Archetypes Impersonated by the Principal Characters

The concept of archetypes was developed by the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961). Initially a student of Sigmund Freud, Jung was a Swiss-German psychoanalyst who developed one of several theories of the unconscious.

He recognized that there were universal patterns in all stories and mythologies regardless of culture or historical period сalled archetypes.

Jung postulated that myths are narrative elaborations of archetypal images. They serve as an ideal model upon which characters in stories are often based. Carl Jung singled out some of the most common archetypes.

Here's a correlation between traditional Jungian archetypes and the Harry Potter characters impersonating them.

The Hero – Harry Potter

The Sidekick – Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger

The Maiden– Ginny Weasley

The Wise Old Man – Albus Dumbledore

The Nurturing Mother – Molly Weasley

The Eternal Child – Rubeus Hagrid

The Villain – Lord Voldemort

The Shapeshifter – Severus Snape

The Trickster – Fred and George Weasley

Most of these parallels are quite discernible. However, some of the characters can be viewed as a blend of archetypes, others might represent some other types that were not initially singled out by Carl Jung, so it's only logical to take a closer look at each and every character in the series.

Harry Potter

According to the results of our research, Harry can be recognized as: The Cinderella archetype (the Rags to Riches archetype), The Orphan archetype, The Hero archetype, The Christ Figure, The Liberator archetype, The Messianic archetype, The Chosen One archetype, The Survivor archetype, and The Magician archetype.

Harry is an orphan boy wizard who has been placed in the care of his surly and cold Muggle (non-wizard) family members: uncle Vernon, aunt Petunia Dursley, and their spoiled sun Dudley, after tragic death of his parents. Ten years later while living in Four Privet Drive, Harry is tormented by the Dursleys, treated more as a slave than a member of the family. Dursleys go out of their way to make life as miserable as can be for Harry. He wears only the oversized hand-me-downs from his cousin, Dudley; eats leftovers; and starts out in the first book sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs.

Harry's identification with Cinderella speaks for itself. Cinderella sleeps in the ashes of the kitchen fire; Harry is relegated to a cupboard under the stairs. Cinderella does all the hard work, so does Harry: "While Dudley lolled around watching and eating ice-cream, Harry cleared the windows, washed the car, mowed the lawn, trimmed the flowerbeds, pruned and watered the roses, and repaired the garden bench." [16]. Harry's aunt Petunia is obviously the wicked stepmother, and Dudley serves as the malignant and indulged sisters. When Harry receives the letter from Hogwarts he is refused permission to go, the same way Cinderella was not allowed to attend the ball even though she was inclined in the invitation. Naturally, the 'fairy godmother' makes her appearance in the form of Hagrid who makes sure that Harry/Cinderella would get to the ball [12].

Harry finally learns that as a baby he witnessed his parents' murder by the power-obsessed Dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who then attempted to kill him also. For reasons not immediately revealed, the spell with which Voldemort tried to kill Harry rebounded. Harry survived with only a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead as a memento of the attack, and Voldemort disappeared afterwards. As its inadvertent savior from Voldemort's reign of terror, Harry has become a living legend in the wizarding world. Harry's identity may be in question in the Muggle world, but among magical people he is destined for greatness, that's why he represents the Chosen One archetype, the one who would undertake a warrior’s journey to save his people.

While his mother's love has marked him for a special destiny, Harry still has to determine what kind of "self" it will take to fulfil that destiny.

In terms of personal identity and character formation, the most important thing Harry learns is not that he has magical power but that it matters how he uses it.

He knows that Lord Voldemort, once a student at Hogwarts, was also a Slytherin, and he cannot understand why the Sorting Hat thinks he, the one born to defeat Voldemort, might want to be a Slytherin: "Not Slytherin, eh? ... Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness" [21]. This could be read as the kind of temptation Jesus experienced in the wilderness when Satan, who also appeared once as a "slithering" serpent, told him: "You could be great, you could have all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, just throw your lot in with me" (Matt. 4:8-9). Jesus refused to play this game, and so does Harry. From that perspective, Harry's story is a quest for identity as a type of archetypal journey and also is a coming-of-age story.

He undertakes a challenge and fights against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Another metanarrative is used here concerning the defeat of the strong and powerful by the weak and defenseless. Harry is a David pitted against a Goliath in the form of Lord Voldemort and his helpers.

