Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

by J. K. Rowling

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Does Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone have religious undertones?

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Religious undertones exist both in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and in the series as a whole. As mentioned in the other answers, Harry is a Christ figure, a chosen one who is destined to end the tyranny of Voldemort, who represents evil.

Sacrificial love is a strong concept in the Christian religion, since Christ's love for humanity led to the cross, and it is much the same in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, where Harry's mother died saving him. Her love continues to protect Harry from evil, as represented in Voldemort when Quirrell tries to kill Harry during the climax before the Mirror of Erised. Harry is knocked unconscious during this confrontation, which is presented as a metaphorical death, since he confronted Quirrell in order to protect the school and, indeed, the wizarding world at large from Voldemort.

The Sorcerer's Stone itself contains religious connotations as well. The stone is said to grant eternal life, which is why Voldemort wishes to possess it. In contrast, Harry is willing to risk his life to procure the stone but not use it. This element of the story could be linked to the Bible verse Matthew 16:25, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." At the end of the novel—and at the end of the series—Voldemort's violent quest for immortality ends in death, while Harry, who sacrifices time and again, ultimately gets to live a life filled with love and companionship.

The unicorn blood has similar religious significance. In medieval Christianity, the unicorn was a symbol of Christ, since it was associated with purity and goodness. To kill a unicorn is to kill something truly good. As Firenze tells Harry in the woods, "The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenseless to save yourself, and you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips." Firenze's lines are reminiscent of the biblical verse "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). Voldemort's killing a unicorn further cements his position as an evil, even Satanic, figure, opposed to the values represented by Harry, the Christ figure protagonist.

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In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, there are religious undertones. First, it is understood that the magical world is caught in an epic battle between good and evil, with the evil Voldemort gaining power. Voldemort represents evil; Harry represents good.

Further, love is identified as the chief attribute of the good, which is a strongly Christian concept. Harry is identified with love because his mother, Lily, sacrificed herself out of love to save him from Voldemort. This love is symbolized by the scar on his forehead, which gives Harry extra protection against evil: love is depicted as a powerful force, like a lightning bolt, that repels wickedness.

Sacrifice is strongly associated with religious belief. In sacrificing herself, Lily has acted as a Christ figure, dying that others may live. The parallels with the Christ story are imprecise. Harry, however, carries on the Christ-figure legacy. He is "everyman," as his ordinary name indicates, and he too has been asked to risk his life to defeat evil and protect other people.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has religious undertones in the Christ-like figure that Harry is made into.

The comparisons between Jesus Christ and Harry Potter begin wherein Harry is described as The Chosen One. Harry was a miraculous child that survived a vicious attack from Lord Voldemort, thus defeating the Dark Lord. In The Bible, Jesus Christ is referred to as a chosen son of God to walk the Earth in God's image. In Christianity, it is often believed that Jesus is the only way Satan will be kept at bay. Jesus is also a miracle child in that he was born to the virginal Mary.

As the story of The Sorcerer's Stone progresses, a lot of myth and wonder surrounds Harry. When he meets wizards and witches for the first time, they reach out to shake his hand and thank him for the kindness he has done in ridding the world of Lord Voldemort. Jesus Christ plays a similar role in The Bible, healing lepers and sinners alike. Men and women gather to see Jesus in real life, often asking to touch his body and thanking him for the miracles he has performed.

Lastly, Harry sacrifices himself in order to defeat Lord Voldemort at the end of the book. He is resurrected from a comatose state under Albus Dumbledore's care, a character with God-like qualities. Within Christianity, Jesus was nailed to a cross and subsequently died. Later, Jesus is resurrected by God. The celebration of Easter for Christians and the final feast at the Great Hall in Sorcerer's Stone are akin to each other in that both celebrations focus on a resurrected savior.

With these examples present, one need not look far for comparisons between Harry Potter and Jesus Christ in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

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