What is Harry to Voldemort

The connection between death and love based on the character of Lord Voldemort in the 'Harry Potter' heptalogy

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2. Voldemort and his desire for immortality
2.1 Voldemort's history
2.2 Similar forms of existence: The spirits
2.3 Opposing characters: Dumbledore, Flamel
2.4 Horcruxes
2.5 On the image of man in "Harry Potter"

3. Voldemort's understanding of sacrifice and sacrifice

4. The connection between death and love in Harry Potter

5. Summary


1 Introduction

He will become famous - a legend - I would not be surprised if today is called Harry Potter Day in the future - whole books will be written about Harry - every child in the world will know his name! "[1]

The success of the “Harry Potter” volumes by the English author Joanne K. Rowling may have various reasons, as it has led to the most diverse scientific disciplines dealing with it, including theology. At first glance, this may be surprising, since neither God nor other clearly theological terms are named in the volumes; The present work aims to deal with the aspect of immortality on the basis of the implicit theological aspects in the "Harry Potter" heptalogy that have yet to be explained. Based on introductory remarks on Voldemort's desire for immortality, the basic aspects of his prehistory, as well as comparable and opposing characters and the horcruxes, will be explained in the following, in order to subsequently draw conclusions about the image of man in "Harry Potter". Subsequently, the concept of victim will be examined in more detail in order to illustrate the theologically central connection between death and love in "Harry Potter".

2. Voldemort and his desire for immortality

The tendency in Rowling's work that many of the characters are endowed with particularly profound and meaningful names is also evident in Voldemort: His name, divided into the three syllables 'vol-de-mort', can be derived from the To be translated into French; his in the fourth volume[2] The self-formulated goal of conquering death and achieving earthly immortality is subtly expressed in advance.

This immortality dominates all his actions as a basic motive; it is the only value Voldemort has to which he unconditionally subordinates his existence. The historical starting point in Rowling's work, the murder of Harry's parents by Voldemort, arises from this very motif; Voldemort fears Harry because, according to a prophecy, he is able to break Voldemort's power; however, his curse rebounds when Harry's mother sacrifices her life to save her son. However, Voldemort does not die, rather he loses his body[3]:

"Voldemort laughed softly in his ear, then took his finger away and went on to the Death Eaters:" I had miscalculated, my friends, admitted. This woman's foolish sacrifice made my curse ricochet and it fell back on me. Aaah pain, unimaginable pain, my friends; nothing could have armed me against it. I was torn from my body, less than a ghost, less than the most pathetic ghost, and yet, I was alive. What I was - not even I know myself I who have gone further than everyone else on the path that leads to immortality. You know my goal - to conquer death. And now I was tested, and it seemed as if one or the other of my experiments had succeeded because I had not been killed, although the curse should have done this. Yet I was as powerless as the weakest living creature, and deprived of the means to help myself for I had no body, and any spell that could have helped me required a wand [] ”[4]

Because of this curse he is forced to eke out his life in a stage between life and death; accordingly his endeavors in the following volumes are to overcome this disembodiment; in the first volume he uses the Hogwarts teacher Quirell to find the philosopher's stone, which promises eternal, earthly life; and in the following two volumes, too, it is only possible for him to pursue his goal by means of other people and objects until he finally regains his body in the fourth volume. What is striking are the consistent work-immanent interpretations of Voldemort's form of existence; so Rowling has Voldemort say of himself:

“Do you see what has become of me? [] Only shadow and haze I only have shape when I share someone's body but there are always those who are willing to let me into their hearts and heads drank for me in the forest and as soon as I have the elixir of life, I will be able to create my own body. "[5]

And Albus Dumbledore, school principal at Hogwarts, who is one of Harry's most important caregivers, clearly qualifies Voldemort's form of existence:

“You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you will no longer have a sense of self, no memories, no nothing. There is no chance of recovering from it. You only eke out your miserable existence. As an empty shell. []. "[6]

Voldemort's urgent desire to be immortal has taken what is actually the most important part, his soul, almost in exchange; the tenor of the entire heptalogy is clear: the price of immortality, or even the attempt to attain immortality[7], demands, is too high, demands too valuable.

