The singularly evil villain of the Potter series started out like any other antagonist: as a snotty,
mean little boy.
Unbeknownst to the boy Tom, his ambition and special skills would land him in a world many
dream about, few experience, and even fewer get to live in. The future Dark Lord was not just
any orphan boy, abandoned and alone, wishing for parents and a home. No, he was a wizard.
But now we’re rushing ahead a bit, let’s go back. Back to where it all began. The orphanage.
Young Thomas Marvolo Riddle was born to a frail, wretch of a woman, so broken inside and
destroyed by the world that she died shortly after giving birth. She passed without a fight, could
not muster the strength to ward off the imminence of death even for her newborn son. Yet she
didn’t go before leaving a legacy, before naming the son she would never know.
She staggered into the orphanage looking for help, delivered a healthy baby boy within the hour
of her arrival and died within the next hour one wintry New Years Eve many years ago. Hardly
a man is now alive who remembers these meager beginnings of the greatest Dark Lord since
Salazar Slytherin himself.
So alone in the world, no history to remember, no future to look forward to, we meet Tom
Riddle in the orphanage at the age of eleven.
Mrs. Cole, the matron of the orphanage, reported to Albus Dumbledore, then Deputy
Headmaster under Armando Dippet, that the boy called Tom was ‘odd.’ That the other children
were afraid of him, there was no proof (as it was very hard to catch him at it), but there had been
incidents, nasty ones. A dead rabbit hung from the rafters, kids hurt, objects stolen. The poor
muggle caretakers were out of their league with this one.
Dumbledore was led to Riddle’s room. There he found a good-looking boy, not the only thing
Tom can thank his father for...filthy muggle he may have been, but Tom Riddle Senior was as
pretentious as he was handsome.
Good looks and a nasty, hate-filled view of life were the gifts little Tom acquired from his father.
The only things he seems to have inherited from his weak, yet loving mother were the magical
prowess amassed from generations of inbreeding and a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
Dumbledore was charged with revealing the truth to the small boy, that he would be studying
magic at Hogwarts. Tom would be taken away from that cold place of neglect and loneliness
and brought to a place where he fit in, where his gifts would be recognized. The young boy
grew ecstatic at the news. His glee distorted his features in an almost unnatural way, making
him look fiendish.
Tom, in turn, revealed to Dumbledore his penchant for collecting trophies from his victims, a
way to mark his greatest successes, and his special talent of talking to snakes. Somehow the
young boy knew this gift was rare even in this new world. It is clear even from this early age
that Tom was quite accustomed to controlling people. Accustomed to power, liked it, wielded it
and yearned for more.
And so, Tom, like every magical boy and girl in Britain traveled along the Hogwarts Express to
attend the unequaled wizarding school. He excelled in his studies, magic coming easily to him,
bending to his will effortlessly.
However, at the close of each year, he was forced to return to the orphanage, a shameful
reminder that he was no one and had nothing. He was determined to change that.
It was his mission while he was at school to find out as much about his lineage as he could. He
began with his father, whom he had determined must have been the magical parent because his
mother was so weak she succumbed to death.
Having no luck in his research efforts, he was forced
to realize his father’s line held no magical blood.
He moved on to search his mother’s family out,
having only the name Marvolo as a stepping stone.
He eventually discovered the last of Slytherin’s
In the summer of his sixteenth year, while he was to
be at the orphanage, he set about tying up the loose
ends of the family so that he could once and for all
transcend the Riddle disgrace and finally become
He paid a visit to his Uncle Morfin, trying to locate
However, young Tom was too late to meet is granddad. He’d already perished years ago, only
deranged Uncle Morfin was left, stewing in bad memories.
During his incoherent rantings, Morfin mentioned that Tom looked like the filthy muggle his
sister ran away with who lived in the mansion across the way, mentioned Slytherin’s locket,
speaking it all in parseltongue while wearing the Perevell ring. Everything connected for the
teenager, he formulated his plan and stunned his uncle.
Tom next paid a visit to his long-lost Riddle relatives. He murdered his father and his
grandparents – for not wanting him, for not wanting his mother, for the disrespect shown to the
Gaunt line, for the pure joy of revenge...
He went back to the Gaunt hovel to implant the memories of the murders in his unconscious
uncle’s mind. He left Morfin, his last blood relative, to take the blame for his crimes and pay
dearly for them. Morfin died in Azkaban, mourning the loss of the Perevell ring until his dying
Tom Riddle, now Lord Voldemort, returns to school a murderer about to commit even more
atrocities. He sets loose the basilisk resulting in the death of a young girl and the expulsion of
an innocent classmate. His mind has become completely fixated on death and how to outsmart it.
|Character Arc: Tom Marvolo Riddle
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