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In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hermione, Colin Creevey, Sir Nicholas, Mrs. Norris, and others became petrified because they saw the Basilisk through something else - with the exception of Sir Nicholas who looked directly at it but could not die again. Hermione and Mrs. Norris had both seen it through a reflection and Colin had seen it through his camera, so what would happen to someone wearing glasses? Would that person die because he or she saw it directly or simply become petrified because he or she had seen it through something else?

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JK Rowling answered this in an interview with Edinburgh “cub” reporters in 2005 (emphasis mine):

If you see a basilisk and you are wearing glasses, will they protect you? And if they do, why did Moaning Myrtle die, and if they don't, why not?

That is a really good question. And I have been asked that before. I had to decide the glasses couldn't protect you. I just had to, because obviously there would be quite a few people at Hogwarts who were wearing glasses and I thought that might cause me plot difficulties, so I decided that glasses alone wouldn't protect you.

But as you know, I had Justin protected by the camera lens, so I think I am open for criticism there, but the way I explained to myself he was looking through several lenses and wasn't actually seeing the thing directly, it wasn't through his eyeline, when you look through a camera you are looking through the lens, it is a little distorted. You can argue with me on that and I wouldn't blame you but that is how I explained it to my self at the time.

I assume when she says “Justin” she means “Colin”, since Justin was actually petrified through Nearly Headless Nick.

This also touches upon the discussion of cameras in the comments on Thaddeus’s answer. I'll add that Hermione believed that seeing the basilisk through a mirror was sufficient to avoid death, and a lot of cameras contain mirror arrays, which might have protected him.

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    Now I am wondering: what would happen if someone with poor vision without glasses looks at a Basilisk? – Voldemort Nov 18 '13 at 10:45
  • +1 Oops, I included the same quote in my answer -- I'm sorry, I didn't see you had answered too. Mea Culpa! :) – Slytherincess Nov 18 '13 at 18:57
  • @Slytherincess: great minds… ;) – alexwlchan Nov 18 '13 at 18:57
  • I'll accept that :D – Slytherincess Nov 18 '13 at 19:00
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    +1 I love it when fans correct the author about the details of their books – mcgyver5 Nov 21 '13 at 22:16
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They would most assuredly die.

  • In the case of reflections, the force of the death stare is mitigated because it is a reflection of the actual event resulting in petrification rather than instant death.

  • In the case of Colin's camera, he is seeing the image reflected from the mirror within the camera again blunting the force of the basilisk death stare.

  • Glasses on the other hand still allow the viewer to see the basilisk directly and with perfect focus, thus ensuring their death.

  • Regarding the camera, the error falls upon the writer, whose assumption may have included a mirror in her idea of the camera, allowing Colin to survive and simply didn't check to be certain of the specifics.

  • Myrtle wore glasses and she still died. So it is safe to assume wearing glasses can be discounted as a protection against the deadly stare of the basilisk. In a world as filled with magical threats as JK Rowlings, I think if mere glasses were to be a protection from the stare of a basilisk, such information would also find its way into useful lore.

See additional information at: Why Did Colin Creevey's Muggle Camera Work at Hogwarts?

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    You're assuming that Colin's camera is a single-lens reflex type - given that this is the wizarding world, and their approach to mechanisms is more antiquated, the viewfinder could just be a simple lens. – HorusKol Nov 18 '13 at 1:19
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    Don't forget Moaning Myrtle, who died via basilisk stare -- in the film, her ghost wears glasses. – Wingman4l7 Nov 18 '13 at 1:47
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    The question doesn't ask about contingencies. It merely asks about glasses. Voldemort used the Basilisk to kill Moaning Myrtle and then proceeded to use her death to create his first Horcrux. Myrtle wore glasses. I think it's safe to assume that an individual who saw the Basilisk through eyeglasses would be killed. If I'm interpreting HP correctly, it's the gaze of the Basilisk that kills, not the victim's perception of the Basilisk's gaze (i.e. it doesn't matter if the prescription isn't perfect or the victim's eyesight is blurry). My $0.02. :) – Slytherincess Nov 18 '13 at 3:31
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    Then the error goes to the writer, whose assumption may have included a mirror in her idea of the camera, allowing Colin to survive and simply didn't check to be certain of the specifics. It can happen. Myrtle wore glasses and she died so wearing glasses can be discounted as a protection against the stare of the basilisk. I think it would also find its way into lore as a last ditch protection if a basilisk was thought to be a threat somewhere. You would still be petrified but alive. So I stand by my answer. – Thaddeus Howze Nov 18 '13 at 4:35
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    @Wingman4l7: Myrtle also wears glasses in the book. When she describes her death to Harry and Lockhart: “Ooooh, it was dreadful, it happened right in here, in this very cubicle. I'd hidden because Olive Hornby was teasing me about my glasses. I was crying, and then I heard somebody come in.” – alexwlchan Nov 18 '13 at 7:48
5

