Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/House of Gaunt
|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character|
|House of Gaunt|
The House of Gaunt is "a very ancient Wizarding family noted for a vein of instability and violence that flourished through the generations due to their habit of marrying their own cousins." The phrase is also used to refer to the shack in which the remaining members of the family lived.
Role in the Books
In Albus Dumbledore's Pensieve, via the memories of Bob Ogden, we visit the home of the Gaunt family. There, we learn that the House of Gaunt is a descendant family of Salazar Slytherin. Only three members of the Gaunt family are ever mentioned: Morfin Gaunt, who apparently chooses to speak only Parseltongue; Marvolo Gaunt, and Merope Gaunt, the witch who will later become the mother of Tom Marvolo Riddle. We learn later that Morfin and Marvolo end up in Azkaban, Marvolo for six months, Morfin for three years, while Merope elopes to London with her potion-bedizened swain. Marvolo, after being released, never again speaks his daughter's name, and dies in the Gaunt shack shortly afterwards. Merope dies in childbirth a few months later. On his release, Morfin finds the house empty and Merope gone. Some twelve or so years later, Morfin is sent to Azkaban for the murder of three Muggles, a murder which was actually done by his nephew, Tom Marvolo Riddle.
We learn that the house of Gaunt also can claim descent from the Peverell family; one of the artifacts they have retained to show their antiquity turns out to be a ring containing a stone, the Resurrection Stone, originally owned by one of the three Peverell brothers of legend.
With the death of Tom Marvolo Riddle at the end of the book, the House of Gaunt comes to an end.
The inbreeding that comes from the "habit of marrying their own cousins" has left both Morfin and Merope quite profoundly ugly, with straggly hair and eyes that point in different directions. It seems also that Merope is quite weak magically.
The monumental amount of pride that the Gaunt family has in its heritage seems to have blinded it to all magical progress for an extended length of time. Anything that has happened has, of course, been tainted by contact with Muggles and is therefore unworthy. Marvolo, in particular, seems prepared to dismiss the entire magical governance structure because it does not accept his ancestry as somehow setting him above other wizards.
Relationships with Other Characters
Because their pride requires them to dismiss anything having to do with Muggles, the Gaunt family lives a very isolated life, far away from other wizards. It would be safe to say that the Gaunt family as a whole would be happiest to be left entirely on its own.
It is interesting to note that the pride in ancestry that is held by Marvolo and Morfin finds an echo in Tom Marvolo Riddle, who has never met them and does not even know he is related to them for possibly the first fifteen years of his life. Even when he does meet Morfin, he does not speak with him long enough to get any real idea of what Morfin's beliefs are, or how closely they align with his own. It is probably safe to say that this belief in the power of ancestry is another family characteristic.