RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "Dumbledore"

Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part II

Alchemical Traces in Harry Potter, Part II

By Kate Daley Bailey….
Harry Potter as Coded text? Not only does Rowling incorporate many overt references to the history and legends surrounding alchemy, she often employs the very methods of communication which noted alchemists used. Alchemists often employed symbols, animal images, anagrams, and various word games/codes in order to keep their finding secrets and safe. While Rowling is not facing the Inquisitors or angry monarchs, her use of codes (anagrams (i.e. Tom Marvolo Riddle/ I am Lord Voldemort) and backwards writing (the Mirror of Erised/Desire) are very compelling to her audience. The most readily identifiable mythic animal associated with alchemy is the Phoenix. The phoenix, the iconic ‘fire bird,’ embodies the ultimate symbol of death and rebirth. It also represents spiritual transformation. This mythical bird plays a defining role in the Harry Potter series, especially the first few books. Harry is particularly troubled when Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, grows very old and bursts into flame before his very eyes. He is even more perplexed when from the ashes a small baby phoenix is born.

Harry Potter and Aristotle's Cultivation of Virtue

Harry Potter and Aristotle’s Cultivation of Virtue

The Harry Potter series lure readers into their pages with promises of adventure and fantasy, all the while covertly educating us on how to live well. Disguised as pure entertainment, these children books instruct both children and adults on how to make good choices in difficult situations. This is not the first time fantasy has acted as a vehicle for conscious or unconscious moral instruction. One need only think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s tiny hobbit’s duty to face unbearable odds and evil in order to save Middle Earth or the inspiring words of Gandalf the Grey to see elements of moral education or mentoring in many faerie stories.