Tom Marvolo Riddle: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

“Tall, thin, and black-hooded, his terrible snakelike face white and gaunt, his scarlet, slit-pupiled eyes staring…” (Rowling, OOTP 812).

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It is difficult to contain Lord Voldemort  in a blog post. His importance in the Harry Potter series is extreme. So, to highlight his major points…

Voldemort’s mother, Merope Gaunt, was the crosseyed and impoverished daughter of Marvolo Gaunt. Marvolo, Merope, and her brother Morfin lived in a small cottage, dirty and desolate, on the Riddle family’s land. Marvolo prided himself in his pure blood ancestry, which traced back to Salazar Slytherin, as well as the Selwyn family. Morfin chose to speak solely in parseltongue. Muggles were pure filth, and magic was used even in the simplest ways, just because they could.

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Blood Status vs. Socioeconomic Class Within Harry Potter

“‘The pure-blood families are all interrelated,’ said Sirius. ‘If you’re only going to let your sons and daughters marry purebloods your choice is very limited, there are hardly any of us left. Molly and I are cousins by marriage and Arthur’s something like my second cousin once removed. But there’s no point looking for them on here – if ever a family was a bunch of blood traitors it’s the Weasleys’” (Rowling, OOTP 113).

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Who/What/When/Where/Why/How: Death Eater Membership

“‘In the old days he had huge numbers at his command; witches and wizards he’d bullied or bewitched into following him, his faithful Death Eaters, a great variety of Dark creatures…” (Rowling, OOTP 93).

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Many of Voldemort’s earliest followers joined based on their own bigotry; the racist ideology of the purebloods far pre-existed his influence. The Lestranges and the Malfoys just found a concentration for their beliefs, and became two of the most involved families. Voldemort also tended to rely on the “fringe” society members with power, like giants or werewolves (Fernir Greyback), and also sought support from impressionable, young witches and wizards searching for a purpose. His charisma, leadership, and unifying tactics allowed him to manipulate membership from these groups especially.

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Who are the Death Eaters?

“‘You ask where I was when the Dark Lord fell. I was where he had ordered me to be, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, because he wished me to spy upon Albus Dumbledore. You know, I presume, that it was on the Dark Lord’s orders that I took up the post?” (Rowling, HBP 26).

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The professions chosen by the Death Eaters–their “unmasked lives”–are vital to their success and their support for Voldemort. Many of them seek positions of power which will allow them to manipulate masses of people.

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Daily Prophet Obituaries: Famous Kills and Victims

“There it was, hanging in the sky above the school: the blazing green skull with a serpent tongue, the mark Death Eaters left behind whenever they had entered a building… wherever they had murdered… ” (Rowling, HBP 581).

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Though the Death Eaters have been responsible for the death and injury of many individuals, there are a few individuals who stand out. One such person is Cedric Diggory, who was killed by Peter Pettigrew in the graveyard after Cedric and Harry were transported there in the final task of the Triwizard Tournament. Cedric was killed because he was there, not due to extreme malice or prophecy but because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This murder marked the return of Voldemort to the Wizarding World and caused controversy and unrest within the universe as Dumbledore and the Ministry of Magic moved in different directions.

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