Many quite well and establishes fundamental values that are

Many
forms of media are formulaic in the sense that they incorporate psychoanalytic
values from the period of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Whether this is intentional
or purposeful, these theories are often found in media because they are materialized
by our unconscious. A notable instance are the characters in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The
first book summarizes the plot of the series quite well and establishes
fundamental values that are explored later in the sequels. Common
manifestations of the unconscious are shown through the thoughts of Harry
Potter and friends, and archetypes of characters are connected to the theories
mentioned by Jung. As such, I have appropriately chosen the first book to identify
the framework of these values and how they relate to Freud and Jung’s concepts.

In this paper, I will uncover how the unconscious, or collective unconscious
(in Jung’s perspective), controls or influences the production of media in the
book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s
Stone, and how it helps the audience relate to and understand the story
better, leading up to its inevitable worldwide success.

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            Berger explores Freud’s theory that psychoanalytic
criticism is a form of study that uses psychoanalytic concepts to understand
subject matters concerning the relationship between the conscious and
unconscious processes of the human mind (Berger 75). In short, unconscious
thoughts are often repressed because they are inappropriate for societal
expectations or contain animalistic tendencies. It struggles with the fight
among the conscious thoughts, or thoughts that we are conscious of. Freud came
up with the prospect of the structural hypothesis containing the id, commonly
known as the unconscious and contain repressed thoughts like libido; and the
ego, which maintains the balance between the id and superego; and superego, which
is the moral and learned societal expectations from culture or religion. It is
vaguely similar to Freud’s topographical hypothesis on the unconscious,
preconscious, and conscious mind, respectively. The overall commentary is that we
have many desires (id), much of which are inappropriate and cannot be
reasonably fulfilled and are blocked by the conscious mind (ego and superego),
so we repress them or control them so that they never come to light. Berger
then explains that media, therefore, is an outlet that allows us to satisfy our
unconscious needs (Berger 75).

            One instance of Berger’s explanation
of psychoanalytic theory are the main cast themselves. Using Freud’s structural
hypothesis, Harry is the ego that mediates Ron, the id, and Hermione, the
superego (Berger 87). Ron is blunt and loud-mouthed, as seen by when his mother
tells him not to ask Harry of his identity, and his first instinct when he sits
near Harry on the train is to ask him if he really is the one who stopped
Voldemort. The id is similar in that it is driven by the unconscious mind without
a filter and is motivated by pleasure and wish fulfillment; in this case, it
would be Ron asking Harry despite being told not to. Hermione is the complete
opposite of Ron. In the first book, Harry and Ron (but more so Ron) have a huge
dislike of Hermione because she follows the rules rigidly, going so far as to
chase them down the Gryffindor tower to ascertain that Harry and Ron don’t
sneak out so that Gryffindor house doesn’t lose more points for breaking the
rules. Hermione evidently embodies the superego, the controlling part of the
mind that is created by rules and culture. In fact, the first novel consists
mainly of Ron and Hermione bickering about the rules, with Harry thinking that
both sides are being very harsh to one another. Harry, therefore, is the ego. With
that said, Ron’s purpose as the unconscious mind is to serve as a plot device
for the audience, to answer the confusing or unwritten parts through his blunt
personality. Hermione serves as a buffer to that, so the book doesn’t come off
as too aggressively focused on the plot, but also on the relationship among the
trio. Harry is quiet around the two albeit speaking up whenever a large
argument occurs, allowing the dialogue to be focused mainly on Ron and Hermione’s
disagreements, once again highlighting their hostile id and superego counterparts
being assuaged by the ego. The process of our id and superego fighting is
something that we feel but are not aware of. A popular example of this is when
we diet to look pretty (superego), but we fail because we constantly think of
eating chocolate cake (id). Ron and Hermione slowly overcome their differences,
as apparent by the end of the book when Ron and Hermione compromise and agree
to be friends after having helped Harry (the ego) defeat the charms and bewitching
spells that led to the sorcerer’s stone, and becomes ideal because it is
something that we try to solve within ourselves. Thus, Ron and Hermione’s
relationship is one of the main reasons that the coming together of the id and superego
could be why we have a penchant for the series.  

            The Weasley family features many
latent or “hidden” layers of discourse as archetypal characters. Ron, after
looking in the Mirror of Erised, found himself the Quidditch captain, Head Boy,
and more significant than his brothers. One can argue that the mirror mirrors
Ron’s wish fulfillment in the form of a dream, as he is the representation of
the id. Ron is constantly fighting for his parents’ and his peers’ attention,
being the youngest boy in the family and trying to live up to his elder brother’s
achievements and parents’ expectations. A more prominent and ostentatious
characteristic are the twins, Fred and George, who act as jokers to get
attention whereas their older brothers were Quidditch captain and Head Boy. The
Weasleys’ mother also verbally comments that they (the trio) should learn to be
more like their elder brothers. The theory of the Oedipal complex, fighting for
their mother’s love, is an unconscious one. We can see that this theory is
applicable to their family, as every brother above Ron, Fred, and George, were
prized with achievements whereas they have to go out of their way to earn their
mother’s attention. Though in the end, the fear of their father, a masculine
figure, diminishes this feeling and they look for love elsewhere. The first
book does not go through their father’s assertiveness nor their love lives
until much later, and for the sake of consistency, will not be discussed further.

