word Of God states that Lily and James withdrew from the politics when Harry was born, so it's not much of a stretch to imagine that Molly, Arthur, and Augusta did the same thing.
Bellatrix clearly died for the same reason that Sirius did — she got cocky, let her guard down, and paid the price. As for how Mrs. Weasley managed to hold up against Bellatrix long enough to take advantage of Bellatrix's distraction, Bellatrix probably didn't take her seriously right from the start of the duel. The idea that Mrs. Weasley was training a lot has merit as well — we never are told what she does with herself while her children are at Hogwarts. Once Ginny went to Hogwarts, she could have spent several hours a day training and nobody would have been any the wiser. Even if she didn't start training until Voldemort came back, that's still at least three years she could have been preparing.
This troper believes that it was a combination of Bella's arrogance and Molly's skill as a witch that got Bellatrix Lestrange killed. After all, a few people have mentioned so far that she was sister to brothers Gideon and Fabian Prewett, who were highly skilled wizards for whom it took FIVE Death Eaters to bring down, and it's implied that they took a couple of the DEs with them, too.
Haven't we all heard the anecdote about the mother who found the will to lift a car off of her trapped child? When a person is running on such a high octane mixture of adrenaline & emotion, there's no telling what they're capable of.
I think the issue of how Molly could defeat Bellatrix isn't so much how could Molly be competent, it's how was the Dark Lord's Lieutenant not more competent? Of course, we have the issue of the guy who supposedly pushed magic further than any other wizard being defeated by an angsty teenager, but there you go. For better or worse, this isn't DBZ where power actually matters. Who gets to kill who in Harry Potter is a matter of plot, not fighting ability.
First, which DBZ did you watch? Second, Bellatrix is, as it's been said, cocky, arrogant, and also a tad bit unstable. Those things don't usually add up to competence.
She seemed competent enough when she defeated Kingsley Shacklebolt, killed Sirius Black, deflected an attack by Dumbledore that dropped all the other Death Eaters, forced Snape to make an Unbreakable Vow, killed Dobby, killed Tonks, and fought Hermione, Luna, and Ginny simultaneously; at worst, stalemating against the three duelists, and at best, actually starting to win, as she had almost dwindled them down to two when Molly intervened. Crazy and arrogant, certainly, but the girl's got credentials.
Above: Kingsley had just been jinxed by Dumbledore; Sirius had been about to defeat her after fighting off several opponents; she was later owned by Dumbledore, who first only cast a glorified Accio at her; Snape was willing and Bellatrix tried to stop him making it; Dobby was distracted (and not exactly a BAMF anyway); Tonks had just given birth; Hermione hadn't slept for days after breaking into Gringotts, fighting off a host of guards, and escaping on an enraged dragon; and Luna's just been rescued from a pitch-black cellar in Malfoy Manor where she was held for months. Bellatrix was locked in Azkaban's highest security for 15 years, people. She's not exactly in her prime.
You're forgetting Bellatrix's single most important trait: she's batshit INSANE! She exhibits huge mood swings, and gloating in the middle of a fight is not out of character for her ("I killed Sirius Black! I killed Sirius Black!"). Also, Kingsley is the Hobgoblin.
Voldemort himself has some stunningly incompetent moments. Dumbledore notes that he completely disregards anything he can't immediately see a use for (which is why his defences around the locket Horcrux aren't house elf-proof - and since he used a house elf to test the potion, you'd think that such a brilliant wizard would have thought a bit further and considered the fact that house elves can Apparate where wizards can't). Similarly, if he hadn't spent the best part of books 6 and 7 torturing the Malfoy parents over Draco's safety, Narcissa wouldn't have lied to him at that crucial moment. Turning loyal followers against you is not the mark of a competent leader. Is it any wonder Bellatrix underestimated people, when her hero was doing the exact same thing?
Fridge Brilliance: Molly Weasley has just had a child murdered, her life, and the life of all her friends and family threatened. This would mean the Power of Love becomes pretty strong, yes? Earlier, Harry could block Voldemort when Dobby died, so Molly Weasley was perhaps boosted/protected by this power? Oh, and the universe hates Bellatrix: her karma is an easily-studiable example of a singularity.
Question to the people bugged by Molly's "sudden superpowers"... How many of you are bugged by Neville's off-screen development from near-Squib to BAMF at the end of Book 7? And unlike Molly, there were almost no clues that he was really that powerful! Ron pointed out that Neville could barely stand a cauldron up straight, McGonagall told him to drop Transfiguration, his only good subject is Herbology (which is implied to barely employ magic, even at the higher levels), his memory is awful, and even he often points out how lousy at magic he is. Now, don't get me wrong — Neville is one of my favorite characters, and after all the hell he went through, I was cheering for his "Squib-to-BAMF" transformation, but when you look at his and Molly's objectively and compare them, hers is a lot more believable. (It was pointed out earlier, but Molly's clock should have been a dead giveaway: Even Dumbledore, the most powerful wizard since Merlin, admired it.)
