I was reading through this list Can You Get Through These Harry Potter Facts Without Tearing Up?

And it happens to state:

Voldemort cannot love due to being conceived under the effects of a love potion.

Now, I'm pretty sure that's not canon. I can't find a source for this in that site. But now that it mentions it, I can't help but stop wondering how did they reach that conclusion at all.

Is there anything canon that might suggest that statement? About how a love potion on Voldemort's father happened to affect his own ability to love?


2 Answers 2


Ravleen: How much does the fact that voldemort was conceived under a love potion have to do with his nonability to understand love is it more symbolic

J.K. Rowling: It 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.

J.K. Rowling: 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.

J.K. Rowling Webchat - The Leaky Cauldron - 7.30.07

This is what J.K. Rowling had to say on the subject. It's not exactly definitive. But I think it suggests that the love potion caused Voldemort's conception to have occurred under coercion, which is not conducive to love. Things might have been different if Merope had lived and raised Tom Riddle herself.

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    He could've been ministry!!
    – Saturn
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 5:00
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    Hm... I personally interpret it as "Merope lived/died is the main factor"... but JKR seems to be very ambiguous here. Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 23:16
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    I'm bothered by JKR's statements on this, because they imply that a child of rape is somehow defective because of it.
    – Martha
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 17:48
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    Personally, I interpret this as a statement of symbolism (JKR even uses the word "symbolic"), rather than a statement of causation. Merope's love potion did not cause Voldemort to lack an understanding of love, but it was symbolically significant to his character arc.
    – Kevin
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 1:21
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    @Martha - I understand your concern. However, JKR is not wrong when she describes the circumstances of Tom Riddle's birth as prejudicial. There is nothing wrong with children conceived via coercion or sexual assault, but they are at risk for community stigmatization, which definitely demonstrates prejudice toward the child. I read that community stigma can be around 40% toward the mother and the child, and interestingly the child is more likely to be stigmatized than the mother. So, yeah, JKR's words referred to the child's safety, not the child's worth. I think "prejudicial" works here. :) Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 22:01

I’m posting this as an answer in addition to Slytherincess’s because it would be too long as a comment.

Martha says:

I'm bothered by JKR's statements on this, because they imply that a child of rape is somehow defective because of it.

They do no such thing; that’s putting words in JK’s mouth.

What they do imply is exactly what they say: Merope failed Tom Riddle Jr by her complete misunderstanding of love.

  • Her first failure was to bring a child into a loveless union, which has been conclusively proven time and again (in many forums beyond this one) to be detrimental to a child’s emotional well-being. Not because of the loveless conception, but because of the child’s relationship to his/her parents!
  • Her second failure was to abandon that child herself. This should be more obvious: children whose parents leave them are not a mystery.

Merope was herself mistreated in the extreme. You could easily argue she had never experienced true parental love (Dumbledore does just this in his discussions with Harry). Her concept of love was not healthy — It was that of infatuation and power and escapism.

So after eighteen years of abuse at home, she finally escapes with power to make a handsome muggle want her. Why would she behave differently? This is how she was raised: power and control. She didn’t love Riddle, she saw him as an escapist ideal which she, through her witchcraft, could make happen.

And not knowing the difference, only knowing that she felt happy because the guy was paying her attention and acting like he cared about her, she made the mistake of forgetting the disparity between reality (Riddle was a jerk who thought her repulsive) and fantasy (Riddle cared about her).

And when that failed, she did not have the emotional resources to recover, to love her child (who was proof that the father “loved” her, and not yet having learned to love) she gives up and dies, leaving the boy. The psychology of this is important, and is real outside of HP.

Thereafter, JK spends large portions of THBP having Harry and Dumbledore explore the consequences this had on the boy Tom Riddle, a boy who thought he ought to be special but was instead abandoned by people who should have cared about him, to have loved him, but who were both incapable of any actual love.

Remember, Riddle first thinks his mother non-magical, because if she were, she wouldn’t have abandoned him and died. Then he learns the truth of his father’s indifference, and the glass is fully shattered.

Now, many, many people grow up in unloving homes, just as Merope and Riddle Jr, but few grow up to be like Voldemort. That said, those that do come almost exclusively from that same cohort: broken homes where love is not known; only power and control and indifference.

It is no stretch, then, that Voldemort does not love. To him, it is a lie that only leads to pain, and is only useful for control. Again, this happens in real life, and has been heavily studied among the better-known assassins in recent history.

Being raped is not suggestive of a horrible, dark, unloving future. Many children conceived by rape grow up in loving homes. But it is one possible first step in many where a child’s emotional psyche may be destroyed, and a good symbol of the overarching problem that leads to that child’s trauma.

Remember, avoid dealing in absolutes when looking at consequences.

  • Voldemort didn't grow up in a home with unloving parents. He grew up in an orphanage, so this implies that it was the staff at the orphanage who were to blame. Cruel, bleak orphanages are a trope in fiction, but is there any evidence in the HP books that suggests this was the case here? Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 18:40
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    No, it was exactly that. He was left in an orphanage that was described as “a grim place in which to grow up.” It may very well be a bit of a trope, but even today an orphanage is not a very warm and fuzzy place to be. It is one thing to be a loved child; quite another to be a ward, no matter how loved. Depiction of Riddle’s London orphanage home didn’t strike me as very loving, and every child left in an orphanage wishes to know more about his or her parents, and what kind of life he or she may have missed out on compared to the painful standard of the happy normal family.
    – Dúthomhas
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 2:05

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