Reference : Your soul is whole and completely your own, Harry’: The Heroic Self in J.K. Rowling's...
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Your soul is whole and completely your own, Harry’: The Heroic Self in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter.
Steveker, Lena mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (FHSE) > Department of Humanities (DHUM) >]
Heroism in the Harry Potter Series
Steveker, Lena mailto
Berndt, Katrin
United Kingdom
[en] Harry Potter ; doppelgänger
[en] J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is deeply indebted to the tradition of Gothic literature. Not only are the novels set in an enchanted castle complete with ghosts and hidden chambers, they also heavily depend on two key motifs of the Gothic tradition – the doppelganger and the split character. Voldemort is set up as Harry’s doppelganger; due to the parallel structures used to construct both characters, he functions as Harry’s dark mirror image. In addition, Voldemort is represented as a split character in the very sense of the word since he has split his soul into seven Horcruxes, with which he hopes to defeat mortality. Harry is also sketched as a split character as he loses control over his own consciousness from time to time and enters Voldemort’s mind. In short, Voldemort and Harry can be seen as two rewritings of conventional stereotypes of the Gothic tradition.
However, the motif of the split character has an additional function in the Harry Potter series because it can be analysed as negotiating a specific concept of self as well as the relationship between self and ‘other’ which Rowling’s texts outline. As this essay argues, her novels – especially Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007) – conceptualise the self as a closed unity. Harry eventually succeeds in establishing his self when he is eventually able to purge himself from the part of Voldemort’s soul lodging inside himself. Since their hero is established as a separate, autonomous self, the novels can be seen to enter the philosophical discourse of ethics that negotiates the relationship between self and other. In contrast to such influential late 20th-century philosophers as Paul Ricoeur and Emmanuel Levinas, Rowling constructs a concept of self that denies any connection between self and ‘other.’ The Harry Potter series rather privileges a humanist notion of self which can only be called nostalgic from the perspective of 21st-century literary and cultural criticism.
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