“I, in whose veins runs the blood of Salazar Slytherin himself, through my mother’s side? I, keep the name of a foul, common Muggle, who abandoned me even before I was born, just because he found out his wife was a witch? No, Harry. I fashioned myself a new name, a name I knew wizards everywhere would one day fear to speak, when I had become the greatest sorcerer in the world!“—Lord Voldemort.
Lord Voldemort is a fictional character and the main antagonist in J. K. Rowling’s fabulous series of Harry Potter novels. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was released in 1997. Voldemort appears either in person or in flashbacks in each book and its film adaptation in the series, except the third, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where he is only mentioned.
Tom Marvolo Riddle bette known as Lord Voldemort, was a half-blood wizard who was considered to have been the most powerful and dangerous dark wizard of all time. The son of the wealthy Muggle Tom Riddle Senior and the witch Merope Riddle he was orphaned and raised in a Muggle orphanage, which remained his permanent residence through his 1938-1945 attendance at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He began attending this school after Dumbledore found him. He was a member of Slytherin house.
His accomplishments included the opening of Salazar Slytherin’s Chamber of Secrets and the use of its monster to attack Muggle-born students; several months’ service as a purchasing agent for the Dark artefacts shop Borgin and Burkes; the ability to speak Parseltongue; and the attainment of immortality between the years of 1942 and 1998, a process begun upon the creation of his first Horcrux at the age of 16. Splitting his own spirit into a total of eight fragments, Lord Voldemort created seven Horcruxes; one unintentionally and without his knowledge was Harry Potter.
Abandoning his ‘Muggle’ name, he became the self-proclaimed Lord Voldemort, which was an anagram of his birth name. He commanded a veritable army of wizards and Dark creatures, committed numerous murders personally and through his followers, and on one occasion nearly succeeded and on a later occasion did succeed in taking over the Ministry of Magic by installing a puppet Minister.
Tom Riddle aka Voldemort makes his debut in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In this story, Rowling introduces him as the Dark Lord who murdered Harry’s parents, James and Lily, but as a result of his mother’s love and willingness to sacrifice herself for him, baby Harry survives when Voldemort tries to murder him with a Killing Curse. Voldemort is disembodied, and Harry carries a mysterious scar on his forehead as a result. In the book, Voldemort unsuccessfully tries to regain his dissolved body by stealing the titular Philosopher’s Stone. To achieve his objective, Voldemort uses Professor Quirrell’s aid by latching onto the back of Quirrell’s head. However, at the climax of the book, Harry manages to prevent Voldemort from stealing the stone. But this wouldn’t be Harry Potter’s last encounter with the Dark Lord.
Voldemort is the archenemy of Harry Potter, who according to a prophecy has “the power to vanquish the Dark Lord”. Nearly every witch or wizard dares not utter his unmentionable name, and refers to him instead with such expressions as “You-Know-Who”, “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” or “the Dark Lord”. Voldemort’s obsession with blood purity signifies his aim to rid the wizarding world of Muggle (non-magical) heritage and to conquer both worlds, Muggle and wizarding, to achieve pure-blood dominance. Through his mother’s family, he is the last descendant of wizard Salazar Slytherin, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He is the leader of the Death Eaters, a group of evil wizards and witches dedicated to ridding the Wizarding World of Muggles and establishing Voldemort as its supreme ruler.
Rowling described Voldemort as “the most evil wizard for hundreds and hundreds of years”. She elaborated that he is a “raging psychopath, devoid of the normal human responses to other people’s suffering”, and whose only ambition in life is to become all-powerful and immortal. He is also a sadist who hurts and murders people—especially Muggles—just for pleasure. He has no conscience, feels no remorse, and does not recognise the worth and humanity of anybody except himself. He feels no need for human companionship or friendship, and cannot comprehend love or affection for another. He believes he is superior to everyone around him, to the point that he frequently refers to himself in the third person.
Rowling establishes in the critically acclaimed books that he is magically connected to Harry via Harry’s forehead lighting bolt shaped scar. He disembodies himself when his devasting Killing Curse targeting Harry rebounds on him, leaving the scar on Harry’s forehead forever. In the books, and to a lesser extent in the films, Harry’s scar serves as an indicator of Voldemort’s presence: it burns when the Dark Lord is near or when Voldemort is feeling murderous or exultant. According to Rowling, by attacking Harry when he was a baby Voldemort gave him “tools that no other wizard possessed—the scar and the ability it conferred, a magical window into Voldemort’s mind”.
