‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’

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J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'

J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' is a sluggish but insightful novel that has received a lot of analysis from many sources, including psychologists. The tale of The Sorcerer's Stone revolves around Harry, who was orphaned at a young age. The Dursleys, his uncle, aunt, and Dudley, are the first people we see. Harry's parents were both wizards who were assassinated by a wicked sorcerer. The poet employs a variety of patterns and motifs, such as visions and metaphors. The aim of this essay is to provide a psychological critique of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone using Sigmund Freud's concepts, Carl Jung's archetypes, and a Lacanian approach.

Sigmund Freud's Concept of Human Mind

According to Freudian theory, there are three common ideas related to human – that is, superego, ego, and id. Personal desires represent id and it is connected to personal wants or needs. Superego denotes personal moral values whereas ego is between superego and id that acts as a balancing factor for ego and id. Since it is hard to attain balance between superego and id, people tend to develop defense mechanisms, for example when a person is in denial. Since Harry’s Aunt and Uncle hate magic, they try all they could to suppress everything related to magic to prevent him from becoming a wizard like his father and mother. Id manifests itself in Harry’s Uncle and Aunt as they attempt to maintain what they want that is a normal world without magic to reduce discomfort. Superego idea also portrays itself when his Uncle and Aunt made a decision that magic is wrong and that Harry should have a normal life. His aunt and uncle are denial of the magic world. They also lied to Harry that his parents died in a normal car accident instead of the fact that they were murdered by an evil wizard. His aunt said, "In the car crash when your parents died," (15).

Freudian Theory on Dreams

Freudian principle on dreams provides a basis for understanding Harry’s dreams more conveniently. Dreams are founded on human psychology and according to Freud, dreams are meaningful and autonomous product of psychic activity, Freud establishes specific meanings for the dreams. In most instances, Harry’s dreams reflect creatures and people he met recently or in some cases the dreams are caused by certain events that are taking or have already taken place in his life. When Harry was sleeping in a castle in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry he had a very strange turban dream as indicated in the following extract:
“Perhaps Harry had eaten a bit too much, because he had a very strange dream. He was wearing Professor Quirrell’s turban, which kept talking to him, telling him he had to transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his destiny. Harry told the turban he did not want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier and heavier; he tried to pull it off but it tightened painfully–and there was Malfoy, laughing at him as he struggled with it–then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape, …” (104).

Freudian Analysis of the Turban Dream

According to Freudian Principle, the dream Harry had about wearing professor Quirrell’s turban indicates what is going to happen in the future. The Quirrell’s turban denotes that the turban hides the second face of Lord Voldemort. The dream also unveils Harry’s apprehension over the Sorting Hat trying to put him in Slytherin. Additionally, the dream reveals the connection of Harry to LV. The turban dream foreshadows events that will take place in Harry’s life either in a conscious or unconscious state.

Harry's Flying Motorcycle Dream

In another dream, Harry sees a Flying motorcycle. The author states that “He rolled onto his back and tried to remember the dream he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a flying motorcycle in it. He had a funny feeling he'd had the same dream before.” (13). Psychologically, the flying motorcycle reflects the protagonist’s experience as a small child. Ten years before Harry had the dream, he had been brought by Hagrid to Privet Drive on a Sirius Black’s flying motorcycle. Freud declares that our unconscious mind plays a vital role in our lives, how we feel, what we do, and what we experience even though we are unaware. The flying motorcycle dreams indicates Harry’s past experience. This is proven by the work described in Studies in Hysteria which indicate that hysteria can result to forgotten childhood traumas. Theoretically, riding the motorcycle indicates that Harry will be in control of his relationships. Due to Dudley’s determinations, Harry wasn’t able to make friends at first. Though, after starting school, Harry befriends Ron Weasley despite Draco Malfoy pressures against it.

Jung's Archetypes in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'

The similarities between most characters in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is their wizardry and witchery activities. Most of the activities in Harry Potter series revolves around magic. The situations and settings of Harry’s dream are similar to those of his past experience. In comparison to other wizardry works, Rawling presents his characters, situations, and settings in an overly different manner. Similar to Freudian principle, Jung states that our conscious mind coordinates most of our behaviors. The unconscious mind is divided into three sections namely personal conscious, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious. The three sections control our day-to-day events such as dreams. Jung’s archetypes manifest themselves in many forms in the book ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’.

The Hero Archetype: Dumbledore

Dumbledore falls into the hero archetype. After Harry discovered that Voldemort was trying to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone, he decides to find the stone before Voldemort does. Hermione, Ron, and Harry sneaked into the forbidden corridor in the third floor while trying to look for a way to recover the stone. The trio faced a lot of challenges while looking for a stone. Voldemort took the form of Quirrell and announces that Harry must die. After Quirrell removed the turban, Voldemort’s face appeared and he instructed Quirrell to kill Harry but when he came in contact with him, Quirrell burned. A fight ensues and Harry faints. When he regained consciousness, Dumbledore narrates to him how he saved him on time from Quirrell. Therefore, Dumbledore in presented by the author as a hero since he saved Harry the main protagonist.

The Devil Archetype: Lord Voldemort

The devil archtype also appears in the book where we encounter Voldemort. Voldermort is a wizard of evil and he tries to get the Sorcerer’s Stone to use it in a way that was not allowed. The figure of a devil can personify the image of a person. For instance, when Harry was trying to retrieve the Sorcerer’s Stone, Voldemort takes the image of Quirrell and tries to kill him in order to obtain the stone (237). In life, we might do some questionable things not because we wanted to but because of external influence by evil forces.

Lacanian Approach in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'

In Lacanian psychological approach, the real order appears when Harry is not dreaming but in a complete state of mind. In the scene where Harry went to recover the Sorcerer’s Stone and experiences the wickedness of Voldemort trying to have him killed, real order is portrayed. The symbolic order is denoted by the dreams Harry has. He realizes that most of his dreams mirror his past experience. For instance, Harry starts having nightmares about the dead of his parents. His nightmare begins appearing constantly: “Over and over again he dreamed about his parents disappearing in a flash of green light, while a high voice cackled with laughter.” (172) The symbolic and real are connected in Harry’s life because the symbolic order of his dreams signify his personal experience. He had witnessed the dead of his parents and thus the dream was a channel for his to recall the horrific memories of his past. The Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone story is an antirealist because most the incidents are just as a result of authors fantasy. Witchcraft may not be prevalent in real life like it is in the book.


In conclusion, Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone can be psychologically analyzed by using different approaches as discussed above, for example Sigmund Freud approach, Jung approach, and Lacanian approach. Dreams are psychological events in peoples’ life that can mirror or reflect past experience, desires, or what it is to be anticipated in the future. Dreams such as flying motorcycle and the turban dream have been analyzed using Freudian approach to acquire a deeper understanding. Some of the architypes that arose in the story include devil and hero architypes. The various incidences discussed provide a concise psychological view of the Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.

January 25, 2023



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