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The Peasant, the Tramp and Hepzibah Smith: A Horcrux Case Study
By WaggaWaggaWerewolf

Although Harry destroys one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the concept of a Dark object that encases a bit of Voldemort’s soul isn’t introduced until Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. When Harry retrieves the memory from Horace Slughorn to determine how many times Voldemort has torn his soul to protect himself from death, we learn that Voldemort felt seven was the magic number. When Jo Rowling was asked on the Bloomsbury webcast who died to make Voldemort’s seven Horcruxes, she answered:

The diary — Moaning Myrtle. The cup — Hepzibah Smith, the previous owner. The locket — a Muggle tramp. Nagini — Bertha Jorkins (Voldemort could use a wand once he regained a rudimentary body, as long as the victim was subdued). The diadem — an Albanian peasant. The ring — Tom Riddle snr.1

Some of the victims listed above seem random at first glance, but odd when one considers Jo’s choice of words. Why not, for example, an Albanian Muggle farmer, rather than the antiquated term, peasant, which suggests ill-educated feudal subservience? And why not simply choose a Muggle man or woman instead of a tramp, which I took to be a homeless, penniless vagrant? This oddness is highlighted by the words of Dumbledore, who observes, “[Voldemort] seems to have reserved the process of making Horcruxes for particularly significant deaths.” 2 What is more significant about the death of a Muggle tramp or an Albanian peasant than, say, the death of someone like Dorcas Meadowes, an Order of the Phoenix member, whom Voldemort killed personally?3

Only Jo, herself, knows why victims such as Voldemort’s own grandparents, Frank Bryce, or Dorcas Meadowes are unsuitable murders for Horcrux production. Yet, when Voldemort killed Harry’s parents, his soul was so unstable that a Horcrux was produced accidentally. Although we aren’t told the complete sequence of how to make a Horcrux, both Hermione and Slughorn mention the corrupting Horcrux spell, which could be used to deliberately direct a torn off piece of soul into a suitable container. Clearly all murderers tear their soul, like a rip in a gown. What irritant or extra pressure would force a piece of soul to tear off, like a scrap of cloth from a ragged garment?

I believe that this extra pressure is exerted when, in murdering his victim, Voldemort, having judged his victim guilty of a grievous sin – like one of the Seven Deadly Sins – then outdoes the victim in committing that sin, whether or not Voldemort is aware of what he is doing. Thus the significance of each of the seven victims he kills to make a Horcrux is a relationship with one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

The Seven Deadly Sins of lust, anger, greed, sloth, envy, pride and gluttony were first listed by Pope Gregory the Great.4 They are opposed by such virtues as chastity, patience, liberality, diligence, kindness, humility and abstinence. By examining the circumstances of the people killed for each Horcrux, what the artefacts represent, and where they are concealed, case-by-case, I will demonstrate why each significant death matches a deadly sin. Then I will show how the various people who successfully destroy each Horcrux fit into the pattern by overcoming that particular sin or because of their opposing virtues.

Tom Riddle’s Horcrux Timeline

In Slughorn’s memory, we see Slughorn tell Tom Riddle that Horcruxes are a banned subject at Hogwarts and that Dumbledore is particularly fierce about it.5 Later on, when Hermione spirits Secrets of the Darkest Arts6 out of Dumbledore’s office, she finds it is still a library book. Surely Dumbledore’s banning this book from Hogwarts library would not stop Tom Riddle from finding out any available information about Horcruxes. Could Voldemort have found information in the Room of Hidden Things, a treasure trove of “banned or graffitied or stolen” 7 books, which he believed he alone knew about?8 Tom Riddle’s explorations of Hogwarts also led him to the Chamber of Secrets and the basilisk within by mid-June of 1943, exactly fifty years before Harry’s second year at Hogwarts.9 It is then, in his fifth year,10 that Tom Riddle puts “a piece of his sixteen year old self into the diary.” 11 Perhaps it was then when Dumbledore, alarmed at Moaning Myrtle’s death, and suspecting Tom Riddle’s bullying involvement, removed Secrets of the Darkest Arts from the Hogwarts library.

In Slughorn’s retrieved memory, Tom Riddle asks about Horcruxes, saying, “Wouldn’t it be better, make you stronger, to have your soul in more pieces? […] isn’t seven the most powerfully magical number, wouldn’t seven–?” 12 But during that incident, Tom Riddle is already wearing his uncle Morfin’s ring, proof he killed his grandparents and father in the summer of 1944, and this ring would become his second Horcrux. This was a full fifty years before the creation of Voldemort’s last Horcrux, the snake Nagini, Bertha Jorkin’s death, Harry’s dream of Frank Bryce’s murder13 and Voldemort’s later rebirthing. So Voldemort’s teenage plan to split his soul in seven pieces took fifty-two years to come to fruition, when he made the Naginicrux from Bertha Jorkins’ death.

Before Tom Riddle leaves Hogwarts, he charms the whereabouts of the Ravenclaw diadem from Helena Ravenclaw, the Grey Lady, and afterwards, as a buyer for Borgin and Burkes, he also wins the confidence of a valued customer, Hepzibah Smith. Hepzibah shows him two treasured Hogwarts founders’ items: Helga Hufflepuff’s cup and Slytherin’s locket. Hepzibah’s murder, after which Voldemort fled, accounts for the creation of the cup Horcrux, but he may not have made Slytherin’s locket into a Horcrux until years later.

