Trigger warning for discussion of rape throughout this post.
Since the publication of the final Harry Potter book, J.K. Rowling has offered us many bits of trivia about the HP universe. Some of these are interesting and some are frustrating, but few are so problematic as what she shared about Voldemort’s inability to understand or feel love. In a Q and A hosted on The Leaky Cauldron, she said that it had its basis in his being conceived under the effects of a love potion. She said his conception was:
[A] symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union – but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him. The enchantment under which Tom Riddle fathered Voldemort is important because it shows coercion, and there can’t be many more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a union.
Now, as we’ve discussed before, one of the polarizing aspects of the Harry Potter books is that they tend to use magical allegories as substitutes for real issues. Lupin’s lycanthropy is used as an allegory for AIDS, for example, and racism based on skin color was replaced by racism based on percentage of Wizarding blood. And as I have pointed out before, love potions are essentially magical date rape drugs.
Are you seeing why I’m uncomfortable yet?