CHAPTER 12 – The Mirror of Erised
Christmas is fast approaching and the weather has turned really cold.
The school grounds are under several feet of snow, and the lake has frozen. Very few owls are able to battle through the storms to deliver post. Most pupils will be going home for the holidays, but Harry
will be staying at the school together with Ron and the other Weasleys because their parents are going to see their oldest son in Romania.
Harry gets the impression that Professor Snape is observing him very closely
as their paths keep crossing.
During the weeks since the Quidditch match, Hermione, Harry and Ron have been searching for the name Flamel, without success. If they could only get access to the restricted section of the library, they are sure they would find his name there.
Harry is looking forward to what he hopes will be his happiest Christmas
ever, away from the Dursleys.
Harry and Ron enjoy having their dormitory practically to themselves, which
means they are able to occupy the best armchairs by the fire. Ron starts teaching Harry wizard chess.
Christmas Day arrives and they awake to find a pile of packages at the foot
of their beds. Harry receives a hand-made wooden flute from Hagrid and a 50p piece from Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. This fascinates Ron as he is only used to wizard money. The thoughtful Ron had
told his mum that Harry would not receive many presents, so Harry receives a famous Weasley jumper from Ron’s mum.
She knits the whole family jumpers, and soon the whole Weasley clan is together parading their jumpers. Fred and George have large knitted letters on theirs so that other people can distinguish between them.
Harry also gets a large box of chocolate frogs from Hermione.
That leaves one present to unwrap.
Inside is an invisibility cloak and Ron recognizes it immediately and tells Harry that these are very rare and very valuable. With the cloak is an anonymous note that reads, “Your father left this in my possession before he died. It is time it was returned to you. Use it well. A very merry Christmas to you.” Harry tries it on and immediately disappears. Harry decides that he should keep this gift a secret. Only his trusted friend Ron will know of it.
Harry enjoyed the best Christmas dinner he had ever eaten.
This comprised a full Christmas menu accompanied by wizard crackers that contained excellent gifts.
At the end of the day, Harry had the best Christmas ever.
He realized now that with the cloak he could go anywhere undetected and he
would be able to go to the restricted section of the library and find out who Flamel was. This he did, but the first book he opened let out a bloodcurdling shriek that he could not stop, and so he had to flee
However, on his return to the dormitory he was faced with Filch and Snape
blocking his path, so he quickly hid in a disused classroom.
When the two had passed, Harry looked around the classroom and noticed a large mirror with an inscription carved on the top, which translated read, “I show not your face, but your heart’s desire”. When he looked into the mirror it was full of people standing behind his reflection, but when he turned round, there was nobody there. Suddenly he realized he was looking at his own family, including his mum and dad. “He had a powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible sadness.”
The Potters smiled and waved at Harry and he didn’t know how long he stood
and stared at them. Eventually he left and returned to his room.
The next night, he and Ron returned to the mirror both concealed under the
cloak. Again Harry saw his family, but when Ron looked in the mirror he saw himself in the future – Head Boy and holding the house Cup.
Harry returned to the mirror again on his own, as Ron thought it was too
risky. This time when he arrived Albus Dumbledore was waiting for him. He advised Harry that the mirror shows you what you would like to see - what is contained deep in your heart. For Harry it is
his family that he has never seen. For Ron it is surpassing his older brothers. The Headmaster went on to explain that many hundreds of people have enjoyed the pleasure of looking in the mirror, but some
had gone mad because of its power, and the Headmaster advises Harry that he should not look into the mirror any more.
This Chapter marks a change of mood in the book.
There are fewer comic references and what Rowling has tried to achieve is real emotion in these paragraphs, emphasizing the pleasure Harry obtains from the Christmas festivities, the gifts he receives, and the pleasurable vision obtained from the mirror. He has also cemented his relationship with Ron and Professor Dumbledore is clearly a father figure to Harry as he obviously cares for the orphan.
As we have said before, this book is about the conflict between good and evil.
However, Harry also faces an internal conflict as his own mystical education
progresses. As prophesied in the inscription, the mirror shows Harry his heart’s desire, i.e. his parents and other members of his family.
Dumbledore warns Harry that the mirror will not necessarily show him the
truth or provide him with knowledge.
Many before have been absorbed by what they have seen in the mirror, and they have gone mad. After three consecutive visits, Dumbledore advises Harry that he should not look into the mirror for a while. Due to his unhappy childhood, Harry now yearns to be connected with the family he sees in the mirror. Clearly Dumbledore felt it was necessary to provide Harry with this connection with the past, but he now encourages him to concentrate on the present and be aware of what dangers lie in the future.
You will note that Erised is DESIRE spelt backwards.
This lesson is vital for Harry when we reach the climax of the story.