Voldemort’s return to Hogwarts ten years after Hepzibah’s death, to apply for the vacant Defense Against the Dark Arts position, gives him the chance to hide the Diadem, already a Horcrux, in the Room of Hidden Things, where it remains unnoticed for at least three decades. But Voldemort doesn’t require Kreacher or his new follower, Regulus Black, to put the Locketcrux into the basin in the cave until 1979.14 On Halloween of 1981, it can be assumed that Bellatrix Lestrange already has the Cupcrux in her vault at Gringotts, Lucius Malfoy has the Diarycrux at Malfoy Manor, the Ringcrux is buried in the Gaunt hovel, and the Diademcrux is in the Room of Requirement. However, the Locketcrux is now at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, under Kreacher’s watchful eye.

The failure of Voldemort’s venture to use Quirrell to steal the Philosopher’s Stone to regenerate, during Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, ushers in Lucius Malfoy’s imprudent ploy to use Tom Riddle’s diary, not knowing it is a Horcrux. The Malfoys want to disrupt Dumbledore’s tenure as headmaster of Hogwarts and stop Arthur Weasley’s Muggle Protection Law from unearthing such a dangerous item in their possession. So, during a fracas with Arthur Weasley at Gilderoy Lockhart’s book signing event, Lucius leaves the Diarycrux inside Ginny’s second-hand Transfiguration textbook. It is the destruction of this Horcrux that betrays the existence of others made in order to ensure Voldemort’s survival.

Case 1: Moaning Myrtle, the Diarycrux, and Lust

Of course, Tom Riddle kills Moaning Myrtle with the basilisk, a creature with an insatiable lust to kill, using the resulting tear to make the Diarycrux. But is the super-sensitive Moaning Myrtle really in the wrong place at the wrong time? Moaning Myrtle certainly likes to check out any available boys, and Tom Riddle, at the age of sixteen, is still handsome. When she fled to the girls’ bathroom, having been hurt by Olive Hornby’s teasing, perhaps Moaning Myrtle heard too many recitals of that old witticism: “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.” 15 Her ghost later haunts the Prefect’s bathroom to ogle Cedric, the handsome Hufflepuff champion, as well as admire Harry’s own physique. Later still, Myrtle even invades the boy’s bathroom to comfort Draco Malfoy. Myrtle’s most entertaining moment as a ghost is when she notices that Hermione has sprouted cat’s whiskers and a tail, and it is telling that Moaning Myrtle considers a dead Harry would be “welcome to share [her] toilet.” 16 Even Moaning Myrtle’s very name suggests an overwhelming absorption with lusty teenage romance.

We know that Tom, like Gilderoy Lockhart, is already a dab hand at Memory Charms. In Tom Riddle’s case, the use of a Memory Charm later allows him to escape responsibility for his actions when he charms his Uncle Morfin or Hokey to take the blame for later murders. So Tom could have erased Moaning Myrtle’s memory, but instead chose to kill her as his first Horcrux victim.

Tom’s other skills include Legilimency, and how to possess people, even without their knowledge. And we know that he would find any of Moaning Myrtle’s romantic overtures irksome, even if he went along with them, knowing how to charm people. Tom, a heartless bully, who lusts to control all others in getting his own way, and who fears being found out, would consider Myrtle the perfect victim to pick for his first experiment in making a Horcrux. How disastrous would it be for Tom if a rejected Myrtle, whose moaning about the way she has been treated is legendary, exposed to the rest of Hogwarts that “Tom Riddle, poor but brilliant, parentless but so brave, school prefect, model student,” 17 had been habitually hanging around a girls’ bathroom, to unleash a basilisk on other students?18

After all, Ginny also fears expulsion when she realises she was possessed by Tom Riddle’s Diarycrux to slaughter roosters, daub slogans and release the basilisk out of its chamber. This was all because she wrote in the diary Lucius passed on to her, which she thought was “a friend […] in my pocket.” 19 Within the Diary’s pages, Ginny confides her own loneliness at school, how she is teased by her brothers, and her own childish notions of romance, fanned by the DADA teacher Gilderoy Lockhart’s imprudent emphasis on fame and St. Valentine’s Day’s superficial charm.

But the Diarycrux revenant, so like Lockhart, is really a user and a manipulator who makes much of Ginny’s crush on the famous Harry Potter and drags her down to the Chamber of Secrets, sapping her essence for his own ends. Tom doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings, only lusting for the power to escape his diary to kill both Ginny and Harry. Appropriately it is Harry, as the chaste rescuer of his “best friend’s sister,” 20 who summons the Sword of Gryffindor and destroys the Diarycrux on Ginny’s behalf. Amidst Lockhart’s romantic posturing and fraud, the romantic worries of Ginny are linked with the death of the lustful Moaning Myrtle, because of the murderously lustful piece of Lord Voldemort’s soul placed in a young man’s diary. Harry, the loyal hero of Ginny’s Valentine, truly defeats the Diarycrux theme of lust, with its opposing virtues of prudence and chastity, to eventually find true love with Ginny.

