Essay: Female Archetypes in Harry Potter, Part II
The previous Quantum Harry blog post (Female Archetypes in Harry Potter, Part I) examined the Maiden/Mother/Crone trio of Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood, as well as a variety of trios in Greek mythology and the many ways in which Ginny embodies the archetype of the Maiden.
Another Maiden/Mother/Crone trio in Harry’s life are the girls we know about in his year in Gryffindor: Parvati, Hermione, and Lavender. “Parvati” is the name of an Indian goddess who is the epitome of the Maiden. The beautiful, nubile Parvati fasts and tortures herself, faithful for years to the god Shiva until her faithfulness is rewarded and she becomes his consort.
Parvati Patil is the first girl who goes out with Harry; she’s his partner at the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire. As Harry enters into a frightening new world, dating, he’s accompanied by a representative of the Maiden. JK Rowling had Parvati and Ginny follow precisely the same pattern in the Yule Ball episode of the fourth book. In this sequence Neville is Harry’s doppelganger or double, which is an echo of Harry giving Neville’s name as his alias when he gets on the Knight Bus in the third book, Prisoner of Azkaban. And in Order of the Phoenix, Rowling reveals that either Harry or Neville Longbottom could have been the child in Trelawney’s prophecy.
The Yule Ball pattern is:
1. Harry and Neville ask girls they fancy to the ball. Harry asks Cho Chang and Neville asks Hermione Granger.
2. The girls–Cho and Hermione—are both archetypal Mothers. (Quantum Harry Episode 4: Mother, May I? explores which characters fit the Mother archetype in more detail.)
3. Both boys discover that each girl they’ve asked to the ball is already going with someone else—and in both cases it turns out to be another one of the Champions. (Cho is going with Cedric Diggory and Hermione with Viktor Krum.)
4. Harry and Neville each ask another girl to the ball: Harry asks Parvati Patil and Neville asks Ginny Weasley—both archeyptal Maidens.
5. Both Ginny and Parvati meet a boy at the Yule Ball—Parvati meets a boy from the French magic school, Beauxbatons, and Ginny meets Michael Corner, a Ravenclaw (though we don’t find out about Ginny and Michael until the fifth book).
On top of this, the boys that Ginny and Parvati meet have something in common: Beauxbatons students sit with the Ravenclaws when they’re at Hogwarts and they become, in effect, honorary Ravenclaws during their stay at the school, just as the Durmstrang students become honorary Slytherins.
Thus Parvati’s Beauxbatons boy and Michael Corner are a virtual Ravenclaw and an actual Ravenclaw, each meeting a character who is an archetypal Maiden at the Yule Ball who went with Harry or a Harry doppelganger after the archetypal Mother characters Harry and his doppelganger initially asked agreed to go to the ball with a Tournament Champion who isn’t Harry.
While this may sound like JK Rowling isn’t capable of writing more than one romance plot, the purpose is to juxtapose characters, which allows us to see that Ginny and Parvati are the same archetype: the Maiden. Rowling also chooses her names with care, and she gave Parvati the name of a very famous archetypal Maiden from Indian mythology, then practically bent over backwards to draw a parallel between Parvati’s Yule Ball experience and Ginny’s.
Rowling also doesn’t make much of Neville’s fancying Hermione; this very brief subplot seems to exist solely to highlight the similarities between two archetypal Mothers—Cho and Hermione—during the Yule Ball episode, and not much else. For instance, Neville isn’t presented as competition for Ron during Half-Blood Prince, when Hermione is very cross with him because of Lavender. She doesn’t use Neville to try to make Ron jealous; for that Hermione chooses a new character, Cormac McLaggen—and it kind of works.
Andromeda and Perseus
The Black sisters are another Maiden/Mother/Crone trio, Narcissa Black Malfoy being the mother and Bellatrix Black LeStrange the Crone. Andromeda Black Tonks is the sister we don’t see until the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. “Andromeda” is the name of an archetypal mythological Maiden who is chained naked to a rock for a monster to devour; another classic damsel in distress, which is a story role that maidens often filled before the rise of fairy tales in which maidens were more often the heroes. Before we see Andromeda Tonks in the seventh book she’s represented in the text by her daughter, Nymphadora Tonks, an Auror who can change things about her appearance like her hair’s color and length, or the shape of her nose. When Tonks makes her hair long and red in the Order of the Phoenix, at number twelve Grimmauld Place, the Black family home, Harry thinks that she looks like Ginny’s older sister, if Ginny had an older sister, which means she’s being presented pretty clearly in this passage as Ginny’s double or doppelganger. The reason for this is clearer at the end of the sixth book, Half-Blood Prince.
Tonks is part of one of two Maiden and Youth couples who are contrasted with Harry and Ginny in Half-Blood Prince, just as Ginny’s Yule Ball experience is contrasted with Parvati’s experience in Goblet of Fire. Like Harry, Remus Lupin feels that it’s too dangerous for anyone to be in a relationship with him; unlike Harry, who splits up with Ginny at the end of Half-Blood Prince, to protect her, Remus is soon disabused of this notion. Remus and Tonks are a couple at Dumbledore’s funeral, and they’re married and expecting a baby early in Deathly Hallows, the seventh book.