J.K. Rowling, regarding the Basilisk and glasses:

Bethan Roberts reporting for The Times Educational Supplement: - In the second book, if you see a basilisk and you are wearing glasses, will they protect you? And if they do, why did Moaning Myrtle die, and if they don't, why not?

J.K. Rowling: That is a really good question. And I have been asked that before. I had to decide the glasses couldn't protect you. I just had to, because obviously there would be quite a few people at Hogwarts who were wearing glasses and I thought that might cause me plot difficulties, so I decided that glasses alone wouldn't protect you.

But as you know, I had Justin¹ protected by the camera lens, so I think I am open for criticism there, but the way I explained to myself he was looking through several lenses and wasn't actually seeing the thing directly, it wasn't through his eyeline, when you look through a camera you are looking through the lens, it is a little distorted. You can argue with me on that and I wouldn't blame you but that is how I explained it to my self at the time.

¹J.K. Rowling mistakenly assigned the camera to Justin rather than Colin in this interview response. I'm pretty sure we all know it was Colin Creevey who saw the Basilisk through his camera's lens.

Edinburgh "cub reporter" press conference, ITV, 16 July 2005 via Accio Quote

And I'll go ahead and leave my comment from above as part of this answer: The question doesn't ask about contingencies. It merely asks about glasses. Voldemort used the Basilisk to kill Moaning Myrtle and then proceeded to use her death to create his first Horcrux. Myrtle wore glasses. I think it's safe to assume that an individual who saw the Basilisk through eyeglasses would be killed. If I'm interpreting HP correctly, it's the gaze of the Basilisk that kills, not the victim's perception of the Basilisk's gaze (i.e. it doesn't matter if the prescription isn't perfect or the victim's eyesight is blurry).

  • What if they're blind or have their eyes closed, back turned... etc...? – TGnat Nov 18 '13 at 19:14
  • I'm not speaking to any contingencies. That's up to JKR to answer. The question asked only about glasses. – Slytherincess Nov 18 '13 at 19:23
  • I'd expect more from you :-). And you do seem to extrapolate from your source when you say... "it's the gaze of the Basilisk that kills" Given that, the Basilisk can kill whatever it looks at, Colin would be dead no matter what was between his eyes and the beasts. Myrtle's testimony seems to indicate that some connection between the eyes of the victim and those of the Basilisk is important... – TGnat Nov 18 '13 at 19:38
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    @TGnat: Harry protects himself by closing his eyes before Fawkes stabs the Basilisk's ones. – leftaroundabout Nov 18 '13 at 21:19
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    So @Slytherincess's wording is a bit off as the "Gaze" does involve the victims perception of the "Gaze". – TGnat Nov 18 '13 at 21:56
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I think that wearing glasses COULD protect you from the basilisk. Rowling only said that it won't do because it causes to much plot difficulties. Why cant she just work out the plot difficulties and say our theory is correct because there is no other reason why not to believe this theory.

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    Hello and welcome to this site. Please consider taking the tour. We like answers that are backed up with some canonical information. Here it would be an extract from the books, a serious quote of JKR or Pottermore information. – Kalissar May 4 '16 at 10:53

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