The Invisible (S)elf: Identity in House Elves and Harry Potter

Gary Montesinos


Maurice Merleau-Ponty, a French phenomenological philosopher, argues in The Phenomenology of Perception (1945) for the creation of identity through the use of the body. Subjects are born into a world with coded rules and traditions. The subject constructs their identity through a space that they have no say in. The use of servile creatures, the House Elves, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series in relation to Merleau-Ponty’s ideas on identity display how even constricted beings can create a space for themselves. The House Elves operate in a position beneath the wizards. They become ontologically suppressed but are able to traverse spaces that the wizards cannot and gain the ability to create identity within their confined servile positions.


House Elves; Humility; Identity; Ontology; Phenomenology; Self-Suppression; Space

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