Essay: Chronic Youth
As the partner to Ginny Weasley, an archetypal Maiden, there’s no question that Harry Potter embodies the archetype of the Youth, which rules Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Harry is hardly the only archetypal Youth in the series or the sixth book, in which Bill/Fleur and Remus/Tonks are doppelganger couples to Harry/Ginny. (See Quantum Harry, the Podcast, Episode 3: Iron Maiden or Female Archetypes in Harry Potter, part II.) The women are all Maidens while Bill, Remus and Harry are archetypal Youths. Bill and Remus fall in love with and marry Fleur and Tonks, overlapping time-wise with Harry and Ginny’s whirlwind romance. Remus also appoints Harry, a fellow Youth, as godfather to his son, Teddy, named for the Youth Ted Tonks, husband to the Maiden Andromeda Black. And, in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, Teddy Lupin is paired with another Maiden, Bill and Fleur’s daughter Victoire.
Michael Corner and Dean Thomas both embody the Youth because of their link to Ginny. Michael and Ginny don’t result in an overtly romantic pairing and are almost never present as a couple, so Harry doesn’t think of Michael as competition. Rowling also uses Michael in reference to Cho, pairing them at the end of Order of the Phoenix to foreshadow Harry/Ginny.
Dean Thomas is the successor to Michael. He has always been Harry’s friend and supporter. They share similar backgrounds, growing up with Muggles and learning they were wizards at the age of eleven. When Seamus Finnigan, Dean’s best friend, echoes Mrs. Finnigan’s opinion of Harry, Dean disagrees with Seamus. Harry can’t dislike Dean on non-romantic grounds, unlike Michael, who took a dislike to Harry at DA meetings. Michael seemed threatened by Harry; perhaps he knew Ginny used to fancy Harry, so he considered Harry as competition. When Ginny is seeing Dean, she’s inaccessible to Harry because he likes Dean, his friend and ally. This is an even greater obstacle to Harry than Ginny being Ron’s sister.
Archetypes are revealing about individual characters, but it’s also instructive to examine the way Rowling’s archetypes interact. Harry is accompanied by the same archetypes repeatedly. He’s with the archetypal Mother, Father and Wise Old Man on Privet Drive when Harry is a baby (Hagrid, McGonagall and Dumbledore). There’s also the Mother, Father and Wise Old Man group of Hermione, Neville and Ron who are with Harry when he crosses the lake and when he meets Fluffy. The same archetypal group is at the end of Goblet of Fire, represented by Harry’s Mother Lily, Cedric and James doubling the Father archetype, and Frank Bryce embodying the Wise Old Man. These archetypes also walk with Harry to his death in the seventh book: the Mother, Lily, the Father, James, and the Wise Old Man, Sirius, plus Remus, an archetypal Youth, like Harry, doubling his archetype. Like the end of Goblet of Fire, the doubled archetype in Deathly Hallows is the one for the person who has just died or is about to die.
Harry is part of the Youth/Father/Wise Old Man Trio that includes Neville and Ron, and he is Ginny’s counterpart, a Youth to her Maiden. But he’s also part of The Trio, Harry, Ron and Hermione. JK Rowling knew from the start that they would be Harry’s best friends, and they embody the archetypes of a young person (Harry), a parent (Hermione) and an elderly person (Ron), together making a full life-cycle.
On her old website (in “Extra Stuff”), Rowling wrote that she was working on Philosopher’s Stone in 1990 when she decided that Harry had a wand of wood from the holly tree. She writes, “It was not an arbitrary decision: holly has certain connotations that were perfect for Harry, particularly when contrasted with the traditional associations of yew, from which Voldemort’s wand is made.” She learned that the holly tree’s name comes from the word “holy” and that it was supposed to repel evil. It was a serendipitous choice, since she also learned that the Celts associated specific trees with certain times of year. Again Rowling writes, “entirely by coincidence, I had assigned Harry the ‘correct’ wood for his day of birth,” which is 31 July (also Rowling’s birthday). After this, she intentionally gave Ron and Hermione wand-woods for their birthdays (1 March and 19 September), so Ron had ash and Hermione had vine wood.
Harry, Ron and Hermione are the only characters whose original wands correspond to this Celtic system. Hagrid’s does not; he has oak, not elder wood, to correspond with his birthday (6 December). Rowling also writes, “I liked having a hidden connection between Harry, Ron and Hermione’s wands that only I knew about (until now, anyway).”
