0

The prophesy made by Professor Trelawney about Harry Potter includes the phrase "Either must die at the hand of the other", speaking of Harry and Lord Voldemort.

Does this mean that both Voldemort must be killed by Harry and Harry must be killed by Voldemort?

Or merely that one must be killed by the other?

If the former, then presumably Harry is immortal after Voldemort's death.

3
  • 1
    Either = one of them; Other = the other one. Your logic is faulty: after the death of one, the other simply continues to live his life until he dies. – Greybeard Sep 11 '20 at 16:39
  • @Greybeard no faulty logic, just asking which is the meaning -- so you're saying it is the latter case, i.e. one must be killed by the other as 'either' means one of them. That makes sense to me. – mherzl Sep 11 '20 at 16:53
  • @Greybeard Your comment is surely a reasoned answer? Apart from the minor and almost venial fault of attributing flawed logic to what is merely a supposition. I have accordingly voted up. – Anton Sep 11 '20 at 17:05
1

As a pronoun, either has a meaning of "one or the other of two people or things" (Lexico). In the sentence, the contrast is between one of them and the other one: one must die at the hand of the other. Logically, this gives two mutually exclusive possibilities:

  • Voldemort must die at the hand of Harry
  • Harry must die at the hand of Voldemort

Once one of these possibilities happens, the prophecy is fulfilled: either has died at the hand of the other.

The alternative interpretation you give that requires both possibilities to be true would require a different initial pronoun, e.g. both:

  • Both must die at the hand of the other.

Or better yet:

  • Both must die at the hand of each other.

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.