Carl Gustav Jung’s Psychological Archetypes
In many narrations today, we see recurring archetypes, which are in other words, similar structures of characters and themes that appear in different pieces of work. Neo-Freudian psychologist Carl Gustav Jung explains that archetypes are what capture our attention and keep us drawn into these stories. According to Jung’s theory, these archetypes are appealing and familiar to us because we are all born with representations of universal figures in our collective conscious. Whereas the personal conscious is a collection of one’s own individual encounters and memories, the collective conscious is an extensive set of images and ideas that is shared among all human beings. In his essay The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, Jung states that the “concept of the archetype, which is an indispensible correlate of the idea of the collective unconscious, indicates the definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere” (Jung, 1959, p. 42). Certainly, these archetypes can be recognized in films, myths, plays, and literature pieces. Although plots and characters in different stories are not identical, archetypes serve as the core from which they stem. For example, we can see that the Hero and the Shadow (more familiarly known as the villain) are archetypes that have been shared and used in countless stories. In this paper, the focus will be on the archetypal hero of J.K. Rowling’s novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and also on the archetypal themes found throughout Harry Potter’s adventure.
Christopher Vogler points out that one character is able to embody many archetypes within the full course of a story, like putting on different masks in a play (Vogler, 1999, p.30). In addition, Allan G. Hunter suggests that a hero must go through many forms or stages to develop into a complete character (Hunter, 2008, p.10). The main archetypal roles that are highlighted for Harry Potter are the Child, Orphan, Warrior, and Caregiver. Harry starts off as the child archetype as he is able to distinguish whom to give his trust. This discernment becomes quite useful for Harry as he builds meaningful relationships with those who help him later on when he encounters Voldemort. We see this when Harry becomes good friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, while he stays away from Draco Malfoy, who later tries to help Voldemort kill Harry. The child archetype is also optimistic and hopeful that he will be safe, and this is exemplified when he meets Dumbledore for the first time. Harry is able to fully trust that he is safe as long as Dumbledore is watching over him at Hogwarts.
Along with the child archetype, Harry slowly transitions into the orphan archetype. As both the archetypal and literal orphan, Harry seeks the purpose of his life and desires to know the truth of his parents and his past. Despite living with his blood-related Aunt and Uncle, Harry is alienated from the family while his cousin Dudley is showered with love and material gifts. The Dursley’s clearly treat Harry poorly, providing him with only the bare necessities, making him live in a spider-infested cupboard under the staircase and severely punishing him for even the smallest mistakes. He is an outcast both at school and home, and does not have any extraordinary talents that make him special. It is the orphan archetype that leads Harry to accept the fact that he is on his own and that he must become independent in order to survive. At the same time, he learns to be patient with his situation and abide by what the Dursley’s say in order to keep peace. Readers sympathize with Harry’s orphan archetype because everyone is able to understand the feeling of wanting to be accepted and loved. Literal orphan or not, people have been isolated at one point, however brief, and know what it feels like to crave the acceptance of family and friends.
The warrior archetype is…