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Myth And Ritual In Harry Potter

1050 words - 4 pages

17 June 2014MYTH AND SYMBOLS IN HARRY POTTERThe Harry Potter book and movie series is a very popular institution. Underneath it all the series is unavoidably mythic and full of symbols. It beings with Harry himself, who is a typical mythic hero. During the series he is involved with typical archetypal characters such as the wise old mentor played by Dumbledore and the evil character Lord Voldemort. J.K. Rowling, the author, creates an entire mythic world full of new beings and mythic beings of old lore.Some examples of this is the author's reference to Mermen from classical literature along with the Veela of Bulgaria (Colbert 245). There are also Grindylow from Britain and Irish Leprechauns. There is a Cerberus from the King Arthur legends and representing the Greek mythology there are centaurs. There are kelpies swimming in a well, elves, and a basilisk. There are Manticores from Asia and kappas from Japan (Colbert 139). There are giants, doxies, and dragons. Adding to the well-known mythic beings, are also the author's own creations from her mind only. For example she introduces and strange hybrid of a Manticore and Firecrab which she calls a Blast-Ended Skrewt.Rowling often uses mythical creatures as comic relief in her books. There is Dobby the house elf who is the ultimate trickster also. She makes fun of the titles of books that the ridiculous teacher Gilderoy Lockhart has written like "Break with a Banshee" and "Gadding with Ghouls". Cornish pixies are seen as nuisances like mosquitoes and gnomes are pests in the garden. On the flip side, the things that Muggles (non-magic folk) believe to be mythical are actually real.The author takes her mythical world and also makes it mirror the real world. The wizards have regular jobs, office jobs, jobs in law and politics. They are journalists and teachers. There are race issues between pure wizards and muggle-born "mudbloods". In one of the books there is a whole movement regarding the plight of the house elves. All of this makes the mythical world of Harry Potter seem more mundane and relatable to the reader. The author introduces the concept of the mythical simply being hidden among the Muggle reality of life.Argument could be made that some of the characters and scenes in the book serious could have a Christian religious symbolism. The phoenix is often seen as a Christian symbol that was originally a pagan symbol of immortality (Colbert 93). There is also a larger spiritual meaning in that Fawkes the phoenix exudes healing, loyalty and hope. Fawkes also symbolizes the underground "Order of the Phoenix" which is the group of good wizards who are working against the evil Lord Voldemort. The phoenix symbolism is also shown in that Harry and Voldemort both have a wand made from the same phoenix. The big difference is that Harry's wand is also made of holly which is associated with Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Lord Voldemort's was made of yew which is symbolic of graveyards and...


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