Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Lord Voldemort
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Lord Voldemort (pseudonym) is perhaps the most notorious Dark wizard ever known and the most powerful and dangerous of all time. It is said that the only wizard he ever feared is Albus Dumbledore. Voldemort apparently believes nothing is worse than death; perhaps his greatest weakness is his inability to love.
Voldemort's wand is made from yew wood and contains a phoenix feather core. It is considered a "brother" to Harry Potter's holly wand because the feather in each was donated by the same phoenix, Fawkes, who is Albus Dumbledore's beloved pet.
Voldemort's chosen name originates from the French "vol de mort", or "flight from death" in English. This is an excellent example of the series' possibly excessive matching of name to character; Voldemort's main desire in the series is to escape death.
Role in the Books
Voldemort killed James and Lily Potter as he attempted to murder their one-year-old son, Harry. Harry survived, but Voldemort apparently died when his curse rebounded upon him, though some doubted he was truly gone. The attack left Harry with a lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead.
Rubeus Hagrid, introducing Harry, now eleven, to the Wizarding world, mentions Voldemort, and explains how Harry made him vanish. Hagrid personally believes there was too little that was still human in Voldemort to die.
While at Mr. Ollivander's wand shop, Harry tries one particular wand which Ollivander had evidently been holding in reserve. It suits Harry perfectly. Mr. Ollivander tells him, "It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when ... its brother gave you that scar... I think we must expect great things from you, Mr. Potter ... After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things – terrible, yes, but great."
Voldemort is first seen during the climactic battle in Hogwarts' dungeon. Voldemort's surviving spirit possesses Professor Quirrell's body, controlling Quirrell as he attempts to steal the Philosopher's Stone and kill Harry. It is revealed that it was Voldemort who was driving many events in the story:
- Voldemort, aided by Quirrell, had attempted to steal the Stone from Gringotts Bank, not knowing that Hagrid had removed it earlier that same day.
- Harry's scar first pains him at the Welcome Feast, when Professor Snape is looking at him. Voldemort by now is riding the back of Quirrell's head, concealed by a turban, and may be the reason Harry's scar pains him. Harry notes that Quirrell was not wearing a turban at the Leaky Cauldron.
- At Voldemort's apparent bidding, Quirrell hexed Harry's broom during the Quidditch match against Slytherin. Harry was saved by Professor Snape.
- It was Quirrell, again at Voldemort's instructions, who was killing the unicorns in the Forbidden Forest so Voldemort could drink their blood to sustain his tenuous life. Harry's scar seared when he encountered the robed figure that killed the unicorns.
- In the end, Voldemort propels Quirrell through an elaborate security maze protecting the Stone at Hogwarts. He wants Harry, who also bypassed the security, to fetch the Stone, then orders Quirrell to kill him. During the battle with Quirrell and Voldemort, Harry is nearly incapacitated by pain searing inside his scar. With Quirrell's defeat and (probable) death, Voldemort is forced to flee his body and find a new host.
Harry realizes, and Professor Dumbledore confirms, that his scar causes him pain whenever Voldemort is nearby. Dumbledore theorizes that when Voldemort's killing curse rebounded off Harry, it left a lasting connection between Harry and Voldemort. He withholds any additional details, however.
Voldemort never acts directly in this book; instead, the story is driven by a remnant of his younger self, contained in a magical diary, when he still used his birth name, Tom Riddle. Details are under that character entry.
Voldemort is heard, though remains unseen, when he occupies the old Riddle manor in Little Hangleton. Frank Bryce, the elderly Muggle caretaker, investigates when he sees lights in the supposedly deserted house. Inside, he eavesdrops on Voldemort and Pettigrew. Voldemort mentions his one faithful servant, apparently not Pettigrew, and the two plot to murder someone named Harry Potter. When Bryce is discovered, Voldemort kills him.
His scar searing, Harry awakens from a nightmare—Voldemort has just murdered someone. Pain in his scar can indicate that Voldemort is nearby, and Harry worries about being attacked on Privet Drive. Much later, Harry has another dream that Pettigrew is being punished.
During the Triwizard Tournament, Harry and Cedric Diggory simultaneously grab the trophy, only to discover it is a Portkey that transports them to a cemetery. There, Voldemort orders Pettigrew to kill Cedric and bind Harry.
Voldemort's body is like a hideous baby, with snake-like, scaled skin, slitted eyes, and a grown man's malevolence. To restore Voldemort's body, Harry's blood, Voldemort's father's bone, and Pettigrew's own flesh (his right hand) are added to a potion, making him human. Exulting in his newly restored self, Voldemort briefly taunts Harry, then, ignoring the whimpering Pettigrew, summons his Death Eaters.