But why Harry is also considered to be The Christ Figure?

Harry certainly displays Savior qualities every time he defends the wizarding (and Muggle) world from the devilish Lord Voldemort. On multiple occasions, Harry willingly presents himself as a sacrifice and, by so doing, is able to destroy the evil wizard. As an innocent baby, Harry becomes the only being to withstand the killing curse, a feat that leaves him with a Christ-like scar on his forehead (instead of his hands and feet), and which temporarily defeats Voldemort. Since his wizard parents are dead, Harry is then raised in humble circumstances - under the stairs of the unbelieving Dursleys, similar to Christ's birth in a stable and his rearing as a carpenter's son. Later, after defeating Voldemort for the second time, Harry lies in a coma, as Christ did in the tomb. In the end, just as Christ died and was resurrected to overcome Satan and death, Harry dies and returns from death to finally destroy.

The power of voluntary sacrificial love to rescue others from the forces of Evil is a pivotal idea to the series and in literary criticism is viewed through the concept of Deeper magic. Harry is sacrificing himself for the wizarding world the way Lily did for him. And that's what makes a whole Harry Potter heroic saga a great praise to universal archetypal idea of victory of Good over Evil.

Albus Dumbledore

Dumbledore represents a Wise Old Man type, a parental figure, he is the one who provides guidance to Harry. Albus Dumbledore is first introduced to the reader as a person who has Harry’s best interests at heart. He apparently arranged for the half-giant Hagrid to rescue baby Harry, took time in the chaos of the night to write a long letter explaining the tragic circumstances of Harry’s being left on the Dursley’s front doorstep, and keeps an eye on him the rest of the school year - though Harry is not aware of it most of the time. According to Jung, the Wise Old Man “always appears when the hero is in a hopeless and desperate situation” and Harry was certainly in dire straights after the murder of his parents as a helpless infant. The Wise Old Man typically offers guidance that in a mystical way may impress upon someone a sense of who they are, thereby acting as a mentor. And that is wholly so as Dumbledore teaches Harry how to be a man and to be a wizard, he tells him great truths of life.

Lord Voldemort

Voldemort is the Devil Figure or the Villain in Jungian classification. Being Devil Figure he tries to destroy the Hero: "Don't you turn your back at me, Harry Potter! I want you to look at me when I kill you! I want to see the light leave your eyes!" [18].

Discussing the name of the most malicious wizard, trying to take over the Wizarding World, Morris explains that the word is made up of parts which explicitly define the character: the morphemes volde (an obsolete word will) and mort (French word meaning “dead”). He further argues that with these references to death, the combination of the two words “implies a definite characteristic of Voldemort himself. He is the will of death; it is his will that those who oppose him shall die.” Also it's interesting to note, that "Vol de mort" means "Flight from Death" in French, which makes perfect sense since he was obsessed with idea of immortality.

The part of Voldemort's soul that lives in Harry, the internal dark side of his personality, the inner-Voldemort, represents none other than Shadow archetype.

Harry and Voldemort share obvious background similarities. The name “Thomas” (Voldemort's real name) means ‘twin’ in Aramaic. Besides, the connection of the mind between the two embodies the Creature of Nightmare archetype.

Severus Snape

Severus Snape impersonates several archetypes:

The Shapeshifter: he gains Voldemort's trust, though he really is on the side of Dumbledore;

The Evil Figure with a good heart: he loved Harry's mother, Lily, and he protected Harry through all of these years, though he acted like he hated him;

The Tragic Antihero: someone who (merely accidentally than intentionally) destroys his own happiness, and therefore often turns back to fighting the evil.

Snape was the one who revealed the prophecy to the Dark Lord unaware that it referred to Lily's son. That cost him love of his life. From that moment on he switched sides and turned spy against Voldemort.

The Faithful Servant: the relationship between Dumbledore and Snape is of an unusually strong loyalty, so much so that Snape agreed to kill Dumbledore upon his own request.

The Celibate archetype: Snape continued to love Lily on a deep and strong romantic level for the rest of his life and he has never touched a woman.

The Curmudgeon: irritable man, who hardly smiles or socializes, he easily finds faults in everything and punishes the hero for minor mistakes; Severus means "stern" in Latin, and is the root of the English word "severe".

The Trickster Figure: Sarcasm and acerbic remarks constitute his brand of humour; although most of it is at a student’s expense, it is funny.

