Harry Potter is a very well known fantasy, children’s literature series. Part of what makes it so successful is the powerful villain that dominates the series: Lord Voldemort, the once boy Tom Marvolo Riddle. The quality and depth of characterisation that Voldemort receives is due to the fact that he is one villain spread across seven novels. Where usually each novel depicts a different villain, each acting as a new foil to the hero, instead J. K. Rowling choose to extend Voldemort’s backstory and return over the entire series. There are many different factors that influence the development and use of a villain in literature. What makes Voldemort so successful as a villain is that he meets numerous emotional and psychological aspects of the human experience without becoming undermined as a true evil-doer. This discussion covers a number of components that need to be considered when dissecting a villain: chronology, psychology, heritage, early years, narrative manipulation (Horcruxes and the prophecy), emergence for the final confrontation, and the inevitable end. Ultimately this should reveal the depth of character and fascinating construction of a true villain.
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