Merope Gaunt

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[edit] Biography

Merope Riddle (née Gaunt) (c. 1907 - 31 December, 1926) was a pure-blood witch, daughter of Marvolo Gaunt and his wife, sister of Morfin Gaunt, and mother of Tom Riddle Jr. She was a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin and a Parselmouth. Merope lived in a shack with her father and brother, who mentally and physically abused her. Later on, Merope grew to have an obsessive love for Tom Riddle, a handsome and wealthy Muggle. When both her father and brother were imprisoned, she bewitched and married Tom, but when he recovered, he abandoned her and their unborn son. Merope soon ended up dying at an orphanage, soon after giving birth to her son, whom she had named Tom Marvolo Riddle. Many years later, her son became the most dangerous Dark wizard of all time. Biography

[edit] Early life

Merope Gaunt had lived in a shack near Little Hangleton with her father, Marvolo, and brother, Morfin. Generations of inbreeding left the Gaunts violent, mentally unstable, and poverty-stricken. Merope exhibited little magical talent in her early years, and as a result was mentally and physically abused by her father, who called her a "disgusting little Squib", among other things. However, this was actually a self-fulfilling prophecy, as Merope's magical abilities were suppressed largely because of her father's abuse. Based on this, as well as the family's poverty, it is unlikely that Merope attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, though she did have a wand. Merope seemed to be in charge of cooking and cleaning in her family home; it is unknown what happened to her mother.

However, Merope's magical ability flourished after her father and brother were incarcerated in Azkaban and she was free from their abuse. Marriage

At some point in her life, Merope secretly fell in love with Tom Riddle, an exceptionally handsome and wealthy Muggle, and the only child of Thomas and Mary Riddle, who lived nearby. Her father was livid when Morfin revealed this to him, and attacked her physically, but was restrained by Ministry official Bob Ogden. Ogden arrested both Marvolo and Morfin, who had cursed Riddle because his sister found him attractive. With her family gone, Merope made a play for Riddle. She left the shack with a farewell note revealing what she did, and her existence was never again mentioned by Marvolo.

Although Harry Potter, upon learning of these events, speculated that she might have used the Imperius Curse on Riddle, Dumbledore believed that she most probably used a Love Potion because it seemed more romantic. In any case, Riddle became infatuated with her and they were soon married, running away to London together. This caused great scandal in Little Hangleton.

After a year of marriage, Merope Gaunt soon became pregnant and decided to release Riddle from his mental enslavement, having grown tired of living a lie. Dumbledore thought that she did this hoping either that her husband would have truly fallen in love with her by that point, or that he would at least stay for the sake of their unborn child. Unfortunately for her, Riddle did nothing of the kind. Riddle awoke into a nightmare and fled back to his family's home, believing to have been bewitched, although according to Albus Dumbledore, he probably did not say that exactly, for fear of being thought insane. Childbirth and death

After her husband's sudden abandonment, Merope soon fell into a deep depression and lived as a pauper in London, selling her valuables to survive. Specifically, she sold her locket, a family heirloom, to Caractacus Burke for only ten Galleons, either not knowing that it was a priceless artifact or just simply no longer caring. Her heart broken and her dreams in tatters, Merope stopped using magic altogether after Riddle's desertion, not even willing to raise her wand to save her own life (although, according to Dumbledore, her powers may have been sapped as a result of depression).

On New Year's Eve of 1926, Merope entered labour. She stumbled into an orphanage, and gave birth to a son. She told Mrs. Cole, a woman who worked in the orphanage, to name him Tom for his father, Marvolo for her father, and Riddle to be his surname. Tom Marvolo Riddle , according to Mrs.Cole, was a "funny name", and she wondered whether Merope had come from a circus. Merope Gaunt died within an hour, and her last words were a final wish that her son would turn out to look like his papa, which Mrs.Cole said that she was right to hope it as Merope was no beauty. Post-mortem

Years later, her son would find it difficult to believe that she could have been a witch, as she succumbed to something as mortal as death. It seems she was too depressed to use magic, let alone concern herself with carrying on with her life. Her son would grow up believing his father married Merope of his own free will, only leaving her after discovering she was a witch. Although Merope had a choice, she chose death in spite of a son that needed her due to the utterly miserable existence to which she had been condemned. Merope's son would ultimately grow up to become the most dangerous Dark wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort. Physical description

Merope had lank, dull hair and a pale, heavy face with eyes that looked in opposite directions. She kept herself cleaner than either her father or her brother, but was very defeated-looking. Personality and traits

Merope was physically and emotionally abused by her family, and as a result was timid and miserable for most of her life, traumatized to the point of being unable to perform magic. She grew bolder and happier once Marvolo and Morfin were sent to Azkaban, and displayed enough cunning and magical skill to brew a love potion, or possibly use the Imperius Curse. She loved Tom Riddle Sr. rather obsessively, given the lengths to which she went to obtain his affection and her depression after he left her. Even the responsibility of having a baby to look after was not enough to give Merope the will to live after her husband abandoned her. Having lived an almost entirely miserable life, Merope had no hope left and not enough courage to make her want to keep trying, even for the sake of her newborn son. This decision had a dramatically negative impact on her son's psyche. According to Albus Dumbledore, one should still not judge her too harshly, as she had been greatly weakened by long suffering and she never had the courage of Lily Evans, Harry Potter's mother, who sacrificed herself willingly for her son. Magical abilities and skills

[edit] Magical Abilities

[edit] Parselmouth

Like her brother, father, and famous ancestor, Merope had the ability to talk to snakes.

