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Morfin Gaunt is a minor antagonist from the Harry Potter franchise. He made his only appearance in the sixth novel: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Confirmed to have died before the start of the series, key moments of his life were posthumously examined by Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore through Dumbledore's Pensieve. This included one of Morfin's own memories.

Morfin was a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin and the last surviving member of the Ancient House of Gaunt. A Pure-Blood supremacist like his father Marvolo, Morfin was the older brother of Merope Gaunt (later Merope Riddle), the maternal uncle of Lord Voldemort, whose birth and creation he is indirectly responsible for. In The Cursed Child canon, he was also Delphini's great uncle.

Appearance[]

Morfin was of average height, with dark hair unkempt hair. His eyes were noted to stare in opposite directions. Morfin apparently had little to no concern for personal hygiene or appearances. Harry noted that as a youngster Morfin was missing several teeth and that his hair was not only unkempt, but and covered in dirt. By 1943, Morfin's hair and beard were so long that he had trouble seeing

Personality[]

Morfin Gaunt was a highly unpleasant individual, due being a product of incest and the anti-muggle environment he grew up in. Marvolo Gaunt instilled a deep hatred for Muggles into his son and even encouraged the latter's unlawful behavior against them. As such Marvolo was the only person that Morfin ever looked up to and respected.

Greatly feared and shunned by the local community, Morfin had a cruel, borderline sadistic streak about him. Apart from torturing and killing snakes (which is one of the signs of a psychopath), Morfin was also cruel to his younger sister Merope. He treated her with indifference at best and outright bullied her at worst. Although capable of taking care of himself somewhat, Morfin still depended upon Merope to help take care of things at home. This was demonstrated by the fact that the Gaunt house fell into disrepair and squalor under his sole supervision.

The only things that Morfin Gaunt truly valued were the Gaunt family heirlooms, namely Salazar Slytherin's personal locket and the Gaunt family ring. When Merope abandoned the family, she took the former item with her, an act that Morfin considered nothing short of theft. This made him treasure the Gaunt's ring even more. Following the ring's "disappearance" in 1943, all Morfin Gaunt said afterwards, was that his father would kill him for losing it.

Biography[]

Early Life[]

Morfin was born to Marvolo Gaunt and his wife around 1900, in or near the village of Little Hangleton. The Gaunt family (namely Marvolo, Morfin and Merope) were the direct descendants of Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin. They lived in squalor in a small shack on the outskirts of the otherwise muggle community. Morfin and his younger sister Merope, were the latest generation to be born of incest, a tradition that had been practiced by the Gaunt family for centuries in order to preserve their Pure-Blood status. They possessed very few luxuries and had little to no money.

Like his father and distant ancestor, Morfin was a Pureblood supremacist who possessed a strong dislike for Muggles. As he matured, Morfin grew into a violent man, who spent most of his free time attacking Muggles, usually by jinxing them. Like the rest of his kin, Morfin was a Parselmouth, which meant he could to talk to snakes. Unfortunately, he treated them no better than he did his sister, who was often a victim of Morfin's cruelty and bullying.

Bob Ogden's Memory, 1925[]

Harry Potter first met Morfin, when he and Dumbledore entered the memory of former Ministry of Magic employee Bob Ogden. In autumn 1925, Ogden was sent by the Ministry to charge Morfin with attacking a local muggle, Tom Riddle, causing him to develop painful hives. Since this was a serious breach of international wizarding law, Morfin would need to attend an official hearing. 

Morfin met Odgen at the door and told him to leave. Since Ogden could not understand Morfin (who was speaking in Parseltongue), Gaunt hexed him. Before things could escalate any further, Marvolo intervened allowing Odgen inside, where the latter tried to explain the seriousness of the situation as well as Morfin's offences. Morfin watched on gleefully from an armchair, as his father made it perfectly clear that as far as he was concerned his son had done nothing wrong.

Having relayed his message, Ogden prepared to leave. Before he could do so, however, the three wizards and the witch, where distracted by a noise outside. Riding past on a pair of fancy horses were none other than Tom Riddle and his girlfriend Cecilia. Hearing Tom refer to Cecilia affectionately, Morfin made a decision that would both unintentionally bring about the end of the Gaunt family's lineage and lead to the creation of the most evil wizard that has ever existed. Smiling evilly, he taunted his sister over the fact that Tom already had a girlfriend. When Marvolo asked what he was talking about, Morfin gleefully informed him that Merope had a crush upon Tom Riddle and that he had attacked the latter, when he caught Merope watching him from afar.

