Religious Allegory in ‘Harry Potter’

The ‘Harry Potter’ series has been subjected to much critical analysis over the years, and many critics have noted the religious allusions present in the books.

Harry himself can be likened to Jesus, especially going off from his death in the seventh book. Critic Ernie Rea notes that Harry sacrifices himself for the sake of all those that are threatened by Voldermort. In a similar fashion, Jesus sacrifices himself for humanity. Both reject the help of others, and both feel betrayed by their superiors. Jesus tries to reason with God in the Garden of Gethsemane, Harry feels betrayed by the late Albus Dumbledore. In the last novel Harry realises that Snape had always been protecting him on Dumbledore’s orders, so that Voldermort himself could kill him. The idea of Harry being ‘The Chosen One’ also echoes the role of Christ, as the one saviour of humanity. 

If we rewind to the ‘Chamber of Secrets,’ the Basilisk itself as a snake has strong allusions to Satan, and the form He took in the Garden of Eden. Harry goes down to the Chamber of Secrets to rescue Ginny from Tom Riddle, an equally Satanic figure. Harry is aided by a Phoenix, who can be compared to Christ. The Phoenix is sent by Dumbledore, who takes the role of God, as it was God who sent Jesus amongst mankind to save them. This links to the general theme of good triumphing over evil, which really features in all of the series. 

Vanessa Zoltan even goes so far as comparing Hagrid to the Virgin Mary. Hagrid provides a maternal influence to Harry throughout the series, and literally carries him at the start of the series to Privet Drive, and out of the Forbidden Forest at the end. This image of unadulterated love and protection is similar to that of Michelangelo’s Pietà, which depicts the Virgin Mary carrying the dead Jesus Christ.

In an issue of the Vatican newspaper in 2008, the Harry Potter series was praised, as they taught the audience lessons about loving, and selflessness. The paper argued that the line between good and evil is clearly defined, and that this is communicated strongly to the audience. 

As well as this, the series has been met with strong opposition by religious scholars. Former official exorcist of Rome, Gabriele Amorth, declared that the novels were the work of the Devil… extreme I know. This probably stems from some peoples’ belief that the novel encourages people to believe in witchcraft and the supernatural, ideas which are generally condemned within scripture. Some critics, such as Professor Edoardo Rialti have gone so far as to say that the series itself praises witchcraft and the occult. He explained that, just because the protagonists have possession of these powers, and they use them for good, it does not actually make the characters good people. 

The series has also been publicly burned, as recently as 2019. In Poland, priests from the northern city of Koszalin set fire to the novel series, as well as the ‘Twilight’ series, in fear that the novels promoted magic and sorcery. The ‘Harry Potter’ books were also banned in a school in Tennessee, as Reverend Dan Reehil argued that the spells used in the series were real ones, that could be used to conjure up ‘evil spirits.’

Thanks for reading!

Published by harpalkhambay

I'm a third year English Literature and History student, and wanted a space to explore topics within those fields that interest me.

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