The other couple contrasted with Harry and Ginny is Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour. Fleur Delacour is another archetypal Maiden; her name means “flower” in general, but not a specific flower, like Petunia or Pansy, which are other flower names that Rowling uses. This marks Fleur as a harbinger of new life, and the others in her trio are her mother and her sister. Mrs. Delacour is an obvious Mother figure, but Fleur’s sister Gabrielle (which is the feminine of the men’s name Gabriel) evokes an angel (as in the Archangel Gabriel), which connects her to the afterlife and death, concerns of the archetypal Crone. Of the three, Gabrielle was also someone Harry thought he saw dead, when he was rescuing her from the lake during the Tournament. Thus the youngest person in this trio embodies the oldest archetype.
Ginny isn’t jealous of other girls who might attract Harry except for Fleur. Harry assures Ginny that he finds Fleur “ugly”, which is something he failed to do to reassure Cho concerning Hermione when he and Cho were together in Order of the Phoenix. Even though it’s clearly a lie that he thinks Fleur is ugly, it’s a well-intentioned lie, and he also decides to do this spontaneously, while the idea of lying to Cho just to make her happy about his friendship with Hermione rubbed him the wrong way in the fifth book.
At the end of the sixth book Tonks and Remus are together and Fleur and Bill are still planning their wedding, since Fleur has declared her intention to stand by Bill after he’s attacked by the same werewolf who bit Remus Lupin as a small child. This leaves only Harry and Ginny waiting to follow this same pattern of the archetypal Maiden and archetypal Youth reuniting. Ginny, Tonks and Fleur are also all somewhat impressive as Maidens. Ginny is a trained member of Dumbledore’s Army who holds her own in the battle at the Ministry as well as at the end of the sixth and seventh books, Tonks is an Auror who also fights in those three battles at the end of the fifth, sixth and seventh books, and Fleur was the one student chosen from all of the students of Beauxbatons to represent that school in the Triwizard Tournament.
Harry’s repeated romantic and pseudo-romantic links to Maidens makes it possible to see why Ginny is the love interest, Parvati was his first date, Fleur is the girl Harry needs to insult to reassure Ginny of his affections and Tonks is seen by Harry as Ginny’s older sister; this also seems to be why Rowling created Remus/Tonks and Bill/Fleur as doppelganger couples to Harry/Ginny, telegraphing that their story is far from over at the end of the sixth book and that they will be a couple again.
Harry stepping into the shoes of the character best embodying the ruling archetype for one of the books doesn’t make him that archetype, any more than his having doppelgangers of other archetypes makes him those archetypes. And an archetype “ruling” a book doesn’t mean it should be called Albus Dumbledore and the Philosopher’s Stone or Ginny Weasley and the Chamber of Secrets. Instead this positions Harry firmly as the Hero throughout the series, who, at the climax of each book, connects to the book’s theme by echoing the actions of the character embodying the ruling archetype of the book or serving as a surrogate for that character.
The Maiden is the ruling archetype of the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In this book the character best embodying the Maiden is Ginny Weasley, whose actions propel the plot forward. As Harry’s future romantic partner, she has attributes that are the opposite of Harry’s, completing him and making him whole, and she has attributes that make her his counterpart—a female version of him, in other words.
Their archetypes are the youngest, Maiden and Youth, and they’ll eventually hold the same game position or battle rank of Seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Ginny occasionally plays Chaser, but her most important matches involve her being a Seeker in Harry’s place. Harry and Ginny’s roles are often reversed in the second and sixth books; she has a crush on Harry in the second book, while he fancies her and pursues her romantically in the sixth; she’s in the thrall of a book in Chamber of Secrets and unintentionally causes harm to fellow students (plus a cat and a ghost), while Harry is addicted to “the Prince’s” potions textbook in Half-Blood Prince, and uses spells from its pages on his best friend (when he puts Levicorpus on Ron) and on an enemy (when he uses Sectumsempra on Draco Malfoy).
Harry takes Ginny’s place in the second book, just as he takes Dumbledore’s to defend the Philosopher’s Stone in the first book (see The Wise Old Man Archetype), by writing in Tom Riddle’s diary and being fooled by Riddle, plus speaking Parseltongue to enter the Chamber of Secrets, all of which Ginny did earlier in the book. Echoing her actions to access the Chamber allows him to destroy the diary with a basilisk’s fang, which is very important to the series as a whole because this tells him how to destroy most of the other Horcruxes in the seventh book. After the diary is depleted of its Voldemort soul-bit, Ginny awakes and no longer seems to be in the realm of Hades; she is like Persephone returned from the Underworld. The school also comes back to life, no longer at risk of being closed, and the ensuing party is like a May Day festival, a celebration of the world waking once more and the death of (metaphorical) winter, which is again being held at bay for another year, all because the Maiden and Harry’s ultimate partner has returned to the land of the living.
Adapted from the script for Quantum Harry, the Podcast, Episode 3: Iron Maiden. Copyright 2017-2018 by Quantum Harry Productions and B.L. Purdom. See other posts on this blog for direct links to all episodes of Quantum Harry.