English 102, 9:30-10:55am
July 29, 2018
Voldemort the Hitler of Wizardry
Lord Voldemort, the most powerful dark wizard in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, is one of this generation’s greatest monstrosities. As of today, the Harry Potter series is one of the most popular stories written amongst all fantasy and fiction novels. The series is about a young protagonist, Harry Potter, who survived against all odds and strived to survive through dire situations with the help of his loyal friends while studying at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Together and with the aid of muggle supporting wizards, they fought and defended themselves and the general population against, he who must not be named, also known as Lord Voldemort. Voldemort’s main purpose in life was to overthrow the wizardry world with the ultimate motives to become the most powerful wizard ever known and to rid society of all non-wizards including those who would oppose his extremist views. The mere mention of his name made both wizards and non-wizards, or muggles, shudder and cringe in fear.
My perception of Voldemort is that of a tall, skeletal, and thin black figure with glowing red eyes under a dark hood with long, thin fingers scraping across his chest. He was so feared that nobody dared to mention his name. In the context of not wanting to mention his name, magical society members instead designated Voldemort with ulterior titles as to not curse themselves, such as “you-know-who,” “he-who-must-not-be-named,” or the “Dark Lord” (Wikipedia 1). Although initially nobody truly knew what Voldemort looked like, in the book of the Sorcerer’s Stone, Rowling described Lord Voldemort as a tall and lanky male with “a skull-like face, pale skin as chalked white, [and] snake-like slits for nostrils” (293). According to the book of the Sorcerer’s Stone, “[his] was the most terrible face Harry had ever seen” (293). As the story evolved, Voldemort no longer resembled a human’s physical features due to progressively breaking his whole soul into many pieces, called Horcruxes, by murdering innocents that supported or mingled with muggles.
In Monster Culture by Jeffery Cohen, “[he offers] seven theses toward understanding cultures through the monsters they bear” (4). Cohen’s seven theses help us understand our various cultures with guidelines to delineate the boundaries of good and evil, whether through an actual monstrous physical form or that which resembles an ordinary human being. Voldemort, although not as hideous as other Hollywood portrayed monsters such as Frankenstein’s grotesque creature, would be a considerable monster according to Cohen’s seven theses due to his undeniably evil intentions and murderous ways. Voldemort’s primary intentions were to gain immortality and supreme power along with converting or killing those who defied his views by any means necessary. He would slaughter any non-pure blooded wizards and defiled those who interfered with his goals of obtaining great power and stature. In this analytical composition, I will explain three of Cohen’s seven theses, specifically theses three thru five, which will help in the comprehension as to why Lord Voldemort is a significant monster easily applicable to any society and model, fiction or not. Amongst the most feared monsters I know to exist in the fiction realm, I would rate Lord Voldemort as a nine out of ten due to his extremist methods and construed beliefs on society.
Monsters today come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from severely hideous to deceptively beautiful. In Monster Culture, Cohen stated that ideal standards are now “composed of a multitude of fragments, rather than smooth epistemological wholes” (3). Over the decades, society as a whole has evolved in various ways upon which people have developed their own concepts and beliefs on what a standard monster is perceived as today. In reality, monsters exist all around us on a daily basis whether we notice them or not. Looks can be deceiving and one cannot judge a book by its cover. For example, someone can look deceptively charming, but contain an evil personality while others might look unsightly but turns out to be humble and kind. Voldemort is a perfect example of this deception, upon which he once looked handsome and charming as a young man, but later grew into a hideous and snake-like form due to his selfishness and greed for power. This directly coincides with Cohen’s third Monster theory, explaining that a “Monster is the harbinger of Category Crisis” (6). Lord Voldemort, harboring evil intentions, used his charisma and suave personality to get his ways since childhood. In one scene, Harry Potter was able to travel through time and saw for the first time Professor Dumbledore, the wisest and greatest wizard, in an encounter with Lord Voldemort. Professor Dumbledore had met Voldemort at an orphanage in London upon which Voldemort showed nothing but disrespect for Dumbledore. However, as soon as he found out precisely who Dumbledore was, his attitude changed instantaneously in an attempt to obtain a higher power through Dumbledore’s teachings. In the book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, young Voldemort unknowingly learned how to control his magic and use it to manipulate others before even realizing he was a wizard (Rowling 276). As a self-defense mechanism’s basic instinct, he would conjure his magic against the other children to make them fear him. At such a young age, Voldemort already felt he was extraordinary compared to the others and always thought of himself as a superior being. Despite his self-perceived authoritarianism, Lord Voldemort was not a pure-blooded wizard whose real name was Tom Marvolo Riddle, the son of a Slytherin wizard mother, Merope, and muggle father, Tom Riddle.
