Analysis Of Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets Through Carl Jung’s Theories

Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist, is known for his theories of the Collective Unconscious. Such theories include the use of archetypes, some of which include the shadow, the self, the anima and the animus. These archetypes working together are what define the process of individuation. Using J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets among other sources, I will perform a Jungian analysis and describe how Harry Potter beat his shadow, Lord Voldemort and went through the process of individuation. Such experience can be compared to the “Cupid and Psyche” text, and how Venus defeated her shadow, Psyche. Jung believed that dreams the people and objects in your dreams are symbolic figures that represent one’s struggle. These struggles that we undergo are what define us as human beings and their purpose is the make us a more mature and complete being. A Jungian archetype would be described as patterns and images that come from our collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. These patterns and images eventually enter our consciousness and can be seen through our behavior and interactions with the outside world. Although there are many types of archetypes, Jung heavily focuses on five: The self, the anima, the animus, and the shadow.

The shadow is a being that shares the same gender, but it has the opposite personality and self-image. Such shadow can appear as an animal or a human. Regardless of how it appears, the shadow will likely be an enemy of some sort or just a generally wicked being. According to Jung, the anima is a “personification of all feminine tendencies in a man’s psyche, such as vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to the irrational, capacity for personal love, feelings for nature, and his relation to the unconscious”. A man’s anima is shaped by his mother. Similar yet opposite, the animus is the man within a woman. This is shaped by a girl’s father.

Both of these unconscious elements have positive and negative aspects and also form a connection between our personal and collective unconscious. Jung describes the archetype of the self as “the innermost nucleus of the psyche. In the dreams of a woman this center is usually personified s a superior female figure – a priestess, sorceress, earth mother, or goddess of nature or love. In the case of a man, it manifests itself as a masculine initiator and guardian, a wise old man, a spirit of nature, and so forth”. All of these elements are crucial in leading one during the process of individuation. Our texts compare this process, which is the interaction of archetypes to a cooking recipe; it must be in a certain order to get the desired result, which according to Jung is to become a more ‘complete’ person. The order we see these archetypes in as we see the main character through his or her journey usually goes shadow – animus or anima – self. Learning about Carl Jung, these archetypes and the process of individuation immediately reminded me of the great journey of Harry Potter.

Best-selling author J.K. Rowling takes us on the spell-binding journey of Harry Potter, a young wizard attending Hogwarts: the school of witchcraft and wizardry. Harry is idolized from the moment he is seen in the wizard world because he survived an attack brought on by he-who-must-not-be named, AKA Tom Riddle AKA Lord Voldemort. Once a student of Hogwarts himself, Lord Voldemort is easily the most feared and most dangerous wizard in history. Although his parents did not survive the deathly spell, Harry is left alive and his lasting memory of the attack is a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt on his forehead. Six books were written by Rowling, each documenting Harry’s revolutionary fight against Lord Voldemort his attempts to come back to life and remain and the most powerful wizard of all time. Although the series in its entirety is a fulfillment when it comes to the individuation process, I will only be focusing on one of the books. In the second installment of the series, The Chamber of Secrets, Harry fights to find a chamber hidden within Hogwarts, home to a monster that only the heir of Slytherin can contain. While on this journey, Harry realizes that he and Lord Voldemort are much more alike than he chooses to acknowledge, making him his shadow.

Being a male, Lord Voldemort already passes the first step of being Harry’s shadow. The readers also learn that Tom Riddle’s parents died when he was very young, just as Harry’s did, leaving them both as orphans. In the beginning of the Chamber of Secrets, Harry’s shadow is first a spirit from the past that is haunting the halls of Hogwarts. He petrifies students and animals and writes frightening messages on the walls. Riddle eventually regains the form of a human after the chamber is opened. Another scary realization Harry comes to is that he and Riddle both speak Parseltongue, the ability to speak with snakes, something very uncommon. Harry is in a great panic when he is reminded by Hermione that “being able to talk to snakes was what Salazar Slytherin was famous for” and Ron chiming in “and now the whole school’s going to think you’re his great-great-great-grandson or something”. Harry also shares the same uncontrollable anger as Riddle, and both recalled performing unexplainable spells when they were younger. Riddle also physically attached himself to Harry. While attempting to kill Lily and James Potter, Tom’s deathly spell rebounded and causes an adverse reaction which put part of his soul into Harry’s.

