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

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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.

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