Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone discussion

The Mirror of Erised

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I recently re-read this and I got to thinking about the Mirror of Erised, which is probably one of the most interesting things on the book (and there seems to be a whole history to it that's only hinted at). My question is: Dumbledore is pretty insistent that it's evil or at the very least harmful, and this is demonstrated in Harry's three-day obsession over it, but wouldn't it be extremely useful as a tool for self-knowledge, which is a typical "good" trait in fantasy novels? It would tell you your greatest weakness, which would help you to avoid it...what do you think?

Jeni I think the danger lies in people who would spend more time admiring their greatest desires than actually achieving them. You would end up wasting your life wishing for something you could have been working for, instead.

It would be so tempting to just sit and admire yourself in a mirror that shows you already succeeding at something than to work at that success.

message 3: by Kill the Spare (last edited Sep 19, 2012 08:19AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kill the Spare I may not be clear on the concept but, it's a bit like 'coveting', right?

Jeni Somewhat. It shows you having achieved your greatest desire. Not necessarily being something you can covet that someone else has, but just your deepest wish come true.

For example: Ron saw himself as Quidditch captain and head boy--things he never thought he could have being overshadowed by five brothers. How tempting would it be to just sit and see the adulation and glory of those achievements already in place?

The problem is, it doesn't show the future, so if you spend your whole life enjoying the happiness you feel if you had that success, you won't be achieving it and making it true.

Avani I agree that it's a good tool to make yourself aware of your weaknesses, but as Jeni says, the danger lies in becoming obsessed with the image of you achieving your greatest wish. If used as a tool, it would have to be a one-time thing.

Clare When I read the book, to me it wasnt showing you 'achieving' your greatest desire. It was showing you the greatest desires of your heart, and these are not always achievable.
Harry saw his whole family (or in the movie just his mum and dad), this was something he could never acheive, but the thing he wished for the most. Ron saw himself as quiddict captain and head boy, something he could never acheive as he (in my opinion) wasnt head boy material and only desired this because his older brothers had done this... which leads to an interesting question- if his brothers hadnt been so succesful what would have ron desired.

I didnt think the mirror was evil, and I dont see the wastefullness in looking at the mirror for the rest of your life looking at what you could never have. to make the mirror less destructive you could put it in a room where it wasnt the main/only thing in there and i dont think it would be as succesful in entrancing people.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)


Yona "But it's human nature I guess, we can't step away from our temptations!"

That's exactly it. Like any mirror, and like Hebe pointed out in the original comment, the mirror of Erised only shows the characters a piece of their own nature... and that's the dangerous part, because it's a part of human nature to dream and fritter time away rather than acting. For many, I imagine it would be difficult if not impossible to tear themselves away. I wouldn't be surprised if people had died in front of it, just staring their own unfulfilled dreams in the face.

Alexandra I don't think the mirror is evil, exactly, just dangerous. It is a temptation -if you are weak, then the impulse to sit and enjoy the illusion of your heart's desire can overwhelm, and that is ALL you do. (And, as Yona said, if you do that to the exclusion of eating & sleeping, you will die.)

But if it was evil, why would Dumbledore keep it? I think that is because, if your will is strong enough, it can be a useful tool. And that is why it is locked away in that room; I expect people are taken to look into it, when they are ready to handle it.

Susannah Cat wrote: "Erised

Wow thank you! I didn't see that.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Susannah wrote: "Cat wrote: "Erised

Wow thank you! I didn't see that."

The inscription says "I show not your face but your heart's desire" backwards.

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