Voldemort greets his servants, including Lucius Malfoy. One is promptly tortured for doubting the Dark Lord would return. Voldemort says he never forgives, nor forgets, and he requires repayment for his Death Eaters having denied him. He rewards Pettigrew's service, conjuring him a magical silver hand to replace the severed one.
After his failed attack on baby Harry, Voldemort's disembodied soul had wandered for years, occupying small animals, then attached itself to a weak wizard. After failing to capture the Philosopher's Stone and losing his host, he was a detached spirit again until Pettigrew found him. One true ally was left who could capture Harry Potter, but until then, Pettigrew crafted him a rudimentary body and sustained him with Nagini's venom. With Harry's blood inside him, he can now overcome the protection Lily's death had given Harry.
Harry's wand is returned, and he is forced to duel Voldemort. Harry casts the Disarmament spell as Voldemort hurls the Killing Curse. A golden stream unites their wands, and a gold light dome forms around them. Harry's wand heats up, and he forces the light beads that have formed on the stream into Voldemort's wand. Cedric's shade ejects from Voldemort's wand, then Frank Bryce, Bertha Jorkins, and James and Lily Potter emerge. His parents explain they can briefly protect Harry when he breaks the stream. When the connection is broken, the shades rush at Voldemort as Harry Summons the Triwizard Cup, transporting himself and Cedric's body to Hogwarts.
Professor Moody, who is actually Voldemort's servant, guides Harry to his office,then admits he rigged the Tournament. As he is about to fatally curse Harry, Dumbledore bursts in and stuns Moody, who is revealed to be Barty Crouch Jr., disguised by Polyjuice Potion. Under Veritaserum, Barty confesses that he and Pettigrew kidnapped Moody so Barty, Jr. could assume his identity, specifically to lure Harry into Voldemort's trap.
After Dementors have sucked out Barty's soul before he could confess, Cornelius Fudge discounts Harry's story, claiming Dumbledore fabricated it. After Fudge's angry departure, Dumbledore assigns missions for Hagrid and Madam Maxime; for Professor Snape; and also Sirius Black.
At the Leaving Feast, Dumbledore informs the entire school that Voldemort has returned and murdered Cedric Diggory. Dumbledore believes students should know the truth despite the Wizarding world's denial.
The Wizarding world doubts claims that Voldemort has returned, leaving Harry edgy all summer. He listens to the Muggle news for any unexplained deaths or possible magical disturbances, and scans the Daily Prophet for any signs. Ron's and Hermione's deliberately vague letters only increase the tension, fueling Harry's anger.
After a Dementor attack near his home, Harry is taken to Number 12, Grimmauld Place, Sirius Black's home and now headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix. The Order believes Voldemort remains hidden while rebuilding his organization, though Harry's announcing his return has impeded Voldemort's efforts. Harry learns Voldemort may be seeking a powerful weapon. When Hermione notices Harry's scar hurting him, Harry discounts it, claiming it happens frequently now.
At Hogwarts, some Gryffindors doubt Harry and Dumbledore's claims regarding Voldemort. Neville supports Harry, echoing his grandmother's belief that Dumbledore is far more trustworthy than the Daily Prophet.
Soon, Harry runs afoul of the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and Ministry spy, Dolores Umbridge, for claiming Voldemort has returned. She assigns him two weeks detention that is tantamount to torture. When Umbridge happens to touch Harry's hand, his scar sears, causing Harry to suspect she could be linked to Voldemort. He stubbornly refuses to tell Dumbledore, feeling stung by the headmaster's continually avoiding him. Sirius assures Harry that the Order believes there is no connection between Umbridge and Voldemort.
Fed up with Umbridge's useless lessons, Hermione and Ron urge Harry to teach students real defensive magic. He reluctantly agrees, and Dumbledore's Army is formed. Zacharias Smith complains that the Disarming jinx Harry demonstrates is too easy until Harry explains how he effectively used it against Voldemort.
Harry repeatedly dreams about a long corridor with a doorway at the end that he longs to enter. His scar hurting seems related to Voldemort, and Harry can feel the Dark Lord's emotions.
Meanwhile, Hagrid returns from his secret mission to recruit the Giants against Voldemort. Hagrid failed because Death Eaters had already offered bigger rewards.
Shortly before Christmas, a terrible pain awakens Harry after he saw Mr. Weasley being attacked at the Ministry. Dumbledore alerts the Order, then sends the Weasley children and Harry to Grimmauld Place. When Dumbledore briefly glances into Harry's eyes, Harry feels the snake he saw in his dream wanting to attack Dumbledore.
Harry and the Weasley children happen to overhear Mad Eye Moody say that Harry and Voldemort may share a mental connection. Harry, fearing Voldemort can see into Headquarters through him, wants to leave until Dumbledore delivers a stern message: "Stay where you are." Harry relents, but fears Voldemort could be possessing him until Ginny, having been possessed by him, assures Harry he is not.
