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Why didn't the Order of the Phoenix destroy the prophecy?

After all:

  1. Dumbledore had already heard and memorised the prophecy.
  2. Though prophecies cannot be taken off the shelf by anyone other than the subjects of the prophecy, they can certainly be destroyed (Harry and co. did).
  3. It would have been safer. If the prophecy was destroyed, the Order would not have to literally sit in front of the door to the Department of Mysteries to protect it.
  4. I think it would be helpful because Voldemort still thinks it is important (even though we know it isn't) and if it was destroyed, he would know that the only way to hear it would be to get the memory from Dumbledore (the only wizard he ever feared).

I have never heard any convincing argument against this alternative and therefore am convinced that it is a plot hole, but would like to hear what you all think.

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  • 1
    Because they didn't have access to it? Even in most muggle government facilities even an employee can't just wander around anywhere they like, much less go break stuff.
    – Kevin
    Jan 9, 2014 at 15:19
  • 8
    6 underage wizards/witches and several death eaters got in undetected. At least 6 of them through the visitor's entrance. Jan 9, 2014 at 15:43
  • At great (perceived) need. It doesn't seem like the Order to break into the ministry to destroy something.
    – Kevin
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:04
  • 1
    But it's not just to destroy something, but rather to destroy a rather important object that would save the lives of others and throw Voldemort off - as I mentioned in the comments of @DVK's answer. Why would the Order bother sitting in front of the door to protect it, rather than get rid of it altogether. Jan 9, 2014 at 16:13
  • This has been addressed in fanfiction. I can't remember the story, but there was one where Harry records a fake prophecy taunting Voldemort and replaces the real one with it. The real one was then destroyed. Yes, I know I shouldn't have put this as an answer, but as a comment. I wasn't clear on that point when I posted it. I am now. Jan 12, 2014 at 4:19

2 Answers 2

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Because there was no point in destroying it.

Voldemort was seeking the prophecy because he thought it would help him to destroy Harry Potter.

In reality, the information in the prophecy was NOT in any way helpful to him, even if he had heard it; which is why Dumbledore didn't bother.

“The one with the power to vanquish the - Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…”

Not exactly a recipe for getting rid of Potter.

As a matter of fact, Dumbledore probably wanted DEs to waste time trying to get the Prophecy - if he didn't he would not have bothered posting guards in the Ministry. Destroying the prophecy would have prevented such a tactics from being useable.

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  • In addition, from the other side of things, it's a common trope that attempting to circumvent a prophecy never ends well... And destroying one is a way to try to circumvent it; keeping someone who is 'meant' to hear it from hearing it. And, of course, if you destroy one, then you suddenly discover that you needed clarification on one word that would 'change everything', now that you can't get it. The Ministry of Magic is at least a LITTLE genre-savvy, it looks like :)
    – K-H-W
    Jan 9, 2014 at 15:56
  • @KHW I don't think it would be circumventing because Voldemort had already done the damage. Jan 9, 2014 at 16:02
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    @DVK I agree that the prophecy meant nothing, it was not helpful, and would not help him even if he did get it. That being said, the Order risked their lives trying to protect it. By destroying it, I think it would have been more of a curveball to let Voldemort wrestle with trying to get the prophecy out of the only person who heard the full version - who is the only one he ever feared. This way, Voldemort would have wasted a lot more time on trying to figure out that the prophecy meant nothing. Also, it would have put none of the Order's lives in danger... except Dumbledore. Jan 9, 2014 at 16:07
  • @Anduril_1251 - Quite true; I'm talking about generically. You don't try to change a prophecy because 'it never works well'; same idea -- trying to destroy it means it will just smack you in some other way. Knowing that, they restrict it to the people involved being able to hear it; fairly genre-savvy in that it doesn't attempt to prevent it, but helps avoid collateral damage from other people trying to get in on it or respond to it.
    – K-H-W
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:08
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    @NUnnikrishnan - Voldemort ALREADY marked Harry as equal and ALREADY took Harry's blood by the time of events in OotP. May 26, 2014 at 21:45
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Maybe prophecies can't be destroyed until they're heard. Maybe after all the prophecies fell and broke, the shelves reset themselves and the prophecies came back together just like before. Kind of like the time when Dumbledore flicked his wand and everything in the house appeared as it was before; broken mirrors repaired themselves, the walls, curtains, chandelier, etc.

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