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I know a really similar question has been asked here (and I have been trying to convince myself with half-baked answers to avoid creating a duplicate) but please do note, my question isn't about why an ordinary diary served as proof of Voldemort's lineage when it could have been any other item. I understand that Voldemort considered it important and thus, it was turned into a Horcrux.

"Well, he didn't want his hard work to be wasted," said Harry. "He wanted people to know he was Slytherin's heir, because he couldn't take credit at the time."

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Who are these "people"? The Wizarding World in general? What steps did Horcrux Riddle intend to take to let the Wizarding World know that Voldemort was the Heir of Slytherin? Or from Harry's words, how did he plan to go about taking credit for his hard work of 50 years ago and let the world know about the Heir who opened the Chamber of Secrets?

I decided to leave behind a diary, preserving my sixteen-year-old self in its pages, so that one day, with luck, I would be able to lead another in my footsteps, and finish Salazar Slytherin’s noble work.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The above two quotes clearly suggest that teenage Voldemort's main intention was to purge Hogwarts of everyone but pure-bloods using the diary along with making sure the world knew who the Heir of Slytherin was.

But how exactly was the diary going to prove the latter? The answer in the above link states that it is possible that Riddle had written in the diary. There is indeed sufficient proof of that.

“It was this diary,” said Harry quickly, picking it up and showing it to Dumbledore. “Riddle wrote it when he was sixteen. . . .

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

So one might assume that anyone who read/saw the contents of the diary would know the truth - in the case that they decided to believe the contents of the diary, which would most likely be possible if they had additional knowledge that Tom Riddle was Voldemort. But I doubt Riddle meant for the diary to be read and for word to spread about his lineage. He planned for his soul to possess someone and to gain a corporeal form - which would then control the Basilisk to carry on Salazar Slytherin's work - which is actually what starts to happen in the second book before Riddle learns about Harry through Ginny and changes his plan.

Also, Riddle mentions this:

He waited eagerly for Riddle's reply.

"Lucky that I recorded my memories in some more lasting way than ink."

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

"Are you a ghost?" Harry said uncertainly.

"A memory," said Riddle quietly. "Preserved in a diary for fifty years."

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This seems to suggest that Riddle hadn't written anything in the diary but had enchanted it with his memories which were capable of conversing with the reader to get them to open up to him and then possess them. Harry might have only said Riddle wrote in the diary because that is what people generally do with diaries and Harry couldn't have known how exactly the teenage Riddle tampered with the diary.

Either way, whether the diary had any written content or not, ultimately Riddle would have possessed a person and would have gained a body. Following that, he would have obviously gone forward with what he thought was the cleansing of the castle's impure occupants. What next?

  • He would have revealed himself to Hogwarts folk as the Heir of Slytherin

    The same argument that held true for people reading the diary for proof applies here. Would people take his word for it? Or would he let the snake loose on someone in front of an audience for solid proof?

    He would still have to tell them Tom Riddle was Voldemort. I simply can't think he wanted them to know Tom Riddle was the Heir. He wanted the world to know Lord Voldemort was the Heir.

    But, wouldn't that be counter-productive? Voldemort's revulsion to his Muggle connections were the reason he hid his Half-blood past in the first place. So what would be the point of coming forth and disclosing that?

  • He would have gone to Voldemort Prime after completing his mission in secret

    JKR did say that Riddle's success would have strengthened the present-day Voldemort considerably. In what way this would have happened has been speculated upon pretty accurately.

    This seems like the most plausible solution but the horcrux would have to complete Slytherin's work before it left because Riddle was the only one who could instruct the Basilisk of its targets and without him, the Basilisk doesn't seem to know how to differentiate between Pure-bloods and others. Hell, it couldn't differentiate between humans, animals and ghosts.

    But assuming Riddle did start on his work with the Basilisk, wouldn't the school have shut down? It doesn't seem that the authorities would have waited for the population of Hogwarts to shrink. (On two of the instances that the Chamber of Secrets was opened in the books, the school was on the verge of shutting down.) Did Riddle want the school to be closed? I doubt so, because he considered Hogwarts his home and his goal was only to get rid of the non-Pure-blood stock of the school.

I've been hitting dead ends trying to think of how Riddle would have convinced people that he was Voldemort and the Heir of Slytherin and an answer that sheds light of this is highly appreciated.


All bold emphasizing in the quoted text is my doing, it isn't part of JKR's work.