[edit] Dark Arts (possibly)

Harry Potter initially speculated that Merope used the Imperius Curse to control Tom Riddle to fall in love with her. It is not improbable because of the history of its use within her family.

[edit] Potioneer (possibly)

Albus Dumbledore speculated that Merope used a Love Potion to have Tom Riddle fall in love with her, contracting Harry's earlier thought on the usage of the Imperius Curse, as the potion would seem more romantic. Dumbledore thought that it would be easy for Merope to spike some water with Love Potion and persuade Riddle to drink it on a hot day.

[edit] Relationships

[edit] Family

The Gaunt Family Merope's relationship with her father and brother was a violent one. Her father, Marvolo, placed the utmost importance on his heritage, leading him to be derisive of his daughter's seeming lack of magical ability and furious with her infatuation with a Muggle, all the while treating her like a slave, forcing her to do all the housework. Morfin also made fun of Merope's romantic feelings for Tom Riddle, and laughed while watching Marvolo abusing her.

She was physically and emotionally abused by her family, and as a result was timid and miserable for most of her life, traumatized to the point of being unable to perform magic. Upon discovering that Merope was a blood traitor, Marvolo went as far as to attempt to murder her in front of a Ministry official. She grew bolder and happier once Marvolo and Morfin were sent to Azkaban, and displayed enough cunning and magical skill to brew a love potion. However, Marvolo was shocked when he learned that Merope had left the house, despite never loving her to begin with, and never mentioned her name or existence ever again, and this was probably a shock that led to his death (or possibly due to Merope no longer feeding him, as he never learned to feed himself). Morfin then felt that Merope had betrayed him and Marvolo, for marrying that "filthy Muggle". Tom Riddle Sr.

Tom Riddle was a handsome and wealthy Muggle, who lived near Merope's house. He originally looked down and made fun of Merope and her family because of their poverty, their strange shabby appearances, and their exceptional disabilities. Merope then used a Love Potion on Tom, making them go on a runaway marriage, and she eventually became pregnant with Tom's child. However, as Dumbledore had theorized, Merope, who was deeply, truly in love with her husband, could not bear to continue enslaving him by magical means, and made the choice to stop giving him the potion, convincing herself that he might have truly fallen in love with her of his own accord, or even if he had not, he would stay with her for their child's sake. This turned out to be a fatal mistake. The indifferent, insensitive, and self-involved Tom left his wife and unborn son, claiming he had been "hoodwinked" and "taken in". It was speculated among his neighbours that he had been tricked into thinking he was the father of her unborn child. Merope was heartbroken and devastated by this abandonment, to the point of losing the will to live, and later died giving birth to his son. Tom Marvolo Riddle

Merope's son, Tom Riddle grew up in a Muggle orphanage, not knowing any members of his family. Merope died shortly after giving birth, not even attempting to use magic to save herself in order to raise her child out of depression over her husband abandoning her. Despite his maternal side of his family being direct descendants of the great Salazar Slytherin, Tom showed disappointment when he saw his uncle Morfin lived in a deplorable state, and was not above framing him for murder and stealing his prized heirloom ring. He also showed initial disgust of his mother, who he thought was a Muggle for being unable to survive. However, when he discovered the truth, he killed his own father only to avenge himself, and not his mother.

[edit] Etymology

Merope is the name of the faintest star in the star cluster Pleiades, named for a daughter of Atlas and Pleione in Greek mythology. This Merope was a nymph who married a mortal, Sisyphus, and bore him a son, Glaucus; some myths say that she is the dullest of the seven stars because she brought shame upon herself for marrying a mortal. Merope Gaunt's marriage to a Muggle may be an allusion to this marriage, as both suffered a resulting "fading away", and both Meropes faced mortality after their respective marriages. Also, Merope of mythology was the seventh sister, and seven is the most magically powerful number, perhaps alluding to her incredibly powerful son, who would later plan to split his soul into seven pieces in an attempt to achieve immortality.

The name is also used in the famous Greek play, Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles in 425 BC. The name, Merope, is given to the main character's adoptive mother. Behind the scenes

  • J. K. Rowling has said that if Merope had lived and raised Voldemort, he would have turned out to be much different, probably a better person.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Marvolo's ring is said to have belonged to Merope, while Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt aren't even mentioned.

[edit] Appearances

[edit] Sixth book

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