Signs and meanings of sacrifice in J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”


The article discusses symbolic means that express different meanings of the “victim” concept and the idea of sacrifice in J. K. Rowling’s novel “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. The book’s title refers to the alchemical understanding of a philosopher’s stone as a means of immortality. Since the main purpose of the sacrifice rite is the magic of the appropriate death and rebirth essence, i.e. immortality, the philosopher’s stone can be interpreted as a symbol of sacrifice, and the stages of obtaining it – as the rite stages of selection and preparation of the future victim for her / his sacralization or sanctification. There are at least two criteria for a typical victim, and they are the ones that determine the purity of a soul: the degree of innocence and the severity of the suffering. On a symbolic level the novel describes the transformation of a victim into sacrifice the essence of which is the soul purification. Only innocent victims, who have suffered personally but at the same time did not make other people suffer intentionally, may become a sacrifice. The main characteristic feature of Harry Potter as the novel’s protagonist is his readiness for self-sacrifice, which consists of such components as absence of greed and desire for power, as well as the ability to love, to overcome suffering and fear, to take risks and pose a challenge to prohibitions in the name of love, accepting both victories and defeats.

About the authors

Andrei E. Serikov

Samara National Research University

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4213-8089

Candidate of Philosophy, Associate Professor, Associate Professor of Philosophy Department

Russian Federation, 34, Moskovskoe shosse, Samara, 443086, Russian Federation

Vladimir S. Ryabov

Samara University of Public Administration (International Market Institute)

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3526-3957

Assistant Professor of the Department of Germanic Languages

Russian Federation, 21, Aksakova Street, Samara, 443030, Russian Federation


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