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Complete, detailed, and amazing Reader's Guides
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Chapter Ten:
The House of Gaunt

Notes by Steve Vander Ark and Michele L. Worley
Synopsis and links by John Kearns

U.S. hardcover edition: pages 194 - 216
U.K. hardcover edition: pages 184 - 204
Timeframe: Saturday, 7 September, 1996 [Y16]

In which Harry attends his first lesson with Dumbledore, who explains that they will be delving into Voldemort's past and takes Harry into the Pensieve. In Bob Ogden's memory they go to Marvolo Gaunt's house to see about his son, Morfin, who has committed a crime; there they see a mean, impoverished, racist Marvolo abusing his daughter Merope, who is watching muggle Tom Riddle. Dumbledore explains that Merope later used a love potion on Tom, and they became Voldemort's parents.

The House of Gaunt

Chapter title - any possible reference to John of Gaunt, Henry IV's father? The chapter title has at least two meanings - it introduces us to the setting of the house of the Gaunt family, and to the members of that family.

Interesting facts and notes about the text of this chapter:

she shuffled a pack of dirty-looking playing cards, reading them as she walked

From Trelawney's comments, at first these appear to be ordinary playing cards rather than Tarot cards. Yes, people do sometimes use ordinary playing cards for that sort of thing, but Trelawney's later references to "The Lightning-Struck Tower" indicate that sometimes, at least, she uses a Tarot deck instead.

A Tarot deck is somewhat similiar to a deck of ordinary playing cards, but divides into two groups of cards:

  • the Minor Arcana
    Correspond to the four suits of an ordinary deck but with different names for the suits (e.g. pentacles instead of diamonds) and different images on them (what, exactly, depends on which variety of Tarot deck you're using; Waite-Ryder is the most common but by no means the only one).
  • the Major Arcana
    These are 22 special cards with extra significance, such as the Tower, Death, the Hanged Man (yes, I know about the pub in GF1), and so on.
From the names of the cards used here (those of an ordinary deck of playing cards, without the Major Arcana of the Tarot), Trelawney is not playing with a full deck.

Characters introduced in this chapter:

Characters returning in this chapter:

Characters mentioned in this chapter:

Settings and locations introduced or returning in this chapter:

Settings and locations mentioned in this chapter:

Exceptional character moments:

  • Still to come....

Spells and Potions:

Links and Resources:

Memorable lines:

  • "From here on in, Harry, I may be as woefully wrong as Humphrey Belcher, who believed the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron."

Strictly British:


The entire chapter takes place on Saturday of the first week of classes, which for reasons described in HBP8 we know began on Sunday, 1 September. Therefore, it must be 7 September, though of course the memory Harry and Dumbledore visit in the Pensieve takes place many decades earlier.


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