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Ouroboros and the Dark Lord
Ouroboros and the Dark Lord
Published by Alz
Ouroboros and the Dark Lord

Ouroboros and the Dark Lord

I was first interested in the premise of Ouroboros after a program I saw on television.

When reading Harry Potter, book one through four, the word Ouroboros came to mind on many occasions.

The term may be one you are not familiar with, so I will begin this article by explaining what the Ouroboros is, be it in somewhat over-simplified terms.

The Ouroboros is usually symbolised by a snake or serpent eating its own tail.

The symbolism behind the ‘physical symbol’ is that of eternal life, and indeed if you look at this on the surface you will see it adequately represented.

It is also sometimes represented by a half light and half dark image; this fits in with the ‘Yin-Yang’ opposites that are formed to make a complete.

It also is used to demonstrate the cyclic nature of the universe.

So what makes me see this in Harry Potter?

I am, as I would assume we all are, vastly interested in the Dark Lord Voldemort.

I will take a simplified look at some of the characteristics associated with Voldemort.

He is a Parselmouth

He is the Heir of Slytherin

He has an unexplained link to Nagini

He can command a Basilisk

He is described as looking like a snake

He is obsessed with his mortality

He is able to resurrect himself

He was able to ‘ensure he was always around’

Just from those obtuse observations do we begin to touch upon the link I am trying to create.

This could be a case of over-analysis, but the comparisons are compelling and could/should be considered.

Is JKR using the Ouroboros as a base for the character of Voldemort?

Looking at the above points, the first thing that compels me is the references to snakes.

We know this is the designated symbol of Salazar Slytherin, but for me it seems to go deeper than face value.

The representation of Salazar was a snake, a very dark and dangerous creature in many parts of the world, and indeed was used in biblical references to symbolise sin.

Voldemort claims to be the last remaining descendant of Slytherin.

Riddle was a normal looking boy as he left Hogwarts and then ‘disappeared from the world’ only to emerge as Voldemort.

At this point - and these facts are supported by Dumbledore - Riddle had undergone many transformations to become what he was.

Physically speaking, he resembles a snake. JKR emphasises this point over and over again as she describes Voldemort to us.

He has traits associated with the great Salazar, such as the ability to speak Parseltongue, which was indeed used to re-open the Chamber of Secrets.

When Harry did the same in Chamber of Secrets, the ‘Diary’-Riddle was able to command the basilisk against Harry.

Then we have the mysterious Nagini, another snake.

What is interesting to note here is the relationship between Voldemort and Nagini.

Voldemort shows no-one any kind of respect, perhaps because he sees himself as a self-appointed Lord that has no equals - but the fact remains he show respect to no-one, apart from Nagini.

The origins of Nagini are basis for discussions and possible an article in itself, but the emphasis Voldemort places on keeping Nagini at least equal seems to set my mind racing yet again.

But now I endeavour to cross the snake reference to the other fundamental feature of the Ouroboros - the eternal life from death, rebirth and demise.

Voldemort was and still is obsessed with his own mortality; indeed he seems to place this far above anything else.

I can’t help but feel this was born and fuelled out of the very small details of the Prophecy he had been given.

Someone who was all-powerful for so long was staring his demise right in the face and then began his quest to ensure his immortality.

We see that he succeeded in this to some degree on occasions.

If he could find a way to be re-born - not literally, that is - but to be in the face of death and exist in a form or medium that would allow him a physical presence was desirable.

Indeed he was re-born in Goblet of Fire after spending years leeching off animals and, towards the end, humans. Sustaining this cursed life with the blood of a unicorn will prolong the life of the drinker, but it will be a cursed life; this was irrelevant to Voldemort as once again he just needed to survive.

To understand his absolute terror in the face of death, look no further than OoTP when he confronts Dumbledore and tells him, “There is nothing worse than death.”

Dumbledore then tells him his greatest weakness is not understanding that there are things worse than death, but to a person so preoccupied with his own mortality, this seemed laughable and dismissive.

So we return to the subject of ‘ensuring he would always be around’ and a set of steps he took long ago to ensure this; only the most complacent of us will skip past the ‘long ago’ point in that statement.

We have seen one of the steps he used to ensure his existence with the diary in Chamber of Secrets. I am sure with further investigation, we will see other steps he took.

But imagine for a second if he took the ultimate step to ensure his existence -that he created a paradox that makes his life and death cyclical; in essence he is now the very personification of the Ouroboros!

He is a snake eating its own tail, life from death, and external existence that sees him living and dying, but always alive.

The Ouroboros could so easily be seen as a paradox, and hopefully from what I have presented above, you can see the heavy links between the Harry Potter books, the Ouroboros, and a possible paradox.

So I leave this article with questions, perhaps for discussions in the forums later.

Is this also how he was able to be near the brink of death, yet seemed to be able to survive?

Is this also how he was able to put in place ‘measures’ to ensure that he was always around?

Was it Voldemort’s intention to create this eternal paradox as the final act of ensuring his immortality?

Is the symbolism JKR uses surrounding Voldemort indicative of an Ouroboros theme?

Is the snake eating its own tail an example of life from death in an eternal paradox, and is there a means to put an end to this?

This also spawns discussions and indeed maybe another article based on time and its relevance to the world of Harry Potter, where the Ouroboros theory takes on even more credibility.


<b>© 2004 by MaturePotter</b>
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