Welcome to this guest series on Harry Potter written by my colleague Dr. Priscilla Hobbs. In this series, Dr.Hobbs explores each of the twelve archetypes identified in the PMAI®. She illuminates the ways in which these archetypal energies find narrative form in Potter-verse characters. Keep a watchful eye out for a perspective that offers a balance between archetypal analysis and strong cultural critique. We hope you enjoy this collaboration. Please get in touch with any questions or feedback. Let’s conjure a magical conversation.
By Priscilla Hobbs, Ph.D.
Love is a central theme in Harry Potter. It is a recognized difference, as a differentiation between "good" and "evil," suggesting that a healthy, loving relationship is what keeps one from turning into a dark wizard. As such, the Lover archetype is woven throughout Harry’s adventures and has become a critical aspect of the Potter fandom. It's worth noting that the author’s stance on identity matters complicates how one may see this archetype in the wizarding world, and we honor those negatively affected by her views. Potter is still filled with love, even though the author has chosen to take a public stance against the beliefs of many of her fans.
Despite his upbringing, Harry has an innate ability to love. He is abused by his adoptive family, kept hidden under the stairs, and barely recognized for his birthday. He watches his cousin Dudley get showered with presents and intuits that gifts and material pleasures are not the same as love. Dudley’s behavior toward Harry is nothing short of abusive, falling into the stereotype of the school bully. In many ways, Dudley’s bullying seems to enact the types of abuses the Dursleys themselves wish they could inflict on Harry. Yet, despite his rough beginnings, Harry's ability to love, speculates Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, extends from the short year he spent with his parents before their death. Indeed, Dumbledore’s theory is that his mother’s love, which was transferred to Harry when she received the death curse, becomes his shield against Voldemort. In essence, Harry can love because he was showered with love.
This is the one event that fundamentally separates Harry from Voldemort, Harry’s archenemy, who was abandoned by his mother and raised in an orphanage. We don't know much about the orphanage other than that Voldemort is never adopted and must return there during summer breaks. It seems to be a Dickensian orphanage: dark, dank, unloving, and nonnurturing. Dumbledore suggests that because Voldemort never knew what love felt like, he was never able to develop it.
One other important note about love in the wizarding world: love is hidden in the Department of Mysteries, a government research agency that studies humanity's greater mysteries. Love is locked away behind a magically locked door that cannot easily be opened, suggesting that it is the most dangerous mystery of all, especially if a magical person figures out how to use love and magic to manipulate their relationships. One such manipulation is the love potion, amortentia. Even the smallest dose can remove one’s ability to control their own will. Voldemort’s mother used this love potion to seduce and manipulate his father into loving her. When Voldemort is born, she truly believes that his father will love her, so she stops giving him the potion and releases him from the spell. However, he quickly leaves her, denying her, her fantasy, and their child. So, unlike Harry, Voldemort’s life is defined through artifice, and he never experiences the kind of primal love from a parent that could have changed the trajectory of his entire life.
Because love is such a central archetype, those who can love are the most rewarded in the books. Indeed, no single Lover character exists in the entire series, because all the central characters embrace and radiate some aspect of the archetype. The Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator® (PMAI®) identifies a handful of subtypes that manifest within the books. For example, the partner/intimate is found in characters such as Molly Weasley and Luna Lovegood, both of whom naturally elevate those in their lives, supporting them on their journey and seeding close, bonded relationships. Molly Weasley also helps reflect the harmonizer, someone who is motivated by ensuring harmony in relationships, which, uniquely to Molly, often manifests as keeping others safe. The connector/matchmaker is best represented by the wandmaker, Ollivander, who intuits the best qualities in individuals and helps match them with the perfect wand—an extension of their own magical selves. Luna is also the aesthete, with her ability to recognize beauty in the world and the good in the people around her, even when the worlds is dark and ugly. Several characters represent the bon vivant, such as the Weasley twins, Fred and George, whose passion and enthusiasm are infectious, which they infuse into their joke shop business right at a time when the wizarding world needs humor to balance the creeping darkness of Voldemort’s return.
Ultimately, love is what defeats Voldemort. Just as Harry was shielded by his mother to protect him from Voldemort, Harry is shielded by Draco’s mother through her lie about Harry’s death to reunite with her own son faster. This paves the way for the Warriors—the Hogwarts students—to bring an end to the wizarding world’s culture war.
Dr. Priscilla Hobbs is a senior associate dean at Southern New Hampshire University. She is the author of Harry Potter and the Myth of Millennials: Identity, Reception, and Politics. Her work takes an interdisciplinary view of Harry Potter, as a series and as a phenomenon, to uncover how the appeal of Harry became a lifestyle, a moral compass, and a guiding light in an era fraught with turbulence and disharmony. She argues that this prepared an entire generation for the chaotic present marked by the 2016 election and 2020 pandemic by shaping the political attitudes of its readers, many of whom were developing their political identities alongside Harry. Her analysis focuses on both the novels themselves and the ways in which fans connect globally through the Internet to discuss the books, commiserate about the events swirling around them, and answer calls to action through Harry Potter inspired activism. In short, the book examines how Harry Potter became a generation’s defining mythology of love, unity, and transformation. Her recent TEDx talk focuses on transformation and the American Dream.
I’ve now passed the mantle over to another minister so I can focus on other priorities.
Love is a central theme in Harry Potter. It is a recognized difference, as a differentiation between "good" and "evil"...
January 2023 Newsletter