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The True Master of Death: An Existential Reading of Harry Potter
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis consists of a comprehensive character analysis of the protagonist and antagonist in the Harry Potter series, on the basis of existential psychology. It is argued that the outlook of this branch of psychology provides a thorough framework for the interpretation of characters and objects in Rowling’s fictional world. Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort are not only the protagonist and antagonist of the series, but also represent two sides of the spectrum of existential psychology. By mainly focusing on death, love, and free will Harry and Voldemort’s attempts to fulfil their true potential are explored and analysed from an existential viewpoint.

While they share similar backgrounds and qualities, Harry is argued to represent the ideal being, possessing additional qualities that Voldemort does not. Due to these qualities, Harry’s actions and choices concerning his existence prove to be very different from Voldemort’s. While Voldemort’s sole purpose in life appears to be to overcome nonbeing: to achieve immortality, Harry accepts his existence for what it is, he accepts his freedom and free will, his impending nonbeing, and does not attempt to overcome it, and he therefore also accepts his anxiety. Harry is consequently argued to act as, and become, an ideal being, while Voldemort succumbs to his anxiety in his attempt to overpower death, and is ultimately destroyed by it, indicating that his actions are not those of a complete being. Hence, Harry and Voldemort’s actions appear to represent the two sides of existential psychology: the human awareness of existence affects the individual’s choices, and actions. Harry symbolises the ideal being, while Voldemort is the deterrent example of how not to act if one wishes to fulfil one’s potentials, and preserve one’s being. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 55 p.
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-96057OAI: diva2:663051
Available from: 2013-11-28 Created: 2013-11-09 Last updated: 2013-11-28Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

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