23

In Half Blood Prince, we read

"Harry fully expected to receive low marks on his, because he had disagreed with Snape on the best way to tackle dementors" - Chapter 21, The Unknowable Room.

Also in The Prisoner of Azkaban,

“There are — certain defenses one can use,” said Lupin. - Chapter 10, The Marauder's Map.

The only way that is specified in the books (7+3) for tackling dementors is to cast a Patronus.

Is there any mention (by Mrs. Rowling perhaps), of another way?

Or is there any piece of magic spelled out somewhere in the canon that we can infer, is effective at tackling dementors?

  • 3
    There are hints of other methods: the ghosts Harry meets towards the end of Deathly Hallows, chocolate, or Sirius taking Animagus form, but I can't think of anything explicit. (Or anything Snape would have known about.) – alexwlchan Feb 20 '15 at 10:13
  • 1
    Interesting point about taking Animagus form that I forgot about. (The ghosts seem to be rather a coincidental, once-in-a-life occurrence, and one that doesn't seem to be in the control of the wizard, moreover, its also mentioned as serving as an 'effective Patronus'.) As for chocolate, which is an effective cure for dementor-effects, can we say that eating chocolate wards off dementors? – N Unnikrishnan Feb 20 '15 at 10:18
  • 2
    may be if you face dementors while eating chocolate it reduces their effect – user13267 Feb 20 '15 at 12:50
  • 4
    You should use an open-arm tackle instead of a shoulder tackle. Dementors can just roll right over a shoulder tackle, but you have a chance of catching them if your grip is tight enough. – Zibbobz Feb 20 '15 at 15:39
  • 3
    @Zibbobz Also, you need to hit above the waist, as they don't have legs. – KSmarts Feb 20 '15 at 16:04
28

There are certain defences that are known (canonically) to work against dementors. We can dismiss the most obvious;

  • The Patronus charm is certainly the method with which Harry is most familiar. This isn't especially surprising since his teacher was arguably the "go-to guy" when it came to teaching the patronus charm and massively in favour of them over other methods.

  • Ghosts can block them (as evidenced in HP and the Deathly Hallows)

And he set off. The Dementors’ chill did not overcome him; he passed through it with his companions, and they acted like Patronuses to him, and together they marched through the old trees that grew closely together, their branches tangled, their roots gnarled and twisted underfoot

  • They can't see someone Animagus form (as evidenced by Sirius' escape from Azkaban) as their mental state is too alien. Obviously the number of Wizard animagi who could use this technique is vanishingly small.

So what method could Snape favour? Well, we know of at least one other way of dealing with a dementors. By controlling your emotions and thoughts you effectively become invisible to them:

Dementors can’t see, you know …’ He swallowed. ‘They feel their way towards people by sensing their emotions - HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban

and

‘It was as if someone had lit a fire in my head, and the Dementors couldn’t destroy it … it wasn’t a happy feeling … it was an obsession … but it gave me strength, it cleared my mind HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban

It strikes me that that Snape, a known specialist in Occlumency would prefer a method based on concealment over the undeniably showy (but dramatically more confrontational) Patronus favoured by Lupin.

This also fits in nicely with the traits that JKR assigned to each of the houses. Snape (a Slytherin) would definitely seek to use a method based on resourcefulness and cunning whereas Lupin (a Gryffindor) would plump for a technique that focused on courage and daring.

  • 5
    This is a nice answer -- I like your thoughts on the (possible) use of controlled emotions to deter Dementors. An interesting idea. +1 – Slytherincess Feb 21 '15 at 4:21
  • 2
    Original thought, and a brilliant one, I should say, the possible use of concealment of emotions. I'm just waiting for a few days to accept this answer, unless something even more surprising and dramatic comes up. This also helps in answering scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/82055/…, which partly motivated me to ask this question. – N Unnikrishnan Feb 21 '15 at 11:27
  • I wonder if Snape had a particular objection to Patronuses in relation to Harry, given the revealed nature of his own Patronus. – Etheur Jul 29 '15 at 15:38
  • It would have been revealed his emotional attachment to Lily, and Snape hated showing vulnerability--though he apparently didn't mind using his Patronus anonymously, as he did in DH. His spy role was probably a major reason, as well. Death Eaters cannot produce Patronuses. If Voldemort discovered Snape's ability, he might have realized that Snape was not trustworthy. – E. J. Jan 4 '16 at 4:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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