Case 2: A Vengeful Ringcrux with an Angry Death Curse

There are many sins to choose from when the Riddles are described as “rich, snobbish and rude.” 21 From greed to pride and on to anger. When Tom Riddle Snr. returned to his home after his ill-fated marriage to Merope Gaunt, he had good reason to feel angry and ill-used. For this reason, it is the sin of Anger that relates the most strongly to the Ringcrux. When Tom Riddle Snr. is described as “even more [snobbish and rude]” 22 it becomes clear that he would be the second Horcrux victim. After all, Morfin Gaunt, Tom Riddle’s bad-tempered neighbour, had jinxed him with hives. Then Morfin’s sister, Merope, drugged him to make him marry her, instead of Cecilia, the girl he had been courting.

It is hard to say which Tom Riddle would be the angrier. Tom Marvolo Riddle Junior, Merope’s son, so angry he stole his uncle Morfin’s wand as well as his grandfather Marvolo’s Peverell ring, on his way to murder Tom Riddle Snr. and his grandparents. Or Tom Riddle Snr. who was coerced with love potion and forced to explain to the villagers that he was ‘‘taken in” and “hoodwinked” 23 when Merope fell pregnant. However, it is not only Voldemort’s penurious Muggle orphanage upbringing that he resents. He is so enraged by Tom Riddle Snr., whom he sees as “a foul, common Muggle” 24 who left Merope to die because “his wife was a witch,” 25 that he utterly rejects any resemblance to his father, as well as refusing to be identified any longer as Tom Riddle.

It is significant that when he makes his second Horcrux out of the Peverell Ring, Voldemort uses his father’s murder, and not the murder of his grandparents. Maybe the elder Riddles chose to close ranks to shield their son Tom, despite the scandal caused by his eloping with “the tramp’s daughter, Merope.” 26 It is even more significant that when he murders his paternal family, the schoolboy Tom Riddle uses the Avada Kedavra curse on all of them. As Bellatrix said, Avada Kedavra, which would henceforth become Lord Voldemort’s signature spell, is an unforgivable killing curse which needs considerably more than “righteous anger” 27 to be effective – indicating how strongly Voldemort must have hated them. As if to underline his angry intentions, Voldemort, who wore the Ringcrux openly at school, returns it to remain at the Gaunt cottage. But Morfin Gaunt, who was blamed for the murders, dies in Azkaban,28 mourning the loss of his father’s ring, whilst angry with Merope for taking Slytherin’s locket.

Like the elder Tom Riddle, Dumbledore also neglected his family to pursue infatuated dreams of the Deathly Hallows with Gellert Grindelwald.29 But the love Dumbledore felt for his family was very different from the hatred that Voldemort displayed. Unlike either Tom Riddle, Dumbledore blamed himself, believed the best of others, and strove to make amends. Remorseful for the death of his sister, Dumbledore patiently seeks the Resurrection Stone, one of the Deathly Hallows, which can summon the souls of those already dead to comfort those who are about to die.30 Finally he is rewarded for his patience when he finds the Resurrection Stone set in the Ringcrux, and impulsively tries to use it to seek his sister’s forgiveness,31 forgetting how dangerously violent the angry Ringcrux would be. Though desperately wounded, Dumbledore returns to his office, where, as a worthy Gryffindor, he is entitled to use Gryffindor’s Sword, impregnated with basilisk venom, to destroy the Ringcrux. And so the Ringcrux, made by an angry Tom Riddle Jnr. from the murder of an angry Tom Riddle Snr. and hidden in bad-tempered Morfin’s house, is destroyed by the patient Dumbledore. Dumbledore’s faith in others is justified when Snape comes to his aid to treat his wounded hand, thereby confirming that the opposing virtues of patience and faith would destroy the piece of Voldemort’s soul cut off angrily to make the Ringcrux.

Case 3: Greed and Hepzibah’s Cupcrux

If, unlike Tom Riddle’s diary, Peverell’s ring has powers in its own right, might not the same be said of other treasured artefacts like Gryffindor’s sword or Slytherin’s locket, which are both Hogwarts Founders’ items? It is possible that all the items of the Hogwarts Founders have magical power of some kind. Helga Hufflepuff chose loyal and hard working students for her house. Therefore, Hufflepuff’s cup, a third Hogwarts founder’s item, with “all sorts of powers,” 32 might well be a much sought-after Cup of Plenty, the magical powers of which prosper the efforts of the holder. Meaning that even a very greedy owner, such as Hepzibah Smith, would always have sufficient income to enjoy the necessities of life.

Hepzibah Smith, the third Horcrux victim, owns a house-elf, lives comfortably, and has a collection of many artefacts, which she bought and sold through Borgin and Burke’s where Merope’s son had started work. But Hepzibah is so greedy for more prestigious treasures that she is willing to pay a fortune for another Founder’s item, Slytherin’s locket, however unethically the greedy Caractacus Burke made this item available to her. Now the Locket accompanies Hufflepuff’s cup in her collection.

