I apologize in advance for my unwieldy node title. It involves some unwieldy concepts, and is probably the best title available.
thought is described in a variety of terms, some of which have slowly been adapted outside of his works, or have meanings different from their common meanings. His theory of the personality
is not as easily categorizable as the trinity
. Some of my applications of his concepts may seem a little different than standard Jungian doctrine, but Jung himself never intended for his concepts to be strictly applied. In Harry Potter
, we are dealing with myth
in both senses, and the adjustable concepts of Jung seem well-fitted to deal with them.
On my third reading through of the Harry Potter series, I realized that the plot was more centered around a three way struggle then the more conventional plot description as a Good vs. Evil story. Instead of being merely a story about the 'good' Order of the Phoenix fighting the 'evil' Death Eaters, I realized that the actions of the mainstream Ministry of Magic, the large, beaucratic government that runs the wizarding world, is a third force in the stories. I described them as "bad", in opposition to both good and evil. It is still, I believe, a key interpretation of the books.
Yesterday, a rather obvious extension of this concept occured to me, involving Jungian personality theories. The three parties in the book could involve three aspects of the Jungian personality. First, the Ministry of Magic, along with the media organs that support it, is the Self: it is the rational, conventional self that seems to have no visceral urges, or indeed any strong urges of any kind. The Self seems to confine itself to certain possibilities and actions, and deals with the world through a set of categorizations. One of the deeper jokes of the series is that the "magical world" is at least as closed-minded and prejudiced as our world. The Self, by restraining what it can and can not think about, casts a Shadow: this is the Death Eaters, the group of fascists led by Lord Voldemort. The Shadow fulfills two purposes: it unapologetically indulges all the dark urges for violence and domination that the bland Self won't admit to. It is also, for all its seeming rebellion against the Self, party to many of its prejudices, and in fact may exist to carry out the end result of the categorical thinking and fear of the unknown that are built into the Self, but can not be admitted. Finally, on the other hand, we have the Anima, the Order of the Phoenix. The share with the Self the rational laws of morality, but also the spirit behind morality, and the creative energy that allows people to transcend their lower urges. The epitome of the Anima in the books is Albus Dumbledore, a man who perhaps would not be the traditional choice for an Anima-figure. He is, after all, a man, a partriarch in some senses, who seems to often embrace conventional notions of social interaction, and also is a respected member of society. On the other hand, he is also able to burst force emotionally, displaying great humor, anger, and love, and is also sometimes a prankster and a rebel.
The relations between the three factions display quite a personality conflict: The Shadow wants to displace the Self, and seems to think it is indeed the rightful Self. The Shadow does not seem intent on destroying the Self, but rather on controlling it. The Shadow does want to destroy the Anima, and seems to hate it and fear it more than anything. The Anima, on the other hand, seems to have the goal of both protecting the Self, and helping it transcend. To do both of these goals, it must first defend the Self from the Shadow. The Self seems to be unaware of the motivations of the other two factions, fearing both of them in turn. It fears the Shadow, but does not at all understand how and why the Shadow is part of it. It seems to spend as much time fighting the Anima, or fighting tokens of the Shadow, as it does dealing with its real problem.
What is most significant about the conflict, if this interpretation makes any sense at all; is how totally helpless the Self is when dealing with the Shadow. Within the memory of people in the wizarding world, the followers of Lord Voldemort started a reign of torture and murder, and proudly publicly displayed their hatred and contempt to everyone who was not part of their group. It was only through the constant work of Dumbledore and his followers, and great luck that the Death Eaters did not take total control. And yet, after they are gone, many of their members are allowed to take their places in good society again, and their attitudes and prejudices, which are racist and classist, are not publicly renounced by the society as a whole. When Lord Voldemort resurfaces, they deal with his gradual emergency through denial, and then through attacks on token representations of his power. They seem absolutely unable to deal with what the Shadow is, and what it represents. Much of the time, they seem just as, or more afraid, of Albus Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix, or of various token threats, such as prejudices against Centaurs, or an attempt to execute a single hippogriff.
It is perhaps that the Shadow and the Self are both limited because they live in the world of categories and limitations. Lord Voldemort's greatest fear is fear of death. He must cling desperatly to the known, and its categorical, rational approach to life. He is doing, perhaps, what the Self would do if it admitted its real motivations. The Anima doesn't have any desire to hurt the Self, but its very existence threatens the Self because it carries the threat of transcendence.
Perhaps the real question the Self must face is what it fears more: the gradual breakdown of everything good and beautiful, and the domination of hatred, which the Shadow would bring; or the fear of the unknown, and the uncategorizable, that the Anima brings.