During his Occlumency lessons with Snape, Harry recognizes the long hallway as one at the Ministry of Magic. Harry, Ron, and Hermione later conclude that the weapon Voldemort seeks is in the Ministry. Harry can feel Voldemort's joy when ten Death Eaters escape Azkaban prison, leading Hermione to suspect the Dementors have defected to Voldemort. Meanwhile, Harry wonders if Snape's lesson are actually opening his mind to Voldemort rather than blocking it.
Harry dreams that Voldemort is torturing someone after being told his plan will fail. When a patient at St. Mungo's Hospital dies, Harry and Hermione conclude he had been under the Imperius curse to steal the weapon. Voldemort likely had him killed because he was recovering from the protective spells that temporarily drove him insane.
In his next Occlumency lesson, Snape suddenly breaks Harry's vision just as he reaches the doorway and finds it open. Shortly after Dumbledore's ouster from Hogwarts, Harry dreams about the corridor and the door again, this time entering a room with rows of shelves containing dusty phials. What he wants is almost within his grasp, but he is awakened.
Harry "sees" Voldemort torturing Sirius and rushes to the Ministry, unaware it is a trap. He and fellow Dumbledore's Army members are ambushed by Death Eaters seeking a prophecy concerning Harry and Voldemort. Sirius and Order of the Phoenix members arrive in time and neutralize the Death Eaters, though Bellatrix Lestrange kills Sirius. Voldemort appears, but Dumbledore's sudden arrival erupts into a fierce duel. Finally, Voldemort possesses Harry, but Harry's overwhelming emotions of love and friendship drive him out. Voldemort escapes with Bellatrix.
Back in his office, Dumbledore tries to calm a distraught Harry by claiming responsibility for Sirius' death; had he been more open with Harry, he would have recognized Voldemort's trap. The curse leaving Harry's scar had forged a link between Harry and Voldemort, enabling Harry to sense Voldemort's emotions and, occasionally, see his thoughts. Voldemort only recently discovered the link. Dumbledore had been avoiding Harry to prevent Voldemort from gaining information, and it is why Snape was teaching Harry Occlumency, though their mutual animosity made that impossible. Voldemort implanted false images into Harry's mind to lure him into an ambush.
Dumbledore also explains why Harry was placed with the Dursleys: Lily's sacrificing herself to save Harry cast a powerful magical charm that has protected him from Voldemort ever since. Only his remaining in a home with his mother's blood kin – his Aunt Petunia - sustains the charm's effect. Despite the Dursleys' cruelty, Harry's physical safety was more important than his emotional well-being.
A prophecy made shortly before Harry's birth is why Voldemort wanted to kill him. Voldemort only heard its first half, and he needed Harry to recover the copy stored at the Ministry. The prophecy, about someone with "the power to vanquish the Dark Lord," could have referred to either Harry or Neville Longbottom. Because Voldemort chose to kill Harry, a "half-blood" like himself, he marked Harry as his equal. The power that Harry has and Voldemort lacks is love. Its power protected Harry from Voldemort, and that strength will enable him to defeat the Dark Lord. Dumbledore also confirms that, according to the prophecy, one must kill the other.
With the Ministry finally admitting that Voldemort has returned, Dumbledore is re-instated as Headmaster of Hogwarts, and in his other offices.
Cornelius Fudge introduces new Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour to the British Prime Minister. Fudge reports that the recent crises plaguing the Muggle world is due to Lord Voldemort having returned. As a result, Fudge has resigned.
Meanwhile, Narcissa Malfoy pleads for Severus Snape's help. Voldemort has assigned her son, Draco, a nearly impossible and probably fatal task. She believes Voldemort is risking Draco's life to punish her husband, Lucius, for his failure at the Ministry. Bellatrix Lestrange, however, questions Snape's loyalty, though Snape refutes this, saying he has earned Voldemort's trust. Snape refuses to attempt to change the Dark Lord's intent, but agrees to swear an 'Unbreakable Vow' to protect Draco and complete this mission should Draco fail.
After publicly acknowledging Voldemort's return, the Ministry has flooded the Wizarding realm with propaganda planted in the Daily Prophet, and published pamphlets containing supposedly useful information.
Dumbledore speculates that Voldemort found Harry's mind too painful to inhabit and will not attempt to possess him again. Voldemort is likely also worried that Harry will peer into his own mind, and is probably blocking contact using Occlumency.
Harry and Dumbledore study Lord Voldemort's early years by viewing donated memories in Dumbledore's Pensieve. Voldemort's mother, Merope Gaunt, is Salazar Slytherin's direct descendant, and his father is Tom Riddle, a Muggle. During this time period, Voldemort is known by his birth name, Tom Marvolo Riddle. In a later session with the Pensieve, Dumbledore notes Tom's changed appearance and comments about his using the name Voldemort. As this study was done using Riddle's birth name, additional details are under that character topic.
