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Harry Potter Lexicon Minute

Hearts & Treasures

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Hearts & Treasures

There comes a point as a Harry Potter fan when you think you have found or heard about all the connections between the series and the world of literature and mythology. And then, out of nowhere, another one smacks you in the face.

I have just finished reading Paulo Coelho’s bestselling book The Alchemist, which I was reading for the first time. Now there’s the obvious fact that alchemists are concerned with finding and making the philosopher’s stone, but that is not the connection I’m talking about. In The Alchemist, the protagonist, a shepherd boy, is on a dream-inspired quest to find his treasure. Along the way he meets an alchemist in the Egyptian desert who tells him, “wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” Those words were instantly familiar to me and transported me away from the sand dunes of the Sahara and to the snow-covered graveyard of Godric’s Hollow. There, on Kendra Dumbledore’s gravestone, were the words, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

I’ve been pondering what this connection might mean, or even if it means anything at all. Does the reversal change the meaning? The essence is the same after all, that your treasure and your heart are intertwined, and where you find one, you’ll find the other. For the shepherd boy, he follows his heart, which takes him on a wondrous journey, eventually leading him full circle back to where he started his quest, where he finds literal treasure. But his real treasure may be the transformation he has undergone, which is, after all, the true purpose of alchemy. I see some parallels here with Dumbledore, who was so enamoured of his own treasure hunt for the Hallows, only to realise, too late, that the real treasure was at home; his family. Presumably it was Dumbledore who chose these words.

Further research revealed that the words on Kendra’s gravestone also appear in the Bible, so perhaps that was the original source for both authors and the similarity is just a coincidence. However, I do think it’s quite likely that J.K. Rowling was familiar with The Alchemist.

The book was initially published in Portuguese, the language of Paulo Coelho’s native Brazil. Between 1991 and 1993 when J.K. Rowling was living in Portugal, The Alchemist was one of the biggest-selling Portuguese language books of all time. It’s quite likely that she came across it. Especially with a title like that, and with the Harry Potter story incubating in her mind at the same time. In her earliest drafts, alchemy was a class at Hogwarts, in place of Potions, so it’s clear that J.K. Rowling had a fascination for the subject. I wonder if those words stuck with her and found their way into the story seven books later.

What do you think? Am I seeing connections where there are none, or are there other parallels we can draw between these two stories of magical quests? What do you think these words mean?

Podcast Episode

Commentary

Notes

In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.

Special thanks go to Felicia Cano who gave us permission to use her amazing artwork of Hermione reading a book for the logo, which was created by Kim B.

Check out the PodBean app here

And if you want to create a podcast of your own, check out PodBean's hosting service.

Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.

Special thanks go to Felicia Cano who gave us permission to use her amazing artwork of Hermione reading a book for the logo, which was created by Kim B.

Check out the PodBean app here

And if you want to create a podcast of your own, check out PodBean's hosting service.

Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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