Harry’s, Ron’s and Hermione’s wands have the three cores Ollivander names in the first book, and each core relates to their innate characters. Harry having a phoenix feather is apt because he cheats death as a baby and returns from death in the final book, plus he has metaphorical resurrections in each book. It’s appropriate that Ron, the Wise Old Man, has a unicorn hair, which closely resembles white hair. And Hermione, the archetypal Mother, has dragon heartstring, from a creature that’s a symbol of earth and fertility.
Rowling associates specific colors with the Trio: green, red and blue. Harry’s green eyes come up repeatedly, and the spell that failed to kill him is distinguished by green light. Ron’s red hair is his most prominent physical feature, as Ginny’s is hers. Rowling dresses him in shades of red that clash “spectacularly” with this, like an orange Chudley Cannons hat and the maroon jumpers his mother knits him, instead of the green ones she gives Harry. Hermione, the almost-Ravenclaw, is linked to blue, like the Bluebell Flames she uses to set Snape’s robes on fire. She wears blue dress robes to the Yule Ball; blue is also linked to the Virgin Mary, an archetypal Mother. Harry and Ron wear shades of green and red to the Yule Ball, their emblematic colors.
These colors are also revealing about The Trio’s secondary house affiliations. They’re all nominally Gryffindors, but, with red for his emblematic color, Ron is the only Gryffindor through and through, and combining red and gold produces orange—the color of the Chudley Canons gear that covers every square inch of Ron’s room. Harry has a little Slytherin in him, with green for his color, and Hermione has a little Ravenclaw, which matches her color, blue.
It might seem like Hufflepuff has been left out, but there are times when all four houses are represented by the Trio plus another person: Neville. He is the Father in the Mother/Father/Wise Old Man group accompanying Harry across the lake, when they meet Fluffy, and when the Trio tries to leave Gryffindor Tower to protect the Philosopher’s Stone. In the seventh book, Neville also takes the Trio through the tunnel connecting Aberforth’s pub to the Room of Requirement, so Neville, Hermione and Ron are with Harry the first time he enters Hogwarts, and they are with him again when he returns to Hogwarts. Neville is repeatedly accused of cowardice by Draco Malfoy, which isn’t true, but it is linked to the color yellow, since calling someone “yellow” is a way to call that person a coward.
If Harry is a combination of Slytherin and Gryffindor, and Hermione is a Gryffindor/Ravenclaw, Neville is a combination Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, since, in addition to Draco’s cowardice taunts, his favorite subject is Herbology, taught by Hufflepuff’s Head of House, Professor Sprout.
In addition to the Trio, sometimes augmented by Neville when Rowling wants Harry to be with a Mother, Father and Wise Old Man who are his peers, Rowling created a group of six characters embodying all of the gender and age-based archetypes, forming a powerful whole. Starting with Order of the Phoenix, Rowling doubles the Trio, adding Neville, Ginny and Luna. The Counter-Trio includes three who embody the archetypes of youth (Ginny, the Maiden), parenthood (Neville, the Father) and old age (Luna, the Crone). Each Trio member has a Counter-Trio doppelganger: Neville is Harry’s, the child Voldemort could have targeted; Ginny is Ron’s, his sister and a female version of him; and Luna, the anti-Hermione, is Hermione’s.
Three is a symbol of wholeness and completion in Christianity because of the Trinity, but six is also linked to Christian and Jewish symbolism. It’s the number of days for the creation story in Genesis, and six is often represented as a six-pointed star of a triangle pointing up and one pointing down (a Star of David). The triangle pointing up is called the Fire triangle in alchemy and considered masculine, while the one pointing down is called the Water triangle and considered feminine. The male and female members of the Trio & Counter-Trio (Harry, Neville and Ron versus Ginny, Hermione and Luna) are also each a whole, each group representing a complete human life-cycle.
Rowling brings this team of characters together again in the climax of the sixth book. Out of all of Dumbledore’s Army, only Neville and Luna, outside of Harry’s most intimate circle (now including Ginny), answer the summons and join the fight against the invading Death Eaters in Half-Blood Prince. Rowling has this group travel together to and from the castle on the train in the fifth book, and the trip at the beginning mirrors the mission to the Ministry near the end of the fifth book, even down to the use of Thestrals.
