Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Morfin Gaunt

Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character
Morfin Gaunt
Gender Male
Hair color Dirty, possibly dark
Eye color Dark
Related Family Marvolo Gaunt, Merope Gaunt, Salazar Slytherin, Lord Voldemort
Loyalty Marvolo Gaunt



Morfin Gaunt, one of the last heirs of the house of Gaunt, is the son of Marvolo Gaunt and uncle of Lord Voldemort. He is rather stunningly deformed and appears to have some mental problems, possibly due to excessive inbreeding, and shares the Gaunt belief in entitlement through ancestry.

Role in the Books

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Morfin enters our story by swinging down out of a tree and telling a Ministry wizard, Bob Ogden, that he is not welcome. Ogden does not understand, as Morfin has chosen to speak in Parseltongue. He is described as having hair so thickly matted with dirt that it could be any color, very few teeth, and small, dark eyes that pointed in different directions. When Ogden says he has business with the Gaunts, Morfin assaults him magically. His father, Marvolo Gaunt, then steps out of the shack and orders Morfin to go indoors.

Inside, Morfin initially takes little part in the proceedings, spending his time playing with and talking to a snake that he is holding. When Ogden explains that Morfin is being summoned to a hearing for having Jinxed a Muggle, Marvolo seems unconcerned; after all, it was only a Muggle, so no harm done. When told that Morfin has broken Wizarding law, Marvolo falls back on the pride of his ancestry. Their discussion is interrupted by the sound of horses approaching; it turns out that one of the horses is ridden by Tom Riddle, the Muggle that Morfin had jinxed when he found out that his sister Merope was sweet on him, leaning out the window hoping for a glimpse of him. This revelation sparks an angry outburst from Marvolo, who attacks Merope; Ogden leaps to her defence but then has to run from Morfin.

When Ministry wizards return to arrest Morfin, he resists, and is arrested both for the use of magic on a Muggle, and for resisting Ministry wizards, tried, and sentenced to three years in Azkaban. When he returns from prison, he finds the house empty; Merope had run off with her Muggle and subsequently died in London (after giving birth to Tom Marvolo Riddle, or Lord Voldemort), and Marvolo had died shortly after leaving Azkaban.

Tom Marvolo Riddle, Merope's son by Tom Riddle, visits the shack some twelve years later. Morfin initially thinks he is the Muggle Tom Riddle. Tom gets details of the family history from Morfin, then Stuns him, steals the ring of the Peverells, which had been one of Marvolo's prized possessions, and uses Morfin's wand to murder the muggle Tom Riddle, his father. He then modifies Morfin's memory so he remembers actually killing Tom Riddle. Morfin was sent to Azkaban for the murder of the Riddles and died there shortly afterwards.



Despite his mental instability, Morfin seems to be reasonably skilled with jinxes and hexes.



Morfin is not a stable person; apparently as a result of in-breeding, he does not have the mental capacity to manage leading a normal life, and spends it all nailing snakes to his door and wallowing in his hatred for Muggles (non-magical people). He does assist his father in his on-going abuse of his sister Merope.

Relationships with Other Characters




Morfin Gaunt is here depicted in such a way as to make explicit one of the major problems with the "blood purity" argument: limiting the gene pool causes reinforcement of unhealthy genetic traits. We gather that Morfin is not intelligent, though he may be sly. There is a real deficiency in his interactions with others, though we can't tell whether that is innate, or whether it is a natural result of his not being allowed to form any sort of relationship with a "mudblood" non-wizard. The lack of understanding of the way the broader world works is likely also due to the forced isolation of the family. The author has managed to suggest also that Morfin may be on the autism spectrum, with his refusal to speak in anything other than Parseltongue and his playing with snakes while visitors are present. Handled differently, this episode could have suggested disdain alone for the outside world, but as it is written it suggests also some sort of mental issues.



Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

Greater Picture

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.