Severus Snape is the most ambiguous character in the Harry Potter series.

Hermione Granger

Being a strong female character that is primarily about the brain, Hermione also represents several archetypes:

The Analyst: she is always able to investigate situations rationally, she meets challenges with her logic and successfully unravels all the mysteries. Her brilliance is not lost upon her friends: 'You're a genius,' – Ron repeated, looking awed. 'Yeah, you are, Hermione,' – agreed Harry fervently. 'I don't know what we'd do without you'

Academic archetype: she is the quintessential Brain. Having achievedbrilliant academic performance, she is easily the best student at Hogwarts.

Know-it-all: Hermione impresses the teachers and provides unwanted advise in her 'bossy voice'. Students find her tone and her stringent proclivities irritating.

The Outsider: being raised in a Muggle family, Hermione overcompensates by studying all the time and following rules. At times she can be annoying, bossy, nagging which creates some tension. Besides, the classmates are jealous of her.

Cinderella & The Ugly Duckling archetype: starting out as an outcast, the muggle-born, Hermione gets a firm footing in the wizarding community, establishes herself as the most competent witch and is considered to be 'the brightest witch of her age'.

Anima: Hermione is Harry’s 'inner woman', an integral feminine part of his psyche.

She is the one who guides him through the ‘labyrinthine perils’ of his quest.

Platonic Ideal: Hermione is a source of inspiration and a spiritual ideal. The protagonist has an intellectual rather than a physical attraction to her.

The Sidekick: In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone it is easy to see Hermione as "submissive to the patriarchal hegemony", however, clearly, as the series progress, she is able to "claim her own feminist space". She is a spellcaster with the abilities that are comparable superior to that of the titular character.

The Hero: Sady Doyle considers Harry to be a "male damsel-in distress" and proves Hermione to be the real hero of the story [7]. She provides emotional fortitude to Harry and Ron in the battle against Voldemort.

Ron Weasley

Ron Weasley is Harry's best friend and he provides a comic relief in his life. Always a helpful ally, Ron joins Harry on his adventures.

Ron represents the Sidekick archetype.

Being the third part of the trio, Ron, however, is more equal to Harry than Hermione is. Harry and Ron often choose to stay on the same side in an argument, while Hermione is placed on the opposite side. There is an interesting dynamic to Harry’s and Ron’s friendship. They represent the classic hero-sidekick structure which works well when Harry goes through the trials of the archetypal hero, but when it comes to their friendship this imbalance works against them. Harry receives the attention that Ron, as the second youngest of seven siblings, yearns for. That's why Ron is also easily recognized as a Hero's Shadow archetype. In his turn, Harry also envies Ron because of his large and loving family, not fully aware of Ron's struggle to keep up with the older brothers.That represents him as the youngest son archetype. Perhaps, one of the reasons Ron develops courage lies in attempt to bolster his status.

Rowling also positions Ron as the Warrior Hero archetype: together with Harry he faces many challenges where he proves to be capable of self-sacrifice.

Rubeus Hagrid

The Friendly Beast. Hagrid is big and hairy half-giant with frightening appearance. But he is very kind-hearted and immediately makes a good friend.

Gentle giant. A physically imposing but good-natured character.

Eternal Child archetype. He prefers not to grow up or embrace the responsible life of an adult, and is determined to remain young in mind, body and spirit forever.

Hogwarts groundkeeper has the qualities of spontaneity and playfulness [9].

Wild Man archetype. Hagrid is in love of freedom, his connection with nature and animals, and his rejection of the comforts of ordinary civilization. One of the strongest illustrations of Hagrid as the archetypal Wild man is demonstrated through the “baby dragon” incident. Hagrid treats it as his own child. He even sings lullabies to the dragon. After weeks, when Hagrid finally accepts that he can't keep the dragon forever, he cries like a baby. Before the dragon is finally released to wild, he packed the baby dragon's favorite teddy bear with it.

Herald figure. Hagrid is envoy who personally delivers the invitation to Hogwarts to Harry.

Threshold Guardian. Hagrid tests Harry's courage to begin his journey.