The six are also three pairs of doppelgangers; Neville and Harry, Ginny and Ron, and Luna and Hermione are flip-sides of each other yet share many attributes. In There was an Old Woman, I covered Rowling calling Luna the “anti-Hermione”, and the ways that they’re counterparts of each other.
Ginny is Ron’s doppelganger because, as his sister, she’s a female version of him. From the start Ron and Ginny respond to Harry similarly but not identically. By the fifth book they sometimes reverse roles, like Hermione and Luna. On the train, after Ron goes to the prefect carriage, Harry thinks, “He had never travelled on the Hogwarts Express without Ron.” Ginny says, “Come on…if we get a move on we’ll be able to save them places.” Unlike the other times Harry has travelled to Hogwarts, he starts the journey not with Ron, but his sister.
Ginny is the first girl born to the Weasleys in several generations, which makes her an aberration, a female version of what is usually male. There are many parallels between Ron and Ginny in the second book: she stands to up Draco in the bookshop when he accosts Harry; Ron stands up to Draco for insulting Hermione. Ginny writes in the diary and is possessed by Tom Riddle, a Slytherin; Ron uses Polyjuice to pretend to be a Slytherin, so it’s like he’s doing the possessing, though he’s just borrowing Crabbe’s appearance.
Ron and Ginny share a sense of humor, a talent for and love of Quidditch (which they have to practice by sneaking around), and they can calm Harry and cheer him up. By the end of the fifth book they’re both Harry’s comrades in arms. Ginny draws secrets out of Harry: he tells her when he wants to talk to Sirius. Harry would have schemed with Ron to do this at one time.
Just as there’s a ruling archetype for each of the first six books that corresponds to an age and gender-related archetype, there’s a member of the Trio or Counter-Trio aligning with these six books. For the girls, it’s easy: Ginny, Hermione and Luna are each the best embodiments of the Maiden (Ginny) in the second book, the Mother (Hermione) in the third book, and the Crone (Luna) in the fifth book. (Listen to Quantum Harry, the Podcast, Episode 3:Iron Maiden; Episode 4: Mother, May I? and Episode 6: A Murder of Crones.)
The Trio or Counter-Trio character aligning with the first book is Ron, a young Wise Old Man who educates Harry about wizarding culture throughout the book and sacrifices himself during the life-sized chess game. Ron’s tactlessness is also responsible for Hermione hiding in a bathroom on Halloween, and he’s instrumental in defeating the troll that they find there; if not for this incident, the Trio wouldn’t have been complete.
Neville is the Trio/Counter-Trio character aligning with the fourth book, ruled by his archetype, the Father. He’s a shadow “Chosen One” to Harry throughout the series, and Harry is a shadow “Hogwarts Champion” to Cedric, an archetypal Father, in Goblet of Fire.
Neville is also linked to each task. First Harry uses his broom to get an egg from a Dragon; this is an echo of Harry getting Neville’s Remembrall back from Draco (whose name means dragon), so JK Rowling was foreshadowing this Tournament task during the flying lesson in the first book. The real second task is the Unexpected Task of the Yule Ball. Neville and Harry follow the same pattern of asking girls they fancy (archetypal Mothers) but who are going to the ball with other Tournament Champions, and then going to the ball with girls who are archetypal Maidens who meet boys at the ball who are linked to Ravenclaw. (See Female Archetypes in Harry Potter, part II or listen to Quantum Harry, the Podcast, Episode 3:Iron Maiden.)
Neville was to have told Harry about gillyweed to retrieve the hostages from the lake, but Barty Crouch, Jr.’s manipulations didn’t quite accomplish this. And finally, the hedge maze growing on the Quidditch pitch is linked to Neville because of his affinity for Herbology.
Harry is the Trio/Counter-Trio character aligning with the sixth book, ruled by the Youth archetype, though he isn’t the character in the book best embodying this archetype. The Youth archetype ruling this book completes the roster of gender- and age-based archetypes, with the two Trios representing all six in the climactic battle of the book. This sets up the crisis Harry must solve in the final book, when he begins by thinking that there are six Horcruxes, as one might assume that there are six major archetypes—Wise Old Man, Maiden, Mother, Father, Crone and Youth—only to discover that he, Harry is the seventh Horcrux, just as there is a seventh archetype: The Liminal Being. (Listen to QuantumHarry, the Podcast, Episode 8: Have You Tried Not Being Liminal? and Episode 9: We’re Here, We’re MetaphoricallyQueer.)
