archetypes and magic

Well, it's finally over. After all these years, much hoo-ha and excitement, I finally saw the last Harry Potter movie. I became fascinated with the books after seeing kids queueing on the news to pick up their copy of the third book. As a lover of children's literature, I had to see what all the fuss was about, so I began at the beginning (where all stories start). I was hooked. Since then I have been one of those people pre-ordering my copy of the latest tome, and then rapturously enjoying each film as they helped drive the hype.

But here I am, finally at the end. I wanted to let all the fuss die down, so Peter and I caught a session at a small cinema on saturday afternoon. Strapped in with my choc-top and a hanky, I was ready to delve into the wonderful escapist world and see the final showdown I had imagined when I read the book. I sat there with tears streaming, similarly to reading the book a few years ago. Heart pounding, body trembling and heart aching I watched as the boy wizard confronted his fate like the hero we knew him to be. I adored it.

When I finished reading the last book, I began to become interested in the theory of archetypes. Many people dismiss the Harry Potter series merely as being ideas pinched from many other stories or myths. I've always found this insulting and short sighted. The idea of archetypes is that most great stories all have similar themes/lessons/characters etc. These are the stories that have been told throughout time. They resonate with us because they speak of the human condition, or are perhaps lessons to be learned. Does it really matter that the hero's quest has been played out in Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Alien, Star Wars etc? It's easy to pick the similarities, but this makes them no less wonderful stories.

I just did a quick search of the internet and found a few interesting links, to pages about 'how to' write fiction using archetypes, a book on Jungian archetypes, and mythological archetypes in Harry Potter. This shows that those familiar themes and stories, whether they resonate through psychology or literature, all play a part in our collective culture. Call me a nerd, but I find this interesting! Perhaps it's also because I love great storytelling, and enjoy getting swept into other worlds.

After seeing the film I was contemplating a few things. If we follow the archetypes, I guess one important lesson we learn is about good and evil. Right and wrong. The best woven story tapestry will show that this is not simply black and white, but grey at times. Harry - Good, Voldemort - Bad, Snape - ? Well, you just had to wait to find out. So how do we measure this in real life? My workplace has been going through much upheaval, with bad behaviour by managers and imminent redundancies, resulting in a toxic and unhappy environment. I know that many of us feel like we are 'fighting the good fight' and preferring to band together for support and try to keep our personal integrity intact. But what if the managers think their fight is the righteous one? Not everyone can be right and on the side of good. The bad guys don't always wear black. I guess its me trying to make sense of people who see the world, human behaviour and interactions so vastly different from myself.

And what of the riots in England? Where do those important life lessons and sense of personal integrity go to in a mob situation? For me this highlights the importance of these life lesson, and timeless stories. It is a reminder to be true to ourselves, and remember that sometimes in life the journey will require sacrifice and hardship. We are lucky to have good and loyal friends at our side, a mentor to guide us, and much to be learned. I guess that's why I sobbed in the cinema. Harry Potter has taught me that a world with love and friendship is more important than power; that true friends are to be treasured, and that sometimes in life there are things worth fighting for. And this is why I will read these books and watch these movies over and over again throughout my life. As a touchstone for all I hold dear.

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Nejla McFarlane said…
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