Voldemort's mysterious origins story: Tom Riddle's struggle on becoming the Dark Lord

The main villain in Harry Potter was feared by the whole wizarding community, and he was based on the most awful human beings in history like Adolf Hitler. We know many things about this character because J.K. Rowling gave us a lot of information to truly understand him, but many of our readers might not know or remember this. Here’s the origin of the Dark Lord.

His heritage

One of the first things to know is that he comes from the Gaunt family, the last living relatives of Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts known for speaking Parseltongue. The family was comprised of pure-bloods throughout their lineage. Merope Gaunt, his mother, was abused her whole life by her father, Marvolo, and her brother, Morfin.

Furthermore, Merope was thought to be a squib. They were initially wealthy, but they had lost all their money and status long before Marvolo’s time. They only had Slytherin’s locket and the Gaunt family ring, which kept the resurrection stone from the Deathly Hallows. Merope fell in love with a muggle boy, Tom Riddle, from a prominent family that lived in the mansion a few miles away from the Gaunt house.

One day, when Merope was looking at Tom, Morfin got angry and decided to hex him, which is prohibited under wizarding law, and Ministry of Magic agents had to step in. Eventually, this situation deteriorated into a battle between Morfin and Marvolo against the officials. They lost, and Morfin was sent to Azkaban for three years while Marvolo got a six-month sentence.

Image credits: YouTube/MovieFlame

Image credits: YouTube/MovieFlame

Merope was free from abuse, and thankfully, her powers appeared, so she ran away from home taking Salazar’s locket. She gave Tom Riddle love potions so he would look at her, and they got married. She became pregnant with Tom Riddle Jr. It’s said that he did not feel love because he was made under the influence of a love potion.

Before the baby’s birth, Merope decided to stop giving the potion to Riddle, thinking that since they had been together for so long that he would love her and the child. However, Tom left her, and Merope decided never to use magic again. She had to sell Slytherin’s locket to Borgin from Borgin and Burke in Diagon Alley.

Merope became sick and went to an orphanage where she gave birth to Tom Marvolo Riddle, specifically requesting those names in honor of her love and her father. The Dark Lord was born on December 31st, 1926, and Merope died an hour after the delivery. It became clear from a young age that he looked exactly like his handsome father, but he scared the kids in the orphanage.

During a field trip to the countryside, Tom finds a cave, and along with two kids, they go in. Those children were never the same after that and never spoke of what happened. He did not know about the magical world, but his powers were great even at that young age. He was a bully who collected things like toys and trinkets from other kids after his evil actions.

At the age of 11, Dumbledore came to visit him to offer him a place at Hogwarts and reveal the existence of magic to him. This was the first time that he showed how manipulative he could be when he demanded answers from Albus about where to get a wand. Realizing he was rude, he puts on the charm and says, “I’m sorry, sir. I meant, please Professor, could you show me?”

Tom also revealed to Dumbledore that he could speak to snakes. Another important aspect of his character was the fact that he hated associating with others and being thought of as ordinary, which is exemplified in how he dreaded his normal, muggle name. We know that he changed his name to something much different later on.

His days at Hogwarts

He went to school, which was a refuge for him just like it was for Harry Potter, and was sorted into Slytherin. In front of teachers, he would put on the charm always. According to Dumbledore, all the professors immediately took to him because of his handsome looks and proficiency in many subjects. Tom was even named Prefect on his fifth year.

The young man decided to research his family, trying to figure out if his father went to Hogwarts too. He also thought that his father had to be the magical one because his mother “had succumbed to the shameful human weakness of death”. This was the first indication that he was afraid of dying. When he realized that his father was a muggle, he changed his name to Voldemort.

“I am Lord Voldemort” was an anagram for Tom Marvolo Riddle, as we learned in The Chamber of Secrets. But it also comes from “Vol de mort”, which is “flight from death” in French. He eventually decided to research his mother and found his grandfather, Marvolo. During his days at school, with his charisma and manipulation, he gathered a group of friends or rather, followers.

“Lord Voldemort never had a friend, nor do I believe he ever wanted one.” 

Killing the Riddles

During the summer between his fifth year and his sixth, he took a trip to the Gaunt family home where he found Morfin, who was wearing the family ring. Morfin attacked Tom thinking he was Tom Riddle Sr. because of the similar looks, but once Voldemort spoke Parseltongue, he understood who Tom really was and told him that his father had abandoned his mother when she was pregnant.

The Dark Lord hexed Morfin, taking his wand and running to the Riddle mansion where he killing all of them at their dinner table. He went back to the Gaunt house, modified his uncle’s memory to make him believe he murdered the muggles and stole his ring. By the time the Ministry officials came, Morfin bragged about his actions, and the wand confirmed this, so they did not investigate further.

Image credits: YouTube/MovieFlame

Image credits: YouTube/MovieFlame

Horcruxes

Back at Hogwarts for year six, Tom finds out about Horcruxes, a way to become immortal, so he consults with Professor Slughorn about them, revealing an important detail when he asked if he could make seven. Later on that same year, he opened the Chamber of Secrets, killing a muggleborn named Myrtle, who later became a ghost that haunted that bathroom.

That was his first Horcrux, which he hid inside his diary. There were rumors that Hogwarts might be closed after the murder, so he decided to frame Hagrid, blaming Aragog. During his remaining time at Hogwarts, he made a Horcrux which he hid inside the Gaunt family ring. Tom also talked to the Grey Lady, the ghost of Rowena Ravenclaw’s daughter, who revealed the whereabouts of her mother’s diadem.

