Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone

HarryPotterAndTheSorcerersStoneThe Harry Potter series has been a source of both fan accolades and at the same time Christian rejection. Christian apologists have been wary of fully accepting Rowling’s works due to the use of spells, Wiccan practices, and humanist undertones that they believe are contrary to Christian principles. This begs the question, starting with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, can there be a New Stories, Old Book theme in fiction literature that may run counter to Christian beliefs?

At its very foundation, Harry Potter is a story of good versus evil underpinned with self-discovery. Harry’s heroic journey begins with his initial inclination that there is something that sets him apart from other people. From that introduction and use of prophesized destiny there are several examples of what could be considered Biblical themes and symbolism.

Harry is referred to as “the boy who lived” by those he meets in the wizard world, and is a living example of faith and love besting darkness.  One of the first examples of faith is Harry charging the Platform 9 ¾ wall to enter the magical world on the Hogwarts Express. These examples can be paralleled with humans taking a leap of faith by believing in a power much greater than themselves, or in making a transition from an earthly world to heavenly destination.

The importance of companionship and loyalty is an important theme when Harry becomes friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Such relationships and companionships are notably mentioned throughout many scriptures such as Jesus and his disciples, Moses and his people, etc.

aslan3

Harry is sorted to Gryffindor, whose symbol is a Lion, which is synonymous with the son of God in not only the Bible but also several other literary works, such C.S. Lewis’s lion, Aslan, in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Christmas is celebrated in the book, where Harry receives his Invisibility Cloak as a gift. Whether or not she means this as a religious holiday, or a celebration of the secular tradition is not completely evident. However to take a stand that it is not a theological based book, one would wonder why one of the most religious based holidays would be celebrated so prominently.

The plot develops into a mystery concerning “the Sorcerer’s Stone” which can provide the elixir of life, hinting at man’s desire for eternalness. Professor Quirrell is revealed as the antagonist, who has allowed Lord Voldemort (the embodiment of evil) to possess him. This could be construed as a reference to Lucifer’s role as the great deceiver and one who has two faces.

VoldemortQuirellFinally, sacrifice is ever present in the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry sacrificed greatly in his ten years living with the Dursleys, wizards sacrificed some or all in fighting Voldemort, Ron makes a sacrifice during the chess challenge so Harry can get to the Sorcerer’s Stone, and finally it is revealed that it was Lilly Potter’s sacrifice which protected Harry.

J.K. Rowling has given interviews where she has stated that Harry Potter is not based in theology or religion. She states that Harry Potter is meant to transcend religion to universal themes. Which brings us back to the question…can New Stories, Old Book themes be found in fiction literature which may not be intended for that purpose? Are New Stories, Old Book principles in the eye of the reader?  What other novels contain these Biblical elements that may be on the surface counter to Christian beliefs?

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Posted on December 28, 2012, in Books, Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Even if Rowling didn’t intend the biblical themes, I think they are there in the good versus evil story line. Maybe I just see biblical influences in every story where a basically good person is chosen to defeat an evil entity, from Harry and Voldemort to Frodo and Sauron. Perhaps Rowling didn’t consciously realize the biblical theme. I know it’s not until Goblet of Fire (right?) but Voldemort’s even got a serpent to do his bidding. Hello?! Garden of Eden anyone? 😉 As we later learn, the snake is a piece of his soul. *shudder* I hate snakes. But I totally see your point in The Sorceror’s Stone when Voldemort has possessed Quirrell and even when he’s a cloaked figure in the forest, drinking a unicorn’s blood. Maybe it’s not exactly biblical but to me, he seems like a devilish figure. Also, when Harry is afraid he’ll be sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor, similarities could be drawn to the temptation of Christ. The good hero always seems to worry he may actually be evil at his core. Maybe that’s not exactly Christ-like, but hopefully, it makes sense what I’m trying to say. 🙂

  2. Interesting post, Jamie. I love the Harry Potter series. Even if a religious theme is not intended, I can see how an author’s religious background might seep into their stories, like the Christmas scene in Harry Potter. Perhaps J.K. Rowling meant that good vs. evil theme is more about morality, which could apply to any religion.

  3. Thanks Amy and Lori for stopping by and joining in. I am going to try to go through each book in the series and see what I can discover within. I appreciate your thoughts and insights!

  4. It seems to me that Western culture is steeped in Biblical themes and traditions. When you stop to think, it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. So as writers, if we are writing from a reference of Western tradition, it would be hard not to draw on elements which are Biblical at their core. I think that’s why so many of us never realize we are writing Biblical FanFiction until we’re done and someone says… “Oh, were you doing that because…?” Those themes are imbedded in our thought, our music, our traditions, even our language and certainly our metaphor… they are a part of our world no matter what we adopt in terms of religion. So I think yes, a story might have elements which run counter to Christian (or Jewish) beliefs, and still contain Biblical themes or elements. I mean, isn’t that what fiction does? Mixes up the real and the unreal, combines what we believe and what we know to be fantastic, and creates the magic of Story? It’s sort of a whole new way to look at the phrase “a leap of faith.”

    What would be really interesting would be to read stories from writers outside Western culture and see it their work does the same thing with their traditions! I work at an international school, so I think I’ll ask some of the folks there if they have any insights, and I’ll let you guys know!

    Great discussion! Thanks, everyone!

    Paula H

  5. Thought of another series that contains Biblical elements and appears to run counter to Christian beliefs: Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files.” It’s an adult series, but very fun. Harry Dresden is a wizard living in modern day Chicago. He has a friend who is a Knight of the Cross, and who was appointed by God to bear a sword which contains one of the nails from Christ’s crucifiction. Harry wrestles with his own faith throughout the series, often with Michael, the Knight, as the catalyst for his growth. Eventually he meets an angel, as well as a fallen angel. He also deals with magic, the Fey, demons, pagan rituals and monsters of all kinds. Including Santa Claus. Harry’s struggles with his own temptation and internal darkness, and his stubborn adherence to the idea of right and wrong, are the highlights of the series.

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