Upon hearing that his daughter was fixated with a muggle, Marvolo flew into a rage and tried to strangle Merope. This prompted Bob Odgen to intervene, which saved Merope's life, but caused Morfin to attack Ogden into retaliation. With hexes flying after him, Bob Ogden fled the shack and apparated back to the Ministry. He returned, however, a short time afterwards with reinforcements in order to apprehend both Marvolo and Morfin. Both the father and son put up a fight, but they were eventually defeated and detained.

The two men were subsequently tried before the Wizengamot (the magical communities high court) charged with resisting arrest and attacking law enforcement officials. Morfin also faced additional charges both for the attack on Tom Riddle and other offences against the muggle community. Convicted on all charges, Morfin was sentenced to serve three years in Azkaban prison.

Intervening years[]

After completing his sentence, Morfin returned to Little Hangleton and the Gaunt shack. There he discovered that several key things had happened whilst he was imprisoned:-

  • Firstly, his father, Marvolo, had died. Marvolo Gaunt had been conficted alongside Morfin. For resisting arrest and attacking the aurors, he was given a six-month sentence. Unlike his son, however, Marvolo was an old man and Azakaban was not known for its good living conditions. Despite his release, Marvolo never truly recovered from the experience, which in conjunction with the loss of his daughter (see below) led to his eventual demise. His passing left Morfin as the new patriarch of the Gaunt family, who also inherited and started to wear the Gaunt family's ancestral ring.
  • Secondly, Morfin discovered, unspecified that his sister, Merope, had abandoned the family. She had left a letter of farewell, telling both her father and brother that she had enchanted Tom Riddle via a love potion and run away with him. To Morfin's outrage, she had taken Salazar Slytherin's locket with her. Like his father before him, Morfin disowned his sister, furous at both the loss of the priceless family heirloom and his sisters "betrayal".
  • He also found out that not long after the elopment, however, Tom Riddle had also returned to Little Hangleton without his new wife. Whilst the rest of the villager gossiped about Riddle being "hoodwinked" and speculated about Merope tricking Tom somehow, Morfin, being a wizard realised what had really happened. His sister had lifted the enchantment, foolishly believing that her husband ould return her affections, only to be abandoned instead. Morfin felt no sympathy for her, considering Riddle's abandonment an act of justice for Merope's own selfish actions.

These changes and developments did nothing to improve Morfin's life however. Over the next few decades, he sank further into debauchery and squalor. Both Morfin and the house became dirtier than ever and by 1943, both were disheveled and unkempt. Morfin lived appeared to live a life of self-isolation. He had no friends, no family and rarely, if ever, received visitors.

His life might very well have carried on like that way, had it not been for a fateful encounter that would change his fate forever!

Tom Marvolo Riddle[]

Note: This subsection is based upon a memory viewed by Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore in January 1997 via Dumbledore's pensieve. Dumbledore later revealed that this memory belonged to Morfin Gaunt.

On an unspecified date, in the summer of 1943, Morfin Gaunt was napping in his armchair, only to be woken by a knock at the door. Before he could say anything, the guest allowed themselves entry. Standing in the doorway was a tall, pale-faced boy in his mid-teens. Morfin took one look at the boy and assumed it to be Tom Riddle. Furious that a muggle would dare to enter his abode, Morfin leapt to his feet, knife and wand in hand and lunged towards the intruder. He stopped, however, when the trespasser spoke to him in parseltongue, revealing that he was, in fact, a fellow wizard and parselmouth.

The boy offered no introduction, simply asking who Morfin was. Thus, Morfin never learnt that the man in front of him was, in fact, his estranged nephew Tom Marvolo Riddle (aka Lord Voldemort). Unbeknownst to Morfin, Merope had conceived the boy shortly before Tom Riddle's abandonment. After his mother died govong birth to him, Voldemort was taken in by a muggle orphanage, where he spent most of his youth. At the age of eleven, he was discovered by the magical community and offered a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There, Riddle had tried to track down his relatives. Having recently discovered his connection to the Slytherin bloodline, Voldemort had come to the Gaunts hovel to see what he could learn about his relatives.

