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Theoretically, could the basilisk 'turn off' its petrifying power? Or is it something the basilisk has no control over?

  • 8
    Maybe it could wear a visor like Cyclops from X-Men... – Molag Bal May 19 '16 at 1:25
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    Since Basilisks were "invented", the death gaze does seem like it ls more liability for a dark wizard than it might be worth if not... – VapedCrusader May 19 '16 at 1:39
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    It's a basilisk, not an alarm clock. ;) – The Dark Lord May 19 '16 at 10:12
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Possibly...if it can close its eyes

The male has a scarlet plume upon its head. It has exceptionally venomous fangs but its most dangerous means of attack is the gaze of its large yellow eyes. Anyone looking directly into these will suffer instant death.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

This would seem to indicate that anyone who does not meet the gaze of the Basilisk's "large, yellow eyes" will not die. The Basilisk could prevent this fairly easily by closing its eyes.

Keeping its eyes closed would not greatly hinder the Basilisk, since it appears to possess a keen sense of smell.

"THE BOY IS BEHIND YOU! YOU CAN STILL SMELL HIM! KILL HIM!”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

But, real-world serpents cannot close their eyes, since they lack eyelids!

In snakes, there are no eyelids and the brille is clear and cannot be distinguished, except when the animal is becoming ready for ecdysis.

Of course, the Basilisk is an fictional beast, and may possess eyelids, but if it is similar enough to a real-life snake, it may be incapable of closing its eyes.

As to whether the Basilisk could turn off its power even with its eyes open, I don't think it could, but there is no canon indication one way or the other.

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    Give a basilisk a pair of sunglasses and report back to me on whether you become petrified. You might not be meeting its gaze if you can’t see its eyes. – Molag Bal May 19 '16 at 4:00
  • swimmers' glasses – Petersaber May 19 '16 at 5:47
  • I don't think the basilisk can close it's eyes – user13267 May 19 '16 at 9:41
  • @user13267 - Ahhhhh, you may be right! – Adamant May 19 '16 at 9:41
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    ...given the "directly" requirement, would a Basilisk that had a nictitating membrane (as some reptiles, though not most snakes, do) be able to "tone down" the effects of its gaze to mere petrification? – Darael May 19 '16 at 15:16
1

The answer is clearly NO

Here's my reasoning.

Mrs Norris was petrified by accident: the Basilisk was after 'Muggle borns' or Harry, so the cat is definitely an accident. This above all shows it's not turning it on and off at will - it's always on.

As stated snakes have transparent eyelids (it's categorized as a snake in the books and in the 'book within a book' that Hermione reads - anything that's classified as a snake has similar characteristics: otherwise it would be classed as a serpent, the broader category that includes all snakes).

It's implied that you have to look at it AND it has to look at you for it to be deadly (otherwise shutting yours eyes would be useless). No animal on the planet can turn off their eyes (I don't mean closing the eyelids) so why would the basilisk be able to do it at will?

No-one in there right mind would bring this creature into this world, unless you can talk to snakes, it's deadly to everyone, simple.

  • That isn't clear at all from my point of view. The fact that the Basilisk is most of the time in "on mode" and he accidently petrifies the cat doesn't mean that he is not able to be in "off mode". (I am not saying that the answer to OP question is yes, but I do not agree with the Norris argument). And actually, the reason for the basilisk ability to turning off his eyes could be simply the fact that its eyes are deadly (we don't have real life example of anything similar). (maybe biologically not good reason...but magizoologically? who knows?) – TGar Jan 21 '17 at 14:29
  • My point was if its ordered to kill 'muggle born's' only it would turn off its eyes until it found one, if it could (so that it didn't harm any 'pure bloods'), the fact that it doesn't turn them off while looking strongly implies it cant. I believe this is the best we we can deduce as there is only 1 basilisk in all the books and its commander doesn't want to harm 'pure bloods' (i.e. it would be told to turn off its eyes if it were possible to do it) – Matt Jan 21 '17 at 14:43
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    But in the time when Norris was affected, the basilisk was trying to find someone to kill, in that moment it wouldn't probably be turned off either way. You assume that the turning on/off is a quick action, which we wouldn't know. Actually, in the closing eyes case, it is quick though, but possibly dangerous (you know, hitting the walls). And I am not convinced that the creature would bother not killing 'pure bloods', Voldemort himself killed dozens of them in the past and this is after all only a snake. (Again I am not saying that I do not agree, with the answer itself :) ) – TGar Jan 21 '17 at 16:17

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