Hepzibah liked keeping her treasures safe, without investigating too closely what each trophy might do, let alone put it to good use. Instead, she would hoard them in boxes and cupboards. She then trotted them out to show visitors, such as the personably polite sales assistant, bearing a flattering bouquet of flowers, whose “greedy expression was curiously mirrored” 33 on her own face when they admired Hufflepuff’s cup together. Surely she reflects greed clearly with such actions, but it was a mistake for Hepzibah to show Slytherin’s locket to Tom Riddle Jnr., Slytherin’s last remaining descendant.

Hepzibah was gleeful that she inherited the cup, even though other relatives descended from Helga Hufflepuff might also have claimed it. The money Hepzibah paid to satisfy her greed for an additional founder’s item might have enabled Caractacus Burke to retire on the profits he made. Who then was greediest? Hepzibah for hoarding these treasures for herself? Or Voldemort, who killed Hepzibah with rat poison, inadvertently administered by her house-elf Hokey, in a mean return for the hospitality Hepzibah showed him. He then stole, not only the locket, but also the cup and then turned Hepzibah’s own rightful possession into the Cupcrux.

At some stage, Voldemort entrusts this Cupcrux to Bellatrix. She keeps it in an enchanted Gringott’s vault in its deepest bowels among her treasure hoard. The trio’s successful extraction of this ill-gotten gain from Gringotts is assisted by the goblin Griphook, who greedily but erroneously claims as his price Gryffindor’s Sword because it was originally goblin-made, whatever the money Godric Gryffindor originally paid for it. Despite Gringotts reputation for being impregnable and the dire warning about greed on its threshold,34 the trio succeeds.

When she started school at Hogwarts, Hermione had been greedy for the sort of academic success and recognition which would impress her parents. But throughout the series, Hermione tempers her greed to be the dux of the class, by recognising other priorities and by becoming an indispensable friend to Harry and Ron. Hermione also shows true generosity of heart when she campaigns to set free oppressed house-elves, sacrifices skiing holidays, or gets her parents to forget she exists, when she sends them to safety in Australia so she is free to help Harry to fight Voldemort.

According to Ron, it is only fair that the normally temperate Hermione, who often advises restraint and caution, is the most suitable person to destroy the Cupcrux. The relationship between the theft performed by Lord Voldemort, the temperate Hermione, the Cup of Plenty itself, and even the Gringotts vault it was held in, suggests Hepzibah’s true significance as the murdered but greedy victim. When he killed her, Voldemort’s own bit of soul was torn off by jaws of greed to complete the Cupcrux theme.

Case 4: The Diademcrux, an Albanian Peasant and Sloth

Rowena Ravenclaw famously preferred the talented and knowledgeable for her house, and so the powers of her diadem to endow cleverness are better known than those of Hufflepuff’s cup. However, such a Crown of Wisdom might be a delusion of sloth as it takes hard work, perseverance and motivation to become smarter. Myriads of students have begged the ghost of Rowena’s daughter, the Grey Lady, for the diadem’s assistance in making schoolwork easier.35 But Helena Ravenclaw refused to help them. Tom Riddle is the first person she tells how she stole the diadem, saying she stole it because she wanted to be as clever as her mother without making the necessary effort. Told how Helena hid the diadem in a hollow tree when the Bloody Baron vainly summoned her back to her dying mother, that brilliant student, Voldemort,36 makes it his business to seek out the lost diadem to make it his Horcrux of Sloth, once he leaves school.37

But an Albanian peasant is a strange choice as the Diademcrux victim. Why is the killed victim called a peasant, when it is such a feudal term, which suggests ill-educated subservience and is not used in modern times? The term, “peasant,” usually indicates a tenant or subsistence farmer whose labour benefits powerful overlords, rich landowners, or foreign conquerors, leaving barely enough for the farm worker to live on. Such peasants have little incentive to better themselves or try harder when they are lucky to be able to read and write their own language, and are rarely allowed to own anything of value by their masters. Perhaps Voldemort, who believes that “there is only power and those too weak to seek it,” 38 would regard such people as stupid and lazy.

And why someone from Albania, in particular? The Sorting Hat gives some clues when it associates Ravenclaw with mountains and eagles. Albania is a small, isolated and rather poor country, named for its mountainous terrain, which is heavily forested in places. The people who live there speak a language similar to the one spoken by hardworking Ancient Trojans, and in that language, Albania is called Shqipëria, which translates as the Land of the Eagles.39 Albanian members of the cult of the snake consider it an important household benefactor.40 Could Morfin’s nailing a snake to his front door be an Albanian custom? Maybe it is wizarding links as well as isolation, and the chance to do as he likes, which draw Voldemort to Albania time and again when defeated. But when up to 60% of its people still work on farms41 in Albania, which has frequently been kept subservient to foreign regimes in the past thousand years, perhaps any Albanian peasant would suit Voldemort’s purpose in making the Diademcrux.

We aren’t told which peasant was killed or how easy it was for Voldemort to find the lost diadem. Without information, we can only speculate what might have happened. It is hard to believe that in a thousand years something that looks like a bridal tiara would not have been found and used. In that case, Voldemort merely killed the finder, perhaps while thinking him lazy for not selling the item or becoming more powerful. And if Voldemort found that the diadem really did remain undisturbed and unnoticed in its hollow tree for all those hundreds of years, perhaps Voldemort lazily killed the first farm worker he met, outdoing his victim in sloth.