Conversing in parseltongue, Voldemort and Morfin would exchange their only (known) conversation. Riddle immediately asked to see Marvolo but Morfin stated that he had died years ago. After introducing himself, Morfin, now suspicious told the boy that he bore an uncanny resemblance to a local muggle, Tom Riddle Sr. Failing to notice the stranger's reaction to this comment, Morfin revealed how Riddle had abandoned his sister, returned to the village and now lived in the great manor house nearby.

Angered by this discussion, Morfin turned away from the intruder...

Confession and Imprisonment[]

He'll kill me for losing it... He'll kill me for losing his ring.
~ Morfin Gaunt's last words according to Albus Dumbledore.

The next thing Morfin Gaunt knew, it was morning. He was lying upon the floor of the Gaunt shack. There was no sign of the stranger or Marvolo Gaunt's ring.

Meanwhile, over in the village, the residents of Little Hangleton were roused from the beds by the sound of someone screaming. Rushing outside, they found the Riddle family's maid running up the highstreet in frantic state. The terrified woman eventually managed to inform the stunned residents about the horrifying discovery that she had just made in the drawing room of the Riddle House. Tom Riddle and his parents were dead, murdered at some point during the night. 

The police were immediately contacted but despite an extensive search, their investigation turned up empty. Their prime suspect was Frank Bryce, the Riddle's gardener. He lived alone in a small cottage on the grounds of the estate and had a spare key to the manor, which bore no sign of forced entry. Although Frank was briefly remanded into custody, he was ultimately released due to a lack of evidence, as the Riddle's bodies bore no signs of trauma. In the muggle world at least, the demise of the Riddle family remains an unsolved mystery to this day. Tragically, however, in spite of his release, the absence of evidence to verify his involvement and the fact that the Riddle family were universally despised, Frank Bryce was unjustly condemned by his neighbours. For over fifty years, Frank would be treated as a pariah and the man who got away with murder. This opinion would only change when Frank mysteriously disappeared in 1994, having been murdered by the real perpetrator.

For reasons unknown, the Ministry of Magic was also notified about the incident in Little Hangleton and unlike their muggle counterparts, they had a much clearer view on what had happened. After hearing all of the details, the law enforcement officers immediately realized that the Riddle's were murdered by a witch or wizard using the Killing Curse. Just like the muggle police, the Ministry's investigation soon produced a prime suspect: Morfin Gaunt. Unlike the police however, the Ministries suspicions were justifiied; not only was Morfin the only wizard to live in close proximity to the crime scene, bute he was also a well known muggle hater and convicted felon due to him previously being sent to Azakaban for attacking one of the deceased victims.

With their suspicions aroused, the Ministry, once again, sent representatives to Little Hangleton to question Morfin. If the group expected the matter to be long and arduous affair, like last time, they were in for a shock. To their complete astonishment, when confronted, Morfin Gaunt freely admitted his guilt. He then gave the investigators a full, boastful confession, telling them how the murder was carried out, which evidently matched all of the details that the Ministry officials had been provided with. At no point during this interview, did Morfin express any remorse for his actions. On the contrary, he told the authorities quite calmly that he was proud of what he had done and that his only regret was not doing it sooner.

Naturally of course, the Ministry officials treated this confession with suspicion, as it could simply have been the ravings of a madman. That would all change however, when the group examined Morfin's wand. A quick analysis, via the Prior Incantato charm, confirmed that this wand was indeed used to kill the Riddle's. As such, Morfin's prior statements were accepted as fact. Having acquired all the evidence they needed, the investigators officially charged Morfin with murder and he was arrested on the spot. In contrast to his previous encounter with the authorities, Morfin chose to surrender without incident. As he left the Gaunt shack for the last time, however, Morfin told the Ministry officials that the only thing he could not understand was what had happened to his father's ring. According to several witnesses, all Morfin Gaunt ever said following his arrest was that Marvolo was going to kill him for losing the ring.

Following his arrest, Morfin was returned to Azkaban. It is not known whether he ever stood trial for the murder, especially since he had already confessed and his wand had been confirmed to be the murder weapon. In either case, the investigation was closed and Morfin was eventually convicted on three counts of murder. Since the use of the Killing Curse carried a mandatory life sentence, Morfin Gaunt spent the rest of his life languishing within a tiny cell in Azkaban. As the rest of the world forgot about him, Morfin would silently mourn the loss of Marvolo's last remaining heirloom.

Unbeknownst to everybody, however, including the condemned, a gross miscarriage of justice had been carried out, one that would see an innocent, albeit highly unpleasent individual spend the rest of his life imprisoned for a crime that he did not commit.

