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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Myths are interesting for many people because they are based on primitive and common opinions and ideas about the situations and phenomena of the life. That is why, the mythological and archetypal approach with references to the Jungian analysis can be used in order to discuss the piece of literature or film. It is effective to examine the work in its relation to the people’s culture and spirituality. Many myths are based on the development of the Hero’s journey which is known as a monomyth developed by Joseph Campbell.

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These myths also include such images and concepts as creation, resurrection, shadow, and a lot of other ones as the archetypal structures perceived by all the people as the collective knowledge. Archetypes can be presented as embodiments of definite characters and as symbolic objects or phenomena which can be shared and recognized by all the people in spite of the time and space.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone presents the Hero’s journey as the Hero’s development from the ordinary person to the individual with supernatural powers whose task is to save the world from the absolute evil in the form of the Shadow, and the typical archetypes of Herald, Mentor, and Allies are observed in the film.

The story of Harry Potter is a monomyth which is associated with a lot of archetypes. Harry Potter is the adolescent wizard who experiences a lot of challenges on his way to realizing his nature and powers. Harry Potter can be characterized not only as the Hero to save the world from the evil as a result of his journey but also as the Persona to understand his spirit and nature of the wizard with references to Carl Jung’s classification (Guerin et al.; “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”). According to the Jungian approach to archetypes, myths help the unconscious and inherited images become the part of the reality in the form of the definite mythical vision. That is why, Jung focuses on the archetypes of the Shadow, Persona, and Anima as the main representations of the collective human being (Guerin et al.).

Harry Potter completes all the stages of the Hero’s mythical journey. Thus, Harry Potter receives the call to adventure and comes to Hogwarts. He meets his Mentor, or the Wise Old Man according to the Jungian classification, at the stage of the initiation to the new world. The Hero traditionally is called to adventure and starts the journey in order to fight with the evil force or the Shadow.

The Shadow is Lord Voldemort, and Harry’s mission and ordeal is to protect the Sorcerer’s stone from Lord Voldemort. Being challenged by many enemies’ tests, Harry Potter learns how to use his powers of a wizard. Thus, Harry has to prove himself numerous times in the journey, and he uses the supernatural forces as it is typical for the heroes in order to ‘return with elixir’.

At the final stages, Harry Potter loses hope, and he is ready to follow the situation. The resurrection of Harry Potter is associated with his meeting with Lord Voldemort which is followed by the Hero’s returning to Hogwarts (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”). From this perspective, Harry Potter can be characterized as the typical Hero, because his activities are correlated with all the traditional visions of the Hero’s journey common for this archetype.

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Myths are the products of the cultural environment that reflect the traditional cultural visions of the definite nation. Myths and archetypes are globally shared images. These images become archetypes, and the knowledge about them is inherited by people unconsciously. The nature of archetypes is more complex in comparison with myths because they are associated with them at the unconscious level (Guerin et al.). The Jungian classification of archetypes should be expanded with the archetypes of Herald, Mentor, Threshold Guardians, and Allies proposed by Campbell (Campbell).

Harry Potter’s Mentor is Albus Dumbledore. However, the role of the Mentor in the film is also typical for Hagrid who acts as the Father in relation to Harry Potter whose parents were killed by Lord Voldemort (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”). Furthermore, Hagrid can be discussed as the Herald who involves Harry Potter in the new world of Hogwarts and explains to him all the points of the supernatural world typical for Hogwarts.

Lord Voldemort is the embodiment of the Shadow in the film, and he is the main enemy of Harry Potter because he killed Harry’s parents, and he insists to own the Sorcerer’s Stone. Lord Voldemort plays an important role at the final stage of Harry’s journey because of the necessity of the personal opposition to choose the winner. Nevertheless, the actual enemies of Harry Potter with whom he has to fight during the journey are the Threshold Guardians such as Professor Quirrell. From this point, to protect the Sorcerer’s stone, Harry has to overcome a lot of challenges affected by Professor Quirrell’s activities.

Harry Potter is not alone in his quest. The Allies are also the important archetype which can be related to the Jungian Persona and Anima. The Allies of Harry Potter are Ron and Hermione who follow the wizard at all the stages of his journey. These persons serve as the assistants and supporters of the Hero on his way to the Shadow to win it. Furthermore, according to the Jungian classification, Hermione can be discussed as the embodiment of the feminine nature or the Anima in the film (Guerin et al.).

However, there is a range of the other archetypes which serve to present all the aspects of the Hero’s journey and his rebirth from the ordinary person living in the usual world to become the part of the mythical and supernatural reality. The roles of Trickster and Shapeshifter in the film are characteristic for Severus Snape. Harry Potter always feels the threat from the personality of Snape because of his evil intentions.

The character of Severus Snape cannot be discussed only from one perspective that is why he is the embodiment of two archetypes of Trickster and Shapeshifter as the reflections of the changing and evil human nature. Furthermore, Harry Potter also has to fight with the Malfoy family the members of which cannot be discussed as the embodiment of the absolute evil as the Shadow or as the Threshold Guardians. Thus, they are antagonists for the Hero who follow the other ideals and principles than Harry Potter (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”).

Myths are presented in the story not only in the form of a monomyth with the associated archetypes. Myths reflect people’s typical vision of the reality as some illusory and mystic images. Thus, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the main symbol is associated with the myth about the philosopher’s stone (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”).

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Thus, the Sorcerer’s stone should be discussed as the reflection of the old myth about the magic stone which can give a person the enormous power and knowledge to make the gold. The other myths and symbols presented in the film such as colors of white and black are connected with the archetype of the Hero and his journey.

Myths are more connected with the people’s consciousness than archetypes. To understand the role of myths in the people’s life, it is necessary to concentrate on the people’s culture and spirituality with references to their psychology. That is why, the archetypal organization presented in the film is discussed with references to the archetypal theory of Carl Gustav Jung, and to the idea of the hero’s journey or monomyth discussed in the works by Joseph Campbell.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is full of different important archetypes which have the significant role for developing the plot and idea, and they reflect the traditional people’s visions and opinions. The mythological and archetypal approach to the analysis of the definite work of art can be relevant for the majority of cases because archetypes as the symbolic images are often presented in literature or films to stress on the work’s idea. Thus, there are many symbolic colors or process such as creation, birth, and death which can be discussed as archetypes associated with the people’s myths.

Works Cited

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. USA: New World Library, 2008. Print.

Guerin, Wilfred, Earle Labor, Lee Morgan, Jeanne Reesman, and John Willingham. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. USA: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. 2001. Video file.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, May 4). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-by-j-k-rowling/

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StudyCorgi. (2020, May 4). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling. https://studycorgi.com/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-by-j-k-rowling/

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"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling." StudyCorgi, 4 May 2020, studycorgi.com/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-by-j-k-rowling/.

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StudyCorgi. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling." May 4, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-by-j-k-rowling/.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling." May 4, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-by-j-k-rowling/.

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StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling'. 4 May.

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