I briefly hinted earlier this week that my posts were leading up to something, and I’ve finally gotten around to it: with the story of Voldemort, JK is very strongly implying that nature is much stronger than nurture, and the way that we deal with various struggles – and the imprints those struggles put on our personalities – is drawn from birth. WTF is this bitch talking about? I don’t remember any nature v nurture psychobabble in my HP books! And you would technically be right. But allow me to present the evidence, in the form of three main characters:
A) An orphan who grew up in a neglectful, borderline abusive situation, who saw Hogwarts as a way out and escape from his painful home life. His parents were described as strong of conviction, brave, sassy af, and were well loved by (nearly) everyone who remembered their names.
B) A child who grew up poor, in an abusive and neglectful home, who only had one friend throughout his early years (who he would later lose). He also saw Hogwarts as a way out and escape from his painful home life. All we know about his parents were that his father was abusive.
C) An orphan who grew up in a neglectful situation and saw Hogwarts as a way out and escape from the tedium of people he saw as beneath him. He was concived under a love potion to a frightened, desperate mother who was fleeing an abusive home, and a father who left his mother when he discovered the truth of her identity.
(I know you all realize who I’m talking about here, but I’ll continue as though you don’t)
Character A grew up to be a sassy af, brave young adult / man, who was strong in his convictions and well-loved by (nearly) everyone who came into contact with him. He, essentially, became the embodiment of love and the goodness of man.
Character B grew up to be a genocidal maniac, devoid of any human love, empathy or compassion, bent only on his own power and shaping the world in his image. In essence, he became the embodiment of the dark side of humanity, conceited and cowardly in equal measure.
Character C grew up to be a gray area of a man, who began wandering down a dark path at a young age, only to turn away from it upon the death of the only true friend he’d ever had (also the only woman he ever loved but I’m not as big a fan of that storyline as some others), while still retaining some pretty sketchy sadistic & abusive personality traits
That’s pretty damning evidence that JK is Team Nature – all three of these men had fairly similar upbringings, but the personalities of their parents shine through stronger than the results of those upbringings. It’s an interesting twist on the theme of destiny and prophecy that ran through the series – the idea that your parents actions set your path, possibly before you’re even born.
Based on that idea, Voldemort probably would have become Voldemort regardless of his upbringing – though, of course, we don’t know that, and we never will.