Dumbledore's Revelation and the Truth[]

It is never specified how long Morfin Gaunt was imprisoned for, but for many years afterwards, nobody concerned themselves with him. In the absence of either friends or family, Morfin, just like when he was free, received no visitors, except for the guards, who brought him food. Then, on an unspecified date (prior to 1996), Morfin received a visit from Albus Dumbldore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School, Order of the Phoenix founde and leader, Wizengamot member and arch-enemy of the Dark Lord Voldemort. Having also learnt of Morfin's familial connection to his former student, Dumbledore came to see if Morfin had ever had any contact with his nephew or could provide information that might lead to Voldemort's downfall.

The exact nature of their meeting is not clear and it is not known what words, if any, were exchanged between the two men. It appears, however, that Dumbledore who was very proficient in both occlumency and legilimency (the ability to read minds and detect lies respectively) examinded Morfin's memories for clues. When he tried to look into the memory from the summer of 1943, however, Dumbledore quickly realised that something was not right. After examining Morfin's mind and body more carefully, Dumbledore discovered that Morfin's memory had been tampered with via a Memory Charm.

Drawing upon his own stupendous skills, Dumbledore eventually managed to break the enchantment, unearthing Morfin's true memory of the day in question. (Note: He saw everything detailed with the Tom Marvolo Riddle subsection). Dumbledore immediately studied this memory and in doing so, finally realized what had really happened within Little Hangleton all those years ago.

After discovering that his father was not only alive but lived locally and was indeed a muggle, as he had been loath to believe, Voldemort decided to confront his relative. To cover his tracks, Voldemort stunned his uncle and took his wand, before marching up the valley to the large house that Morfin had previously indicated. Whilst Morfin Gaunt lay unconscious upon the floor of his house, Tom Marvolo Riddle broke into the Riddle's house, cornered/confronted his paternal relatives in the drawing room and eventually killed them in cold blood. Job done, Voldemort returned to the Gaunt Shack. Feeling no familial attachment to Morfin and deciding that he wanted nothing to do with him, Voldemort used a Memory Charm to modify his uncle's memories so that Morfin would believe himself to be the perpetrator. Voldemort then returned Morfin's wand and stole the Gaunt family ring, which he would wear as a trophy for some time afterwards, before abandoning Morfin to his fate. Thanks to some clever scheming, Riddle was able to get away with his crime for many years.

Death[]

Recognising the significance of his discovery, Dumbledore immediately took Morfin's memory to the Ministry of Magic. After presenting his findings to his colleagues, the Hogwarts Headmaster petitioned the court to immediately release and exonerate Morfin. Needless to say, the Wizengamot and the Department of Magical Law Enforcement were stunned by this development. Not only did it add three more murders to Voldemort's already extensive tally, it turned what had been an open and shut case completely on its head.

Unfortunately, before justice could be done, fate would intervene. By the time of Albus Dumbledore's visit, Morfin Gaunt had already spent an extensive amount of time within Azkaban. Weakened by his long tenure and the influence of its life sapping guards, the Dementors, Gaunt's already declining health continued to deteriorate in the weeks following Dumbledore's visit. Tragically, before the Ministry could officially exonerate him, Morfin Gaunt died in prison. Since Morfin had no family, the Dementors buried his body within the prison.

Legacy[]

Morfin's death marked the official extinction of the Ancient House of Gaunt. With his passing, Voldemort became the sole surviving descendant of Salazar Slytherin's bloodline (at least until the birth of his daughter Delphini in The Cursed Child timeline). Although Morfin was confirmed to have died before the events of Harry Potter's sixth year, he nevertheless influenced the history of Great Britain's wizarding community.