In general, the author becomes very clear when it comes to assessing Voldemort's existence between life and death, as well as his struggle for immortality; Voldemort's life is distorted - due to his desire to preserve it; he hardly lives at all, paradoxically precisely because he tries so hard to preserve his life[8]. Interestingly, Voldemort's wish not to have to die stems from the natural human fear of death, albeit much exaggerated:

"We both know that there are other ways to destroy a man, Tom," Dumbledore said calmly, walking on towards Voldemort as if he had nothing in the world to fear, as if nothing had happened that his strolling through interrupted the hall. "To be honest, just taking your life would not satisfy me -"

"There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!" Snapped Voldemort.

"That is completely wrong," replied Dumbledore, [] "Your inability to understand that there are things far worse than death has always been your greatest weakness -" [9]

2.1 Voldemort's history

Up to volume 6 of the Heptalogy, little of Voldemort's story is known, and Rowling does not reveal his family history until very late. Voldemort was once called Tom Marvolo Riddle, Head Boy at Hogwarts and the last descendant of Salazar Slytherin. His father, a Muggle, left his mother, who was pregnant with him, when he learned she was a witch. Since his mother died shortly after giving birth, Riddle grew up in an orphanage until Dumbledore personally took him to Hogwarts. During his time there, he already showed contempt for others and a lack of moral sense of responsibility, but at the same time also showed great magical talent and intelligence. He later left Hogwarts, returned to his birthplace and killed his father in revenge for leaving his mother and him.[10]

J.K. Rowling noted in this regard in an interview that Voldemort never experienced love, and neither did he ever love himself; if this had been different, Rowling said, Voldemort would not have become what he is.[11]

The parallels to Harry Potter, which are surprising at first glance, are striking: Harry, too, grows up without his parents in an environment that in no way shows him love; like Voldemort, he speaks the language of snakes (a so-called Parselmouth); Likewise, the Sorting Hat tends to place Harry in the Slytherin house, to which Voldemort belonged. And even the motive of parricide is not as remote from Harry as it seems at first glance, Michael Maar notes that Uncle Vernon's suggestion that Harry is going to the St. Brutus security center for incurably criminal boys is a parallel to this literary one The motive is due to the allusion it contains to the parricide Brutus.[12]

The extent to which these parallels and historical foundations are of fundamental importance will have to be explained in more detail with reference to the image of man in "Harry Potter".


[1] Rowling, Joanne K., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Hamburg 1998, p.15.

[2] see Rowling, Joanne K., Harry Potter und der Feuerkelch, Hamburg 2000, p. 682.

[3] cf. Herzog, Markwart: Death at Hogwarts? Thanatological remarks on the Harry Potter universe, in: Rheinisches Jahrbuch für Volkskunde 34 (2001/02), p. 217.

[4] HP IV, p. 682.

[5] HP I, p.318.

[6] Rowling, Joanne K., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hamburg 1999, p. 258.

[7] In the entire series, it is never explicitly mentioned that Voldemort actually became immortal; rather, many allusions indicate that this is not (yet) the case, for example his existential fear of Harry or the fact that he loses his body while trying to kill Harry.

[8] see Internet source 2: Möllenbeck, Thomas: If the thoughtless background of the

World is suspected: http://www.karl-leisner-jugend.de/Potter3.htm.

[9] Rowling, Joanne K., Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hamburg 2003, p.955.

[10] see Rowling, Joanne K., Harry Potter und der Halbblutprinz, Hamburg 2005, pp. 250-277;

HPIV, 675.

[11] see interview internet source 1:


[12] cf. Maar, Michael: Why Nabokov would have liked Harry Potter, Berlin 2003,

P. 148.

End of the reading sample from 15 pages