A mythological and archetypal approach to "Harry potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" by JK Rowling
The first installment in the Harry Potter book series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, can be explored through the various archetypes and myths present in the novel.
To get started, let’s take a look at Harry’s so-called heroic quest. As the story unfolds, Harry goes through the classic and mythical stages of a hero’s journey. First to these is a call to adventure. In the story, Harry receives the letters from Hogwarts. The second is a separation from the known world. This is seen in the part where Harry goes to Hogwarts. The third is an initiation into the new world. This is evident at the Sorting ceremony, where Harry undergoes a ritual similar to being placed through the Sorting Hat. Next is the presence of threats that can be seen in Harry’s rivalry with Malfoy and also in his encounter with the Mirror of Erised, both of which tested Harry’s character and desires. Another is the existence of a camaraderie that can be justified by the characters of Ron and Hermione. A mentor’s guidance, through Hagrid and Dumbledore, the final confrontation with darkness – Harry vs. Voldemort on the stone – After which, comes a rebirth or resurrection through Harry’s victory over Voldemort and finally, the hero’s return to the old world – Harry returns home, but this time he knows who he really is.
The Philosopher’s Stone or also known as Philosopher’s Stone is a traditional element of mythology that appears in Rowling’s work. In the story, the stone was created by Nicolas Falmal, Dumbledore’s companion, whose character is based on the history and legends surrounding the true French alchemist Nicolas Flamel. The stone, both in the novel and in the field of alchemy, is described as a small red ball that can turn metal into gold, and can also create an elixir that can grant eternal life.
Lord Voldemort’s character clearly illustrates the power of fear throughout the novel. In fact, most wizards, except Dumbledore, don’t dare refer to him by his name. Instead, he is referred to as ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’. In this way, Voldemort is taken as a metaphor for fear, which is a common element of humanity.
Most of the names of the characters in the novel have relevant meanings. An example is the headmaster Albus Dumbledore. His first name is derived from the Latin word alba meaning ‘white’. His last name is Old English for ‘bumblebee’. In symbolism, white represents purity, so the headmaster’s name suggests honor and a hard-working nature. Another example is Professor Severus Snape. Severus is the Latin word for ‘severe’ and ‘strict’, adjectives that can really be associated with the character of the teacher.
In Harry Potter, there are four Hogwarts houses. Gryffindor is the Hogwarts house to which Harry and his friends belong. Gryffindor is derived from Griffin, which means a fierce, legendary beast with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. And that’s why this Hogwarts house uses a lion as its symbol. On the other hand, Slytherin, Gryffindor’s rival house, is actually a variation of ‘slithering’, a method of travel for snakes, the same reason perhaps why its symbol is a snake.
In terms of archetypal men, Dumbledore is what we call, The Boss. He is a highly respected wizard leader and takes good care of his minions. The bad boy, without a doubt, is Voldemort. And we can also say that Ron’s character is apt to be the best friend archetype. In archetypal women, The Boss can be associated with Vice Principal McGonagall due first to her position in the school and secondly to her wise nature. Hermione’s character, on the other hand, can be classified as the archetype of The Librarian. She has answers to almost any question because she has read many books and can also be fierce once provoked.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a great novel that captured the hearts of young and old alike for its myths and archetypes that unite all readers around the world.