Although readers do not get much information about Harry’s late mother, Lily, we know enough to point out how she has affected Harry’s anima in a positive manner. Lily was a great witch. Humble and kind, she was full of love and warmth. This translated into Harry’s persona, whom is kind to all, even his enemies. Dobby the elf describes Harry as “humble and modest”. Another aspect they both share is their bravery. Lily proudly stood in front of Harry, whom was just a toddler at the time, when she was faced with death. Harry was reminded by his mother’s bravery any time he was faced with a difficult or scary situation and was able to conquer it with pride. Although his parents had perished, Harry would never forget what they died for and he would refuse to succumb to the fear that was imposed by the man who was responsible for their deaths. There are a few symbols in the Chamber of Secrets that represent Harry’s self. As our text stated that with men, the self can be manifested in a wise old man, immediately Albus Dumbledore comes to mind. The headmaster of Hogwarts and a white beard as long as Harry’s skinny body, Dumbledore surely fits the part of a ‘wise old man’. Harry’s loyalty to Dumbledore is unmatchable and his respect is immense. While in the chamber, Tom Riddle insists that he is the greatest sorcerer in the world. Harry replies with “Sorry to disappoint you and all that, but the greatest wizard in the world is Albus Dumbledore. Everyone says so. Even when you were strong, you didn’t dare try and take over Hogwarts. Dumbledore saw through you when you were at school and he still frightens you now, wherever you’re hiding these days”. One could see the sword of Gryffindor as a symbol of totality for Harry. The sword presented itself to Harry, a loyal Gryffindor in need, and he was able to defeat Riddle and kill the serpent.

Through his wizarding journey and his archetypes working together, one can easily say that Harry has gone through the process of individuation. Readers identify Harry as the person he is, and in what ways Lord Voldemort is his shadow. Harry also has his companions Hermione, Ron and Dumbledore along with the spirit of his deceased parents that served as animus figures and helped guide him to his Self. With all of this being said, Harry is able to successfully defeat Voldemort and hailed as a hero in Hogwarts. Harry is described as an archetypal hero who “breaks the rules of culture and society because they behave in ways other men and women do not. They change things”. His journey can be compared to the events that unfold in Apuleius’ “Cupid and Psyche”.

Apuleius’ “Cupid and Psyche” is an ancient Greco-Roman piece that includes elements of fairytale and myth. Our text describes that the tale “reads allegorically, symbolizing the struggles the soul must go through to become worthy of the diving power of love”. In short, the story is about a king and queen that have three daughters. The youngest, Psyche, is so beautiful that everyone worships her religiously and Venus now goes unnoticed. Venus becomes so irate with jealousy that she orders her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest person. Cupid strikes her with an arrow but accidentally strikes himself as well and the two fall in love. Venus is evidently Psyche’s shadow. This becomes apparent when we see how upset Venus is over Psyche’s recognition for her beauty. Venus exerts obstruction onto Psyche and thus made it hard for her to accept her for who she is. Readers can also view Venus as a wicket stepmother, a figure that Jung points out. Psyche is also a good example of Jung’s description of the animus, specifically a displaced one. As noted by Jung, the animus is influenced by the father. Readers get a sense of Psyche’s rocky relationship with her father when he lets her know how he feels about how doomed she is. He tells her that she will never marry anybody decent because she has upset Venus and left her to die. The negative relationship they shared cast feelings upon Psyche that influenced her to act in a negative fashion.

Jung also notes that a displaced animus can assume the role of “the robber and murderer”. This aligns perfectly with Psyche’s actions when she wounds her husband. Psyche does eventually tap into her unconscious and settles with her shadow, which leads her to become a more complete Self. Cupid can also be seen as an archetype in this myth whom is going through the process of individuation from his mother Venus. Because Venus was so negative the entire time, this was exerted onto her son who them had a negative personality as she did. In the end, Venus did come to terms with her inner-Self and accepted Psyche for who she is and accepted her marriage to Cupid. Although circumstances can differ, we can all relate to a having a shadow and perhaps think of ways our anima/animus affects us in our day-to-day lives. Carl Jung’s theories certainly hold some truth and we see that truth as certain events play out in our lives and come across different people. One of the many beauties of myth and tales like Harry Potter and “Cupid and Psyche” is that the readers can immerse themselves into the stories and find a character or two that we can relate with.

14 May 2021
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