The Alchemical Harry Potter

Essays on Transfiguration in J.K. Rowling’s Novels


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About the Book

When Harry Potter first boards the Hogwarts Express, he journeys to a world which Rowling says has alchemy as its “internal logic.” The Philosopher’s Stone, known for its power to transform base metals into gold and to give immortality to its maker, is the subject of the conflict between Harry and Voldemort in the first book of the series. But alchemy is not about money or eternal life, it is much more about the transformations of desire, of power and of people—through love. Harry’s equally remarkable and ordinary power to love leads to his desire to find but not use the Philosopher’s Stone at the start of the series and his wish to end the destructive power of the Elder Wand at the end. This collection of essays on alchemical symbolism and transformations in Rowling’s series demonstrates how Harry’s work with magical objects, people, and creatures transfigure desire, power, and identity. As Harry’s leaden existence on Privet Drive is transformed in the company of his friends and teachers, the Harry Potter novels have transformed millions of readers, inspiring us to find the gold in our ordinary lives.

About the Author(s)

Anne J. Mamary teaches at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, including a course called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Soul. Her articles have appeared in journals, such as Reason Papers, International Studies in Philosophy, Women’s Studies and Feminist Studies.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Anne J. Mamary

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 323
Bibliographic Info: 6 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8134-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4083-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Abbreviations xi
Introduction 1

I—The Resurrection Stone and the Transfiguration of Desire
Why I Read Harry Potter Books Again and Again
Sophia Imafuji, age 8 28
The Literary Alchemy of J.K. Rowling
John Granger 30
Harry Potter and the Transfiguration of Desire
Anne ­Parker-Perkola 46
­Re-Reading Harry Potter, ­Re-Creating Ourselves: Harry Potter as Resurrection Stone
Isaac Willis 63
Out from the Shadows into the Light: Persona and Shadow in Harry Potter
Alicia L. Skipper and Kate Fulton 79
An ­Anti-Oedipal Reading of Harry Potter and Alchemy
Robert Tindol 97

II—The Elder Wand and the Transfiguration of Power
My Harry Potter Journey
Ella Victoria Greer, age 13 116
The Missing Element: The Alchemy Experiment Inside the Chamber of Secrets
S.P. Şipal 118
On the Transmutation of Voldemort’s Love of Power into Harry Potter’s Power of Love
Lawrence W. Farris 140
Auror Magic: An Almost Alchemical Process
Lorrie Kim 156
Tapping on Just Another Brick in the Wall
Sean Paulsgrove 168

III—The Cloak of Invisibility and the Transfiguration of Self and Community
And All Was Well
Tamyra Dixon-Rankin, Deputy Headmistress, Dumbledore’s Academy 188
The Snitch, the Stone, and the Sword: Harry Potter the Alchemical Seeker
B.L. Purdom 190
Alchemy as a Metaphor for Learning
Mary Pyle 209
Harry Potter and the Root of All Evil
Charles M. Rupert 225
Soul Making and Soul Splitting: Alchemy of the Soul in Harry Potter
Julie Loveland Swanstrom 244
Ruddy Stargazers: Centaurs, Philosophers, and a Life Worth Living
Anne J. Mamary 265

Epilogue: Friendship Hallowed, Pure, and ­Ever-Present 287
About the Contributors 291
Index 295

Book Reviews & Awards

“Valuable and interesting….recommended”—Choice; “Although many books have been written about the Harry Potter series, Mamary’s book has an interesting angle.”—River Cities’ Reader