J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Have you ever overheard a conversation, followed along for a while and then realized that the people are talking about a TV series or book or movie? Up until the crucial clue is dropped, like "and then he stopped time" or "if it wasn't for his mutant healing ability..." you would swear they'd been talking about real people.
If you're an author, you take for granted that you'll talk about fictional characters as if they're real. If you're like me, you hope you'll someday hear people talking about your characters that way. Because the really good characters (not morally good necessarily) are real. They are drawn from life and lifetimes worth of archetypes that have peopled stories since the first story was told.
"The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stand this afternoon on the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change."
One of the reasons I find mythologist Joseph Campbell so interesting is because he expresses, in a scholarly way, ideas I find intuitively true. A group of academics have done a study that supports the proposition that we are what we read.
|The Sorting Hat by Tottie Woodstock|
Harry Potter and the measures of personality: Extraverted Gryffindors, agreeable Hufflepuffs, clever Ravenclaws, and manipulative Slytherins
In the case of the Hogwarts Houses, the study found that there was a strongest correlation was between what the individual wanted to be and their personality--regardless of how the "hat" sorted them. My first reaction to that was, "Well, duh!" Of course we'd be attracted to the House that best reflects who we are and how we want to be.
But I'm a storyteller, not a scientist. The personality archetypes that Hogwarts Houses represent can also be found in the Tarot, The Beatles and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (The last two were observed by someone even geekier than I.)
"And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."
Friedrich Nietzshe, Beyond Good and Evil
That goes for Hogwarts, Middle Earth and any other world (realistic or not) that we immerse ourselves in. We read to find ourselves and find ourselves while we read.