When it comes to monsters, there is a pre-emptive fear, them being the standard pit of terror for children. Were they in the making? What is their backstory? Why are they a monster? All questions we subconsciously note when playing video games, reading a book, or watching a tv show/movie. According to Oxford Dictionary, a monster is “An imaginary creature that is very large, ugly, and frightening” (Oxford, 2007) yet an abundance of modern monsters are far from that, many of them instead of being human. Humans nowadays are some of the most terrifying monsters around.
Understanding the monster
My selected monster was originally human and although imaginary at its basis, held the mind and emotion of a human being. The antagonist, Voldemort originates from the Harry Potter Series in both the book and film franchise. As a child, Voldemort terrified me to my core. At 7 years old, my family had to turn the film off due to myself having a breakdown watching the reveal of Voldemort in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire. Still, to this day, I get the similar chills I did as a child, the nostalgic, eery feeling creeping back in. Personally, Voldemort is a metaphor for past evils, the growth of all things evil and bad returning. However, in both the film and book, Voldemort is a metaphor for power and revenge, as well as immortality and of course the embodiment of all evil. He is a tumour to society. According to JK Rowling in a Dutch article by de Volkskrant – Voldemort was modelled as a megalomaniac and paranoid character based on Hitler and Stalin, real-life monsters, as it’s quoted “she was influenced by the Second World War, which is anchored in all our minds” (TLC, 2007).
Voldemort is unique in the way the creature mimics a human, and in some way It is. Yet, at root, the monster is the make up of evil magic, death and only inhabit the human mind. The monster does not have any relations to machines, yet it does to animals, as Voldemort’s dark ways are presented as animalistic. He kills without emotion but with need, much like a wolf or lion. Voldemort was once a young man named Tom Riddle. In the book series by JK Rowling, he is a figure with a dark back story. He had a horrible home life, the evil growing in him internally. In contrast, the film series shows less of his back story, instead of producing more so his fear factor through surrounding characters. According to a Psychological analysis made by Atlantic, Young Tom Riddle conformed to the classic origin story of a serial killer – his parents were unhappy, he was a loner, he bullied other children and tortured animals. Most prominently, he collected trophies, the article quoted “ “The young Tom Riddle liked to collect trophies,” Dumbledore says. “You saw the box of stolen articles he had hidden in his room. These were taken from victims of his bullying behaviour, souvenirs, if you will, of particularly unpleasant bits of magic. Bear in mind this magpie-like tendency, for this, particularly, will be important later”” (Beck, 2015). Once he grew up, the evil had grown to a tipping point as he believed he was of utmost power, then becoming monstrous.
In another psychoanalysis of Voldemort titled “The Characterisation Of Lord Voldemort In Novel harry potter and the Half-blood Prince by JK Rowling seen from Psychoanalysis” by Nurul Fitri they quoted “In the case of Voldemort, the ego cannot fulfil the pleasure principle of the id because of superego agonist the desire of id. It means what Voldemort needs are failed to be fulfilled. The result of that problem makes Voldemort feeling anxiETY and uncomfortable always appear. In order to eliminate feeling anxiety and uncomfortable, he did the actions to satisfy his desire. For instance, he killed his father because he knew that his father left his mother and the truth that his father was a muggle” once again highlighting the importance of the backstory, Voldemort killed his parent at the means of his own identity, killing that central part of himself – that he was a muggle (Fitri, 2018). From this analysis, it does beg the question of who the real monster was. Was it truly Tom or was it the isolation from his parents and the standards of the wizardry society.
The message of the monster
As Voldemort has been identified as replicating many political monsters, both the film and book series can be extended into a modern and present message. That message is that evil can also live within in human beings and not only Oxford’s definition of “An imaginary creature that is very large, ugly, and frightening”. This message stands true with current events such as war and completely wrongful uses of power. The fear that lingers throughout the film and book series begins with his name not being spoken, instead, he is referred to as “He Who Must Not Be Named”. The even utters of his name resonate with the abundance of danger and fear he presents. At the beginning of the Harry Potter Series, there is a dominant hierarchy presented, Voldemort being at the top of the pyramid, followed closely by the Death Eaters, then all other wizards and right at the bottom are the muggles – humans. The series takes on a Post Humanist approach as non-humans are in majority in control. Many people are looked down upon, such as Hermione Granger, for being of mixed blood, one of their parents being a muggle. Although the text presents a posthumanist approach, the humans and non-humans are intertwined, as the majority of the wizards grew up to believe they were only human.
Voldemort is both an iconic and thorough character who exemplifies the meaning of a monster. The impact of his fictional world and the present world, as well as myself and many other individuals, will be everlasting. After analysing his character and story, it proved there is a much deeper rooted reasoning behind a monster and its understanding.
Beck, J., 2022. The Psychology of Voldemort. [online] The Atlantic. Available at: <https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/09/the-psychology-of-voldemort/406162/> [Accessed 28 March 2022].
Fitri, N., 2018. The Characterization of Lord Voldemort in Novel Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince by J.K Rowling Seen from Psychoanalysis. Tell : Teaching of English Language and Literature Journal, 6(1), p.13.
OXford, 2007. monster_1 noun – Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes | Oxford Advanced American Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com. [online] Oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com. Available at: <https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/monster_1#:~:text=monster-,noun,with%20three%20heads%20prehistoric%20monsters> [Accessed 30 March 2022].
TLC, 2007. DPG Media Privacy Gate. [online] Volkskrant.nl. Available at: <https://www.volkskrant.nl/cultuur-media/j-k-rowling~b25d90dd/> [Accessed 31 March 2022].