Lord Voldemort resisted and contradicted the social norm, leaning towards the dark side of the wizardry world through killing for pleasure and political gain. Voldemort also signifies Cohen’s fourth thesis, “The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference,” due to the fact that he had killed his father and grandparents to relinquish his muggle bloodline. “As proof of his new status, Tom Riddle [changed] his name and utilizes the pseudonym Lord Voldemort, solidifying his status among pure-blood wizards” (Vollmer 2). Ashamed of his Muggle heritage, Voldemort personally eliminated any bloodline evidence to support his claims of creating a perfectionistic society made of pure-blood wizards. Voldemort became repulsed against the idea of non-pure blooded wizards’ existence and ordered his followers, known as Death Eaters, to eradicate any muggles or hybrid wizards. In the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rowling stated that “a ‘taboo’ spell is placed upon [Lord Voldemort’s] name, such that Voldemort or his followers may trace anyone who utters it” (Wikipedia 2). For this reason, the entire wizardry society forbade mentioning Voldemort’s name to avoid any such chances of being caught and maimed by Death Eaters. Many, if not all, of Voldemort’s characteristics and traits, can be easily related to a known historical figure with the same malicious beliefs and evil, non-hesitant murderous intentions. I would deem Adolf Hitler as our real-life Lord Voldemort from the fictitious wizardry world.
Adolf Hitler is one of the well-known dictators in history. According to Vollmer, “The danger of this combination, power, and violence, is reminiscent of past dictatorial regimes, such as that of Adolf Hitler” (2). Voldemort and Hitler are both conceptually and strategically clever and are leaders of their cults. They both have manipulative abilities and powers of persuasion since their childhoods. They are both racists and prejudices against their own kind and killed innocent people to obtain personal stature and political gain. Stated so eloquently in the Monster Culture, “The monster threatens to destroy not just individual members of a society, but the very cultural apparatus through which individuality is constituted and allowed” (Cohen 12). For example, Hitler murdered hundreds of innocent Jews due to their beliefs and religion which differed from his own despite having a grandfather who was Jewish. He wanted to eliminate any conflicting cultural values and beliefs in hopes that all traces would be wiped clean. Similarly, Voldemort felt no remorse and did not recognize the worth and humanity of anybody except for himself. Just as Hitler slaughtered all who opposed him, Voldemort went as far as murdering his own loyal followers to achieve his selfish goals. In one movie scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort killed Professor Snape, a faithful and loyal servant of Voldemort, to gain the power of the elder wand, which is the most powerful wand to ever exist.
Lord Voldemort’s obsession with controlling the wizardry world and desperately longing for immortality drove him to become a monster. Cohen explains thesis five of “The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible,” which was created to keep an individual from becoming overzealous and outrageously power hungry which may result in others’ suffering. The check and balance concept helps our society from becoming an unstable and unfair monstrosity. If one such individual crosses over the thin line of stability, more chances than not, the individual would most likely become an atrocious force to deal with. In the movie scene Harry Potter and Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and Dumbledore learned about Tom Riddle’s Horcruxes by dipping into a memory pool using a colleague’s teardrop. Harry traveled through time and saw that young Voldemort, once again, manipulated a Hogwarts professor to teach him more about Horcruxes. A Horcrux is an object embedded with one’s own concealed soul through means of sacrificing or murdering another in an attempt to achieve mortality. As long as the soul exists within the Horcrux and the object remains unharmed, the soul’s owner would live on with the ability to replenish itself even if one’s physical body were to expire. It was through this demonic spirit-splitting action that caused Lord Voldemort’s physical appearance to change with each subsequent Horcrux. According to Cohen’s monster theory, the monster represents consequences of curiosity, desire, or rebellion (13-16). As a result, Lord Voldemort suffered from these physical altering consequences to quench his longing thirst for unlimited power and immortality. By breaking apart his once innocent soul and sealing them into multiple Horcruxes, Lord Voldemort crossed this fine line of checks and balances, resulting in a physical appearance that would promote his monstrous discernment.