  • Great second question, btw. Amazing research! – voldemortswrath--inp.repl.co May 19 at 12:15
  • @INTERESTING When I post lengthy questions like these, I do wonder if other users think I've just written a boatload of gibberish and move on, so thanks, that's reassuring! – Matte May 19 at 12:53
  • The diary has memories like a pensieve, which he can use to prove who was the heir of slytherin. He wasn't intending to die when he made it, or for Harry to screw things up. Does it work thinking of it as a 'save progress' in a game? – marcellothearcane May 22 at 16:54
  • @marcellothearcane That's a really good analogy. But it still doesn't make things clearer for me, sorry. Could you please explain how he was going to prove things, taking into account that he didn't plan for Harry to mess things up? – Matte May 22 at 17:16
  • He could potentially present the diary to someone and it could show them (like it did Harry) some other memory riddle had at 16 - i.e. him going in to the chamber of secrets. As to who he was intending to show, maybe his death eaters or other people that he wanted to scare / prove a point to, like Dumbledore. He might have shown it to a reporter, who would reveal with proof that voldemort was riddle was the heir of Slytherin. – marcellothearcane May 22 at 17:47
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The diary does not prove that he is heir of Slytherin.

The fact the he can talk to and control the Basilisk proves that he is heir of Slytherin.

The diary originally probably contained his notes about how he found out that he was not a muggleborn orphan, but a descendant of that Gaunts and of Slytherin, and how he found clues in the castle about the chamber and the entrance.

In its new form, the diary contains a memory (and a part of his soul), and as we know, memories can be altered. Here Dumbledore and Harry talk about Slughorn's memory.

“As you might have noticed,” said Dumbledore, reseating him­self behind his desk, “that memory has been tampered with.”

“Tampered with?” repeated Harry, sitting back down too.

“Certainly,” said Dumbledore. “Professor Slughorn has meddled with his own recollections.”

“But why would he do that?”

“Because, I think, he is ashamed of what he remembers,” said Dumbledore. “He has tried to rework the memory to show himself in a better light, obliterating those parts which he does not wish me to see. It is, as you will have noticed, very crudely done, and that is all to the good, for it shows that the true memory is still there be­neath the alterations. (HbP)

The diary is of great personal importance to Riddle because it about the time when he discovered that he was a heir of the founders, but it doesn't prove anything to anybody.


You are probably referring to this scene of the same book between Harry and Dumbledore

“And they could be anything?” said Harry. “They could be old tin cans or, I dunno, empty potion bottles. …”

“You are thinking of Portkeys, Harry, which must be ordinary objects, easy to overlook. But would Lord Voldemort use tin cans or old potion bottles to guard his own precious soul? You are for­getting what I have showed you. Lord Voldemort liked to collect trophies, and he preferred objects with a powerful magical history. His pride, his belief in his own superiority, his determination to carve for himself a startling place in magical history; these things suggest to me that Voldemort would have chosen his Horcruxes with some care, favoring objects worthy of the honor.”

“The diary wasn’t that special.”

“The diary, as you have said yourself, was proof that he was the Heir of Slytherin; I am sure that Voldemort considered it of stu­pendous importance.” (HbP)

I didn't find any indication that Harry did consider the diary to be proof of Riddle's heritage, although Dumbledore here claims that Harry did.

It's probably just a shortcut for Rowling because she didn't want to elaborate why the diary was of great importance to Riddle, one of the "objects worthy of the honor".

The diary is not that important or special to the general public, it is important to Riddle, probably more important than some historical objects, especially those of the other founders. The diary is about himself, the most important person in his not so humble opinion.

Edit

To add a little more context to your quote:

(Dumbledore:) “Well, it worked as a Horcrux is supposed to work — in other words, the fragment of soul concealed inside it was kept safe and had undoubtedly played its part in preventing the death of its owner. But there could be no doubt that Riddle really wanted that diary read, wanted the piece of his soul to inhabit or possess some­body else, so that Slytherin’s monster would be unleashed again.”

“Well, he didn’t want his hard work to be wasted,” said Harry. “He wanted people to know he was Slytherin’s heir, because he couldn’t take credit at the time.” (HbP)

Here Dumbledore and Harry are guessing about Riddle's motives, and I think they are wrong.

The important point about the diary is that it is a Horcrux, it allows him to survive if his body is destroyed. Riddle really wanted that diary read, so that it could suck the life energy out of someone, so that he could come back to life. That is much more important than whether or not the Basilisk kills some people.

Riddle also wouldn't want the diary read unless his body was destroyed, because then there would be suddenly two Riddles, the main one and the one created from the dairy, and they would not want to share power, not even with another version of themselves.

Voldemort is considered a Slytherin

“Better Hufflepuff than Slytherin,” said Hagrid darkly. “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one.” (PS)

Although it is unclear whether he is considered the Heir of Slytherin.

But he speaks Parseltongue and I'm sure at least his followers believe him when he says he is the Heir of Slytherin. Dumbledore also knows that it is true, and I doubt someone would be foolish enough to claim otherwise in public. Voldemort is not the type to come with proof to argue and convince someone, he is the type to kill dissenters.