It isn’t even certain whether Voldemort set out on his lost diadem search immediately after leaving school,42 or found the diadem only after fleeing to Albania, having killed Hepzibah Smith for her cup and locket. Ten years afterwards, Voldemort returned to Hogwarts to place the Diademcrux in Hogwarts’ trashy Room of Hidden Things under cover of applying for the vacant Defence Against the Dark Arts position, which he jinxed43 when refused as a candidate. The Room of Hidden Things stores lost, forgotten, banned, broken and graffitied things, also suggesting laziness. But was a poor Albanian peasant, who barely makes a livelihood, having no hope of bettering himself and therefore no motivation to try, really any lazier than Voldemort, himself? Despite top grades and many career choices and opportunities open to him,44 Voldemort rejected Slughorn’s offer to help him get a position in the Ministry for a short-lived job at Borgin and Burkes. All Voldemort wanted to do was to create Horcruxes, rather than earn his living.

Crabbe is the perfect person to destroy the Diademcrux. Whilst Goyle might have genuinely lacked ability,45 Crabbe lazes his way through his Hogwarts education whilst he subserviently does Draco’s bidding. When given a second chance to pass his Defence Against the Dark Arts O.W.L.,46 he spends the year diligently patrolling the corridor outside the Room of Hidden Things, disguised as a little girl47 whilst Draco Malfoy repairs the broken vanishing cabinet. Yet, when violent intimidation is a school subject, he finds the motivation to work so diligently that he actually succeeds in class.48 Unfortunately, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Crabbe learns to start the Fiendfyre, but fails to make the extra effort to learn how to stop it. And so he dies, having no hope of escaping the inferno he started as an easy but terrible way to get rid of Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Thus it is also Crabbe’s own lack of information, bad study habits, unproductive effort, lazy choices and lack of perseverance that links the Room of Hidden Things, a hollow tree in Albania, and his brief diligence to a murdered Albanian peasant. Even a little hope and diligence oppose the dead weight of sloth, which drags down a piece of Voldemort’s soul to make the Diademcrux. By next dawn, the information that Voldemort, himself, did not know, forgot, or ignored, as he constantly sought easy answers, contributed to his downfall.

Case 5: The Envious Locketcrux and the Tramp

If an Albanian peasant suits Ravenclaw’s diadem then why does a Muggle tramp’s murder suit Slytherin’s locket? Recall that Voldemort’s maternal relatives, who considered themselves to be the pure-blood betters of the Riddles, lived no better than tramps. When he visited the Riddle House, Voldemort could draw envious comparisons between it and his mother’s home. And surely Voldemort was thinking about destitute and depressed Merope Gaunt in association with her locket, as well as his own Muggle orphanage background, whilst envying wealthy pure-blood wizards like Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange49 or Hepzibah Smith.

In making the Locketcrux, did Voldemort kill the first Muggle tramp he met after he took the locket from Hepzibah, or was it a more destitute and depressed tramp he met later? The locket is arguably the object he prizes above all, and was in his possession long before he made Kreacher drink the poisonous green potion in the cave.50 Maybe the locket’s story even expresses the rancorous loss Voldemort feels because of his mother, since by killing his father Voldemort avenged the shabby treatment she received. The locket was to change hands repeatedly. Did the Muggle tramp also hold it for a while, forcing Voldemort to take it back? Perhaps, much as Hepzibah had unwarily dangled the locket in front of Voldemort, himself, Voldemort disdainfully flaunted this locket in front of the tramp’s envious gaze before dispatching him in cold contempt.

Hepzibah Smith mentioned that the locket has “all kinds of powers attributed to it,” 51 but what were they? Since Salazar Slytherin was known for his emphasis on pure blood, did the locket endow respect, popularity or social status? Or could the locket have endowed suitable opportunities for its owner? What benefit did Merope get from wearing the locket when she yearned for Tom Riddle Snr., so handsome that her dying wish for her newborn son is that he will resemble his father?52 Merely wearing Slytherin’s locket does not seem to secure Merope her eventual husband’s regard, nor would it stop her being cheated by Caractacus Burke.

Morfin highlights how Tom Riddle would have preferred Cecilia to Merope, jeering: “ ‘Darling’, he called her. So he wouldn’t have you, anyway.” 53 Nobody knows how poor Merope must have felt when Tom Riddle and Cecilia rode by, and it is not hard to imagine that Merope dreamed of being in Cecilia’s shoes, rather than living with her two obnoxiously bad-tempered menfolk with their anti-Muggle agenda. No doubt Merope envied Cecilia intensely because she had the looks, the clothes, the background and the attention that Merope craved. No wonder then that Merope slipped love potion into Tom Riddle Snr.’s drink, fearing that he would never notice her otherwise. And Merope’s feelings of rejection and envy would certainly be akin to the feelings of the Muggle tramp killed to make the Locketcrux, by her bitterly envious son.