Neville was actively engaged in guerrilla warfare for the better part of a year, on top of being one of Harry's better students in his illegal Defense Against the Dark Arts class (and, to be fair, he was always reasonably good at Defense Against the Dark Arts and Charms). Molly was, as far as the reader is aware, sitting at home nervously knitting sweaters.
Okay, in the books, the Carrows wanted to blame Voldemort's coming on the students, knowing full and well that he would probably torture and kill ten of them in anger. These were, sick, dark times. "Neville! They look like they used you as a knife sharpener!" I mean, really, that'd drastically change anyone. It's pretty much Fridge Horror. Also, Bellatrix just had a kinda Villainous Breakdown. She was crumbling, and Molly was just getting started. It just took one spell, one chance, one good distracted second, and it would all be over. She got it, and she hit Bellatrix, and she won. So, it may have been sudden, but the circumstances were extreme, requiring sudden transformations, for Neville, major adrenaline, for Molly, and just caused insanity, for Bellatrix.
I'd just like to point out that there's a difference between magical prowess and badassery. Neville we know stood up to the Carrows, re-organised the DA, planned guerilla warfare, protected younger students, and then STOOD UP TO VOLDEMORT, which is incredibly brave. He also wields a sword well enough to chop off a snake's head. But not one of these activities necessarily needs magical ability. "It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." So, though I agree that Molly could conceivably be a closeted badass, Neville's BAMF-ness is not really comparable.
This discussion could get benefits by some cuts. Anyway, it has been said several time that Molly was particularly driven during the duel. It would hardly matter in a mundane Muggle gunfight (in fact, too much emotional "drive" could easily get you killed), but in the wizarding world, when it comes to want fights, "You must want it" (cit: Bellatrix). That is, your magic is stronger when you are mad at your target.
Neville was hindered for the first 5 books by using an unsuitable wand, because his grandmother had stubbornly insisted that he use his father's wand. That wand was broken during the Department of Mysteries battle, and thus he finally replaced it with one that functioned properly for him. That's why he's so much more effective in the final battle than his previous appearances would've led us to expect.
This bugged me too, at first, not because Molly was competent, but because I agree with whoever wrote the stuff about Bellatrix not being more competent - I thought it was heavily implied throughout the series that Bella was basically the most powerful dark wizard not named Voldemort. Then, possible fridge brilliance struck me. I thought Molly was using Avada Kedavra (again, not stated, but I also thought heavily implied). And it doesn't matter how powerful the target of Avada Kedavra is because it can't be blocked or resisted, it only matters that the person casting it has enough power to "make it work."
Avada Kedavra can be blocked — perhaps only in special circumstances. Voldemort tried to use it three times on Harry, first unseen before the beginning of "The Philospher's (Sorceror's) Stone," in the "Priori Incantatem" chapter of "The Goblet of Fire," and lastly in "The Forest Again" from "The Deathly Hallows." The second occasion is of particular interest because it was the only time Harry actively defended himself against the Killing Curse, using "Expelliarmus" of all things.
Avada Kedavra was blocked in those three instances for specific reasons. 1) Harry's Mother's sacrifice created magical protection for Harry. 2) The Priori Incantantem/Expelliarmus only worked because Harry and Voldemort cast their spells at the exact same moment AND because they had Twin Wands, wands that DIDN'T want to fight each other. In the forest, he didn't block the Killing Curse, he let it hit him, and it "technically" killed him. Also, Fawkes blocked a killing Curse, though it killed him (though being a Phoenix, not a HUGE problem.) Sooo, yeah all those reasons had very distinctive circumstance. A killing Curse could also be dodged or blocked with a physical object, a wall, another person, etc., but as far as I know, there is no magical way to block a directly aimed Killing Curse.
I didn't think Molly used Avada Kedavra, but they decided to have her use it in the film. And I'm just throwing this in here, because the film actually allows us to see why Molly is perfectly capable of killing Bella (Not that I consider the films more canon than the books). The book shows Molly is flying into a crazy rage in that duel, and the film takes that Up to Eleven, with Molly firing Killing Curses out the wazoo. Bellatrix actually panicked enough to try and BLOCK the Killing Curses. We know that they're unblockable, but she tried anyway, and it ended up destroying her body. I think the filmmakers were looking for some kind of Take That to anyone who doubts Molly can kill Bella.
The bottom line is that the only piece of evidence we have either way regarding Mrs. Weasley's talents at dueling is that she beat Bellatrix, who was obviously pretty talented. Prior to this, we have no evidence either way for her talents. Maybe she's never even cast Expelliarmus before, or maybe she was the captain of the Hogwarts Dueling Team and then only dropped out of Auror school because Arthur knocked her up. Nothing was ever established either way on this point. The one piece of evidence we have establishes her as obviously pretty skilled, and I don't see why people would find that particularly hard to believe.