When considering all perceptive angles and factors in regards to Lord Voldemort’s characteristics and traits, I would personally rate him as a nine out of ten in comparison to all other monstrosities that exist in the world. Cohen’s Monster Theory has helped verify that Lord Voldemort is truly a monster to be fearful of. His appearance alone is enough to keep children awake at night, but when compiling additionally his prejudicial and discriminatory characteristics along with absolute power, Lord Voldemort is undeniably one of the top monstrosities to ever exist. He was a dictator who injected fear into others and obtained power by force in order to conceal his self-defense mechanism of fearing death. In an interview, Rowling stated that “Voldemort’s fear is death, ignominious death…He thinks that [it is] shameful human weakness” (Anelli, et al 1). Although this would provide a rationale in comprehending the dark path Voldemort chose through his obsession with Horcruxes, nobody in their right mind would find it acceptable to murder innocent lives simply for personal gain or conflicting beliefs. Otherwise, if this ill-conformed rationale is deemed acceptable through their eyes, then perhaps someday they may wake up and realize that they have become the very monsters they fear most.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).
The Seven theses of Monster Culture help explains why it is monstrous. Each thesis explains/define a monster by different aspects of their appearance, character or representation. The article helps us understand the monster better. I used these three through five in my essay to explain why Lord Voldemort is a monster.
Anelli, Melissa & Spartz, Emerson (16 July 2005). “The Leaky Cauldron and Muggle Net interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Two”. The Leaky Cauldron. Retrieved 2 April 2018. http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2005/0705-tlc_mugglenet-anelli-2.htm
This an interview between Anelli, Melissa and Emerson Spartz and J. K. Rowling about the series of Harry Potter. In this interview, Rowling mentions that Voldemort’s fear of death and thinks that it’s shameful human weakness. I will use it to provide backup of my argument.
Rowling, J. K. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Scholastic. 1999. Pp. 293.
In this books, chapter seventeen, “The Man with Two Faces,” helps explain how Lord Voldemort is described as a scary horrible monster, and this was Harry Potter first encounter with Lord Voldemort. I will use the evil descriptions of Voldemort character as the monster compares to the movie.
Rowling, J. K. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Scholastic. 2006. Pp 276.
In this book, I used chapter thirteen “The Secret Riddle,” in my essay to help see how young Lord Voldemort harboring evil intention, when he first met professor Dumbledore. This scene will help clarify one of the Monster thesis of why Lord Voldemort is a monster.
Vollmer, Erin. “Harry’s World: An Exploration of J.K. Rowling’s Social and Political Agenda in the Harry Potter Series.” Journal of Undergraduate Research. 2007. P. 1-5 https://www.uwlax.edu/urc/jur-online/pdf/2007/vollmer.pdf
In this article, the purpose is to determine the correlation between power structures, criticisms, and theory for support. It describes Lord Voldemort, talks about power and prejudice, racism and the creation of Lord Voldemort. I will use some of the information about Lord Voldemort in my essay. The Villain portion of this article help explains why he changed his name from Tom Riddle to Lord Voldemort.
Wikipedia. “Lord Voldemort.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Voldemort
I will use Wikipedia to help explain Lord Voldemort’s background. Tom Riddle was Lord Voldemort real name and how he became the monster he is. Wikipedia also helps explains Voldemort appearance, character, abilities, and skills in full detail. In my essay, I will use some information about his background to explain why Voldemort is seen as a monster.