Certainly the insidiously depressing effects of the Locketcrux on other bearers suggests some sort of psychological link between how people think others see them and how closely they resemble Slytherin’s self-interested world view of a low-status and powerless Muggle tramp. Regulus left a fake locket in the basin, before the Inferi killed him54 because he resented the mistreatment visited on his family’s house-elf by envious Voldemort who had commandeered Kreacher to drink poisonous green potion. Did the continuing presence of the real Locketcrux subtly affect Sirius, cooped up in Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, by causing him to envy Snape’s freedom and long for the carefree days before he went to Azkaban? By contrast, Dolores Umbridge, who rejoices in high rank and cruel domination of others, suffers no ill effects from wearing the Locketcrux, which she falsely uses to boost her claims to pure-blooded kinship with the Death Eater, Selwyn.

The trio do notice how the Locketcrux affects them, as they take turns in wearing it. They begin to doubt each other, Harry’s leadership in particular, even though he, too, is affected by hunger and their other difficulties. Unlike Umbridge, Harry is unable to cast a Patronus whilst wearing the Locketcrux. Eventually the locket, playing on Ron’s own envy, causes Ron to leave them. As the least independent of the trio, Ron lacks confidence about how he compares to his family, to Hermione, or to famous Harry Potter.

When, with the Sword of Gryffindor, Ron destroys the self-interested Locketcrux, he is not only contritely seeking Hermione and Harry’s mercy and forgiveness, he is also courageously facing down his envy of Harry to show concern for others. And, having returned to rescue Harry from being strangled by the Locketcrux, he not only proves a worthy Gryffindor, but also starts to become the sort of adult worthy of the lady he loves. For the Locketcrux revenants echo Voldemort’s attitude to life, so eaten up by invidious comparisons, so desperate for preferential treatment as a small child, that now he rejects love, in a sour grapes reaction, scornfully rejecting weakness, and unable to trust anyone. Surely envy connects a Muggle tramp with envious Voldemort, himself, the locket’s protection of the toxic green potion, which arouses in the drinker terrifying memories, and with Ron, the destroyer of the Locketcrux. And surely envy, and the twisted view of life it promotes, is a strong enough emotion to tear completely an already torn piece of soul.

Case 6: Proud James Potter and the Harrycrux

So far, the people whom Voldemort killed to make each of five valued artefacts into Horcruxes not only have a strong relationship with the artefact, but also represent one of the Seven Deadly Sins. But when Voldemort proudly visited Godric’s Hollow to kill James Potter and his infant son, because of a half-heard and half-understood prophecy, was he aware that he was meeting the conditions to form a Horcrux of Pride, even though he did not have an object ready for insertion? Voldemort is not known for self-criticism, though he knows that “obedience is a virtue,” 55 and tells Dumbledore that “Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite.” 56 Believing himself great, Voldemort arrogantly considers he has a right to damn a Muggle tramp as envious, an Albanian peasant as lazy and Hepzibah as greedy, just as he feels he had a right to kill the Potter family. As he is often unaware of how other magic works, Voldemort never really notices that his success in making Horcruxes was not just because he could pass judgement on his victims’ sins, but also because he outdoes those sins on each and every occasion.

Harry became an accidental Horcrux but due to whose death? Both Lily and James Potter died at Godric’s Hollow along with Voldemort’s body, destroyed by his own deflected killing spell. Recall that only one of three murdered Riddles ever became a suitable victim for a Horcrux, and that there has to be some significance in why James Potter is described as arrogant. Lily describes James Potter as “an arrogant, bullying toerag.” 57 And Snape, who had been the butt of James’ bullying, also reminded Harry often of James’ arrogance. According to Voldemort, James Potter died “straight-backed and proud,” 58 though at Godric’s Hollow, Voldemort ridiculed James for trying to defend his wife and son even though he did not pick up his wand.59 And so, in killing James, a portion of Voldemort’s soul is ripped away in preparation for the Horcrux of Pride.

Snape begged the Dark Lord to spare Lily’s life, but she considered life without her husband and child to be unendurable. Thus Lily Evans’ choice to die will shield her beloved baby son, Voldemort’s main target, bestowing on him her protection. Voldemort, who despises crying babies,60 arrogantly proceeds to kill Harry anyway, he is hit by his own deflected killing curse, and his own soul is ripped from his body. But Voldemort’s severed soul remnant, previously hanging by a thread, lodges in Harry, the only other occupant of the room, thus “mark[ing] him [Harry] as [Voldemort’s] equal.” 61 On this occasion, Voldemort, having no chance to cast the appropriate spell to direct and encase this remnant of his soul, remains ignorant about it. As the Horcrux spell remains unsaid, Harry’s own soul survives uncorrupted by the Harrycrux despite its attempts to rejoin itself with Voldemort.

As Dumbledore remarked, “to confide a part of your soul to something that can think and move for itself is […] a very risky business.” 62 Because Voldemort repeatedly tries to murder him, Harry is obliged to oppose the Dark Lord, merely to live. Nonetheless, Harry survives, despite strange powers, crippling, Voldemort-inspired headaches, and Snape’s humiliating comparisons of Harry with his father James. One phrase of the prophecy says: “Either must die at the hand of the other,” 63 so to destroy the Harrycrux, Harry must face death at Voldemort’s hands. Having asked Neville to destroy Nagini, by then the only remaining Horcrux, Harry goes into the forest during the Battle of Hogwarts, to face his fate.