In the first five books, someone besides Harry embodied the book’s ruling archetype and Harry stepped into their shoes or echoed their actions at some point. In the sixth book that pattern is complicated by Harry being the epitome of the Youth archetype in the series as a whole and the member of the Trio/Counter-Trio aligning with the sixth book. In Half-Blood Prince many characters embody the archetype of the Youth and duplicate Harry’s actions, though in a couple of cases they predict his future actions, so he steps into the shoes of other Youths at those times.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is without a doubt the book in which Harry enjoys the most romantic success, and the key romances involve archetypal Youths and Maidens. At the start, Dean is a Youth in a relationship with a Maiden, Ginny. Before the end, Harry is in a relationship with Ginny. Harry also has the example of other Youths—Remus and Bill—who both think they’re too dangerous to be in a relationship with their particular Maidens, Tonks and Fleur, but change their minds. Harry breaks up with Ginny because he’s convinced that it is too dangerous for her to be with him, but these other couples foreshadow their eventual reunion.
Draco Malfoy is the best embodiment of the Youth in Half-Blood Prince. Inversions between this book and the second book have Draco not only doing things similar to what Harry’s done before, but also similar to things that Ginny (Harry’s counterpart) did in the second book. Ginny, under Tom Riddle’s control, sneaks off to a secret chamber to release a deadly menace; Draco sneaks off to the Room of Requirement, also because of Tom Riddle (Voldemort), to release a deadly menace into the castle: Death Eaters. In the second book a Maiden is not in control, and in the sixth a Youth is in control of his actions (though he’s coerced).
In the second book, Harry echoes Ginny’s actions by writing in the diary, being taken in by Riddle, and opening the Chamber. Unlike Ginny, Harry conquers the basilisk and destroys a Horcrux. In the sixth book Draco echoes Harry’s actions in the second by going into the place of the enemy, the Room of Requirement (previously the DA’s territory) rather than the Chamber, which is Slytherin territory, though Harry also infiltrated the Slytherin common room and made Draco think he was a comrade by using Polyjuice Potion. Draco’s sidekicks use Polyjuice to hide the fact that they’re lookouts for him in the sixth book. The victory over the basilisk is inverted when Draco releases a basilisk-equivalent into the school (Death Eaters).
Harry going to the Room of Requirement, where Draco works on his plans, leads to his destroying a Horcrux in the seventh book during an elaborate pseudo-Quidditch match with Draco, Crabbe and Goyle. Harry recalls seeing the diadem he’s looking for while hiding his Potions text, which in the sixth book is the narrative equivalent to the diary Horcrux, and this act leads him to another Horcrux. At the climax of the sixth book, Harry and Draco step into each other’s shoes, swapping places. Draco performs Harry’s signature move, Expelliarmus, when he confronts Dumbledore, and becomes Master of the Elder Wand, making it possible for Harry to defeat Voldemort because he, in turn, disarms Draco in Deathly Hallows.
When Snape flees the castle after killing Dumbledore, Harry steps into Draco’s shoes by trying to perform the spell Draco had begun to use—like Bellatrix—when he and Harry were in the boys’ bathroom: he unsuccessfully tries Cruciatus on Snape, later choosing Sectumsempra, which he knows will have dire results if Snape fails to block it—and this infuriates Snape when Harry finally tries it (though he fails at that too). Soon after Draco goes on the run, Harry echoes Draco’s actions again by telling Hermione and Ron that he’s leaving school to hunt Horcruxes.
Harry must reconcile and understand his relationship with archetypal Maidens, Mothers and Crones, and absorb the lessons of the Wise Old Man, Father, and other Youths. His peers, Remus, Bill and Draco, don’t have Harry’s burden, but he learns from them, taking their collective wisdom to his final confrontation with Voldemort, finding the strength that comes from retaining the lessons he learns from all of them, even one he once counted as an enemy.
Adapted from the script for Quantum Harry,the Podcast, Episode 7: Fountain of Youth, 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.