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Who Is the True Heir to Slytherin?

Who Is the True Heir to Slytherin?

The Heir of Slytherin: a title cloaked in shadow and seeped in intrigue. This enigmatic legacy, central to J.K. Rowling’s magical saga, ‘Harry Potter,’ echoes through the stone-walled halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, captivating the minds of students, teachers, and readers alike. The Heir, whispered to inherit the ability to open the hidden Chamber of Secrets and control the monstrous Basilisk within, carries a legacy that is as terrifying as it is fascinating.

A mystery entwined with the heritage of one of the school’s esteemed founders, it is an identity that holds an ominous significance. This article pulls back the invisibility cloak to uncover the truth about the Heir of Slytherin.

Background on Salazar Slytherin

Salazar Slytherin, one of the four founders of Hogwarts and the founder of house Slytherin
Salazar Slytherin

Salazar Slytherin, one of the four legendary founders of Hogwarts, is a name etched deeply into the annals of wizarding history.

Salazar Slytherin, an extraordinarily skilled wizard, was notably characterized by his proficiency in Parseltongue – a rare faculty to communicate with serpents. He was a figure of profound complexity and contentious nature. Renowned for his strong lineage and an equally strong personality, he was exceptionally particular about who should be allowed to study magic.

Unlike his fellow founders, Slytherin held an unyielding belief in blood purity. He advocated the enrollment of only the pure-blood wizards at Hogwarts, creating a divide among the founders. This schism grew wider, eventually leading to his departure from the school. But Slytherin left behind more than just his namesake house. He created the Chamber of Secrets, a hidden chamber within Hogwarts that housed a Basilisk, a monstrous serpent capable of killing those who meet its gaze.

The Chamber of Secrets
The Chamber of Secrets

The myth of the Heir of Slytherin is intertwined with this Chamber. According to legend, only the Heir of Slytherin could open this Chamber and control the terrifying creature within. This person would, presumably, carry on Slytherin’s belief in pure-blood supremacy. The idea of the Heir, thus, became a symbol of fear and served as a grim reminder of Slytherin’s dark ideologies.

The Heir of Slytherin in Hogwarts Myth

Tom Riddle Plot to open the Chamber of Secrets
Tom Riddle’s Plot to Open the Chamber of Secrets

The Heir of Slytherin was Tom Riddle, who would later become the dark wizard Lord Voldemort. Riddle was a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin through his mother’s family, the Gaunts, who were known to be a pure-blood family with a lineage tracing back to Slytherin.

Tom Riddle was indeed a Parselmouth, an incredibly rare trait that he inherited from Slytherin. As a student at Hogwarts, Riddle discovered his lineage and the existence of the Chamber of Secrets. He was able to open it and control the Basilisk, leading to the petrification of several students and the death of one, Myrtle Warren. To preserve his secret, Riddle manipulated Rubeus Hagrid into taking the blame for these attacks.

Salazar Slytherin Statue in the Chamber of Secrets
Salazar Slytherin Statue in the Chamber of Secrets

Years later, during Harry Potter’s second year at Hogwarts, Riddle, in a memory stored within a diary, would once again open the Chamber of Secrets. The diary was a Horcrux, part of Riddle’s soul, and through it, he possessed Ginny Weasley, leading to several more attacks on the students.

There are several quotes from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” that confirm Tom Riddle as the true Heir of Slytherin. Here are some examples:

“You see? In the end, it didn’t matter… You’ll meet the same sticky end as your parents one of these days, Harry Potter… They were meddlesome fools, too. You see, Potter, I am the only true heir of Salazar Slytherin…”

Tom Riddle to Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

When Riddle reveals his full name as Tom Marvolo Riddle, he uses his wand to rearrange the letters into the phrase, “I am Lord Voldemort”. He explains to Harry, “I, in whose veins runs the blood of Salazar Slytherin himself, through my mother’s side? I, keep the name of a foul, common Muggle, who abandoned me even before I was born, just because he found out his wife was a witch?”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“You can speak Parseltongue, Harry, because Lord Voldemort — who is the last remaining ancestor of Salazar Slytherin — can speak Parseltongue.”

Dumbledore to Harry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Read more: Tom Riddle’s Transformation into Lord Voldemort

Other Suspected Heirs

In “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, there were several characters suspected of being the Heir of Slytherin:

1. Harry Potter

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

Due to his ability to speak Parseltongue, many students speculated that Harry could be the Heir of Slytherin. This belief was reinforced when he was found at the scene of two attacks.

2. Draco Malfoy

Draco Malfoy at Duelling Club

Draco, coming from a pure-blood family with known Death Eater ties and a strong belief in blood purity, was another prime suspect. His own boastful claims about his knowledge of the Chamber also added to the suspicion.

3. Hagrid

Rubeus Hagrid

Hagrid was believed to be the Heir during the first opening of the Chamber fifty years before the events of the second book. Tom Riddle framed Hagrid for the attacks to prevent the Chamber from being closed, leading to Hagrid’s expulsion from Hogwarts.

Read more: Grindelwald vs Voldemort, Who’s More Powerful?