Voldemort has informed Draco about the Room of Requirement, and has ordered him to murder Dumbledore. This is likely the same mission Narcissa Malfoy was distressed about, suspecting Draco would fail and then be killed by Voldemort. Snape fulfills the Unbreakable Vow by killing Dumbledore in Draco's place. As Snape and Draco flee Hogwarts, Snape prevents the other Death Eaters from killing Harry, saying Voldemort wants Harry for himself.
At Malfoy Manor, the Dark Lord's new headquarters, Voldemort holds court with his Death Eaters. Believing Harry's wand is more powerful against his own, its twin, Voldemort demands Lucius Malfoy's wand. Malfoy's position at the table's far end reflects how much he has fallen from Voldemort's favor, while Snape now sits beside the Dark Lord. Voldemort also taunts Bellatrix Lestrange, even though she serves him faithfully. Charity Burbage, the Hogwarts' Muggle Studies professor, is suspended and tightly bound above the table. For having advocated inter-marriage with Muggles, Voldemort casts a lethal curse at her.
The Order of the Phoenix, meanwhile, is transferring Harry to a safe house shortly before his late mother's magical protection ends. Six protectors paired with a Harry Potter decoy will fly to separate safe houses, while the real Harry goes with Hagrid. As the group takes off, Death Eaters, tipped off by Snape, immediately attack. When Harry is identified by his signature Disarming spell, Voldemort suddenly appears. In the screaming confusion, Harry's wand independently casts a golden spell, shattering Voldemort's borrowed wand. Harry and Hagrid barely reach the safe house alive. Everyone arrives safely except "Mad-Eye" Moody, who apparently has been killed.
Harry, fearing he is endangering everyone, wants to leave The Burrow, but is overruled. Shortly after, he "sees" Voldemort torturing Ollivander, demanding to know how Harry destroyed his borrowed wand, though Ollivander does not fully understand the reason. Harry, eager to start his quest, sarcastically remarks to Ginny that Voldemort will not just kill himself. She correctly guesses that Harry's mission is to kill Voldemort, though Harry pretends he was only joking to allay her fears. Harry "dreams" that Voldemort is searching for someone named Gregorovitch, and recalls Mr. Ollivander once mentioning that Gregorovitch crafted Viktor Krum's wand.
Kingsley Shacklebolt sends a warning that the Ministry of Magic has fallen to Voldemort, and Prime Minister Rufus Scrimgeour is dead. As Death Eaters attack The Burrow, Harry, Ron, and Hermione escape to Grimmauld Place. Harry again watches through Voldemort's eyes as a terrified Draco Malfoy is forced to torture a Death Eater for letting Harry escape.
Sirius' brother, Regulus Arcturus Black is identified as the mysterious R.A.B. who left the note inside the fake Locket Horcrux. Kreacher tells Harry that Mundungus Fletcher stole the real Locket Horcrux from Grimmauld Place, and explains its connection to Regulus: when Voldemort needed a house-elf's assistance to hide a locket in a sea cave, Regulus sent Kreacher. Voldemort abandoned Kreacher to die there, but he returned to his master. Regulus retrieved the real Locket Horcrux, replacing it with a fake, though he died in the attempt. Harry, still upset by Kreacher having betrayed Sirius, is bothered more by Voldemort abusing the house-elf.
Voldemort now controls the Ministry: Muggle-born wizards and witches are being rounded up and their wands confiscated. All magical children in England must only attend Hogwarts, now headed by Severus Snape.
After the Trio recover the real Locket Horcrux, Ron requests they avoid speaking Voldemort's name aloud—it feels jinxed. (Note: for the remaining story, Harry, Hermione, and Ron generally only use Voldemort's common euphemisms such as, "You-Know-Who", and "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named", though, for brevity, this summary will continue to call him Voldemort.)
Shortly after, Harry "sees" Voldemort demanding something that Gregorovitch claims was stolen long ago. In Gregorovitch's memory, a young, blond thief Stunned Gregorovitch and escaped with a wand. Voldemort then kills Gregorovitch.
Ron leaves the mission, and Harry and Hermione go to Godric's Hollow to see Bathilda Bagshot. After Harry is led upstairs, Nagini, Voldemort's snake, pours from Bathilda's dead body as it crumples to the floor. As Harry is attacked, Hermione rescues him just as Voldemort appears. While recovering, Harry sees into the Dark Lord's memories, watching as, sixteen years before, Voldemort kills his parents and attempts to murder Harry.
Hermione shows Harry Rita Skeeter's book, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore and a photo of Gellert Grindelwald, the blond thief who stole the Elder Wand from Gregorovitch. Voldemort also has Grindelwald's photo, taken from Bathilda's house.