Also, Voldemort is not the type to kill someone for credit, he does it for fun and for power.

In short, Voldemort has no need to prove that he is the Heir of Slytherin, and the diary is not useful if he wants to prove it.

  • This is a great in-depth answer and clears up some of my doubts, thanks! My question isn't about why the diary is special. I'll edit my question if that hasn't been clear. Like you said, Riddle considers it very important and that's enough. In the quote of HBP that I've posted, Harry says this He wanted people to know he was Slytherin's heir, because he couldn't take credit at the time. How did Voldemort plan to take credit through the diary? What exactly did it entail? Among other issues, wouldn't talking credit also involve saying he was Tom Riddle which Voldemort has been keen on hiding? – Matte May 19 at 8:27
  • The fact the he can talk to and control the Basilisk proves that he is heir of Slytherin. To whom does it prove this? Harry, because he confronts Riddle. If Harry hadn't mentioned it, no one else would have known that Voldemort was the Heir of Slytherin. But Harry being at school while the diary came to Hogwarts was just a weird coincidence. If Harry hadn't been there to stopped Riddle, then before Riddle returned to Voldemort Prime what would he do to let people know he was the Heir? – Matte May 19 at 8:44
  • I edited the post to address some of your points. I don't think that Riddle wanted to prove anything with the diary. He doesn't want or need to convince anybody. His ability to control the Basilisk would be proof, but he doesn't need it. – QuestionAuthority May 19 at 11:01
  • The reason Voldemort wanted the diary read to come back to life was to make the Basilisk kill people. If not, why wouldn't he incorporate these features in his other horcruxes? I agree with you that Voldemort is definitely not the type to worry about convincing others but imagine a 16 year Riddle - he is obsessed with his bloodline and he has discovered he is related to Slytherin but is unable to divulge it. So he alters the diary with the intention of opening the Chamber later through another student. I can also see him thinking up something on the sidelines so that people know he's the Heir. – Matte May 19 at 13:12
  • Technically, he isn't; it's Morfin Gaunt but Riddle conveniently ignores that. Also, I know that Dumbledore is wrong at times but I think he's onto something here and I just can't lay my finger on it. I've been pondering over this for days and I believe I will get a clearer picture of how Riddle works if I get this right (I'm obsessed with this, I know). Apologies, I really do appreciate your detailed answer but I just feel that there's something regarding the diary that I'm missing. I will re-read your answer and bits of CoS again and see if I can understand things better. – Matte May 19 at 13:14
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It’d open the Chamber to prove him as heir.

Tom Riddle planned that his diary, after being made a Horcrux, would be used to reopen the Chamber of Secrets someday. That would then show that he’s the heir, since the legend of the Chamber says that only the Heir of Slytherin can open it.

“The story goes that Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders knew nothing.

‘Slytherin, according to the legend, sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)

Through the diary, he’d intended to lead another student into opening the Chamber and release the basilisk. Though he never said explicitly how he’d ensure he was known as the true heir, presumably he’d claim credit for it at that point, either by having the student state it for him or by appearing from the diary himself.

“I knew it wouldn’t be safe to open the Chamber again while I was still at school. But I wasn’t going to waste those long years I’d spent searching for it. I decided to leave behind a diary, preserving my sixteen-year-old self in its pages, so that one day, with luck, I would be able to lead another in my footsteps, and finish Salazar Slytherin’s noble work.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)

Both Dumbledore and Harry say that Tom wanted to reopen the Chamber and release the basilisk so people would know he was Slytherin’s heir because he couldn’t take credit for it while he was still attending Hogwarts.

“But there could be no doubt that Riddle really wanted that diary read, wanted the piece of his soul to inhabit or possess somebody else, so that Slytherin’s monster would be unleashed again.’

‘Well, he didn’t want his hard work to be wasted,’ said Harry. ‘He wanted people to know he was Slytherin’s heir, because he couldn’t take credit at the time.’

‘Quite correct,’ said Dumbledore, nodding.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)

Therefore, he was likely going to use the diary to prove he was the heir by opening the Chamber of Secrets through it and making it clear he was the one who opened it, since the legend surrounding it says only the heir can open the Chamber.

  • 1
    Indeed. And the importance of the object is that it's where he first wrote down his musings, and then proof, of his being the Heir of Slytherin. – Valorum May 20 at 6:54
  • I absolutely agree with what you've said. Though he never said explicitly how he’d ensure he was known as the true heir, presumably he’d claim credit for it at that point, either by having the student state it for him or by appearing from the diary himself. But Riddle=Voldemort was not something he was keen to announce to the world. But that's exactly what he'd need to do if his 16 year old diary self wanted to tell the world that he was the Heir and he was Voldemort. – Matte May 21 at 8:08

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