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Pat Swenson, CSUN - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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Prof Pat Swenson

Campus Email: pat.swenson@csun.edu

Elements of Fiction

Literary Theory

Myth & Archetype: The Hero's Quest

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Department of English

708 Sierra Tower
Phone: 818.677.3431

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Liberal Studies Program

EA 100
Phone: 818.677.3300

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling - Discussion Guide



Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Hagrid, Albus Dumbledore, Voldemort

Draco Malfoy, Neville Longbottom, Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape, Professor Quirrell

Vernon Dursley, Petunia Dursley, Dudley Dursley


Person-against-self - an internal conflict of feelings.

Person-against-person - the typical protagonist vs. antagonist scenario.

Person-against-society - the protagonist battles against the larger organizations of society
(or a system of beliefs held by society).

Person-against-nature - the protagonist is threatened by a component of nature.


Themes: friendship, good vs. evil, humility, racism/prejudice, hatred, peer pressure, acceptance, believing in yourself, courage, self-sacrifice, loyalty, heroes and villains.

Symbols/Motifs: Muggles, points, authority, Harry's Scar, Quidditch, and the Mirror of Erised.

12 Story Steps To The Myth -- Harry Potter as Hero Archetype

Act One

(1) Ordinary World - Something is missing in this world. It’s the hero or hera’s present, everyday situation. It’s described in order to create a contrast. A question is raised.

(2) Call To Adventure - information is put into the hero or hera’s system, often brought by a messenger.

(3) Reluctant Hero or Hera

(4) Wise Old Person (most optional of steps) - Maybe gives message to trust the path.

Act Two

(5) Special World - Hero gets very committed by his will – or not.

(6) Tests, Allies & Enemies - Enmities and alliances are formed. What are the conditions to the quest? How will the hero react?

(7) Innermost Cave - Holds what the hero wants.

(8) Supreme Ordeal (at ¾ point in 2nd Act) - Hero surviving/transcending “death.”

(9) Seizing The Sword - Taking possession. Enjoying the spoils. But maybe something else chases the hero. Often a missing piece is introduced.

Act Three

(10) The Road Back

(11) Resurrection - Another hero’s test. Final proof – better if visual.

(12) Return with Elixir - To share with everyone.