Voldemort claims victory over Harry, whom he believes killed by a killing curse. But it is Harry’s own self-criticism and his humble choice to face the fact of his death at Voldemort’s hands, rather than permit more of the people he loves to die to protect him, which defeats the Harrycrux. Yet Harry’s life is preserved, after all, to continue to the final showdown which will kill Voldemort.

Voldemort never notices when other Horcruxes are destroyed. But at his rebirthing, Voldemort takes some of Harry’s blood to share in the protection Lily bestowed on Harry, so it is only the Harrycrux which will be destroyed when Voldemort tries to kill Harry, the Horcrux being separate from the “power the Dark Lord knows not.” 64 Harry is knocked out, finding himself at a Kings Cross station, along with an agonised, whimpering, flayed-looking baby, an ironic representation of Voldemort’s mutilated soul.65 And when Harry returns to consciousness in the forest, he finds that Voldemort has also collapsed because of the blood link and protection shared with Harry, not because of the Horcrux link.

However arrogant James might have been, he was willing to die to protect his family, so he could never be as arrogant as Voldemort, so ready to kill others, including those significant for making Horcruxes to preserve his own life. By insisting on using Harry’s blood to rebirth himself, even though any other enemy wizard would have suited the purpose, and in stealing the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s tomb to rule by force, Voldemort ensures that his pride would end in a fall. An arrogant, unrepentant bully can be humbled, and those who live by murder will destroy themselves. But Harry’s own experiences, both in acquiring and in divesting himself of the Harrycrux, highlight the need for self-examination. We see that there really is a relationship between a deadly sin like pride, its opposite virtue, humility, and the heavenly virtue of love which protected Harry’s innate being for so long.

Case 7: Why Was Bertha Jorkins Used to Make the Gluttonous Naginicrux?

When Bertha Jorkins took work to her boss’s home, she saw too much.66 Yet, it wasn’t because she was too lazy that Barty Crouch Snr. placed a memory charm on her, much as it wasn’t lust which impelled her many years earlier to follow a fellow student to tease him about kissing Florence.67 Bertha Jorkins was known as someone who was too nosy, too inclined to gossip, and when she was overdue to return from an Albanian holiday, her current boss, Ludo Bagman, really ought to have been more concerned that someone like her, the sort of person who annoyed people by excessive prying, had gone missing.68 Once she left her aunt’s Albanian home, Bertha would meet Wormtail at a wayside inn, and a revived Voldemort, waiting to make her into his last Horcrux, the Horcrux of Gluttony.

Does Nagini, like Harry, get headaches from Voldemort’s continual proximity? And can this pet snake, who provides Voldemort with so much comfort and nourishment, and whose venom enabled Voldemort to regain a body, make truly independent decisions, like Harry? Voldemort is known to possess Nagini when he wants to penetrate the Ministry of Magic, and she can act as sentinel at Bathilda’s place or summon Voldemort when necessary.

Once Crouch’s memory charm was broken, Bertha Jorkins simply knew too much. Wormtail, who had fled justice for the murder of the Potters, had thoughtfully brought along Voldemort’s own wand, as well as persuading Bertha to accompany him on a night stroll to meet the newly created Babymort. Voldemort, weakened by his long stint as “less than the meanest ghost,” 69 insists on making one more Horcrux. And unlike with Harry, Voldemort did say the spell when he killed Bertha Jorkins to make Nagini a Horcrux. When Voldemort fell at Godric’s Hollow, he had split his soul into six parts, and Nagini is to be the seventh to reach his goal. But Voldemort never knew about the Harrycrux. Thus, the Naginicrux becomes his eighth soul part, one Horcrux too many. And when Jo remarked how nauseous her editor found the process of creating the rudimentary body that formed Babymort on Leaky’s own Pottercast 130,70 no wonder the Naginicrux is almost a synonym for overkill – Voldemort is showing a lamentable gluttony of soul parts.

Nagini does represent animal nature. Often Voldemort threatens to feed Wormtail or other victims to her for dinner. Even large snakes cannot swallow adult humans whole, but the gluttonous symbolism persists. All the more so as Neville, her eventual executioner, abstaining from the Carrows’ pureblood madness, has hidden in the Room of Requirement, leading the resistance and collecting victuals from Aberforth Dumbledore’s Hog’s Head Inn. But Nagini, the useful tool of Voldemort, symbolises far more than gluttony, and its related issues of control and injustice. When Neville beheads her, after extracting Gryffindor’s Sword of Justice from the Sorting Hat, he is also eradicating the sort of poisonous bigotry which has been allowed to proliferate unchecked in Slytherin house, destroying the lives of so many, not to mention relieving the cruelty inflicted on this unfortunate creature.


Voldemort, who claims that “there is nothing worse than death,” 71 is a vicious, bigoted murderer, who kills, tortures and coerces whenever in the mood to do so, objectifying people, regardless of rank, pure-blood status, whether opponent or ally. But Voldemort cannot accept that he has already endured “things much worse than death,” 72 having maimed his soul with the murders he has committed, in particular, those murders he has considered significant enough for his Horcruxes, to keep himself alive. The creation of these Horcruxes requires nothing less than that Voldemort, in the act of killing, outdoes the offence committed by the people he kills, to rip off pieces of his already torn soul, before directing those bits of soul into deadly sinful containers.

