The Potter Perplex: Reading J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Novels through Freud's Psychoanalytical Lens
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This dissertation is a medium for the application of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theory to J. K. Rowling’s renowned contemporary children’s literature series, Harry Potter. It will consider the seven novels in the series through an exposition of Freud’s understanding of the developmental stages of a child’s psyche. It will argue that Harry Potter is a victim of his Oedipal desires, evidence of which can be found using such Freudian theories as Dream Interpretation and Author Neurosis. Both children’s literature and psychoanalysis are symbiotic of one another, which is largely due to the didactic nature of children’s literature in that psychoanalysis is able to speak to a child’s dilemmas unconsciously. From early childhood it is essential that children may be able to work through and distinguish between the disagreement created between the omnipotent society that surrounds them and the false reality of Oedipal victory that they encounter within their unconscious fantasies. Due to this understanding, this dissertation shows that a psychodynamic approach to Harry Potter will reveal an expression of some of the universal unconscious anxieties and conflicts that, according to Freudian theory, children often experience. Children may readily identify with these novels not only on a conscious level of fantastical entertainment but also because they may unconsciously recognise their own tensions. Ultimately, the function of literary tropes such as phallic imagery, symbolism and metaphor within the novels creates a fantastical reality in which children may allay their unconscious anxieties. In order to fully comprehend this I will lay out and unpick the unconscious agencies that are the Id, the Ego and the Superego and will define how these mental energies motivate our actions. I will further argue that denial of Freudian theories is common and often resides in literary characters such as the Durselys.
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