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Things About Harry Potter's Death Eaters Only Adults Notice

In the "Harry Potter" saga, Lord Voldemort is evil incarnate — the most powerful dark wizard in history, who dreams of conquering the world and death itself through any means necessary. But as formidable as Voldemort is, he wouldn't be as big a threat if not for his personal army, headed by the Death Eaters. 

While Voldemort has vast numbers of criminal wizards and foul magical creatures at his command, the Death Eaters are considered the elites of his army and the only ones worthy of wearing Voldemort's "Dark Mark" on their skin. They are the wizards who spearheaded Voldemort's plans when he first came to power and rallied around him once again after his resurrection at the end of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

The Death Eaters played a major role in the saga, starting from "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." Audiences got to know about the main Death Eaters in detail with each new installment in the series. There is a lot about the lore, appearance, and behavior of the Death Eaters that might not mean much to children but which takes on a new dimension for adults. Here are 12 such facts about the Death Eaters. 

Inspired by a real-life hate group

The Death Eaters claim to believe in the superiority of pure-blood wizards over half-blood wizards and muggles. As such, their main goal is to establish a new world order through violence that would put pure-bloods at the top of the social structure and eliminate or enslave what they perceive to be "lesser breeds" of humanity.

If you take away the "magic" context, the Death Eaters' doctrine sounds eerily similar to the Nazi philosophy of the superiority of the Aryan race over all other races. While it might seem like J.K. Rowling, the creator of "Harry Potter," was inspired by Nazi propaganda while crafting the main villains of her series, Rowling has actually stated that she did not consider the similarities until after creating the Death Eaters, when she visited a holocaust museum.

'I saw [Nazi propaganda charts] in the Holocaust Museum in Washington when I had already devised the 'pure-blood,' 'half-blood' and 'muggle born' definitions," Rowling explained in a blog post. "[I] was chilled to see that the Nazis used precisely the same warped logic as the Death Eaters." Of course, as the leader of the Death Eaters, Voldemort shares more than a few similarities with Adolf Hitler, although the Dark Lord himself would doubtless scorn the idea of being inspired by a muggle. 

Voldemort got together with Bellatrix at some point

Given the series' young target audience, "Harry Potter" naturally does not deal explicitly with sex or adult relations. The most Harry gets to do with his first (and last) official girlfriend Ginny is make out in secluded corners before 19 years passed and the two already have children in their tweens.

But not everyone was so chaste during the main storyline of "Harry Potter." Despite being depicted as a megalomaniac incapable of feeling love for another human being, Lord Voldemort had sex at some point with his second-in-command, Bellatrix Lestrange. This resulted in the birth of their daughter Delphini, a major player in "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." Interestingly, a hint towards the day of Delphini's conception might be found in the original books. 

Fans have estimated, based on her age, that Delphini would have been conceived around the time of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." That was the book in which Bellatrix was finally released from Azkaban on Voldemort's orders after years of imprisonment. In the book, Harry could sense Voldemort being "happier than he had been in a very long time," which could be a reference to a night of passion between the Dark Lord and Bellatrix to celebrate her return. 

The Death Eaters were not competent

At the height of their power, the Death Eaters were feared almost as much as Voldemort himself. While the Dark Lord talked a good game about wanting to rid the world of mixed-blood wizards and muggles, his true interest had always lain in making himself ever more powerful rather than governing a despotic regime.

While Voldemort was often busy with his side projects like creating more Horcruxes or searching for the Deathly Hallows, it fell to the Death Eaters to run their organization on a day-to-day basis. And, truth be told, they kind of sucked at it. Despite their fearsome reputation, the Death Eaters were not the perfect agents of chaos and anarchy that many imagined them to be. It is repeatedly made clear throughout the books that Voldemort preferred working with those who would follow him blindly rather than question his will, and for that he preferred less-intelligent followers. 

Throughout the series, we see the Death Eaters repeatedly be outwitted or straight-up defeated by Harry and his gang of teen wizards. Snape was able to function right under the noses of the Death Eaters and Voldemort without suspecting his true motives. There was also a lot of double-crossing and backstabbing going on between the Death Eaters, which further hindered their ability to function effectively as a unified force.  

Bellatrix mirrored Molly Weasley

There are not a lot of female Death Eaters, but Bellatrix Lestrange makes up for it by being crazy enough for ten regular Death Eaters. As Voldemort's second-in-command and secret baby mama, Bellatrix had a big hand in the Dark Lord's rise over the years, and his attempts to establish a new wizarding order based on pure-blood supremacy.