Molly Weasley

The Nurturing Mother. Molly Weasley is the ultimate mother figure. She has 5 children and is good representation of birth and fertility. She is a very mothering character, always cooking food, buying school supplies, and taking her children to the train station and sending them off to school. She is very protecting of her children and friends. Molly Weasley is a generous woman who is a foil to the insufferable Petunia Dursley and shows Harry what a mother's love should be. Molly Weasley offers spiritual and emotional nourishment to those with whom she comes in contact.

Sirius Black

Sirius Black epitomizes the Farther Figure. Since Harry’s parents are absent, it’s quite inevitable that this archetype found its way into the story early on. Sirius is there for Harry whether it’s in the form of a letter or a face in the fire.

He always appears when Harry is in real trouble.

Ginny Weasley

Ginny is quite obviously the Maiden. A maiden is saved by the hero, is innocent, and is young and beautiful. Ginny is younger than Ron and Harry and her first year is in the Chamber of Secrets. She is quite naive and thus easily taken by Tom Riddle. He takes advantage of her innocence and uses her to re-open the chamber. Also she could be a symbol of her and Harry's love for each other that develops, really throughout most of the books. It is such an innocent relationship, especially for the maturity level they are at, given the situations they have experienced.

In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Ginny can be considered Damsel in Distress – a vulnerable woman that must be saved by the hero.

Harry and Ginny represent Star-Crossed Lovers. These two characters engaged in a love affair fated to end tragically for one or both due to the disapproval of society, friends, family, or some tragic situation. Other times it is a situation which separates the lovers, such as war, their respective positions in society, where they live, or untimely death. Unlike most of the Star-Crossed Lovers, they do have a happy ending.

Cho Chang

Cho Chang actually possesses all the characteristics of Temptress archetype: being very beautiful, she attracts the Hero and lures him away from his quest. Cho Chang causes Harry to lose his focus with Dumbledore's Army.

Draco Malfoy

Draco is Harry's rival and impersonates the Bully: Draco verbally abuses and threatens his chosen target, Harry Potter and his friends. His posse Crabbe and Goyle, through not very intelligent are there as a wall of muscle to back up his threats.

He also takes on the archetype of the Child. This shows especially when he bites off more than he can chew in the sixth book. He thinks he can kill Dumbledore all by himself when it’s quite obvious he can do no such thing. It would take a man to admit he needed help, but Draco foolishly tries to ignore that.

He engages in situations far beyond his ability to handle emotionally, he really becomes his own worst enemy. Deep down, Draco is very vulnerable.

Crabbe and Goyle

The Fools. Crabbe and Goyle are big and dumb. They eat a lot of food and follow Malfoy around like a lost puppy. They do anything Malfoy says and often have

that “What’s going on?” glazed over look.

Neville Longbottom

Neville impersonates the Village Idiot archetype. It is a character known locally for ignorance or stupidity which turns out to be very brave and underestimated.

It suits very neatly as we know Neville does not do well in class, although he is brave and very good in Herbology, which he only receives recognition for much later.

Neville is mocked throughout the series for being weak and stupid.

But eventually he stands up to his bullies and becomes an important part of Harry’s victory by destroying one of the seven Horcruxes that needs to be eliminated in order to kill Voldemort. Much like Harry, Neville rises above his past and becomes a hero in his own right. He is regarded as the Loyal Retainer archetype or The Every Man Hero by some literary critics.

Luna Lovegood

Luna impersonates Wise fool archetype – a fool with an attribute of wisdom. She is superficially loopy person with vast reserves of strength and wisdom inside.

Fred and George Weasley

The Jesters archetype (the Tricksters). Always looking for humour in bad situations, the Weasley twins provide comic relief during the darker parts of the book. Meaningless jokes, pranks, and games are their trademarks.

Peeves the poltergeist

Trickster. Peeves the Poltergeist is not a ghost, but a Spirit of Chaos. He likes dropping things, singing silly songs and takes pleasure in causing havoc.

Dolores Umbridge

She represents the Tyrant archetype. As with all tyrants, her viciousness grew when a few of the controls were removed. She was an abuser of children when she could get away with it at Hogwarts and became an abuser of Muggle-borns and other unfortunates.

Minerva McGonagall

The Crone. She is an old wise woman. She’s got the wisdom of many years and

experience, and she uses those to help the Hero.

Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix Lestrange could be considered an Unfaithful wife. She finds her husband dull or unattractive and seeks a more virile or interesting man. Bellatrix is more devoted to Voldemort than to her own husband.