Archetypes in Harry Potter

In this article you will learn about the archetypes in Harry Potter, the record breaking series of novels by JK Rowling, which contains examples of various archetypes commonly seen in literature throughout the ages.

What are the Archetypes in Harry Potter?

Harry himself is both the archetypal orphan and the hero.

He starts the story living in a cupboard without any parents and little in the way of emotional or physical support, scarred physically and mentally.

Throughout the series he finds his purpose in the world and displays numerous heroic qualities, such as bravery, determination, strength, endurance, morality and a sense of justice.

He uses his intellect and skill to fight for the causes he believes in and displays enormous empathy, kindness and loyalty towards others.

In Voldemort we see the shadow of Harry, the archetypal villain who will stop at nothing to achieve his evil desires.

He lacks any concern for the consequences of his actions for others and will stop at nothing to achieve power and control over all around.

Hagrid is the archetypal herald. As the herald he appears at the start of Harry’s story and brings the so-called ‘call to adventure’ for the hero through revealing his true wizarding nature and background.

He can also be seen as an archetypal innocent for, though not young in age, he is naive in nature, innocent and unable to see the bad intentions of those around him.

Dumbledore is a classic example of the archetypal mentor and wise old man/sage.

Dumbledore uses the wisdom he has gained through age and experience of the world to guide and mentor Harry in a way that no other character can or will.

He recognises danger where others do not and is able to give wise counsel to Harry on how best to combat the dangers that arise.

Sirius is the archetypal outcast, having to live isolated from society in hiding because he is on the run from the law and shunned by many due to their belief in his wrong doing.

Snape is an archetypal shapeshifter, with changeable and uncertain loyalties and beliefs throughout the series.

Ron and Hermione are archetypal sidekicks who are reliable and loyal companions to Harry throughout the series, willing to risk everything to help him due to their unflinching loyalty.

Harry Potter Book Summary

  • Harry Potter finds out aged 11 that he is a wizard despite living in the ordinary world with the Muggles, non-magical people.
  • The parallel wizard world is secret and hidden.
  • Harry is invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland.
  • The novels follow his progress throughout his adolescence where he faced numerous challenges due to his magical powers and ordinary teenage problems such as friendships, romance and schoolwork.
  • Harry befriends Ron and Hermione. However, a teacher at the school is possessed by the evil Lord Voldemort, who tries to steal the philosopher’s stone from headmaster Dumbledore.
  • Harry, Ron and Hermione stop him from doing so. Ron’s sister Ginny finds Voldemort’s teenage diary and he uses this to possess her and open the Chamber of Secrets.
  • The snake living in the chamber is freed and hurts many, including Hermione but Harry and Ron are able to save everyone.
  • Harry’s godfather Sirius Black escapes from the magical world’s prison, Azkaban.
  • Harry mistakenly believes him responsible for his parent’s death. Sirius arrives at Hogwarts in dog form to attack the person who actually caused their death – who is now in the form of Ron’s rat.
  • All believe Sirius is targeting Harry until Harry realises the truth and saves him from the Dementors (prison guards).
  • The Tri-Wizard Tournament is a dangerous competition between three wizarding schools and, despite being under-age, Harry is nominated for it.
  • He survives and with fellow student Cedric is transported to another place where Voldemort is re-incarnate himself.
  • He and his side-kick Ron’s rat were expecting only Harry.
  • They kill Cedric and take Harry’s blood, allowing Voldemort to get his body back. Harry escapes.
  • Few believe Harry and Dumbledore that Voldemort is back, so they form a group of students named Dumbledore’s Army to prepare to face Voldemort.
  • When they set off to acquire a prophecy regarding Harry and Voldemort they are attacked by Voldemort’s people.
  • They are saved by members of the Order of the Phoenix, but Sirius dies.
  • Voldemort wages war.
  • Harry is given a potions textbook by “The half blood prince” and learns about Voldemort’s life, discovering he has divided his life into parts and placed them in objects such as the diary, a ring etc called Horcruxes.
  • Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to destroy these in order to destroy Voldemort, the world now having been taken over by him.

Harry Potter Archetype Examples

  • Hero
  • Villain
  • Herald
  • Innocent
  • Mentor
  • Wise old man
  • Sage
  • Outcast
  • Shapeshifter
  • Sidekick

Want more literary archetypes?

Go check out our extensive list of archetypes in literature to find out more about the characters seen in literature throughout the ages.

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