However, it does provide some insight that each brother of the Weasley family
does something different to earn over their mom’s attention, due to their
unconscious desire to be closer to their mother. Ginny does not need to
replicate this, as girls are theorized to look up to their mothers and in turn,
act like them. The presence of the mother figure affects boys in such that they
have to fight for her attention and for girls to look up to her, which is common
in many families as the parental figure guides the young throughout their early
years.

Similar to how the Weasley’s mother
has affected the children, Draco Malfoy being refused by Harry connects the
utilization of defense mechanisms as a response to the id form in his
character. I believe Draco is the representation of the shadow. In Jung’s
archetypes, the shadow is the dark side of the human psyche that one must deal
with. The shadow is quite similar to the id in that it is the repressed
feelings that must be solved. Draco bullies Harry because of the latter’s refusal
to be his friend. Draco feels insecure and out of place because he has always been
spoiled with what he wants. As a result, Draco’s ego conjures the defense
mechanism of ambivalence, fixation whenever Harry is around, reaction formation
to hate him as much as possible despite his admiration, possible suppression of
his admiration, and humor. The most notable being humor. Many of his insults
are humorous, with Crabbe and Goyle and the entirety of Slytherin laughing
whenever they hear it. He displays a self-enhancing humor style to cheer
himself up after the initial rejection by Harry. Seeing someone who seems to
have everything (money, fame, nuclear family) get upset at not having Harry as
a friend shows that even Draco is unhappy and turns towards defense mechanisms as
a means to protect himself is geared towards the people who see Harry Potter as a means of escaping from
the conscious into a fantasy. The positive commentary is that one must overcome
these repressed feelings in a healthy way, as many people face their problems
daily, and not utilizing defense mechanisms to do so.  

Likewise, the audience also
displays defense mechanisms when reading the book. Though many children read
the books, as explained later on in this paper, many adults also read the book
(and adults now who were then children.) The powerful series that has risen to
worldwide fame can be attributed to its fantasy world or dreamlike state of
mystery and wizards. Many phallic symbols like the broomsticks and yonic
symbols like launching the Quaffle into the goalpost pique our interests and our
libido in satisfying our id. Moreover, in maintaining our interest, it seems to
have encapsulated us in this world where we can escape to. In a sense, we have
regressed into an earlier stage of life where we do not have to worry about adult
anxieties. In fact, we have displaced our issues onto more childish issues. As
the book clearly focuses on adolescent struggles, we put ourselves in those
shoes and reenact the same experiences, even though there are other problems we
need to attend to.

Conversely, the entire plot of Harry Potter also serves to mask the latent or “hidden” meaning of
the media franchise within the manifest or “obvious” reason. We see a hero’s
journey of a courageous archetype of the boy destined to defeat the strongest
villain albeit struggling until he gets there. Jung and Berger agree that this
myth of the hero is actually used to help people move away from dependency from
parents or other tutelary figures (Berger 99). Though a controversial
statement, it is supported by the evidence in the first book. Harry was orphaned
after Voldemort’s attack, showing the audience his struggle until he reaches
Hogwarts, where his struggles are then evident by instances of bullying, and
later, the threat of Voldemort’s return. The narrative of Harry dealing with
problems that no one else could understand, not even his closest friends, shows
that he is becoming independent and free of restraint or care. This
characterization of Harry helps those who read the books navigate the
separation from their parents, especially targeting those who are adolescents.

            However, as we mentioned before,
this theory is controversial. Though the myth may deal with separation anxiety,
not all stories are the same. Harry Potter often went to the Mirror of Erised
to see his parents, contradictory to him supposedly moving away from his
parents. Even after defeating Voldemort in the first book, he still feels
longing for his parents. The purpose of the hero’s journey cannot be reduced to
dealing with separation, especially because Harry’s case is unique; he never
had closure from Voldemort and doesn’t remember his parents, which is
completely different from an adolescent leaving his/her parents to go to
college or some other similar instance. Moreover, other popular hero’s myths in
media are about aspirational goals that can be achieved with the help of
tutelary figures rather than to be forced to part from these figures to attain
those goals. The problem with the analysis of media, Berger mentions, is that
some analysis can be too oversimplified, which is a strength and a weakness in
itself (Berger 101).

            Harry
Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is affirmation that entertainment and media
does feature elements of psychoanalytic theory, precisely those from Freud and
Jung. Notably in the first book, we overcame the fight of the id versus the
superego in Ron and Hermione, realized that the mother figure plays a large
role in boys and their growth while easily procuring the role model status for
girls in the Weasley family, understood the reason why we use defense
mechanisms against our shadow and how to resolve that in Malfoy’s insecurities and
in reading the series, and masked the bigger ideology of separation anxiety in
Harry’s hero myth, all while unconsciously relating to our own experiences. These
commonalities between our experiences in growing up, or having been grown up
and relating back to childhood moments, are unconscious instances of why we
like the series so much. We understand the struggles of every character and why
they struggle because of underlying psychoanalytic criticisms, and being
reinforced with multiple sequels continuing those criticisms and in purchasing commodities
revering the series as part of media, we have single-handedly contributed to
its universal success. 

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