She had hidden the tiara in a forest in Albania. After finishing up at Hogwarts, he was offered many positions at the Ministry of Magic, but Voldemort refused and talked to Headmaster Dippet about a position as teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts. He wanted to stay because it was the only home he had known, but also because he was not done unlocking all of the school’s secrets.

Furthermore, being at Hogwarts would allow him to recruit more Death Eaters. The headmaster told him that he was too young and that he had to come back in a couple of years. Tom started working at Borgin and Burke, though many people thought he was wasting his time. His job was convincing people to sell their heirlooms, and he was great at this.

One important client was Hepzibah Smith, and he would bring her flowers, becoming a favorite of the old lady. At some point, she showed him her two precious items that used to belong to the founders of Hogwarts, Hufflepuff’s cup and the locket of Salazar Slytherin which she got from Borgin. He returned a day after that to kill Smith and make his third Horcrux in the cup.

He framed Hepzibah’s house-elf, Hockey, into believing that she had killed her master with poison. The Ministry once again thought the case was clear until they discovered the valuable objects gone, but Voldemort had already quit his job and was gone. He disappeared for ten years, continuing to kill and make his Horcruxes.

Image credits: YouTube/MovieFlame

Image credits: YouTube/MovieFlame

He killed a muggle vagabond to make the one inside the locket. Voldemort later went to Albania to find Ravenclaw’s diadem and made his fifth Horcrux after killing a peasant. He decided at this point to hide these magical objects, giving Lucius Malfoy the diary which had to return one day to Hogwarts to open the Chamber of Secrets.

The Gaunt ring was hidden at his mother’s house, and the cup was given to Bellatrix Lestrange to keep in her vault at Gringotts. The locket was hidden in the cave where he tortured his fellow orphans, and he designed a bunch of complicated enchantments to keep it safe. He went back to Hogwarts to meet with the new headmaster, Dumbledore, to request the teaching job once again.

He became enraged when Albus refused to appoint him, so it’s believed that he cursed the job to make it impossible for anyone else to last more than a year. He used this visit to hide the diadem in the Room of Requirement. He left Hogwarts and started recruiting many followers to his cause, while gained a fearsome reputation.

Image credits: YouTube/MovieFlame

Image credits: YouTube/MovieFlame

The Chosen One

He became the most feared wizard in the world, as people stopped saying his name altogether. No one was able to stop him from killing muggles and muggle-borns alike as well as people who would not join him. He was basically unstoppable because even the Order of the Phoenix could do nothing until a prophecy about him is overheard by his loyal follower, Severus Snape.

However, Snape did not hear the entire foreboding, so he went to Voldemort with half the information about a person who could finally defeat him. He assumed the prophecy was about James and Lily’s son, Harry, so he decided to kill him before he became a real threat, but as he heard an incomplete version, there was a special power he did not understand: Love.

Lily sacrificed herself for Harry, so when Voldemort tried to kill him with Avada Kedrava, the curse rebounded on him. If he had not made Horcruxes, he would have died instantly. Furthermore, at that moment, his soul broke, and he inadvertently created his sixth Horcrux in Harry. He became a creature without a body and not many powers, though he could inhabit other beings.

He went to Albania, jumping from animal to animal, especially snakes. Eventually, Professor Quirrell was researching at the forest in Albania and offered to house Voldemort inside him. They went back to Hogwarts and hoped to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone to give the Dark Lord a new body and his life back, but Harry stopped him once again.

After Quirrell died, Voldemort returned to Albania. Later, the events of The Chamber of Secrets happened. A year later, we saw his follower Peter Pettigrew escape from Hogwarts, after hiding for years as Ron’s rat, and he found Voldemort in the forest. Voldemort was given a weak, fetus-like body using snake venom, unicorn blood, and his own spells.

Wormtail brought Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry of Magic employee, to Voldemort, who tortured her for information, presumably about the Triwizard Tournament, and killed her, creating his seventh Horcrux in Nagini. He also learned from Bertha about his follower Barty Crouch Jr. who everyone believed was dead, but he was actually in hiding.

Together, they come up with the plan that we saw develop in The Goblet of Fire, making sure that Harry would win the tournament so that he could be transported to the graveyard where Voldemort performed the spell that revived him. Moreover, because they had used Harry’s blood, the Dark Lord was finally allowed to touch Harry.

The Ministry refused to believe that Voldemort was back, and he took advantage of this, liberating his Death Eaters and gathering more strength. At the end of Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts, the Dark Lord finally revealed himself to the world, starting the Second Wizarding War. They took over Hogwarts after killing Dumbledore.

However, the headmaster had already given Harry, Ron, and Hermione his insights about the Horcruxes, and the three of them set off to find and destroy them. Meanwhile, Voldemort was searching for Harry all along, but to no avail. Until the trio had to return to Hogwarts, and thus the Dark Lord marched with his Death Eaters. The Battle of Hogwarts ensued, but in the end, the side of good was victorious because all his Horcruxes had been eliminated.

What did you think of the life of Lord Voldemort? His origin is definitely one of the best parts of this story because it’s dark and detailed. We would like to know your opinion, so leave a comment below and share this article with your Potterhead friends.

Sources used: YouTube/MovieFlame

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