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Marvolo Gaunt Character Analysis: The House of Gaunt

Marvolo Gaunt Character Analysis: The House of Gaunt

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Marvolo Gaunt was a pure-blood wizard from the House of Gaunt, a descendant of Salazar Slytherin. His family had lost much of its prestige and wealth by Marvolo’s time, but he was very proud of his heritage and heirlooms. He was also the maternal grandfather of Tom Riddle, who would go on to become Lord Voldemort.

About Marvolo Gaunt

BornPre-1890 – 1925
Blood StatusPure-blood
OccupationNA
PatronusUnknown
HouseSlytherin (presumed)
WandUnknown
Zodiac SignCancer (speculative)

Who is Marvolo Gaunt?

Marvolo was a pure-blood wizard born into the House of Gaunt sometime before the end of the 19th century. The House of Gaunt was among the last surviving descendants of Salazar Slytherin, one of the famous founders of Hogwarts.

Slytherin propagated the idea that magical knowledge should be retained among pure-blood wizards, and that wizards should dominate the muggle world. These beliefs were strong in his family, and Marvolo himself prized his pureblood lineage.

However, centuries of inbreeding to retain the family line left many members of the family unstable. They also squandered the family’s wealth, leaving Marvolo in poverty.

The lack of sense coupled with a great liking for grandeur meant that the family gold was squandered several generations before Marvolo was born.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Consequently, Marvolo lived in a ruined cottage in Little Hangleton, which he had neither the knowledge nor the inclination to care for. He developed a nasty temper, probably stemming from a mix of entitlement and resentment for his situation.

Marvolo almost certainly attended Hogwarts and was in Slytherin House. Like his famous ancestor, Marvolo was able to speak parseltongue.

Marvolo’s Children and Heirlooms

Marvolo had two children with an unknown witch, a son Morfin and a daughter Merope. Marvolo doted on his son, who shared his father’s ability to speak parseltongue and his instability. He would often keep snakes and speak to them.

In contrast, he terrorized his daughter Merope, whom he occasionally accused of being a squib. But she could practice magic, she was just so intimidated by her father that she could do very little when he was around. She spent most of her time caring for her father and brother, her mother no longer being around.

Marvolo was also in possession of two heirlooms that had belonged to Salazar Slytherin. The first was a golden locket inscribed with Slytherin’s coat of arms. The second was a ring mounted with a stone that bore, what Marvolo described as, the Gaunt family crest. We later learn that the stone was the resurrection stone from the Deathly Hallows, and that the image on the ring was the symbol of the Hallows.

Marvolo held onto these treasures jealously as the final gifts of his prestigious bloodline.

He, as you saw, was left in squalor and poverty, with a very nasty temper, a fantastic amount of arrogance and pride, and a couple of family heirlooms that he treasured just as much as his son, and rather more than his daughter.

Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Imprisonment of Marvolo Gaunt

Marvolo’s son Morfin had little respect for the Statute of Secrecy and frequently used magic in front of muggles. His father did nothing to deter him. This drew the attention of the Ministry of Magic. A representative from the Magical Law Enforcement Squad, Bob Ogden, visited the Gaunts to address the subject.

Marvolo and Morfin did not welcome Ogden to their property and tried to intimidate him. When he was finally able to explain the charges against Morfin, Marvolo was unimpressed.

Salazar Slytherin’s! We’re his last living descendants, what do you say to that, eh? Don’t you go talking to us as if we’re the dirt on your shoes! Generations of pure-bloods, wizards all – more than you can say, I don’t doubt.

Marvolo Gaunt – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

During the course of the conversation, Morfin revealed that he had attacked the muggle Tom Riddle because he had noticed that his sister Merope had a crush on the handsome young muggle. This angered Marvolo, who could not stand the idea of his daughter being infatuated with a muggle. He tried to strangle her with a Revulsion jinx, but Ogden prevented him.

This caused Morfin to turn on Ogden, who was forced to flee, and return with reinforcements. Both Morfin and Marvolo resisted and were arrested. Marvolo was sent to Azkaban for six months, and Morfin for three years.

While Marvolo and Morfin were in prison, Merope was finally free of their influence. She went on to have a short-lived romantic relationship with Tom Riddle and became pregnant. She ended up giving birth to the baby alone in an orphanage in London and leaving the boy, whom she called Tom Riddle after his father, there. This boy would go on to become Lord Voldemort.

Death of Marvolo Gaunt

When Marvolo returned to from Azkaban, he found that his daughter was no longer there. She had left a letter explaining that she had married. The shock of learning that his daughter had married a muggle may have been what pushed Marvolo, weakened from his time in prison, to death. Though, he may also never have learned to feed himself.

When Morfin returned from Azkaban two and a half years later, he found his father’s dead body in the cottage.

Merope took her father’s locket when she left her father’s house and sold it to Borgin and Burke. He was wearing his ring when he died, and this was then taken by Morfin. Many years later Lord Voldemort travelled to the shack to learn about his lineage. He framed Morfin for killing his father Tom Riddle and his grandparents. Morfin was sent back to Azkaban, where he died.

Lord Voldemort came into possession of both the locket and the ring and turned them into Horcruxes.

Marvolo Gaunt Personality Type & Traits

Marvolo Gaunt comes across and both violent and bigoted. He thinks very highly of himself as a result of his bloodline and rests his self-esteem on this without having to accomplish anything on an individual level.

He loves his son, who is an extension of his bloodline, but bullies his daughter relentlessly. This probably started because she was female, and later related to her inability to do magic, which was largely a result of his bullying.

Harry himself describes Marvolo as follows:

Marvolo Gaunt was an ignorant old gut who lived like a pig, all he cared about was his ancestry. If that ring had been passed down through the centuries, be might not have known what it really was. There were no books in that house, and trust me, he was not the type to read fairy tales to his kids. He’d have loved to think that the scratches on the stone were a coat of arms, because as far as he was concerned, having pure blood made you practically royal.

Harry Potter – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Marvolo also seemed to have had a distinctive appearance.

An elderly man had come hurrying out of the cottage, banging the door behind him so that the dead snake swung pathetically. This man was shorter than the first, and oddly proportioned; his shoulders were very broad and his arms overlong, which, with bright brown eyes, short scrubby hair, and wrinkled face, gave him the look of a powerful, aged monkey.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Marvolo Gaunt Zodiac Sign & Birthday

We do not know Marvolo Gaunt’s birthday, but he must have been born pre 1890 to be old enough to be the grandfather of Lord Voldemort, especially if he was already an elderly man when he met Ogden, a year or so before the birth of Tom Riddle Jnr. His personality suggests that his zodiac sign may be Cancer.

People born under Cancer tend to have a lot of pride in their family and to define themselves based on where they come from. The emotions of Cancers also tend to run close to the surface, and we see that Marvolo struggles to control his emotions when confronted about his son, and later abandoned by his daughter.

The House of Gaunt

The House of Gaunt is a short film from 2021 that tells the story of the Gaunt family. It is a fan film directed by Joris Faucon Grimaud that was made following a crowdfunding appeal that raised EUR62,000.

Fan Film The House of Gaunt

Harry Potter does seem to be a distant relative of the Gaunts through the three Peverel brothers who were the original owners of the Deathly Hallows. While Harry inherited Death’s cloak through his ancestors from the youngest Peverel, the Gaunt’s inherited the resurrection stone.

It is possible that one or both items passed out of the Peverel line and found their way into other households, but the implication is that the Gaunts and the Potters are distantly related through the three brothers.