So I'm hip deep in Harry Potter at the moment for NaNo (I'm writing fanfic this year while I try and finish an original book at the same time :)) and who is the biggest bad from the Wizarding World? The Dark Lord himself of course, hence today's choice of topic: Voldemort.
Tom Riddle the Monster
If I am totally honest I find the Voldemort of the books far scarier than the Voldemort of the films. This is not to say Ralph Fiennes did not do a superb job, it's just that the imagination is a far darker place than the Harry Potter movies will ever be and JKR conjured him fantastically. That's why every one who can should read or listen to audio books of whatever they care to enjoy as well as watching other versions because words are so powerful.
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Voldemort is a very sad character really. An orphaned boy who, due to the neglect he suffered as a child, can no longer understand the power love. If he hadn't decided to take it out on every around him you'd feel sorry for him.
This is a man who created his first Horcrux at the tender age of 16, an act which requires murder to split the caster's soul and store it safely in another object. He created seven in all, splitting his soul each time, damaging himself more than he could possibly imagine. Voldemort is the only wizard known to have created more than one Horcrux and there is said to be only one book, Secrets of the Darkest Art, where the method is explained.
The Horcruxes are the only reason Voldie survive his first encounter with Harry Potter, when the Killing Curse rebounded because of Harry's mother's love. It doesn't really seem that he was particularly sane the first time round, but 14 years in virtual limbo is likely to have scrambled his marbles even further. He is a superb strategist, but he has blind spots thanks to his hatred.
Thanks to splitting his soul he has removed himself even further from human empathy and is, basically, a monster of the first order. His biggest weakness is his inability to comprehend self-sacrifice in those around him. He demands loyalty with fear and in the end it is his undoing.
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His damaged soul remains in Limbo, neither able to pass on or return as a ghost. A monstrous eternity for a monstrous being.
JKR's creation of Voldemort and his background is simply superb. In the first book a reader can be forgiven for thinking that maybe Voldie is a simple villain with little depth, but reading on, he becomes more and more complex. He is a worthy opponent and deserves his place as a superb monster. The rest of us dream of coming up with a character as interesting.