Thursday, July 28, 2005


...which makes no sense. For a great analysis of the symbolism employed by J.R. Rowling in her Harry Potter series of books, take a look at what Dave Kopel wrote in National Review back in 2003. I wonder how many people have informed themselves of this before going off into hysterics.
Rowling has confessed herself to be a great fan of C. S. Lewis, her use of "J. R." for her byline evokes "J. R. R." Tolkien, and she is a member of the Church of Scotland (that's Presbyterian, for American readers).

The most useful parts of The Hidden Key are the author's extensive discussion of symbolism. Harry lives in Gryffindor House, founded by Godric Gryffindor. "D'or" being French for "of gold," we could translate the name as "golden griffin." The griffin has a lion's body and an eagle's wings; a hybrid of the animals that are master of the sky and of the earth, the griffin was traditionally a symbol of Jesus, master of the spiritual and temporal worlds.

The unicorn, too, is a traditional Jesus symbol; pure and powerful, it could only be tamed by a virgin, as Jesus could only be incarnated by a virgin. In Sorcerer's Stone, drinking its blood brings life, and its killing is an especially hideous crime.

The phoenix (which saves Harry's life in Chamber of Secrets) rises to life from its own ashes, and is described by T. H. White as the "resurrection bird." This explains the title of the almost-released book five, The Order of the Phoenix — that is, the alliance of people who band together to fight for resurrection values. "Order" also evokes the fighting Christian religious orders of the Middle Ages, such as the Order of the Knights of Malta.

Read all of it if you can. It's worth a look.


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