"Why," said Snape, without preamble, "why did you put on that ring? It carries a curse, surely you realised that. Why even touch it? [...] That ring carried a curse of extraordinary power, to contain it is all we can hope for; I have trapped the curse in one hand for the time being —"

-- Snape, HP and the Deathly Hallows

Since it is cursed, he might not have been able to regrow it, but at least he would not die, so why didn't they try it?

This question is not if he could regrow a new hand. It is about whether he could have shed the curse by cutting off his hand.

  • 3
    The question title is a bit misleading. Of course he could have cut his hand off, the real question is whether that would have been helpful in preventing the curse from killing him.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 16:37
  • So my guess is it wouldn't have done much good against the curse - otherwise he would have probably done it. I doubt that someone of his intelligence just didn't happen to think of that.
    – Misha R
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 20:11
  • It is a good question. @MishaRosnach - He might not have done so for any reason, from simply he didn't think of it, to he had too many plots going on and got trapped in them. After all, even an intelligent person might miss a solution when they're too personally involved, and also wizards are not known for logic.
    – Megha
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 3:39
  • VtC - in the time this has been open, no one has managed to list a canon source in the answers. The speculation is not unreasonable - but, it is merely speculation (and thus, opinion-based). If someone can point to a canon source in the comments later, we can always reopen.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 14:25
  • @megha Perhaps he wanted to make use of the end of his life for a specific reason. As a sacrifice to further Harry's cause as an example. It was a very good tool for manipulating Snape in the end.
    – Underverse
    Commented Aug 18, 2019 at 7:01

3 Answers 3


It is possible that the visible effects of the curse manifest differently than the systemic effects-- as an example, consider the progression of the effects of the bite of a "Brown Recluse" spider: A spot of necrotic flesh progresses outward from the site of the bite.

This often reaches alarming proportions, and may even lead to the loss of a finger or toe, or more than one, and the progression of dying tissue may even lead to the loss of a hand or foot. [I have seen old recluse spider wounds over three inches in diameter, on the lower legs of rural residents.]

It can quickly become a hideous wound, that often resists conventional healing. Viable or healthy skin may not form over the wound, and at times, even skin-grafts will not "take" on, or over, the original wound. A physician even stated that cutting away the bite often had no effect on the necrotic ulcer, later.

Importantly, venom did not remain isolated at the place of the bite! On the contrary, a physician noted that analysis of the victim's blood showed venom proteins had quickly spread throughout the victim's body; remaining active throughout the body for a long time.

When I read of the withering-away or "mummification" of Dumbledore's hand, I had assumed the curse was proceeding in the fashion of a Brown Recluse bite; only instead of an organic protein-based toxin, it had involved a "magical toxin-like counterpart."

The withering of Dumbledore's hand had only been the visible manifestation of the "curse-toxins." Like the spider-venom counterpart, as well, a major quantity of "curse-toxins" had already proceeded up the arm, and were circulating throughout Dumbledore's body.

I had taken Snape's saying: "I have trapped the curse in one hand for the time being." had merely applied to the visible signs of the curse upon Dumbledore and his hand.

I'd thought about why amputation hadn't been mentioned, too, but since Dumbledore and Snape hadn't talked about having Dumbledore reprise the famous old Celtic Magister's role, right down to the wearing of a precious-metal hand, I'd assumed the wound would inexorably continue to "mummify," no matter how high-up (how far from the "mummy-hand") they chose to amputate.

I'd simply assumed it had been considered, and then rejected, and was not something I need to bother about. I'd been going under the assumption that, between the pair of them, Dumbledore and Snape had possessed vast magical repertoires. If they'd not followed a course of action, it was obviously not something worth my effort.

These men were the brightest and most cunning magic-wielders of their world; of ANY time. Between them, they had continually conducted Voldemort's actions, almost from the very beginning, even having discovering Voldemort's creation of an "Inadvertent Horcrux." They had done this even from beyond their graves, and their machinations had ultimately led to the destruction of Voldemort at the hands of the same "Inadvertent Horcrux."


I consider three to be options. The first has already been stated, somehow amputation would not have helped. In this case the person was cursed, not just the hand, and eventually the whole person would have been lost. Personally I don't think this is the case.

The second option I think is most likely, J.K. Rowling simply didn't think of that option while she was writing the story. She wanted to kill of Dumbledore and she didn't quite think through the means she used. That's not a fun option, though, so I think a third option resolves it:

Dumbledore and Snape didn't think of it. We've been amputating for centuries because wounds that can't be healed fester, necrotize and spread. However, the vast majority of wounds in the wizarding world are easy to heal and this is the only curse in the books that spreads this way. There would never really be a need for amputations. In other words, it never would have entered their minds. Sure, Dumbledore tends to keep abreast of the muggle world but even still I doubt he knew much about muggle medical practice. However, if he had told more than just Snape about his condition, someone who knew more about muggle medical practices (like Mr. Weasley, who I'm sure heard about it after his snake attack), it could have healed him. Dumbledore being so secretive was ultimately what lead to his death...and it certainly fits the tone the 7th book took towards Dumbledore's character...he was a great man who had faults and made mistakes, just as any.


Maybe Dumbledore is a little wiser than Arthur Weasley, or learned from Arthur’s mistake, and knew that Muggle methods don’t always work very well on magical wounds. After all, Arthur continued to bleed after getting stitches to heal Nagini’s bite. Perhaps the amputation site, like the bite wound, would be difficult to heal because of the curse.

Some wounds survive amputation, of course - Moody’s stump shows that. Perhaps Moody’s injury was more mundane, a physical injury more than a magical one (cut or trapped or something). To sum, maybe amputation simply was not an appropriate solution to the curse.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.