Is Voldemort’s Evil a Side Effect?

by Pamela P. 

Perhaps it is my idealistic nature speaking, but I have found it rather difficult to accept that Voldemort chose to be the way he is. Since I first read GoF and got a true feel for Voldemort’’s nature, I have often wondered why he is so cruel and unloving. Suddenly one night at work, while my mind was wandering as it so often does, a question formed in my mind. What, if anything, happens when a child is conceived while one of the parents is under the influence of a love potion?

While we know very little about love potions, most of us know a fair bit about certain other mind-altering substances. I am speaking, naturally, of drugs — legal or otherwise. Most of these drugs can have an effect on a baby, often causing adverse alterations within his/her genetic make-up. Many things can go wrong, ranging from low birth weight to under-developed organs.

I have often wondered what it is that makes a wizard. I feel that it is safe to guess that magic is simply a group of genes — one, of course, being the primary “magic gene.” The rest being genes that determine the abilities or powers a witch or wizard will possess: i.e. the ability to converse with snakes, the ability to change one’s appearance at will and, of course, the “power the Dark Lord knows not”” (OotP, U.S. paperback, pg. 481).

Love, in the wizarding world, is generally considered an extremely powerful gift. Surely that gift (as defined in a magical sense) would be a separate gene. Perhaps in the way that smoking during pregnancy can trigger asthma in a child, a love potion in a father’’s system can cause certain genetic mutations. This thought raises an interesting question: as Tom Riddle Sr. would have had a (most likely) exceptionally strong love potion running through his body, at all times, is it possible that the gene that determines the power to love was completely destroyed?

Even the most terrible of Voldemort’’s followers have shown the capacity for love, or at least the ability to show concern for someone. In Chapter 2 of HBP, “Spinner’s End,” we see that Bellatrix Lestrange must love her sister, Narcissa, very strongly. Otherwise she would never have tried to stop Narcissa from disobeying her master’s orders and risking her life. Lucius Malfoy’s love for Draco is shown over and over, however misguided it may be. His attempt in CoS to purge Hogwarts of those he sees unfit to study with Draco definitely shows concern. He wants Draco to have an enjoyable life, so he tries to give Draco all sorts of comforts. Even in CoS, when he’s hard on Draco for his grades, I do believe although extremely misguided, it is done in love. Fortunately this is not an editorial on Malfoy’s parenting skills. Voldemort, however, loves no one. I don’t even think he truly loves himself. Could a simple genetic mutation be the very thing that causes this drastic separation between him and the rest of the world?

Now, I am not saying I am hoping for a cure. Even if one could be found before Lord Voldemort destroys all the Muggle population and half the wizarding population as well, I do not think anyone would want to try; hatred and fear of the Dark Lord runs far too deep. This is nothing more than yet another person’s attempt to make Rowling’’s devoted readers think — one of my personal favorite things to do.