(okay, deep breath) It all comes down to circumstance and perspective. This is war. Bellatrix is fairly insane, unstable, cocky, and arrogant. She's been fighting all night, underestimated Mrs. Weasley, and then paused to mock her. Mrs. Weasley saw the chance and took it. Mrs. Weasley is a powerful witch. We have bunches of evidence: she DID raise seven children during Voldy's reign, two of those being a young Fred and George, which must have required at least some more-than-average magic; she DID create the clock, an incredible piece of magic admired by Dumbledore himself; she IS kin to the Prewetts, a powerful magical family; she WAS a member of the Order and probably had loads of training; she WAS running on adrenaline and grief all through the battle, and I'm sure Bellatrix taunting her about dying like her son did not help. Had the circumstances been different, anything could've happened. What if Bellatrix didn't taunt Mrs. Weasley and underestimate her? What if Fred hadn't died? However, in this specific battle, all the factors combined, and Bellatrix died at Mrs. Weasley's hand.
As to her training on her own? I can totally see Mrs. Weasley outside the Burrow one afternoon firing spells at a tree: she loves her family, understands the danger, and I think it would fit with her character to practice. Her boggart was under different circumstances. Coming upstairs from a party and, surprise!, seeing your loved ones dead and having to turn the situation into something humorous is vastly different from fighting in a battleground, corpses surrounding you, and bearing the grief of your dead son. Also, if a Patronus can change, why not a boggart? She may not have been expecting it.
As to the spell, it could've been anything. Probably not the Killing Curse, which actually cripples your soul. Mrs. Weasley had only righteous anger, probably, and not enough actual "evil" in her to power that curse. There's other curses we've seen besides the AK that can do major damage. One more "Stupefy" may have killed her - It could've been anything.
A few more things to take into consideration is that powerful magic might run in the family. Look at Fred and George. Even Hermione is astonished by some of the things they create, and they only scraped three OW Ls between them. Charlie raises dragons, which I doubt anyone with weak magic could do, and Bill breaks ancient Egyptian curses for his job. Ginny's also not half bad. She leads Dumbledore's Army in the seventh year, and her Bat-Bogey Hex was apparently so great that Slughorn actually invited her into the Slug Club. Also, as someone has pointed out, Harry just sacrificed himself for his loved ones, so Molly may have drawn strength from that.
So my point is, under these particular circumstances, it is possible the Mrs. Weasley could've managed to kill Bellatrix Lestrange.
Another point that seems to not have been discussed here. I've no objection to the RAGE!Mother Love Molly Weasley shows when Bellatrix attacks Ginny - but there are a lot of problems here, too. It seems like a sloppily constructed scene just to make Molly seem a little more awesome. But I read really, really into things, and it didn't work for me. For one thing, "Molly threw off her cloak, freeing her arms to be able to fight" or something along those lines. Okay, so Mrs. Weasley was standing at the edge of the battle, not fighting until Ginny was attacked by Bella specifically?? And what are the rest of her children, next-door neighbors? Then, "OUT OF MY WAY! SHE IS MINE!" Flat. What. Molly's main aim here is to punish/kill Bella for attacking her daughter, and she consciously chooses to turn down all help and actually lower her chances of defeating Bellatrix because - why? Even if Molly really is so powerful, you don't turn down help while fighting a witch that could hold off four people at once and had killed Sirius and who knows who else - and is one of Voldy's most trusted Death Eaters. "She is mine"? If she was truly protecting her daughter, why would she be so caught up in her own glory and self-image that she would turn down all assistance and take the serious risk of losing the battle horribly? Ack. Does. Not. Work.
She wasn't turning them down out of desire to be a gloryhound. She turned them down because she was furious. It was personal to her, and she didn't want anyone getting in the way of her revenge. She wasn't thinking rationally at that point. Also, the reason that she reacted like that for Ginny, was because she was her only daughter and youngest child, and had a very special place in her heart. Not that she loved any of her other kids any less.
Consider the fact that one of Molly's sons was just killed in battle. It makes perfect sense that she would feel especially protective of her children after Fred died literally hours beforehand. After seeing another one of her children nearly killed before her eyes, why wouldn't Molly react with fierce rage to defend her kid? It hardly matters which one it was. If she saw Ron narrowly killed by Bella, surely she would react the same way. But in that moment, Molly saw Bellatrix trying to kill her only daughter and she snapped. Molly wasn't thinking about the possibility of losing the fight, she simply reacted and damned be anyone who got in her way. It has nothing to do with personal glory or self-image and everything to do with heightened emotions and a sense of justice. By taking care of Bellatrix personally, Molly is both defending her daughter and retroactively avenging Fred's death.
