Dumbledore's hand was badly affected by using the sword of Gryffindor to destroy the ring Horcrux. (The after-effects were killing him, IIRC.) They were about to destroy the locket by the same method. Harry knows he has some level of magical protection, so why didn't he open the locket and stab it himself? Why endanger Ron? Why not at least attempt some sort of magical blast shield?

("Welcome back mate, I'm really glad you're here to confirm I have no chance with Hermione! Would you mind just destroying this Horcrux that may kill you slowly?")

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    Comment cus i may be wrong, but wasn't Dumbledore's injury because he PUT ON the ring, rather than cus he destroyed it?
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 22:14
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    +1 for username, and because you made the best comment on the site :-D
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 23:18
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    It is not true that Dumbledore's hand was hurt when he used the sword of Gryffindor to destroy the ring. He tried to put the ring on and got hit by a curse.
    – vap78
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 8:09
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    @randal'thor Aww thanks!
    – NiceOrc
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 22:01
  • It's worth mentioning that the locket was harming the bearer as well. It was twisting Harry and Ron's minds when they wore it. That contributed greatly to Ron's leaving (described earlier in the book). Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 9:03

6 Answers 6


In the novel, his decision to allow Ron to destroy the locket was based on gut instinct, presumably a crude form of divination:

‘No, you should do it.’
‘Me?’ said Ron, looking shocked. ‘Why?’
‘Because you got the sword out of the pool. I think it’s supposed to be you.’
He was not being kind or generous. As certainly as he had known that the doe was benign, he knew that Ron had to be the one to wield the sword. Dumbledore had at least taught Harry something about certain kinds of magic, of the incalculable power of certain acts.


‘You can do it,’ said Harry, ‘you can! You’ve just got the sword, I know it’s supposed to be you who uses it. Please, just get rid of it, Ron.’

The short answer is that he knew it had to play out the way he knew it had to play out. That included not trying any further charms, shields or other tricks.

Harry also recognises that when he opens it, the Horcrux fragment will immediately attempt to kill him. By giving Ron the sword, Harry's presence might distract it long enough for Ron to be able to damage it:

I’m going to open it,’ said Harry, ‘and you stab it. Straight away, OK? Because whatever’s in there will put up a fight. The bit of Riddle in the diary tried to kill me.’ ‘How are you going to open it?’ asked Ron. He looked terrified.

‘I’m going to ask it to open, using Parseltongue,’ said Harry. The answer came so readily to his lips that he thought that he had always known it, deep down: perhaps it had taken his recent encounter with Nagini to make him realise it. He looked at the serpentine ‘S’, inlaid with glittering green stones: it was easy to visualise it as a minuscule snake, curled upon the cold rock


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    Wow. Good answer, but that's such an unsatisfying and lazy justification within the story :D
    – Samthere
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 16:06
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    @Samthere - Blame the author.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 18:24
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    @Samthere I don't have the quote on-hand, but there was somewhere that Dumbledore said that the Sword of Griffendor could only be used when attaind via an act of bravery. That's why it was placed in the freezing-cold water. Ron is the one that bravely dove down to get it, thus he is the only one for whom the sword will work at the moment. (Accepting the sword as Ron handed it to him would not be enough of an 'act of bravery' to allow use of the sword.) Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 15:06
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    @lindajeanne Harry was also the one that dove in bravely to retrieve the sword, Ron dove in to save Harry when the locket tried to strangle him, and just retrieved the sword on the side
    – user13267
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 5:47
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    @user13267 Rescuing a friend isn't an act of bravery?
    – JAB
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 0:00

And now Harry stood in the headmaster’s office yet again. It was nighttime, and Dumbledore sagged sideways in the thronelike chair behind the desk, apparently semiconscious. His right hand dangled over the side, blackened and burned. Snape was muttering incantations, pointing his wand at the wrist of the hand, while with his left hand he tipped a goblet full of thick golden potion down Dumbledore’s throat. After a moment or two, Dumbledore’s eyelids fluttered and opened. “Why,” said Snape, without preamble, “why did you put on that ring? It carries a curse, surely you realized that. Why even touch it?” Marvolo Gaunt’s ring lay on the desk before Dumbledore. It was cracked; the sword of Gryffindor lay beside it.
-- HP and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 33: The Prince's Tale

It was putting on the ring, not destroying it, that affected Dumbledore's hand so badly. Destroying it using the sword of Gryffindor, in itself, had no ill effects. So there was no reason to believe destroying the locket would curse Ron in the same way Dumbledore had been cursed.