  • His abuse of his sister inspired Merope to enchant Tom Riddle Sr. via a love potion. This led to both her own demise and Voldemorts conception. Riddle himself would unintentionally avenge his mother's mistreatment when he sent Morfin to Azkaban.
  • Morfin may have also indirectly contributed towards Voldemort's hatred of muggles. During his sole conversation with his nephew, he told the boy about his parents relationship: namely of how his father had abandoned Merope and returned home. Voldemort himself believed that his father had left his mother after discovering that the latter was a witch and was seemingly unaware that she was the one that had enchanted him.
  • The killing of Tom Riddle Sr., proved immensly benefitial to Voldemort, when, in 1994, he successfully managed to restore himself to life. Had Morfin not informed him of his sires location, Voldemort may have been forced to try and track down his father in order to acquire one of the ingredients for the restoration potion. Instead, having killed him fifty years prior, Voldemort not only knew exactly where his father but was also able to use his now abandoned house as a temporary base/hideout, whilst Barty Crouch Jr., his main field-agent worked to ensure the success of his masters scheme.
  • Morfin also unwittingly played a role in the demise of Albus Dumbledore. His stolen treasure, the Peverell/Gaunt Ring, was later transformed into one of Voldemort's horcruxes. When Dumbledore found the item, he immediately recognized the gem as one of the Deathly Hallows, the Resurrection Stone, which allowed its user to temporarily communicate with the dead. Overcome by a desire to see his family again, Dumbledore, in a rare moment of weakness, put on the ring on. Although he managed to prevent himself from being killed outright, the fatal curse that Voldemort had placed upon the ring, contributed towards Dumbledore's decision to allow Severus Snape to kill him one year later.
  • The ring was also used by Harry Potter, whose life had been greatly influenced by Voldemort's actions. These activities were only made possible by the decisions Morfin had made, fifty years previously.

Despite Morfin's villainy and unpleasant nature, Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore nevertheless pitied him. Although they acknowledged his faults, the Boy Who Lived and the Headmaster both agreed that Morfin did not deserve to die the way that he did. Whilst the Ministry of Magic never (knowingly) acknowledged its own failing in Morfin's case, the miscarriage of justice would finally be avenged when Harry defeated Voldemort in May 1998, bringing an end to the age of darkness.

Trivia[]

  • In some ways, Morfin is responsible for Lord Voldemort's birth. If he hadn't attacked Tom Riddle Sr., then Bob Ogden would not have been sent to the Gaunt residence. Merope would have still lived with Morfin and Marvolo Gaunt, precluding her from seducing Riddle and conceiving Lord Voldemort with him.
    • However, Morfin wasn't solely responsible for Voldemort's existence: had Bob Ogden decided not to return with reinforcements, then Merope would have possibly never left her family nor had the opportunity to seduce Tom Riddle Sr. Likewise, according to J.K. Rowling, if Merope hadn't lost her will to live and raised Voldemort on her own, then Tom Riddle Jr. would have turned out to be a better person.
  • The flashback scene featuring Morfin and his family was cut from the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because of time and pacing concerns. However, it was originally present in an early draft of the film's screenplay according to director David Yates. It's unknown if any actors were considered to play Morfin by that point.

Navigation[]

           HarryPotter Villains

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Lord Voldemort | Barty Crouch Jr. (Warner Bros.) | Bellatrix Lestrange | Corban Yaxley | Peter Pettigrew (Warner Bros.) | Alecto Carrow | Amycus Carrow | Antonin Dolohov | Augustus Rookwood | Walden Macnair | Thorfinn Rowle | Evan Rosier | Cedric Diggory (Alternate Timeline) | Rodolphus Lestrange | Avery II

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Severus Snape | Barty Crouch Jr. (Warner Bros.) | Alecto Carrow | Amycus Carrow | Quirinus Quirrell | Dolores Umbridge | Gilderoy Lockhart | Argus Filch | Salazar Slytherin

Ministry of Magic
Cornelius Fudge | Pius Thicknesse | Corban Yaxley | Muggle-Born Registration Commission (Dolores Umbridge & Albert Runcorn) | John Dawlish | Damocles Rowle

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Gellert Grindelwald | Credence Barebone | Vinda Rosier | Queenie Goldstein | Gunnar Grimmson | Abernathy | Krall | Carrow | Nagel | Krafft | MacDuff | Helmut | Anton Vogel | Karl

Other Wizards & Witches
Morfin Gaunt | Marvolo Gaunt | Merope Gaunt | Herpo the Foul | Merwyn the Malicious | Ekrizdis | Delphini | Rita Skeeter | Peregrine | Verucca Buckthorn-Snyde | Patricia Rakepick | Merula Snyde | Ismelda Murk | Emily Tyler | Gormlaith Gaunt | Corvus Lestrange | Raczidian | Erkstag Warden | Mundungus Fletcher | Isidora Morganach

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Mary Lou Barebone | Credence Barebone

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Tales of Beedle the Bard
Charlatan | Death | Warlock

Muggles
The Dursleys(Marge Dursley) | Tobias Snape

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