I am currently loading all my bags onto the Disney cruise liner Wonder so that I may get lost at sea for the next week with Mickey Mouse and the entire cast of Disney characters. Although I’ll be off the grid, I’ve set up the blog to keep you updated while I’m away. I do hope you’ll continue to stop in and comment.
Today I have an extra special treat for you! Jessica O’Neal has graciously agreed to be my guest and delight you with a topic she knows all too well – He Who Must Not Be Named – a.k.a. Voldemort! Whenever you have a question or debate involving the world of Harry Potter as created by J.K. Rowling, Jessica is your go-to girl! She currently covers the topic every Monday on her own blog – The sexy little nerd. You should pop over there and check out her work, if you haven’t already. It’s with great excitement that I welcome Jessica to Immortal Monday.
I would like to thank Debra for inviting me to take part in her Immortal Mondays. I love reading this series and am honored to contribute to it. Let’s go ahead and jump on in.
You Know Who, He Who Must Not Be Named, The Dark Lord, Tom Riddle, Voldemort – he goes by many names, but no matter which one you use nearly everyone will know exactly who you are talking about. In her Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling created one of the most complex and unforgettable villains around. The thing that has always fascinated me the most about Voldemort is, even though he has the stereotypical “bad guy” goals (take over the world, make everyone bow to his will, etc.), those do not serve as his primary driver. The thing that propels him forward in his bid for power, rather, is an overwhelming compulsion to defeat death. He wants to be immortal.
From the time he was a child still called Tom Riddle, Voldemort looked at death as a weakness. He didn’t even consider it a possibility that his mother was a witch simply because she succumbed to death after giving birth to him (Half-Blood Prince, 257). Left to be raised in an orphanage surrounded by ordinary children with the common name of Tom, Voldemort lusted for power. He wanted to be feared, respected, extraordinary.
In order to accomplish this he had to get rid of everything he construed as a weakness – including mortality. By the time he was only sixteen years old he had already begun his quest to conquer death in earnest. He had committed three murders and was ready to dive head first into the dark magic surrounding Horcruxes.
A Horcrux is an object in which a witch or wizard encases a part of his soul. This is accomplished by causing the soul to be ripped apart through the act of murder and then casting a spell to encase the torn portion of soul into the chosen object. As long as that piece of soul inside the Horcrux is kept safe, the witch or wizard to whom it belongs can not die. Even if the body is destroyed, the piece of soul that lived inside it is tethered to the earth by the part bound inside the Horcrux. (Half-Blood Prince, 463-465)
For Voldemort, the idea of the Horcrux was very appealing. It was a way in which he could avoid a true death without having to rely on anyone other than himself. He knew that he was a wizard of great skill and because of that he was full of arrogance. He believed that it would be impossible for anyone to make it past the protections that he would put in place around the object turned into a Horcrux. But even then he wasn’t completely satisfied.
Voldemort would not be satisfied until he had gone “further than anybody along the path that leads to immortality” (Goblet of Fire, 366). He believed that seven was the “most powerfully magical number” and that by splitting his soul into seven pieces he would actually make himself stronger (Half-Blood Prince, 466). By the time he faced baby Harry Potter he had succeeded in creating five of the six Horcruxes he wanted. He had intended to create that final Horcrux with the death of the one prophesied to destroy him, but instead he was very nearly destroyed himself.
That night in Godric’s Hollow, when the killing curse rebounded off of Harry and hit Voldemort, he should have died. But he did not. He was “ripped from [his] body, [he] was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost…but still, [he] was alive” (Goblet of Fire, 366).
The Horcruxes had worked. He could not die.
Of course, he was also without a body. It’s kind of difficult to kill and maim without a hand to hold a wand. He attempts to regain a body through the use of the Philosopher’s Stone, but is foiled once more by Harry. It is not until Goblet of Fire that Voldemort is able to return to a corporeal body through the use of ancient, dark magic. No matter what he thought, though, he was not truly immortal. He could still be killed if one were able to destroy all of his Horcruxes first. But like many of the Greek heroes, Voldemort fell victim to his own hubris. He did not think it possible that anyone knew about his Horcruxes, let alone that they could find and destroy them all. Especially Harry Potter.
He was wrong.
Thanks to the help of Dumbledore and his faithful sidekicks, Harry was able to ensure that all six Horcruxes were destroyed and then kill Voldemort. With nothing to tether his soul to earth, Voldemort was truly and irrevocably dead. He failed in his goal to conquer death. He failed in his quest for immortality.
*All page numbers are from the UK editions
Thank you, Jessica, for that great analysis on He Who Must Not Be Named! Although Voldemort failed in his quest for immortality, he gave it a good go. What do you, the readers, think of the idea of using Horcruxes to split the soul into multiple pieces for the purpose of safe guarding the whole? It is worth it? Is the cookie the same when it is broken into crumbs?
Speaking of cookies – it wouldn’t be a proper Immortal Monday if I didn’t bring you something yummy to nibble at. Voldemort wasn’t always so… facially challenged. I give you Ralph Fiennes – yum. It’s quite alright to lick your fingers, ladies. You don’t want to miss a single crumb. 😉
Would you look at that! He cleans up nicely. He could be my sexy double agent any day.
Jessica O’Neal types away at her keyboard in Florida, where she resides with her husband and beloved Jack Russell named Moses. Graduating with a BA in Psychology and minor in English, she found that she harbored a love for the written word. She decided to see if she could pull together the words floating around in her head and give them purpose. Success! She recently finished the first draft of her first novel. Kudos, Jessica! You can find out more about Jessica by visiting her blog, following her on twitter or friending her on Facebook. In addition, you can find her updating her Writer’s Page on Facebook and co-hosting the podcast Glee Chat on Hypable.com. Make sure you swing by and say “Hello!”