ARCHETYPAL LITERARY CRITICISM APPLIED ON J.K. ROWLING’S HARRY POTTER BOOK SERIES, WITH A FOCUS ON NORTHROP FRYE’S VIEWS
Archetypal literary theory is focused on universal and recurring images,
patterns, or motifs representing typical human experiences. Many works of fiction share
similar structures, despite having different plots, settings, and characters, and despite belonging
to different genres. Archetypal literary theory explores these similarities in structures and
patterns, thus providing a universalistic approach to literature. Canadian literary critic
Northrop Frye defined the archetype as a symbol which recurs often enough in literature to
become recognizable as an element of one’s literary experience as a whole. Archetypes as
patterns that exist in literature are powerful tools that help understand a literary work.
Fantasy novels are always a great source of symbols. The purpose of this essay is to
explore the pages of the Harry Potter series of seven fantasy novels in order to attempt to
find and recognize archetypes which would fit in the description of archetypal literature that
Northrop Frye gives. The focus is on characters, situations, plots and themes in the Harry
Potter series which can be observed in terms of archetypes. This essay will try to identify
those elements of the novels fit into an archetypal role.