I am currently rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and I was wondering if looking at a basilisk in a memory would cause death? If, eg., Harry had seen the basilisk in Tom Riddle memory, would he have died?

  • 5
    If so, it's extremely fortunate that the film in Colin Creevy's camera melted before it could be developed.
    – Milo P
    Jul 28, 2015 at 19:20
  • As I understood it, the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets was a real, living basilisk. Only Riddle was a memory.
    – gandalf3
    Jul 29, 2015 at 0:37
  • 10
    I always wonder why people are trying to find logic in a story for children which is full of plot holes.
    – Sulthan
    Jul 29, 2015 at 10:25
  • 5
    I don't get fat from eating dream ice cream; I probably won't die from seeing a dream basilisk. Jul 29, 2015 at 21:40
  • 1
    Does some one who is dead even have ~memories~?
    – Zaibis
    Jul 30, 2015 at 10:09

4 Answers 4


I'm going to say "no", for the simple reason that anyone who stared directly into a basilisk's eyes would be killed, and therefore could not have their memories extracted. If someone looked at a basilisk in a mirror and so were just petrified, their extracted memories might petrify someone else, but not kill them.

  • 3
    That's a good point.
    – algiogia
    Jul 28, 2015 at 12:38
  • 20
    While the answer is probably "no", I don't think the explanation given here is correct. You can see things in a memory the person whose memory you are looking at didn't notice or know himself. J.K.Rowling stated this herself somewhere (can't find it now) that this is the magic of the pensieve.
    – rah4927
    Jul 28, 2015 at 17:04
  • @rah4927, see my example in this comment. Though a statement from JKR would be great.
    – mikeazo
    Jul 28, 2015 at 17:26
  • @mikeazo, you raised an excellent point in your comment. I am still looking for that confirmation by Rowling, but canon evidence alone suffices, I think.
    – rah4927
    Jul 28, 2015 at 18:11
  • who says that because a person is dead that their memory doesn't exist on another plane?
    – Malachi
    Jul 29, 2015 at 18:51

This one is hard to answer with canon info, as there isn't any as far as I know
I would guess at a no, but there is a possibility of some damage being done

Reasons for No:
The stare of the basilisk is what is fatal, you need to be looking into it's eyes while it looks back. In the 2nd book after Fawkes poked it's eyes out, it lost it's deadly stare and Harry could look at it directly. As the memory basilisk is not really there, it would have no effect on the onlooker

Reasons for possible damage:
Again from the 2nd book, the basilisk's stare is strong enough to even "kill" off a ghost, and Justin who saw it through Nick got petrified. Even Hermione and Penelope who saw only the reflection of the Basilisk got petrified, though they did not really stare at each other. Hence by this logic, since the memory is of a real basilisk, and when using the pensieve the user seems to be actually physically going into the memory, it can be argued that looking into the eyes of the memory basilisk might do some damage

  • Didn't Harry see things in Snape's memory during the occlumency lessons that Snape likely hadn't seen in real life?
    – mikeazo
    Jul 28, 2015 at 14:47
  • .........like what?
    – user13267
    Jul 28, 2015 at 14:47
  • From Chapter 28 of Order of the Phoenix, this is what Harry sees in Snape's memory: "Harry stared at Wormtail for a moment, then back at James, who was now doodling on a bit of scrap parchment. He had drawn a Snitch and was now tracing the letters L. E. What did they stand for?"
    – mikeazo
    Jul 28, 2015 at 16:37
  • 1
    I read somewhere that the pensieve shows what really happened during the time the memory was recorded, regardless of whether the owner of the memory knew about it or not. This was part of the magic of the pensieve. But I can't remember where I saw it. Regardless, it must be true to some extent. Note that Harry does not see the world from Snape's POV when he enters Snape's memory, neither he see's it from Voldemort's POV when entering the diary. He sees the world as a third person standing there though he cannot interact with anything.
    – user13267
    Jul 29, 2015 at 12:16
  • 2
    @user13267 this answer has another example when they are seeing hokey's memory. Hokey leaves the room, yet Dumbledore and Harry are able to stay and see Tom's interaction with Hepzibah.
    – mikeazo
    Jul 29, 2015 at 12:49

“I’m sorry,” he said shakily. “I didn’t mean to butt in —”

But the wizard didn’t look up. He continued to read, frowning slightly. Harry drew nearer to his desk and stammered, “Er — I’ll just go, shall I?”

Harry looked around the office. No Fawkes the phoenix — no whirring silver contraptions. This was Hogwarts as Riddle had known it, meaning that this unknown wizard was Headmaster, not Dumbledore, and he, Harry, was little more than a phantom, completely invisible to the people of fifty years ago.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13, The Very Secret Diary

This clearly implies that the onlooker does not physically exist in the memory.

Its methods of killing are most wondrous, for aside from its deadly and venomous fangs, the Basilisk has a murderous stare, and all who are fixed with the beam of its eye shall suffer instant death.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16, The Chamber of Secrets

From the above we know that a possible victim would have to look into Basilisk's directly to die or indirectly to be petrified.

It is not possible to make actual eye contact in an memory because the onlooker has no physically existence in the memory. So seeing Basilisk in an memory should not cause any harm to the onlooker.

  • 2
    From this quote it seems that it's the locked, direct "gaze" that does the damage. Since a memory-basilisk couldn't see you, I doubt it would cause the same kind of damage, if any. It's also unclear whether someone experiencing another's memory can experience any pain/harm at all.
    – TylerH
    Jul 28, 2015 at 18:45
  • 1
    If you are in someone else's memory, You can just watch what is happening. But not feel your environment. Suppose it is snowing in somebody's memory, you can see the snow but you will not feel the cold.
    – Vishvesh
    Jul 29, 2015 at 0:11
  • 1
    Well, Nick the Ghost couldn't possibly have physical contact with the gaze (being a ghost) and still it could actually be petrified.
    – Sulthan
    Jul 29, 2015 at 10:23
  • 2
    @Sulthan Nick could still be seen by the Basilisk, and could still interact with his surroundings (by sight, sound, etc). A memory could not - the Basilisk wouldn't see him, he is not in the scene.
    – Luna
    Jul 30, 2015 at 13:04
  • A good answer, In films we can see that the people in memory are just like an air , Harry can just "look" into it but it's not physical.So the "stare" which kills someone should be from actual,physical eyes of basilisk and not from the memory of it.
    – Rajan
    Aug 20, 2015 at 18:28

If it's even possible to meet a basilisk's gaze in a memory, and if it's even possible to suffer harm while experiencing a memory, then I'd wager meeting the gaze of a basilisk through a memory would be the same as meeting it indirectly by any other means (a mirror, a camera sight prism, etc.), which means you'd only be petrified.

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.