The Oedipus Complex in Harry Potter

One of the most well-known concepts in Freudian psychoanalysis is the Oedipus complex. This psychoanalytical theory stems from the story Oedipus Rex, where Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother. Freud believed that boys unconsciously desired their mother and wanted to kill their father. This complex can be seen in quite a few different texts, one of which is the Harry Potter series.

The entirety of the Harry Potter series revolves around the ongoing fight between Harry and the Dark Lord Voldemort. While Voldemort isn’t technically Harry’s father, he did, in a sense, have a hand in Harry’s creation. Voldemort hears about following prophecy:

“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.” –Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, pg. 841

Now, this prophecy could have applied to either Harry Potter or Neville Longbottom. Voldemort is the one who decided to attack and kill Harry and his family, effectively “mark[ing] him as his equal” and making Harry into the Boy Who Lived. Therefore, Voldemort could be considered a kind of dark father figure to Harry. Harry is also a Horcrux, and houses a part of Lord Voldemort’s soul within him. Even though Voldemort is not Harry’s biological parent, there is still a part of Voldemort in Harry. The series ends with Harry’s final defeat of Voldemort, after he is finally rid of the piece of the Dark Lord that was inside of him. Harry then goes on to marry Ginny Weasley, a strong-willed, talented redhead (much like his mother, Lily).

The Oedipus complex is even present in the book where Harry has no real confrontation with Voldemort. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black escapes from prison, assumingly with the intent to kill Harry. While at first Harry plans to stay away from Black as best as he can, not really understanding why Black would be after him, this soon changes. This transformation occurs right after Harry learns that Sirius Black is his godfather, and apparently betrayed his parents to Lord Voldemort. Harry is consumed with rage, and fully intends to kill Black when the two finally meet towards the end of the book. Thankfully Harry doesn’t kill Sirius Black, and he eventually learns that Sirius did not actually betray his parents. This allows the two to reconcile and form a meaningful relationship.

Even though the confrontation at the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban did not end with Harry killing Sirius, it is interesting to notice that the book still revolves around Harry’s struggle with a father figure. This shorter storyline mirrors the overarching fight between Harry and Lord Voldemort that persists throughout the series. It is also important to point out that almost all of Harry’s father figures die, both the good (such as Albus Dumbledore) and the bad (Lord Voldemort). The relationship between Harry Potter and the Dark Lord is the one that resembles the Oedipus complex the most, but Harry loses pretty much every father figure along the way.

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