Ron returns bearing a spare wand to replace Harry's destroyed one, and he updates them about the Wizarding world—speaking Voldemort's name summons Death Eaters or Snatchers (Voldemort's bounty hunters). The Trio seeks out Xeno Lovegood for information about a mysterious symbol. He tells them about the Peverells and the Tale of the Three Brothers and the Deathly Hallows. Harry believes the Hallows could make him invincible against Voldemort. A ring handed down from the Peverells could contain the Resurrection Stone, and it may be hidden inside the Snitch that Dumbledore bequeathed to Harry. Harry's own Invisibility Cloak may also be a Hallow, while Voldemort seeks only the Elder Wand, the third Hallow.
Harry inadvertently speaks Voldemort's name, and Snatchers immediately appear. As the Trio and other captives are taken to Malfoy Manor, Harry sees Voldemort inside a tall tower where an old man (Grindelwald) says he knows what Voldemort wants, but claims he never had it. With Dobby's help, the Trio, along with the other prisoners, escape Malfoy Manor to Shell Cottage. While there, the goblin Griphook agrees to help Harry break into Bellatrix Lestrange's Gringotts vault, that Harry now suspects contains another Horcrux. Mr. Ollivander confirms that Voldemort seeks the Elder Wand, believing it is more powerful against Harry's. Despite its bloody history, only capture, not murder, is necessary to win the wand's allegiance. Harry watches as Voldemort removes the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb.
After Harry, Ron, and Hermione escape Gringotts with the Cup Horcrux, Harry sees Voldemort's fury. Though he believes his other Horcruxes are safe, he will check on them, including one hidden at Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione then race to Hogwarts. Harry knows Nagini may also be a Horcrux and that Voldemort is aware his Horcruxes are under attack.
In Hogsmeade, Aberforth Dumbledore helps the Trio sneak into Hogwarts through the Room of Requirement where Dumbledore's Army members are hiding. Harry feels Voldemort's rage as he discovers the Locket Horcrux is missing. Meanwhile, the Order and other allies begin secretly pouring into Hogwarts to prepare for battle. Harry frantically searches for Ravenclaw's lost diadem, another Horcrux, as Voldemort and his army march to Hogwarts. Snape, ousted from the school, rejoins Voldemort, while Professor McGonagall and the other faculty secure the castle. Outside Hogwarts, Voldemort's voice offers a reward for Harry Potter.
As the battle begins, Harry, Ron, and Hermione find the Diadem Horcrux inside the transformed Room of Requirement. Draco Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle attempt to stop them but fail, and the Diadem is destroyed. Draco may have been trying to regain Voldemort's favor.
Harry locates Voldemort in the Shrieking Shack. Hiding inside, Harry, Ron, and Hermione overhear Voldemort tell Snape that he suspects Snape actually commands the Elder Wand by having murdered Dumbledore. To gain its allegiance, Voldemort orders Nagini to kill Snape, then leaves. Dying, Snape hands Harry his memories.
Voldemort's voice announces that Harry Potter has one hour to surrender, otherwise, everyone at Hogwarts will die. Harry, meanwhile, watches Snape's memories in a penseive. Snape had deeply loved Harry's mother, Lily, but Snape's affiliation with future Death Eaters at Hogwarts acrimoniously ended their friendship. Snape carried the prophecy to Voldemort, but when Voldemort said Lily must die, Snape defected to Dumbledore, who swore Snape to spy on Voldemort in exchange for Lily's protection. But Peter Pettigrew's betrayal allowed Voldemort to kill James and Lily. Dumbledore held Snape to his promise, saying that all he could do now was to protect Harry, Lily's child.
In a different memory, Snape has temporarily contained a deadly curse in Dumbledore's hand that was infected when he put on the Ring Horcrux. Dumbledore has about one year to live. They discuss Voldemort's plot to use Draco to murder Dumbledore. Voldemort expects Draco to fail so he can then kill Draco to punish Lucius Malfoy. Voldemort likely anticipates Snape will finish Draco's task, but once Dumbledore is dead, the Dark Lord will no longer need a spy at Hogwarts. Dumbledore charges Snape with protecting the school once he is gone.
In yet another memory, Dumbledore tells Snape that Voldemort's soul shard had fastened itself to Harry, creating the link between Voldemort and Harry. However, to defeat Voldemort, Harry, and the soul fragment, must be killed by Voldemort. Snape is dismayed that Dumbledore protected Harry only to sacrifice him to Voldemort.
Sometime later, Dumbledore's portrait tells Snape that to retain Voldemort's trust, he must reveal Harry's true departure date from Privet Drive to the Dark Lord. If Snape can plant the idea to have multiple Potter decoys into Mundungus Fletcher's mind, Harry may escape unscathed.