It was a doctrine that Bellatrix was whole-heartedly in favor of. She is shown to be fanatically devoted to the idea that wizards need to keep their bloodlines pure by only marrying other wizards. So much so, in fact, that she fiercely hated her own sister Andromeda for marrying a muggle, and was actively looking for a chance to kill her niece Nymphadora for being a half-blood. Even Bellatrix's "love" for Voldemort was founded on her perception of him as the liberator of pure-blood wizards. Bellatrix's beliefs of putting her ideals above family are a complete contrast to another pure-blooded witch Molly Weasley, who placed her family above all else.

It was no coincidence that Molly ended up being the one to finish off Bellatrix. "[Bellatrix] has a kind of obsession with [Voldemort]," Rowling once explained (via The Leaky Cauldron). "It's a very sick obsession ... and I wanted to match that kind of obsession with maternal love... the power that you give someone by loving them. So Molly was really an amazing exemplar of maternal love. ... There was something very satisfying about putting those two women together."

Fenrir Greyback was a terrorist

Of all the evil forces under Voldemort's command, none were more dangerous than Fenrir Greyback. He was a werewolf and someone who took pride in being one. Unlike Remus Lupin, who saw his own condition as a curse, Greyback wanted to turn as many people into werewolves as possible and set himself up as their ruler. 

It was Greyback's tactics for creating new werewolves that made him especially despicable. His MO was to bite wizards when they were still young children, kidnap them, and raise them away from their families to grow to be his brainwashed disciples. This method of recruitment is quite similar to how real-world terrorist organizations target young children by attempting to brainwash them into joining their cause.   

Much like real-world terrorists also, Greyback's ultimate goal was not to be Voldemort's lackey but to use the Dark Lord to topple the existing social structure of the wizarding world. As Lupin once told Harry, "[Greyback] wants to create enough were­wolves to overcome the wizards." After society had descended into chaos following Voldemort's rule, Greyback would have launched his real plan, to establish werewolf supremacy over the entire world once and for all.  

Bellatrix was a goth

Of all the actors who have portrayed various "Harry Potter" characters in the movies, the one who seems to be having the most fun is Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange. Bonham Carter chews the scenery with gleeful abandon every time she is on camera and constantly gives off the energy of a deeply disturbed individual who revels in chaos. 

Bellatrix is described as tall and gaunt in the books, and her insanity is more of the simmering kind. Bonham Carter added a playful twist to the character, which is reflected in her black, elaborate clothes that manage to be much more fashionable than regular Death Eater robes. In fact, Bellatrix's black corset, black nail polish, and eyeliner contrasted against her extremely pale skin mirrors many real-world goth fashion trends. 

The idea of Bellatrix as a "Goth girl" becomes all the more interesting when you consider the history of that particular fashion trend. The stereotype of goth girls being rumored to dabble in black magic has been a popular one ever since the release of 1996's "The Craft." Bellatrix being a goth who is an actual witch, feels like the stereotype coming full circle to its natural conclusion. 

Upsetting the natural order

The general understanding in "Harry Potter" is that the Death Eaters are trying to tear down everything that is good and pure in the wizarding world, to replace it with cruelty and chaos. But then you have to wonder why such a destructive regime is getting enough support to conceivably topple the Ministry of Magic itself.

The truth is, the wizarding world Harry comes to know is far from a place of goodness and justice. The wizards keep competing forces in check through the brutal subjugation of other magical creatures. The clearest example of this is in the life of slavery afforded to house-elves and creatures like centaurs, giants, werewolves, and dementors having to live on the periphery of wizarding society as feared and hated outsiders. 

It doesn't make sense for entire species of creatures to be uniformly evil and deserving of fear and hatred. Voldemort and his Death Eaters promised many such oppressed creatures the freedom to live out in the open alongside wizard-kind instead of remaining in hiding. When you think about it from their perspective, a lot of the species that joined Voldemort had good reason to do so in an effort to make life better for their kind.

Not really pure bloods

The main bone of contention between Voldemort's army and the rest of the wizarding world was that the Death Eaters wanted to cleanse society of half-blooded witches and wizards. It was the Death Eaters' belief that pure-blooded wizards deserved to rule over everyone else by virtue of being more worthy of their magical heritage. 

With such ideals, you would naturally assume that every single Death Eater was a pure-blooded wizard. But that was far from the truth. Voldemort himself was a half-blood, a fact that he was deeply ashamed of and tried very hard to bury. Voldemort's trusted lieutenant Severus Snape literally nicknamed himself the "Half-Blood Prince" in school in honor of his heritage. 