By examining each Horcrux in turn, the significance common to all of the victims murdered is demonstrated to be a connection to one or another of the famous Seven Deadly Sins of lust, anger, greed, sloth, envy, pride and gluttony. Thus Tom Riddle’s diary, a “little black book”, suggests lust. Peverell’s vengeful ring echoes much more than the angry conflict between the Gaunt and Riddle families. But Hufflepuff’s cup of plenty symbolises greed, because of Hepzibah’s acquisition of the locket, as well. The sins of sloth and envy, associated with the Diademcrux and the Locketcrux do explain much about what is significant about the deaths of an Albanian peasant and a Muggle tramp, especially as it was Crabbe and Ron who destroyed these items. Hubris, self-defeating pride, also explains much about why Harry must face death at Voldemort’s prideful hands to be rid of the Horcrux he had grafted on him at Godric’s Hollow. Of course, Nagini is gluttony personified.

Allotting a different sin to each Horcrux clarifies why Jo says the deaths are significant as well as why each particular vanquisher is capable of destroying each of these monstrosities, due to either their opposing virtues, or else because of their inner resources to overcome the sins they share with one of the victims of an arrogant Voldemort, whose soul unconsciously fears the judgement he has visited on others.


1. Rowling, “Webchat with JK Rowling.”

2. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 473.

3. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 158.

4. Wikipedia, s.v. “Seven Deadly Sins.”

5. Rowling, Half-Blood Prince, 466.

6. Ibid., Deathly Hallows, 88–89.

7. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 492.

8. Ibid., Deathly Hallows, 444.

9. Ibid., Chamber of Secrets, 180.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., 230.

12. Rowling, Half-Blood Prince, 465–66.

13. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 7.

14. Ibid., “The Black Family Tree.”

15. Parker, “News Item.”

16. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 239–40.

17. Ibid., 229–30.

18. Ibid., 221.

19. Ibid., 228.

20. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 602.

21. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 8.

22. Ibid.

23. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 202.

24. Ibid., Chamber of Secrets, 231.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 202.

27. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 715.

28. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 343.

29. Ibid., Deathly Hallows, 573–75.

30. Ibid., 332.

31. Ibid., 576.

32. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 408.

33. Ibid.

34. Ibid., Philosopher’s Stone, 56–57.

35. Ibid., Deathly Hallows, 494.

36. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 403.

37. Ibid., Deathly Hallows, 496.

38. Ibid., Philosopher’s Stone, 211.

39. Wikipedia, s.v. “Albania.”

40. Parajsa Shqiptare, “Brief Cultural Facts.”

41. World Book Encyclopedia, s.v. “Albania.”

42. Rowling, Deathly Hallows, 496.

43. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 417–18.

44. Ibid., 403.

45. Ibid., Philosopher’s Stone, 222; Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 163, 166–67.

46. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 303.

47. Ibid., 425–26.

48. Ibid., Deathly Hallows, 462.

49. Ibid., 397.

50. Ibid., 160.

51. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 409.

52. Ibid., 249.

53. Ibid., 198.

54. Ibid., Deathly Hallows, 162.

55. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 574.

56. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 415.

57. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 570.

58. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 573.

59. Ibid., Deathly Hallows, 281.

60. Ibid., 282.

61. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 741.

62. Ibid., Half-Blood Prince, 473.

63. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 741.

64. Ibid.

65. Ibid., “FAQ: What was the baby-like creature?”

66. Ibid., Goblet of Fire, 594–95.

67. Ibid., 520.

68. Ibid., 58.

69. Ibid., 566.

70. Ibid., PotterCast 130.

71. Ibid., Order of the Phoenix, 718.

72. Ibid.


Parker, Dorothy. “News Item.” In Collected Poems: Not So Deep as a Well. New York: Viking, 1937. Quoted by Michael Moncur, The Quotations Page, (19 November 2007).

Parajsa Shqiptare. “Brief Cultural Facts.”

Rowling, JK. “The Black Family Tree,” 2004. Archived at The Harry Potter Lexicon. (1 December 2007).

———. “FAQ: What exactly was the mutilated baby-like creature Harry saw at King's Cross in chapter 35 of 'Hallows'?” J.K. Rowling Official Site (8 December 2007).

———. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury, 1998.

———. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. London:Bloomsbury, 2007.

———. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. London: Bloomsbury, 2000.

———. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury, 2005.

———. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. London: Bloomsbury, 2003.

———. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Film ed. London: Bloomsbury, 2001.

———. PotterCast 130: The One with JK Rowling, Part I. Transcript, The Leaky Cauldron. (28 February 2008).

———. “Webchat with JK Rowling.” Bloomsbury, 30 July 2007. (11 November 2007).

Wikipedia (2007), s.v. “Albania.” (21 November 2007).

——— (2008), s.v. “Seven deadly sins.” (24 January 2008).

World Book Encyclopedia of People and Places, Vol. 1 A-C. This ed., Chicago: World Book Inc., 2004.

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