Harry goes to the Forbidden Forest and surrenders himself to Voldemort, who casts a Killing Curse. Harry, believing himself dead, appears to be in a deserted King's Cross Station. On the floor, a small, flayed creature wails in pain. Albus Dumbledore appears and explains that when Voldemort used Harry's blood to re-animate himself, he unintentioally extended Lily Potter's protection; Harry's life was then tethered to Voldemort's.
Dumbledore speculates the two wands, already connected by their identical magical cores, had merged closer during Harry and Voldemort's duel. The wands' masters were also tied by their souls and blood, though Harry was the stronger wizard; Voldemort feared death, while Harry embraced the possibility, enabling his wand to imbibe some powers from Voldemort's, making it more powerful than any wand Voldemort wielded, even the Elder Wand. Now Harry can choose to "continue on" or return to the living world. Harry chooses to return.
Returning to himself, Harry pretends to be dead while Voldemort displays his body to the allies. Several things then happen simultaneously: the students' families begin arriving as reinforcements; many magical denizens, including the Centaurs, join the allies; and Neville beheads Nagini with the Sword of Gryffindor, destroying the final Horcrux.
Death Eaters storm the castle. Inside, Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix after a fierce duel. Enraged, Voldemort attempts to fatally curse Molly, but Harry's shield charm blocks him. Harry tells Voldemort that Dumbledore outsmarted him, planning his own death so that Snape was never the Elder Wand's rightful owner. But Draco Malfoy unknowingly won the wand's allegiance when he disarmed Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower, only to lose its allegience when Harry captured Malfoy's wand. Because Harry willingly sacrificed himself to Voldemort, the same magic that once protected Harry, now protects his allies.
Voldemort casts Avada Kedavra as Harry simultaneously conjures Expelliarmus. But Voldemort's killing curse rebounds, reflected by Harry's blood protection and the Elder Wand's allegiance to him. With all his Horcruxes destroyed, Voldemort dies instantly.
Lord Voldemort is an exceptionally brilliant and potent wizard. He was one of the most powerful wizards to ever exist. When Dumbledore first met him at the orphanage he was already aware of his magical abilities and used it to control and punish. This control of his powers mark him as a prodigy even as a young child. He becomes so proficient in Dark magic that Albus Dumbledore recognizes that he has entered into magical realms unknown to the average wizard. He apparently can fly without a broom, and his spells and curses are powerful and often deadly.
As a youth, Tom Riddle used his charm and guile to conceal his Dark and deceptive nature from all his Hogwarts teachers except Albus Dumbledore. Despite his cruelty and violence, Voldemort's charisma allowed him to recruit a devoted following while offering little in return. He becomes so powerful, that his Death Eaters remain loyal mainly out of fear, knowing they will be tortured or killed for any slight misstep. Once entering the Dark Lord's service, there is no leaving it.
Voldemort is also an accomplished Legilimens, able see into almost anyone's mind. There is some question as to whether he can penetrate Severus Snape's mind, or whether Snape's skill at Occlumency has protected him from that. Dumbledore is also likely able to block Voldemort.
An insatiable lust for power compels Voldemort to utilize any means to achieve total domination over the wizarding world. He is loyal to no one, and he never hesitates to kill anyone, including his own followers, either when he is enraged, or when it serves his purpose. This was significantly undermining his power base, as his servants' loyalty to him was weakening.
There is only one wizard Voldemort fears: Albus Dumbledore, recognized as among the greatest and most powerful wizards ever. Once Dumbledore is dead, Voldemort seeks his wand, the Elder Wand, believing it will make him invincible, though he never bothers to understand why it is powerful.
Voldemort considers death the worst possible fate and has gone to extreme lengths seeking immortality. Dumbledore comments that when Harry and Voldemort dueled in the graveyard, Harry was the stronger wizard because he was prepared to die, if necessary, while Voldemort feared death despite his recent resurrection.
Voldemort is overconfident and continually ignores minor details, which often lead to his failures. In particular, he discounts any magic he is unable to understand, particularly that of non-human races like house-elves. While he recognizes that love can have a magical effect, he never understands it and underestimates its power, considering most emotions a weakness, and it remains a purely academic concept. He himself is unable to love anyone or anything, though he is somewhat sentimentally attached to Hogwarts castle, considering it the only home he has ever known. While possessing Harry's body in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry's deep yearning to be rejoined with his beloved slain godfather drives Voldemort out. Harry's emotions are so overpowering and disturbing to Voldemort that he never attempts to possess Harry again, and he will consistently discount love's power.
