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Morfin Gaunt Character Analysis: Parseltongue and Insanity

Morfin Gaunt Character Analysis: Parseltongue and Insanity

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Morfin Gaunt was a member of the House of Gaunt, and one of the last surviving descendants of Salazar Slytherin. He spent his life living with his father Marvolo and sister Merope in a ruined cottage in Little Hangleton, the family having squandered their wealth.

Morfin was sent to Azkaban for using magic on the muggle Tom Riddle because he was angry that his sister was infatuated with him. He was later framed for the muggle’s murder by Lord Voldemort, who was Morfin’s nephew through a brief liaison between Merope and Riddle. He died in Azkaban for the crime.

About Morfin Gaunt

BornCirca-1900 – 1965
Blood StatusPure-blood
HouseSlytherin (presumed)
Zodiac SignAries (speculative)

Morfin Gaunt was born into the House of Gaunt sometime around 1900. This was an old pure-blood family that was descendant from Salazar Slytherin. But the family had squandered its wealth, and inbreeding over the generations meant that many in the family, including Morfin, were unstable.

However, the family still had some important Slytherin heirlooms. Specifically, a locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin, and a ring that was made with the Resurrection Stone of the Deathly Hallows. While the family knew that these were important heirlooms and greatly treasured them, they did not know the true nature of the Resurrection Stone.

Morfin presumably attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, as his ancestor was one of the founders of the school. If he did attend, he would have been in Slytherin house. School was probably very challenging for Morfin who almost exclusively spoke parseltongue, the language of snakes, at home.

Hissy, hissy, little snakey, Slither on the floor. You be good to Morfin, or he’ll nail you to the door.

Morfin Gaunt, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Morfin’s Attack on Tom Riddle Snr

Morfin came to the attention of the authorities at the Ministry of Magic when he attacked a muggle that lived near them called Tom Riddle. He was angry with the muggle because he noticed that his sister Merope had a crush on the handsome young man.

She likes looking at that Muggle. Always in the garden when he passes, peering through the hedge at him, isn’t she? And last night… Hanging out of the window waiting for him to ride home, wasn’t she? But I got him, Father! I got him as he went by and he didn’t look so pretty with hives all over him, did he, Merope?

Morfin Gaunt – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Morfin learned to hate muggles and to bully his sister Merope from his father Marvolo. This is why he was incensed by what was happening with Tom Riddle and thought that a magical attack was the best response.

Morfin’s First Arrest

The Ministry of Magic sent Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol, Bob Ogden, to Little Hangleton to undo Morfin’s magic and speak to the family about the behavior.

Morfin wanted to attack the Ministry representative when he arrived, confronting him with wand in one hand and knife in the other, speaking parseltongue, which Ogden could not understand. He was restrained by his father Marvolo, but when the story of Merope and Riddle emerged, Marvolo himself tried to attack his daughter. When Ogden stood in to defend her, father and son attacked him together.

Ogden fled and returned with a team from the Ministry to restrain both Gaunt wizards. They were then tried and sent to Azkaban, Marvolo for six months and Morfin for three years.

When Marvolo returned from Azkaban, he found that his house was empty. His daughter Merope had run off with Tom Riddle and gotten pregnant. He abandoned her and she gave birth to a son, Tom Riddle Jnr, at an orphanage in London before dying herself. This young boy would grow up to become Lord Voldemort.

Either due to the shock of his daughter’s betrayal, or because he was unable to care for himself, Marvolo died shortly after being released from Azkaban. When Morfin returned home after his term, he found his father dead. The family locket was missing, having been taken and sold by Merope, but Morfin claimed that ring that his father was wearing for himself.

Morfin Gaunt in the short fan film The House of Gaunt

Morfin’s Framed by Voldemort

Morfin seems to have been able to care for himself better than his father. He was still living in the family hovel when a teenage Tom Riddle Jnr came to the village hoping to learn about his family in 1943. The future Lord Voldemort was able to track down the Gaunts as Merope gave him the middle name Marvolo. This was not overly common even in the wizarding world.

When the teenager knocked at the door, Morfin did not miss that he looked an awful lot like his muggle neighbor Tom Riddle. Realizing who the boy was, Morfin told him about his sister’s infatuation. He said that Tom Riddle had impregnated her and abandoned her. In reality, Merope used a love potion on Riddle. She let the potion wear off in the belief that he had grown to love her and would choose to stay. She was wrong.

The young Tom Riddle was infuriated and got his revenge on his muggle ancestors. He stunned Morfin and took his wand, and then used it to cast the Killing Curse on his father and grandparents. He then returned his wand and altered his memory to make Morfin believe that he had killed them.

When the Ministry came knocking, considering Morfin a prime suspect due to his history with these particular muggles. He proudly admitted that he had killed them. An examination of his wand confirmed the story. He was sent to Azkaban for the rest of his life for the crime.

What Morfin did lament was that he had lost his father’s ring, which the young Tom Riddle had taken and was wearing as a trophy at Hogwarts. Voldemort would later make the ring one of his Horcruxes, and then hide it back in the shack where he had found Morfin.

Death of Morfin Gaunt

When Albus Dumbledore was trying to learn as much about Lord Voldemort as he could, he tracked Morfin down in Azkaban. There he extracted the memory of Morfin’s encounter with the young Tom Riddle and his memory of killing the muggle Riddles.

The confusion of the memory demonstrated that it was falsely implanted. Dumbledore began to campaign for Morfin’s release from Azkaban, but Morfin died before he could do much.

Morfin was buried near the Azkaban fortress along with other inmates who had no family to claim them.

Morfin Gaunt Personality Type & Traits

Due to centuries of inbreeding, Morfin was born with an unstable personality. This left him unsympathetic to fellow wizards or muggles and prone to violence. As a result, he struggled to form relationships with others. He got along better with the snakes with whom he could speak than people. But even these were not his friends, as he would threaten them to cooperate with him.

He learned pride in his bloodline from his father, and also to bully his sister. Morfin would watch his father torment Merope even when he was a child. He learned that this was how to relate to his sister, and probably other women as well. His pride in his belief that he had killed the muggle Riddles shows that he learned wizarding supremacy and bigotry from his father too.

Morfin’s physical appearance also gave a negative impression.

The man standing before them had thick hair so matted with dirt it could have been any color. Several of his teeth were missing. His eyes were small and wark and staring in opposite directions.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Morfin Gaunt Zodiac Sign & Birthday

We do not know Morfin’s birthday. He was probably born around 1900 to be old enough to be the uncle of Lord Voldemort.

His personality traits suggest that his zodiac sign may be Aries. People born under this sign tend to be inwardly focussed on their own desires and goals. This means it is harder for them to relate to other people. This, combined with Morfin’s upbringing, could explain much of his behavior.