The character deaths in Harry Potter are among the worst I’ve ever read. Not because they’re particularly violent, they aren’t, but because I literally grew up with the characters. They felt/feel real to me and so their deaths really hurt. Or, in regards to the villains, were really satisfying.
The last Harry Potter book contained so many deaths that I remember having to stop several times because I couldn’t read through my tears. But there were also a couple I welcomed with open arms because, as I’ve pointed out in a previous post, I allow myself to hate bad book characters with a passion I don’t allow myself to feel for real people. So much so that I actually smiled during certain death scenes.
So for me the most heartbreaking death was of Dobby the house-elf. Without him a whole slew of characters may not have made it out of the book alive. The death is especially hard because it happens right after everyone has been rescued. It’s a big high followed by a very low low. Plus, the characters have a chance to grieve, allowing the reader to grieve right along with them.
The most satisfying death was that of Bellatrix Lestrange (though it may have been even more satisfying if Neville had held the wand but I’m not really sure which way I prefer). Bellatrix was definitely a character I hated for crimes she’d committed before the books even happened (driving Neville’s parents insane) and during the series (killing Sirius).
The thing that got me the most about Bellatrix Lestrange’s death was that mama-bear cry of Mrs. Weasley. “Not my daughter, you bitch” will go down in history as one of the best phrases shouted during a duel. It’s especially powerful because that’s what leads Harry to reveal himself in the pivotal scene. It was nicely paced and kept the tension high.
I just love that a book can suck you in so much that you can cry and cheer for the characters and know that other readers are doing the same.