Although Dumbledore mostly discounted it, because Voldemort so strongly believed in the prophecy stating that a "chosen one" would vanquish him, his actions became largely responsible for it eventually coming true. In effect, he created what he feared. By deliberately "marking" Harry as his enemy and killing his parents, he set the boy on a predetermined path leading to their eventual confrontation. Voldemort also failed to understand that love significantly empowered Harry, and always attributes Harry's repeated successes to luck and help from others, such as from Dumbledore. He also particularly fixates on Harry's wand, believing it is the only thing standing between himself and Harry's ultimate defeat. Although the twin cores in Harry's wand and Voldemort's are unable to attack each other, Voldemort attributes some super-magical power to this. This mistaken belief is fueled by Snape, as Voldemort's closest confidant, who has claimed that Harry is only a moderately competent wizard, not a particularly strong one. Whether or not Snape actually believes this or was deliberately misleading the Dark Lord, Voldemort accepts Snape's words as fact.
Relationships with Other Characters
Voldemort calls Death Eaters his true family, though he has compassion for none, using them only as servants rather than comrades, eliminating them almost capriciously if they fail him in some way, are unfortunate enough to be in close proximity when he is enraged, or if it serves his evil plan. Indeed, Voldemort murders Severus Snape, who he probably considered among his most trusted and valuable Death Eaters after Snape killed Dumbledore, solely in an attempt to gain more magical power although he did express regret at doing so. Voldemort also shows no respect or allegiance to Bellatrix Lestrange, his most fanatical follower; he does rescue her during the Battle at the Ministry, though likely because she was still useful to him, rather than feeling any loyalty to her.
Voldemort became obsessed with Harry Potter after he failed to kill the one-year-old boy – livid that a helpless infant caused his downfall. He later seeks revenge on Harry to prove that he, Voldemort, is the most feared and powerful wizard of all time. Voldemort considers Harry weak in comparison to himself and he always discounted how love's power has aided Harry. But after possessing Harry's mind, Harry's overwhelming emotions for his friends and family are so overpowering and disturbing to Voldemort that they drive him out. He never attempts to possess Harry again.
Even from an early age, Voldemort considered himself superior to all other wizards except one – Albus Dumbledore, said to be the only one he ever feared. When he first met the eleven-year-old Tom Riddle, Dumbledore sensed this wizard was different, though he never suspected the young boy would become the most malevolent Dark wizard ever known. At Hogwarts, Dumbledore resolved to keep an eye on Riddle while concealing his suspicions, hoping Tom had abandoned his thieving and cruelty. Tom, meanwhile, cultivated a false facade, charming many, while quietly sowing his evil empire, recruiting fellow Slytherins to become his first Death Eaters. Dumbledore suspected Tom was engaging in some Dark activities at Hogwarts, particularly after a Muggle-born girl was killed. From then on, he watched Riddle even more closely, but could never prove he was involved in anything while he was still a student at Hogwarts.
Lord Voldemort, née Tom Marvolo Riddle, is the primary antagonist in the Harry Potter series, and the only living descendant of Salazar Slytherin (by way of his mother, Merope Gaunt, and her father Marvolo Gaunt). His only allegiance is to himself, and he is obsessed with achieving immortality and obtaining total power. Voldemort advocates pure-blood elitism, despite having a Muggle father and witch mother, making him a half-blood, and considers other "Mudbloods" as filth.
Much of Voldemort's character was shaped by his difficult and lonely childhood in a Muggle orphanage. While there, he remained friendless, partially because the Muggle orphans feared and shunned the strange boy, but also because he felt superior and apart from them. Knowing that he possessed unusual powers others lacked, Tom engaged in cruel acts against his fellow orphans, often stealing their possessions as trophies. Voldemort had a multifaceted personality, but upon entering Hogwarts, and knowing that Dumbledore at least partially understood his true nature, he crafted a new persona for himself. He became a seemingly quiet, model student, using charm and guile to win his instructors' favor and gather peers. This charisma helped fuel his later rise to power, gaining him many loyal followers who adopted his pure-blood ideology. Voldemort rarely appreciated or rewarded this loyalty, however, and ruled through fear, cruelty, and intimidation, even with his most devoted servants, solely to attain his goals.
It is unknown if Tom's Muggle father, Tom Riddle Sr., ever knew his son existed, apparently having been duped into a bogus marriage by Merope Gaunt, who probably used a love potion to entrap him. Riddle left her before Tom was born. Regardless, Tom grew up deeply loathing his father for abandoning him and his mother, who died heartbroken shortly after Tom's birth. Tom so despised his Muggle blood, that he murdered his Riddle relatives in an attempt to erase his "tainted" heritage.
Whether or not Tom would have developed any differently if either or both his parents had raised him can only be speculated about. The Riddle family would have been unable to understand or control Tom's unique powers, probably fearing and rejecting him, while he could have considered them weak, inferior, and possibly disposable. His Gaunt relatives, meanwhile, were firmly entrenched in their haughty, pure-blood beliefs, considering themselves superior to all wizards, even other pure-bloods, due solely to their ancestry and despite previous generations having squandered the Gaunt fortune that had long ago sunk the family into poverty and a low-class status. They epitomized the Slytherin belief that they were owed whatever they wanted. This environment likely would have warped Tom's development, though Merope apparently eschewed at least some Gaunt beliefs and had defied her family by marrying a Muggle, seeking a better life.
