Harry Potter week in honor of Halloween…
Harry Potter’s story is a classic hero’s quest, and Harry is a classic hero. Here is my own adaptation of how Harry stacks up in Joseph Campbell’s monomyth:
- THE ORDINARY WORLD—Harry starts out as a person of little consequence, small, neglected, and pushed aside.
- THE CALL TO ADVENTURE—This really comes when Hagrid shows up with his letter, because before that Harry didn’t know he had a call.
- REFUSAL OF THE CALL—There is no surprise, given his background, that Harry doesn’t believe he is a wizard.
- MEETING WITH THE MENTOR—The order here gets a little hazy, because Harry has many mentors, one in each book. The primary one, however, has to be Dumbledore, whom he does not meet until he…
- CROSSING THE THRESHOLD—Seeing Hogwarts for the first time from the little boats was a powerful enough experience for me (on film); I can only imagine what it would be like for a little boy who had never had anywhere else to belong.
- TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES—enough of these for seven books! Obviously, Ron and Hermione are his primary go-to guys, and his primary enemy is Voldemort, but there are many others along the way that make these stories so very interesting and addictive.
- APPROACH—Seven books worth of preparing for the final battle with Voldemort.
- THE ORDEAL—As with everything else, you can take this book by book (as each is a complete journey by itself) or apply it to the series as a whole. Given the whole, certainly the ordeal is his meeting with Voldemort and death.
- THE REWARD—These next three really have to be taken as a group when viewed in the story as a whole. You could make an argument, I think, that each book has its own ordeal, reward, road back, and resurrection. But for the overarching framework, let’s just say that Harry achieves peace in ‘heaven’ when Voldemort kills him and has the opportunity to stay with his family. Instead he returns to finish the fight.
- THE ROAD BACK—see above
- THE RESURRECTION—see above
- RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR—This stage of the journey is always the most interesting to me. A hero cannot rest on his laurels and enjoy the fruits of his victory. He has to take what he has learned and go back into the world to use and share it. Rowling is very clear about this in the very last chapter when we see Harry as a grown man, using what he knows to be an auror and raising his children to be brave and honorable like him and the people he has loved.
Harry Potter–a classic hero in an age that needs heroes desperately.