Marvolo Gaunt

Marvolo Gaunt was one of the last descendants of Salazar Slytherin and the father of Merope and Morfin Gaunt. He was also the grandfather of Tom Riddle who later became Lord Voldemort.

The Definitive Glossary for Harry Potter

Marvolo Gaunt was one of the few descendants of Salazar Slytherin, who still existed in the 20th century. Most of Slytherin’s descendants had died, and the bloodline had almost reached the verge of extinction due to inbreeding brought about by their extreme hatred of Muggles and Muggle-born wizards and witches. Marvolo Gaunt was the patriarch of whatever remained of the house of Gaunt and had two children, a daughter named Merope Gaunt and a son named Morfin Gaunt. They mostly spoke in Parseltongue amongst each other. Marvolo Gaunt first appeared in the Harry Potter series in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in a memory retrieved from Ministry official Bob Ogden. This memory was used by Albus Dumbledore to understand Horcruxes, and he showed this memory to Harry Potter on his Pensieve.


Marvolo Gaunt was a Pure-blooded wizard who was born into the famed House of Gaunt which was a line of descendants of the infamous founder of Hogwarts Salazar Slytherin. Marvolo was the patriarch of the Gaunt family and had two children, Merope and Morfin. He lived with them on the outskirts of the village of Little Hangleton. He was cordial towards Morfin because they shared similar ideas and values but he was very abusive towards his daughter Merope. Along with his son Morfin, he constantly abused Merope and also called her a squib for being unable to perform magic properly. 

He was extremely proud of his heritage and ancestry as was evident from him showing off his Peverell coat of arms to Bob Ogden when he visited. He possessed a lot of family heirlooms passed down through generations, including the Slytherin locket and Marvolo’s ring, which contained the Resurrection Stone, one of the Deathly Hallows. It appeared to be a black stone which even Marvolo wasn’t aware of being the Resurrection Stone. 

It is believed that centuries of inbreeding had significantly affected the appearance and living habits of the Gaunts, as was evident in the appearance of Marvolo Gaunt and his children. Marvolo seemed to look like an aged monkey with short scrubby hair and bright brown eyes. However, he was very intimidating due to his attitude of blood supremacy and his broad shoulders and posture despite his age.

Fight with Bob Ogden

Bob Ogden was a Ministry wizard and the Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad and was tasked with having a word with Marvolo Gaunt to discuss his son’s constant use of magic in front of Muggles and sometimes even attacking them, as in the case of Tom Riddle, a rich man who lived in a mansion nearby. However, Bob was taken aback when he saw their house. They lived in squalor and looked very poor despite their ancestry. Marvolo Gaunt was very defensive of his son to Ogden and also showed off his family heirlooms. 

However, eventually, a fight broke out between Bob Ogden and Morfin when the latter started hurting his sister Merope along with Marvolo. Bob Ogden tried to calm them down first, but when they started attacking him with spells, he disapparated and came back with reinforcements from the Ministry of Magic. Several ministry personnel accompanied Ogden and dueled against Morfin and Marvolo. They eventually arrested them, and both of them were presented before the Wizengamot. They were both sentenced to different terms in Azkaban.


Marvolo Gaunt was imprisoned in Azkaban for six months for attacking Bob Ogden and the other Ministry officials. His son Morfin got a longer sentence of three years. After his six-month sentence, Marvolo Gaunt went back home expecting his daughter Merope to serve him a hot meal and welcome him back. However, to his shock, she had left home and also written a letter stating that she had married the Muggle Tom Riddle and would be staying with him. This brought a very significant change in Marvolo’s life, and his early death was most likely due to the absence of his children in his life. When his son’s sentence ended, he came home too, but Marvolo had already died by the time Morfin returned.

Later Life

Marvolo lived in the Gaunt shack for most of his later life, and since his daughter Merope eloped with Tom Riddle Sr and his son Morfin was in Azkaban, Marvolo Gaunt spent most of his time after imprisonment alone. He eventually died from old age and lack of proper care. His son Morfin returned to the shack and was enraged to find out that Merope had left the house and was also saddened by the death of his father. However, Merope too was abandoned by her husband Tom Riddle Sr who was lured by her into marrying her through magical means. She, too, died soon after giving birth to her son, Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Tom Marvolo Riddle would later figure out his ancestry and return to the Gaunt Shack. He would meet his uncle Morfin, steal the Gaunt ring from him and turn it into a Horcrux. This was around the time he opened the Chamber of Secrets and turned his diary into a Horcrux as well. Interestingly, these two were the first two Horcruxes to be destroyed as well.

Marvolo Gaunt and the Consequences of Blood Fanaticism

Blood fanaticism is one of the extreme cases of fanaticism where its believers have a false sense of superiority over their fellow beings based on their familial heritage. However, this type of fanaticism is destructive in the long run to both society and the self. Marvolo Gaunt believed that he was entitled to more respect and special treatment for being born into the Gaunt family, which was the family line of Salazar Slytherin, another blood purist. However, not only did Marvolo not receive special treatment, but he and his ancestors also caused an early extinction of their bloodline by deciding to inbreed and not value people who were not “pure-blooded.” Similar outcomes have followed in the Muggle world as well whenever people have decided to only value one identifying trait as the principal value for their identity.


How did Marvolo Gaunt die?

Marvolo Gaunt died in the Gaunt Shack after he returned from his six-month prison term at Azkaban. He died of natural causes due to his old age. However, Marvolo Gaunt’s death was partially caused by the absence of anyone in his house to take care of him. Marvolo was taken aback and shocked when he found out that his daughter Merope had eloped with Tom Riddle Sr, a Muggle who lived close by. The absence of his son and daughter may have indirectly caused his early death.

How was Marvolo Gaunt’s ring destroyed?

Albus Dumbledore was the last person to find Marvolo Gaunt’s ring. He found it in the ruins of the Gaunt shack, which was almost destroyed. Lord Voldemort had hidden the Gaunt ring thereafter he converted it into a Horcrux. However, Albus Dumbledore wore the ring without knowing that it was cursed and it cost him his hand. In the end, Dumbledore used the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy the Gaunt ring once and for all.

How did Marvolo Gaunt get the Resurrection Stone?

Marvolo Gaunt had no idea that the Gaunt ring contained the Resurrection Stone. He just used the ring to prove his blood supremacy to anyone who would listen, as he did with Bob Ogden. He got the Resurrection Stone along with the ring as a family heirloom which was passed down through generations of Gaunts, all the way from Cadmus Peverell, who was the original owner of the ring.

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