Write an essay in which you locate Jungian archetypes: the self, the ego, the shadow, the persona, the anima/animus, the hero, and the pattern of the hero’s journey. Explore the archetypes within the context of the Hero’s Journey.
This essay is not about the film, as much as it is about Jungian archetypes in the context of the Hero’s Journey. Feel free to incorporate anything else we covered in the first half of the semester (Modules 1–6) if those ideas come up in viewing the film.
Instead, write about archetypal concepts and how those concepts relate to the film. What archetypes do the characters in the film represent? What do they tell you about the human psyche?
For instance, how is the shadow archetype represented and how does it operate? What is its relationship to other archetypes in the film, like the relationship between the hero (ego) and the villain (shadow)? If there is more than one shadow, or more than one hero, how do these character differ and why are they necessary.
Does the plot follow the hero’s journey perfectly or are there differences? If there are places where the plot veers away from the hero’s journey, what changes about the storyline or archetypes?
The Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone shows various archetypal concepts throughout the film and is in fact integral to the overall plot development of the same. Primarily, it is humbly submitted that the hero and shadow archetype dominated the story and in the backdrop, virtually all the other archetypes were illustrated, in their respective ways, in helping the hero with his journey.
Harry Potter, the protagonist, squarely represents the hero archetype since he is a person who takes great risk. He undergoes his journey with absolute courage, further augmenting this argument that the hero archetype is present within his character. The decision making of Harry was pretty radical and straightforward, but nonetheless executed. But like the human psyche, this archetype can be burdened by several factors, which can sometimes consist of the shadow archetype.
The shadow archetype has become an indispensable tool in this Harry Potter story since it allowed the layers of conflicts to revolve in gradual motion and not to mention, thicken the plot, e.g., when Snape turned out to be helping Harry or when Quirrell revealed that Voldemort was with him. This is very similar in real life, where various forces can be made to function against the human psyche (self) in strengthening or destroying the same.
Throughout the story, there were various manifestations of the shadow archetype, occurring in different scenes and in different characters. For elucidation, shadow is basically the archetype which speaks of the unconscious. Applied in the story, the shadow is apparent in Snape, Quirrell and the Mirror of the Erised. The function of the shadow in each is symbiotic to Harry’s journey as a hero.
At the start of the movie, it is apparent that Snape hated Harry since his overt coldness and overall demeanor indisputably shows the same. However, such a belief subsequently turned into a baseless conjecture as it turned out that Snape was an “ally” in ensuring Potter’s safety. Like the shadow archetype which deals with the unconscious, Snape’s hate towards Harry masked his genuine concern for the boy and allowed the hero archetype to continue on with its journey towards succeeding against Voldemort. Note must be taken on the fact that one highlight manifestation of this shadow archetype is its tendency to project in the external world – this is where his non-apparent helpful acts came into play. While it is true that Snape has a certain dislike towards Harry Potter which he manifests externally, his unconscious (the internal) stated otherwise. On the other hand, Professor Quirrell starts out as being the awkward professor of the subject Defense Against the Dark Arts. But as it turned out, he is the one who served as the vessel of Lord Voldemort in bringing about problem to Harry. The shadow aspect is present here not because of the fact that Voldemort lurks amidst Quirell’s turban, rather, the reason is something similar, albeit diametrically opposite, with Snape’s case. Snape’s conscious acts showed hate while his unconscious showed otherwise, while Quirrel’s overt acts showed passivity and harmlessness while his unconscious (being a follower of Voldemort) subsequently manifested the opposite – and consequently, functioned as something that stifled the hero’s journey. This is the aspect which shows the function of the conflicting archetypes, illustrated in the form of the protagonist and hero contending against the other.
One blatant representation of the shadow is shown in the scenes where the Mirror of the Erised is being used by Potter. In a nutshell, the primary function of said mirror is to show the viewer things which the latter desires. The desire being portrayed by the mirror can serve as the projection of the psyche’s wants, or in this case, the hero’s inner desire. This is helpful since it brought about this personal realization that the psyche needs to be informed of its inner desires in order to avoid the instance where desires are just locked within the crevices of the human mind.
In terms of the other archetypal concepts that were shown in the story, they were minor in detail, but nonetheless substantial in the journey of the hero, when applied in proper discussion of the Jungian concept of archetypes. They are as follows:
Hagrid served as the caregiver archetype since his love towards Harry was unconditional. He made sure that the boy was taken care of and even facilitated the latter’s personal journey as the hero.
Hermoine and Ron both represent the explorer and regular archetypes. As can be seen in the film, their presence were more oriented towards being the co-equal companions of Harry (regular archetype) and their connection with the hero is strengthened by their freedom in exploring their environment (explorer archetype). Harry Potter’s journey in protecting the Philosopher’s Stone would not be in any measure possible without the friendly assistance of both Ron and Hermoine. To some extent, it can also be said that the outlaw archetype is present in Harry, Ron and Hermione because some aspect of their adventures dealt with the “prohibited.”
All in all, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone shows the perfect illustration of the interplay of archetypes. While it is highly conceded that each Jungian archetype is possessed of different attributes which makes each of them unique, the foregoing discussion would prove that it is possible for them to be complementary with each other. Thus, if there is anything that can be drawn from here, it is the fact that the human psyche needs to be enriched by various archetypes in order to reach its maximum potential. But this does not mean that literally every archetype must be pre
sent. What the stated premise implies is that the various archetypes to be implied should at least be compatible and oriented towards the same goal.