Harry Potter and Lacan

Inspired by this post on ACVoice, I started thinking about Harry Potter’s Mirror of Erised in relation to Lacan.

When explaining to Harry the Mirror of Erised, Albus Dumbledore said, “Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is . . . It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.”

Indeed, even the name “Erised” is “desire” spelt backwards.  (It is interesting to note that if you held a sheet of paper that read, “erised” to a mirror, you would read, “desire.”)

Doesn’t JK Rowling’s Mirror of Erised accurately fit Lacan’s mirror stage?  The mirror stage represents the subject’s best imaginative approximation of who one wants to be.

harry potterWhen Harry looks into the Mirror of Erised, he is presented with an unfragmented version of himself.  Not only does he see himself, but he also sees his parents.  The Mirror of Erised version of Harry is not fragmented by the loss of his parents.  The Mirror of Erised Harry feels complete.  (There is a YouTube link to the scene by clicking on the image.)

It is also interesting to note that the Mirror of Erised makes its appearance in the first installment of the Harry Potter series.  It is not until Harry Potter can have a moment of self-identification through a triangulation of seeing himself through the third party of his parents, that Harry can defeat Lord Voldemort.  Harry doesn’t discover the Mirror of Erised before he defeats Lord Voldemort in the first installment; he discovers the Mirror of Erised, and begins to fully understand his role as Harry Potter, prior to his defeating Lord Voldemort.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have another reading of the Mirror of Erised?  Can we see Lacan in any other Harry Potter scenes?

5 thoughts on “Harry Potter and Lacan

  1. Also interesting because Harry has just learned about his parents and who he is, so the mirror of Erised episode really is in the midst of a huge moment moment of self-identity realization.

  2. Derya, I am obsessed with your post. Brilliant! As a Harry Potter geek, I love looking at HP in the context of other disciplines. After reading your post, I was curious to see if there was more writing online about Lacan and HP and found a blog (now defunct) dedicated to examining the Mirror of Erised/Lacan’s Mirror Stage: http://lacansmirroroferised.blogspot.com/

  3. but then harry cannot be complete coz the mirror is supposed to show desire
    rather, if harry say parents and family in a normal mirror, then he would actually have not been fragmented
    the mirror of erised shows your demands being met. not desires or needs.

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