The Mirror of Erised presents one of the most notable and symbolic moments in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry stumbles upon the mirror one night, stowed in an unused classroom. When he looks in the mirror, he finds the image of is parents standing with him.
Returning night after night to view the happy image of his family, Albus Dumbledore eventually finds Harry and points out the inscription across the top of the mirror- I show not your face but your heart’s desire- a message spelled backwards. Dumbledore explains to Harry, “Men have wasted away before it, not knowing if what they have seen is real, or even possible.”
Reading this part of the book recently and being a self-reflexive person, I had to ask- what would I see in the Mirror of Erised? What is my heart’s desire? J.K. Rowling offers the question to all of us. If we can answer the question honestly, we can reveal one of the most crucial pieces of ourselves. Finding the answer to this is an important step to discovering our authentic selves.
When I ask myself what the mirror would show, I think it would probably be me receiving an award for a novel I had written. Knowing that I desire this public praise for my work reveals something about my nature and probably something of what I feel I am lacking in my life.
For some people the answer might involve a lasting friendship, a happy home life or a career achievement. To get anything out of this, you have to answer honestly and that can be the hardest part. The answer might show you what you are harboring and need to release.
The next question digs a little deeper- why is this your heart’s desire? What created this desire? Harry lost his parents as a baby and his unhappy home life with the Dursley’s left him with a need for parental love and a sense of belonging. Things that are eventually provided at Hogwarts and within him.
The point of this section in the book is to teach Harry to let go of things that he cannot change in his life and to find value in himself and in is real life.
Dumbledore points out to Harry, “The happiest man on Earth would look into the mirror and see only himself, exactly as he is.”
What would you see in the Mirror of Erised?