In honor of Tom Riddle’s birthday, this post is dedicated to analyzing Tom Riddle and the decisions that led him to become Lord Voldemort.
JK Rowling has said that the reason Voldemort is unable to love is because he was born from a love potion. She also said that he was the only character in the books who represents true evil. Obviously, JK Rowling gets the ultimate decision in these situations, but I take contest with both of these claims. To claim that Voldemort cannot love, and that he is pure “evil,” absolves him of any choices in these matters. And the Harry Potter series is all about choices. In many ways, Harry Potter and Tom Riddle are very similar. They are both orphans who have been raised in situations where they have experienced very little love. At the age of eleven, they both arrive at Hogwarts, yet Harry chooses love and friendship, while Tom chooses power and domination. These choices are very significant; it undermines them to say that Tom Riddle was not capable of choosing Harry’s path. Admittedly, it would have been a lot more difficult for him. By the time Tom Riddle starts at Hogwarts, he has already given up on the idea of friends, mainly because, unlike Harry, Tom Riddle was the bully in his childhood, not the bullied. One reason for this is, quite simply, magic. Tom Riddle developed his magical abilities much more quickly than Harry. Most likely Riddle was born with incredible magical powers, but he was also an experimenter. Harry uses his magic to defend. Tom, however, quickly realizes that his powers can be used in the offensive as well. Imagine if Harry had made that realization. Dudley Dursley is terrified of magic, he would never have bullied Harry again. But would Harry have scared away any potential playmates, just like Tom Riddle? Would he have abused his power? It’s possible. But luckily Harry was saved, as he often is, by his own feelings of mediocrity. Always humble, he develops none of Riddle’s delusions of grandeur, and therefore never abuses his magical abilities. Dumbledore’s decision to send Harry to the Dursley’s saved Harry from the sense of his own importance that would have arisen from living in a family that treated him as the Boy Who Lived. Riddle believes that he is better than everyone, that he doesn’t need them, and therefore never searches for love. It is his choice, all along.
Some of his insanity, his psychotic nature, may have been born, not made, however. The Gaunt family has been inbreeding for centuries, and the results are clear in Merope, Marvolo, and Morfin, who are cross eyed and insane.
Please leave any comments or questions you have!