Harry Potter has a long history within our hearts, with a total of seven books that were made into eight movies, fans of the franchise have plenty of options to depict what makes up his personality. There are a lot of personality theorists out there, but Carl Jung and Abraham Maslow developed theories that directly correlate with the character development of Harry.
At first, Harry was just the boy who lived in the cupboard, he was an introvert and had only satisfied the first two levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. By the end of his story, Harry had managed to climb Maslow’s pyramid, he became an extrovert, he held a strong influence within his unconscious and he developed a conscious understanding of his ego.
The first two steps of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs include the physiological and safety necessities that any human needs to survive. The Dursley’s helped Harry with these steps by providing him with enough food and water to live, a roof over his head, the resources he would need to survive such as clothes and shoes, enough protection to keep him out of harm’s reach and they kept him healthy enough to stay alive.
These needs were met, but Maslow included needs on the pyramid that were above those basic survival requirements. Such as finding a sense of belonging and feeling loved, having a self-esteem that would keep you from hating yourself and understanding yourself. It wasn’t until Harry arrived at Hogwarts that he began climbing the pyramid towards those needs that wouldn’t only keep him psychologically healthy, but would keep him happy. Jung developed the idea that everyone has a little bit of an extrovert and introvert within them, but one will always be stronger than the other.
Before Harry began attending Hogwarts, he was an introvert, meaning that he was shy. This could most likely be explained by the fact that the Dursley’s shut him out from the world. He wasn’t able to make friends and after he got a few letters in the mail, the Dursley’s moved out to an abandoned island to keep anyone from contacting him. They were literally willing to give up a portion of comfortable their lives just so they could keep Harry from contacting those who may have similar attributes with him.
When he finally arrived at Hogwarts, this almost immediately changed. Harry made friends quickly and became quite popular amongst those at the school. This could have been due to the name that he possessed, but it also has to do with the welcoming attitude that everyone gave him and the fact that he actually began feeling like he was loved and that he finally belonged somewhere.
Jung based his idea of the unconscious after Freud but included the idea that the unconscious is just about anything that influences someone’s personality that they are not conscious of. Within the first three movies, we are given two different looks into Harry’s unconscious. In the first movie, while Harry is at a zoo he begins speaking to a snake and he did this without even realizing that he was speaking an entirely different language. This is because while he may know the language, he has no idea that he can speak or understand it. Therefore, when he does speak to it, he doesn’t even realize that it’s odd.
Fast forward to the third movie to a dinner scene with the Dursleys and Uncle Vernon’s sister, Marjorie. After Marjorie makes multiple comments insulting Harry’s parents, we see Harry give off an angry reaction. This invokes his unconscious to perform magic that Harry didn’t even realize he could do. Suddenly we see Marjorie blow up like a balloon and literally fly away. While Harry may have enjoyed watching this happen, it was the strong influence of his unconscious that actually made it happen.
Throughout the eight films, Jung’s idea of an ego also affected Harry’s overall personality. Jung’s definition of ego practically includes everything within the conscious mind, from the thoughts and feelings to the actions someone takes are what we refer to as their ego. While it’s obvious that Harry’s ego changes once he realizes he’s a wizard who survived the most threatening attack a wizard could ever make. We really get to see his ego grow by the way he reacts around his Uncle Vernon.
In the first movie, he is frightened of his uncle, only doing as he is told and not rebelling in any conscious way. Although this changes, and by the second movie he breaks out of his uncle’s house in order to get to school. By the third movie, he accidentally blows up his uncle’s sister and then points a wand in his uncle’s face and threatens him in order to leave the house. The changes found within his ego through the first three movies is an outstanding transition, and only goes to show how this truly developed his personality throughout the franchise.Not signed in
Harry's achievements within some of the classes, becoming the Gryffindor Quidditch seeker at such a young age and practically saving the entire school every year allowed him to really work up his level of confidence and self-esteem as well as the respect that others had for him. This then allowed him to reach the top of Maslow's pyramid and find his idea self-actualization. Understanding who he is and understanding that he is someone that really deserves to be happy, which is the opposite of the boy that we saw in the cupboard.
While it's important to understand that Harry finally succeeded in climbing Maslow's pyramid, it's also important to note that he also became somewhat of an anti-Maslow. Harry found where he belonged and was able to raise his levels of confidence and by the end of every movie he was risking his own life in order to protect the lives of others. In the end, this may raise his confidence and the amount of respect that others have for him, but this completely goes against Maslow’s original needs of protection and safety. This idea truly makes Harry into an incredibly interesting character that may define some of the psychology theories of personality, but he has enough layers that he’ll even go against one of these ideas, which in my mind makes his personality even stronger.
What do you think? Do the theories of Jung and Maslow explain Harry's personality and the transition he went through?
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