Today on obvious things I should have picked up sometime in my first twenty-two readings of Harry Potter:
Tom Riddle starts out as a very attractive young man, but as he becomes more and more outwardly evil and caring less and less about hiding his actions, his physical appearance deteriorated until he eventually ended up looking subhuman. Throughout Half-Blood Prince, we (and Harry!) get to see Tom Riddle through the years – he starts out as an attractive child in the orphanage, grows to a good-looking teenager and young adult during and immediately after his Hogwarts years, but has started to lose his looks just a few years after that – when he comes back to ask Dumbledore for a job, and it’s clear that he’s no longer particularly trying to hide his actions, at this point, because it’s the reason Dumbledore gives for not giving him the job.
It’s all very reminiscent of Dorian Grey, and the idea that your character defines whether you’re ugly or pretty and the only reason to be a good person is for the aesthetics. From a literary perspective, I think it’s great and I love the reference and that it’s subtle and not super-in-your-face. But from a social, general-reader perspective I’m kind of over the whole pretty=good, ugly=bad dichotomy and would honestly like to see it just die already.