In fact, Hermione once pointed out that the pure-blooded wizarding population in Britain is extremely small and growing less every day. There simply are not enough humans born with the magic gene to allow the population to survive without marrying muggles at some point. That means many of the Death Eaters besides Snape and Voldemort must have been half-bloods or had muggle relations. But they still stuck to their "Pure-Bloods are the best" mantra. So on top of all the other awful things they did, the Death Eaters were also hypocrites, just like their master.   

Like ghosts in the sky

In the books, the Death Eaters are a ragtag bunch of ordinary wizards without much in the way of brains or skill, who followed Voldemort simply out of a desire to share in his power or to inflict violence on the world. Despite their fearsome reputation, the Death Eaters were never much of a threat to Harry and co.

But the movies showed a different, much more capable side to the Death Eaters. They are shown wearing elaborate robes and masks and act much more like a well-oiled army under Voldemort. To add to their mystique, the films also give the Death Eaters some abilities that make them appear ghost-like. 

We see some of the Death Eaters actually being able to fly without a broomstick, despite the novels stating this was impossible for anyone but the most prodigiously talented wizards like Voldemort to do. To add to their cinematic mystique, the Death Eaters are shown flying as smoky, dementor-like figures that burst into nothingness upon being hit instead of getting injured like regular humans.  

There are no ranks to speak of

Like any well-conditioned army, the Death Eaters had a specific order system within their ranks. At the top of the food chain, and unquestionably the top dog, was Lord Voldemort himself. His second-in-command was Bellatrix Lestrange, the only one with any authority to give counsel to Voldemort and the dreaded second leader among the Death Eaters.

This all rings true except at the beginning of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" when Voldemort led the other Death Eaters to make fun of Bellatrix for her niece Nymphadora marrying a werewolf. Or when Bellatrix repeatedly tried to warn Voldemort about Snape, and he kept ignoring her advice. So was Snape Voldemort's second-in-command, despite most of the Death Eaters not trusting him? And where did Fenrir Greyback fit into the whole thing since he was allowed to sit with the Death Eaters but not wear the dark mark?

The truth is, there was no real order to the Death Eater ranks. Your importance for the day relied entirely on the mood of Voldemort at that time. And all the Death Eaters were equally expendable in the Dark Lord's quest for more power. In Voldemort's mental game of chess, all the Death Eaters were mere pawns, and he himself was every other powerful piece on the board. 

Why Dumbledore feared for Draco

In "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," Draco Malfoy was inducted into the ranks of the Death Eaters. His first job was to kill Albus Dumbledore, a plot the headmaster himself was perfectly aware of. All through the year, Dumbledore tried to find ways to counsel Draco to walk away from his dark path. 

Some fans were confused about why Dumbledore was being so lenient towards Draco when the latter was literally trying to kill him. But you have to remember that Draco ultimately did not go through with taking Dumbledore's life and started regretting his decision to join the Death Eaters. This exact same journey had once been undertaken by Sirius Black's brother Regulus

Regulus joined the Death Eaters years ago, but soon grew horrified by the atrocities he witnessed. He then tried to leave the organization and was murdered for making an attempt. Dumbledore was afraid something similar would happen to Draco once the young boy realized what being in service to Lord Voldemort actually meant, and so he tried to head Draco off that path while there was still time.  

When the Slytherins refused to fight

Slytherin gets a pretty bad rap from just about everyone in the wizarding world (but maybe less than Hufflepuff). Members of the house are seen as cowardly and opportunistic, and most of Hogwarts' history has unfortunately cemented this sentiment. The "Battle of Hogwarts" at the end of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was the last chance for the Slytherins to show there was some good in them.

Unfortunately, that did not happen. While the other houses rallied around the teachers in fighting off Voldemort's forces, the majority of the Slytherins elected to sit out the battle. Most fans naturally assumed this was due to the house's well-known instinct for self-preservation and callousness, but there might have been more going on beneath the surface. 

We know that pure-blooded wizarding families are few in number in Britain. We also know that the ranks of the Death Eaters are filled with many pure-bloods. Finally, we know pure-bloods are the students of choice to be inducted into Slytherin house. Based on the math, it is highly possible that many of the Slytherins present at Hogwarts during the final battle had relatives amongst Voldemort's army. As such, the Slytherins sat out the battle because they did not want to fight their own relatives to the death.