Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts

By David Baggett; Shawn E. Klein | Go to book overview

7

The Mirror of Erised:
Why We Should Heed
Dumbledore’s Warning

SHAWN E. KLEIN

What is your deepest desire? Maybe you know it and are actively working towards satisfying it. Or perhaps you don’t know what it is or find your desire to be like the Golden Snitch—fleeting and impossible to pin down. Maybe you think you know, but are mistaken and, in fact, it would surprise, even shock you to discover what you truly desired the most. While introspection or psychotherapy might allow Muggles to discover their desires, Harry Potter has an easier way. He can just look in the mirror.


The Mirror of Erised

In Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry accidentally discovers the Mirror of Erised in an unused classroom at Hogwarts. He immediately notices the Mirror’s odd inscription: “Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi” (SS, p. 207). This is no ordinary mirror—little surprise in a world where cars can fly and portraits talk. When Harry looks into it he does not see his own reflection, but instead the images of his mother and father smiling back at him, even waving! He immediately looks around the room, but his parents are not there; they’re only in the Mirror. Harry, of course, is an orphan whose parents were murdered by Voldemort when Harry was just an infant. So seeing them in the Mirror fills him with joy—albeit a joy mixed with sadness (SS, p. 209).

Although Harry has no idea what the powers of this unusual Mirror are, he continues to sneak out to visit it—even bringing

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