That said, Harry was aware that the piece of soul inside the locket might attempt to 'fight back' in some way, as the piece inside the diary did (by trying to kill him in Chamber of Secrets) and the piece inside the ring also did (by tricking Dumbledore into putting the ring on, surely). He says so explicitly to Ron:

“I’m going to open it,” said Harry, “and you stab it. Straight away, OK? Because whatever’s in there will put up a fight. The bit of Riddle in the diary tried to kill me.”
-- HP and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 19: The Silver Doe

And indeed, the piece inside the locket does try to fight back, by taunting Ron and creating physical visions to infuriate him. Fortunately, Ron is strong enough to withstand its temptations and destroy the Horcrux as required.

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    This is nice in that it shows OP's errors in thinking, but I don't see how it answers the question.
    – Kyle Kanos
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 10:26
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    Dumbledore was not tricked by the horcrux into putting on the ring, he had already destroyed it. He was tempted by the fact that the stone on the ring was the Resurrection Stone and one of the three Deathly Hallows. It would be interesting if the soul fragment told Dumbledore about the stone. I doubt that Voldemort even knew it was a Hallow. All he knew is that it was a Gaunt/Slytherine heirloom.
    – TGnat
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 14:24
  • Thank you for this, I had forgotten about Dumbledore actually wearing the ring. Sorry I can't make this the answer, but it does indeed correct my thinking. :)
    – NiceOrc
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 22:00

Ron and Hermione were as important in the horcrux hunting crusade as Harry was. The task may have been explicitly set for Harry by Dumbledore, but as Dumbledore said himself, Ron and Hermione had proved over the years that they can be trusted and are worthy friends.

They both put their necks in danger as much as Harry did, even though this doesn't concern them directly. The prophecy and all that followed was for Harry, not for Ron or Hermione, but still they stuck with Harry and helped him all those years.

Harry just wanted to show his appreciation for their sacrifice. It's not every day you get to kill a horcrux, and the locket had started affecting Ron as much as it had Harry, so it was a wise decision by Harry to let Ron kill something bothering him for quite some time.

Finishing something that's hurting you can be a real peace of mind, and Harry knew Ron needed and deserved it more than him, so he insisted Ron finish off the locket.

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    Finishing something that's hurting you I think this is more important than most people realize. The amount of damage this locked caused (Months? of separation. Self doubt. Jabs into the deepest fears in side of Ron) was immense. The knowledge that Ron overcame that and was the one that destroyed the locked was worth as much as the fact that the locked got destroyed. That self-confidence fed much of his later acts IMO. That and the fact that it also overcomes Ron's other main fear: Living in Harry's shadow - RON did it - WITH Harry.
    – WernerCD
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 14:45
  • @WernerCD: That comment has the seeds of a not-too-bad answer in it.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 9:02
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    @DevSolar Maybe, but I think its more of an "augmentation"/"added emphasis" of this answer. Harry wanted to show his appreciation ... Harry knew Ron needed it more. I just think that, although Harry could have done it, it was just "better" for Ron to do it. (Plus, I'm to lazy to actually research quotes with actual backings to this - as it currently stands - opinion :)
    – WernerCD
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 14:53

It seems to be the act of USING a Horcrux that damages the person, rather than the act of destroying it.

Tom Riddle's Diary almost killed Ginny Weasley when she used it, but Harry did not suffer any negative effects from destroying it using a Basilisk fang.

Marvolo Gaunt's Ring corrupted Dumbledore, but the destruction wasn't an issue.

Salazar Slytherin's Locket corrupted Ron and almost drowned Harry, but again, no negative effects from the destruction.

Helga Hufflepuff's Cup and Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem were stored somewhere safe where they couldn't corrupt anyone, and they weren't carried around long enough to corrupt anyone before they were destroyed.

Little is known about the effect Horcruxification had on Nagini, but Neville Longbottom didn't suffer from killing her using Gryffindor's Sword.

Harry Potter has suffered nightmares, mental and physical anguish and emotional distress from the accidental Horcrux implanted in him. As with the other horcruxes, the person who destroyed it (Voldemort) did not suffer negative effects from destroying it.

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    As an aside: It is not feasible for me to add chapter and book names because I read the novels in Dutch and thus don't know the English names. If anyone wants to add those, feel free to do so.
    – Nzall
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 13:01
  • Also note how the story is set up so that each Horcrux is destroyed by a different person. So that's the Doylist explanation of why Ron and not Harry destroyed the locket.
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 16:43

Ron and Hermione are just as important, and while Dumbledore did not tell Harry everything before he died, he did teach Harry the importance of how acts are carried out and that it matters very much. Harry is a very smart wizard and had a gut feeling that as Ron had been the one to get the sword out of the pool, he should be the one to destroy the sword, even if it costs him his life.


He let Ron do it because Ron was fated to do it. Ron had this inner war and enemy he had been fighting and by coming back he had shown he wanted to be there but by killing the horcrux, he had ENGAGED himself. Fought his own worst demon and laid it to rest. By letting Ron kill the horcrux, he was giving Ron a chance to heal his soul.

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