Hey, hang on a minute...after Harry sacrificed himself, V couldn't harm anyone, thus perhaps Molly was, to some degree, protected by this?
There was definitely some protection for the Hogwarts contingent from Harry's sacrifice. The real question is- does it apply only to Voldemort, or to all of his followers? Lily's protection only worked specifically against Voldemort. The Basilisk, for example, was able to hurt (nearly kill) him, and that was before the protection was negated by Voldemort taking his blood, and Wormtail had no trouble cutting his arm open for the blood. OTOH, Lily only ever meant to protect Harry from Voldemort, because he was the only danger present at the time, while all the Death Eaters were set to attack when Harry sacrificed himself. So, the protection may have worked against them as well, because I don't remember anyone dying after that point.
Movie Bellatrix...Why does she explode?!
Because everything evil in the movie explodes, regardless of the fact that it makes no sense whatsoever.
Am I the only one who was wondering why the hell this match even happened? I don't mean to say I don't think Bellatrix wasn't due to wind up dead. But seriously. After two books buildup....oh for God's sake I'll just say it. Why the HELL was it MOLLY that got this fight and not Neville? I mean they even teased at a battle between the two in the movie version of OotP! How is it two books make a point of mentioning that this is the woman who tortured Neville's parents beyond the point they could retain their sanity, and then all of a sudden Molly Weasley comes out of nowhere and ends up being the one to kill Bellatrix? I know I was waiting for the showdown between Neville and Bellatrix. Instead we got this. Seriously, am I the only one who felt ripped off on this?
How do you imagine that fight to go? For all his aquired badassitude Neville was still a teenager. He caught V off-guard, but he was no match for Bella, and Harry's sacrifice wouldn't have helped him against her.
Bellatrix is torturing Luna (or other random student, whatever) to insanity just like she did with Neville's parents. Neville, still holding the Sword of Gryffindor covered in Nagini's blood, jumps her from behind and stabs her. Sweet, sweet vengeance doesn't have to be fair.
Or Neville and Bellatrix are facing off. She's shooting off her mouth about destroying his parents. He's holding her at bay, but how much longer can he last? Then "NOT MY GRANDSON TOO!" Augusta Longbottom steps in to make the kill.
Hmmm, or perhaps Ginny, Neville and Luna could have been fighting rather than Hermione, and Augusta and Molly double-team her. I don't think Augusta was there, though, was she? In any case, Rowling says she chose Molly because she and Bellatrix were polar opposites - Bella's obsessive love for Voldemort VS Molly's maternal love.
As J.K.Rowling says in "The Women of Harry Potter" Molly is NOT just some "1950s housewife pottering around her kitchen", there's "some real steel" in her - this woman raised Fred and George, for goodness sakes so there'd have to be steel - and is a Prewett. Even the Blacks - one of whom MARRIED a Prewett and was Molly's aunt by marriage - knew they were powerful; Molly killing Bellatrix is easiy acceptable. It's the case of Bellatrix being absolutely bonkers and insanely "in love" with Voldemort and Molly loving her family. She's just lost Fred and almost lost Ginny, so Bellatrix is going to pay. And she does.
In the movie, Molly is the one replacing Sprout for setting off the protective spells over the school. So this troper thinks she SHOULD be sufficiently good at magic enough to kill an off-guard Bellatrix.
This is just a minor thing, but how did Bellatrix know that Fred was dead? Rookwood took the kill, and I don't recall him having any sort of interaction with the Weasley family that would make Fred's kill any more notable than his other kills in the battle. Why would Rookwood or Bellatrix even know Fred's name, for that matter? Of all the Weasleys children, they'd certainly know Percy (for his work in the ministry) and Ron (for hanging around with Potter), but wouldn't have much reason to personally learn about any of the others. The only explanation I can think of would be Bellatrix scanning Molly's mind, and if she had been doing that, I doubt the duel would've ended as it did.
Death Eaters are obsessed with blood purity. The Weaselys are one of the few pure blood families around, of course they'd know them. Add in their close connection to Harry and I'd be surprised if the Death Eaters hadn't all been briefed on the family.
Even so, how could she know which identical twin it was who'd been killed? Were they wearing their "F" and "G" sweaters to the battle?
At this point in the story, Fred still has both ears (how widely known that would be is an open question, but it is reasonable that George was at the wedding, and hence it would be known that he was missing an ear, and could now be distinguished from Fred).
Thing that no one had mentioned before: Bellatrix almost killed Ginny and Ginny is actually the only daughter and the youngest child. And, to quote Captain Carrot of Discworld "One of a kind is always special." It was shown multiple times in the series that Molly is doting on Ginny for those two reasons.