“It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather — just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother, gave you that scar. Yes, thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew.”—Ollivander expands on Voldemort’s wand.
In 1938, the eleven-year-old Tom Riddle travelled to Diagon Alley. Riddle entered Ollivanders Wand Shop and, as was the case with most young witches and wizards, tried several different wands to find one to his liking. Ollivander finally handed Riddle a wand thirteen and one half inches long, made of yew and with a core composed of a Phoenix feather which chose Riddle as its maste. Tom Riddle’s wand was 13½” long and belonged to Tom Riddle, the wizard who later became known as Lord Voldemort. The wand was made from yew with a phoenix feather core. The phoenix feather core was from Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, and Harry Potter’s and Tom Riddle’s wands were both made from feathers from him.
It was manufactured by Garrick Ollivander and was the “brother” or “twin” of the wand of Harry Potter, as their wands share cores. It was with this wand that Riddle murdered James and Lily Potter and countless others, including Muggle Frank Bryce, Amelia Bones, and Ministry of Magic ex-employee Bertha Jorkins. On Voldemort’s orders, Peter Pettigrew used this wand to kill Cedric Diggory in June of 1995 as well.
He also used this wand to engage Albus Dumbledore in a Duel in the Ministry Atrium during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. In addition, sometime before 24 December, 1997, Voldemort may have used his wand to murder magical historian Bathilda Bagshot and cast a piece of dark magic to allow his serpent, Nagini, to inhabit her corpse and lie in wait for Harry Potter.
Voldemort was given advice by a kidnapped Garrick Ollivander of the Priori Incantatem effect between his own wand and Harry Potter’s wand and how both twin cores prevented them from defeating each other. Voldemort then took Lucius Malfoy’s wand to prevent that from happening, and murdered Charity Burbage, the Muggle Studies teacher at Hogwarts, to test out his new wand during the Meeting at Malfoy Manor. During the subsequent battle of Seven Potters as Harry left 4 Privet Drive, Harry’s wand inadvertently destroyed Lucius’s wand when it shot golden flames at Voldemort when the Dark Lord personally came after Harry in the motorbike the boy was riding with Rubeus Hagrid.
Before Lucius’s wand was destroyed by Harry’s, Voldemort used it to murder Alastor Moody during the battle. Because Lucius’s wand was destroyed, Voldemort went back to using his old yew wand. During the Fall of the Ministry of Magic to Death Eater control, it is possible that Lord Voldemort himself used the Killing Curse with his wand on Rufus Scrimgeour, then-Minister for Magic, on 1 August, 1997, because the Minister refused to give him information on Harry’s whereabouts.
Voldemort’s search for the Elder Wand
Under further torturing Ollivander, Voldemort discovered a wand of unparalleled power; the Elder Wand, of which Voldemort desired to overcome the Priori Incantatem. However, as he heard of the wand’s legendary powers, Voldemort no longer desired to possess it just to defeat Harry, but to own it permanently to immortalise his status as the most powerful wizard in the world.
In order to the find the Elder Wand, Voldemort used the information he had tortured out of Ollivander and decided to travel to the former home of the wandmaker Gregorovitch on 1 September, 1997 Finishing his search of Gregorovitch’s mind, Voldemort immediately demanded to know who the thief was, but when Gregorovitch admitted he never found out, Voldemort, recognising he had all the information he required, ignored Gregorovitch’s pleas for mercy and cast the Killing Curse on him.
Realizing that it was in fact the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald who stole the wand from Gregorovitch, Voldemort went and found Grindelwald in the wizard’s cell at Nurmengard in March, 1997. Grindelwald refused to give Voldemort information on the whereabouts of the Elder Wand, and Voldemort furiously killed him. However, Voldemort realised that the wand must have fallen into the possession of the wizard who beat Grindelwald, and this must have been the winner of the famous duel between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. Knowing at last who possessed the wand, Voldemort set off to Hogwarts.
Upon arriving on the Hogwarts grounds, Voldemort saw where Dumbledore was placed to rest and used his own wand to perform its last act: breaking into Dumbledore’s tomb, in order to steal the Elder Wand. After acquiring the strongest wand in history, Voldemort no longer needed his old wand, which had been with him for almost sixty years. After Voldemort’s death the fate of his original wand is unknown. Yew wands (when buried with their owners) have been known to grow into a yew tree to defend their owner’s grave.
Thank you for reading our magical article on one of the greatest villains of all time! Did you enjoy it? Have something to add? Let us know in the comments down below. We want to know which character you would like to see us do a history lesson on next. -Mad Ox