Like his Gaunt family, Voldemort is a parselmouth, the ability to speak with snakes. This trait is descended from his ancestor, Salazar Slytherin. As Slytherin's heir, in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Tom Riddle's memory that is stored in a diary is the only one able to control the basilisk. Aware that Harry is also a Parselmouth, Riddle warns him that the basilisk will not answer him; Harry heeds his advice. When Voldemort attempted to murder baby Harry, he had unknowingly transferred some powers, including Parseltongue, to the boy. Just why this occurred is explained more fully in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
More than anything, Voldemort feared death. The name, Voldemort, can be interpreted as "flight from death" in French. To achieve immortality, Voldemort splintered his soul into multiple pieces, embedding them into objects known as Horcruxes. As long as any Horcrux survived, Voldemort could not be killed. By shredding his soul this way, it was irreparably damaged, and as Harry systematically destroyed the Horcruxes, what remained likely became even more diminished, further dehumanizing Voldemort. Harry is tied to Voldemort by one of these soul shards, but also by his blood, used in Voldemort's resurrection, and by their wands. Voldemort's yew wand contains a phoenix feather core; one of only two feathers donated to the wand maker Mr. Ollivander by Fawkes, Dumbledore's loyal companion and animal familiar. Fawkes' other feather lies within Harry's wand.
Voldemort's reputation became so Dark and evil, that merely speaking his name aloud instilled dread into most who hear it. But as powerful and terrifying as the Dark Lord was, it was said that Albus Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort truly feared. Voldemort admitted that he himself had never, "sought a duel," with Dumbledore, but later declares that Dumbledore is, "getting weak in old age," and he is, "not the wizard he once was". He considers Dumbledore's views regarding love and loyalty as a joke, believing only in power and the ability to use it. Voldemort's over-confidence and own self-indulgence eventually causes his downfall.
It is also interesting to note that Harry's scar never pains him in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, even when he is directly battling Tom Riddle's memory that was contained in the diary Horcrux. When Riddle attacks Harry in the Chamber, it is some forty years after the diary was created, and so the Voldemort that had inflicted the scar, and the Riddle that Harry was fighting, are quite different people. That is likely why Harry's scar fails to react to the young Riddle.
- Despite being married, Bellatrix may have harbored romantic feelings for Voldemort. Give evidence for or against this.
- If Bellatrix had romantic feelings for Voldemort, were they reciprocated by him? Explain why or why not. Just what might he feel for her?
- Would Voldemort have turned out differently if he had been raised by his parents rather than growing up in an orphanage? Give arguments both for and against this.
- Why was Dumbledore the only wizard Voldemort ever feared? Be specific in your answers.
- If Voldemort firmly believed that pure-blooded wizards are superior, why did he think that baby Harry, a half-blood, was "The Chosen One", rather than Neville Longbottom, who is a pure-blood?
- Compare and contrast the Dark wizards, Lord Voldemort and Gellert Grindelwald. Who was more evil and powerful? Give specific examples to support your answer.
It is worth remembering that Voldemort, or Tom Marvolo Riddle, as he was then known, was born in 1926 on the 31st of December. His world views were mostly formed in a London orphanage, and later at Hogwarts, at about the time that the National Socialist (Nazi) party was coming to power in Germany. This may have influenced his pureblooded wizarding views, and fostered the need to eradicate the Muggles that so closely mirror Aryan purity beliefs and the Final Solution proposed in Germany at that time. The author has mentioned this similarity as well, though she notes that she was rather taken by surprise on discovering the similarities in detail. This is not to say, or imply, that Voldemort was a Nazi, or had any sympathy for the Nazi party's aims; he no doubt viewed them as, if anything, an amusing but totally insignificant side show in the useless Muggle world. However, the "racial purity" idea, involving (in this case) eliminating anyone unable to prove that they were descended only from wizarding families, certainly may have provided the basis for Voldemort's many actions.
As mentioned, Harry's scar hurts him because Voldemort's soul fragment within him, recognized and reacted to Voldemort's soul (or what was left of it) whenever the two were in close proximity, or when Voldemort was experiencing strong emotions. The soul fragment that Harry was battling in the Chamber of Secrets had been splintered off Voldemort some forty years earlier, and so likely there was little recognition there; certainly not enough for the soul fragment in Harry to recognize it. In support of this, we should also note that Harry never reported any pain in his scar during the final confrontation with Voldemort, late in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, after the soul fragment that he carried had been killed.
In an interview following the final book's publication, the author stated that Harry's parselmouth ability, along with his connection to Voldemort's thoughts, vanished when Voldemort's soul shard within Harry was destroyed. The author has further stated that Harry has never missed this ability.