In this article, we are going to answer one burning question for you – can Lord Voldemort use the Patronus Charm?
Lord Voldemort cannot use the Patronus Charm because he is so radically evil and vile that he has no happy energy to use for conjuring a Patronus and actually has no human soul since he split and destroyed his soul while creating his Horcruxes. Those two reasons are prerequisites for using the Patronus Charm spell.
Despite Rowling changing some details over the years, the Harry Potter canon is one of the better-established fictional universes with a lot of details generally known and unchanged. Still, people ask questions and we are here to answer them for you. So without further ado, what are the details concerning Voldemort’s Patronus charm use?
What Is the Patronus Charm?
The Patronus Charm is one of the many spells present in the Harry Potter book series. It is a piece of very advanced and complex magic that is not even taught in Hogwarts, as it is considered to be far beyond the N.E.W.T. level of knowledge, as stated by Remus Lupin while he taught DADA at Hogwarts.
The charm has been present in the Wizarding World since ancient times and its main function is to fend off certain evil creatures, especially Dementors; the Patronus Charm is actually the only fully effective way of chasing away Dementors. The first time the charm is used in the books (although it’s not stated at the point) is when Remus Lupin used the charm to scare off a Dementor who was attacking Harry Potter on the Hogwarts Express.
There is a second use for the charm and it is believed that it was invented by Albus Dumbledore himself. Namely, a caster can use the Patronus Charm as a means of communication, when the conjured Patronus speaks in the caster’s voice; it is believed that the original Order of the Phoenix used this spell as a means of secret communication during the war.
A Patronus Charm can be incorporeal and corporeal. An incorporeal Patronus is just a light without any specific shape or features and is generally the weaker variant, but is easier to use. A corporeal Patronus is the only full and complete form of the Patronus Charm, but it is exceptionally difficult to conjure and only a few wizards and witches have been able to do so.
A corporeal Patronus usually takes the shape of an animal and is actually a reflection of the caster’s most inner feelings. Some wizards, like Remus Lupin, choose to summon an incorporeal Patronus (although they are capable of summoning a corporeal one) to hide their identities, as the form of the Patrons could easily be used to identify the caster.
The incantation is Expecto Patronum.
The basic prerequisites for using this charm are a high degree of wizarding skills and the possession of strong, happy memories. Namely, the Patronus Charm relies on the strength of a person’s happy memories and draws its energy from the memory. The caster needs to concentrate on a strong and happy memory from the past in order to summon it, but even then – it is still difficult.
Remus Lupin taught Harry Potter how to use it during his third year, which means he became one of the youngest users of the spell in history, alongside Nymphadora Tonks; he later passed on the knowledge to members of Dumbledore’s Army.
It was, for a time, thought that only those who have a pure heart can use the spell, but since we have examples of morally imperfect characters who have, indeed, used the spell (like Dolores Umbridge), it seems that the caster has to have happy memories to draw the energy from.
This means that completely evil wizards and witches are, as a rule, not able to use the spell; an unworthy caster will be instantly devoured by maggots coming from the wand and ultimately killed, which is why dark wizards avoid using the spell.
Can Voldemort Use the Patronus Charm?
Lord Voldemort is considered to be the strongest dark wizard in history (surpassing even Gellert Grindlewald) and the second strongest wizard in general, behind Albus Dumbledore (If you remember the Battle at the Ministry, Voldemort was unable to defeat Dumbledore). So, as far as his skills go, Lord Voldemort is definitely capable of using it. And yet – he cannot!
Why is that? Well, there are two reasons. The first one is that he is so radically evil and vile that he has no happy energy to use for conjuring a Patronus and that is the second prerequisite for using the spell. The second one is that Lord Voldemort actually has no human soul since he split and destroyed his soul while creating his Horcruxes.
So, while being able to use it, he simply cannot. He probably wouldn’t die as he is too powerful, but it would be of no use to try and conjure a Patronus (luckily for him, dark wizards rarely have a need for this spell).
Like Lord Voldemort, most of his Death Eaters cannot use this spell either, mostly because they are too evil to be able to do it (Draco Malfoy also couldn’t do it). The only known Death Eater that could use this spell was Severus Snape because, despite the dark façade, he had a strong heart and a beautiful soul.
So, there you have it – Lord Voldemort simply cannot use this spell, although he is able to do it based on his skills. Are we certain? Well – yes. How? J.K. Rowling herself confirmed, during an interview available online, that Snape was the only Death Eater able to conjure a Patronus, which means that Voldemort wasn’t able to do so.