Merope Gaunt may be a minor character in the Harry Potter books, only seen through memories in the Pensieve, but she had a huge impact on the events of the series. Gaunt was the mother of villain Lord Voldemort. Thanks to an essay posted to Pottermore, we know a little bit more about her and how she influenced Tom Riddle himself.
If you need us to jog your memory a bit, we are first introduced to Merope Gaunt in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince–as Harry’s lessons with Dumbledore go through Tom Riddle’s history and how he became Lord Voldemort. In Chapter 10 of Half-Blood Prince, “The House of Gaunt,” readers learn that Merope had a positively awful home life with an abusive father, Marvolo, and destructive brother, Morfin.
Pick it up! That’s it, grub on the floor like some filthy Muggle, what’s your wand for, you useless sack of muck?
-Marvolo Riddle to his daughter, Merope
The new essay recaps what we know about Gaunt from the Harry Potter novels and gives us new insights about Gaunt’s effect on Voldemort’s evil life. As die-hard fans know, Gaunt was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin and fell in love with a wealthy Muggle named Tom Riddle–bewitching him into loving her. Unfortunately for the future of the Riddle family, Tom left her when he regained his free will. Gaunt gave birth to Riddle’s son in an orphanage and died shortly thereafter, not even trying to save herself with magic. As a result, her son is raised in that same London orphanage. That son, Tom Marvolo Riddle, goes on to become Lord Voldemort.
The essay speculates that Voldemort’s lack of love had its roots in his mother’s love potion trickery.
His father’s love was stolen rather than earned. Perhaps if he’d had any understanding of the difference between genuine love and the kind that you compel, Voldemort might have had a better grasp of its power.
While this might not be news to Potter fans, it’s always interesting to see a minor character (especially such an influential one) explored. Read the full essay here!
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