Filed Under 42 (Life the Universe & Everything) on August 2, 2006 at 1:51 am
Something which has annoyed me of late is the up-surge in mad theories revolving around the Mirror of Erised showing Harry where the Horcruxes are hidden. The basic idea is that Harry just has to really want to find a Horcrux, look in the mirror and then he'll see where it is. This theory is ludicrous for a number of reasons which I'll happily share with you.
The Mirror Looks In not Out
For the mirror to show Harry where the Horcruxes are it would have to know where the Horcruxes are. However, we know that is beyond the power of the mirror right from Chapter 12 of the first book when Dumbledore says "this mirror gives us neither knowledge or truth". This is because the mirror does not look out into the real world but instead into the deepest darkest recesses of the viewer's soul. Again, Dumbledore tells us this in Chapter 12; "It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desires of our hearts". To really hammer the point home have a look at the inscription around the edge of the mirror; "Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi". At fist glance it looks like gibberish or perhaps bad Latin or something but it's not. This is a mirror so read it backwards and ignore where the spaces actually are and put them in where they make sense. When you do this the mirror tells us something much more useful; "I show not your face but your Heart's desire".
The mirror has no idea what the Horcruxes are, where the Horcruxes are, or where Voldemort is. It can tell Harry nothing about the world outside or Voldemort, just about himself. Basically, if you think of the Mirror as a tool for finding out about the real world then you've completely missed the point. TBH the above quotes form Dumbledore smack this theory down totally but I'm going to look into the mirror a little more while I'm talking about it anyway.
But the Mirror Showed Harry his Family
No! The mirror showed Harry his image of his family. There is nothing in the books that says that these people are in any way real. They are just Harry's image of what his family might look like. The way I look at the mirror is like a window into our subconscious like dreams often can be. Both show you images from your subconscious mind, they show you images from your imagination. If you were to dream about finding a pot of gold you would see yourself finding your subconscious mind's image of a pot of gold, not a real pot of gold that actually exists that you could then go out and collect (unfortunately ). The mirror is the same. It could show Harry himself finding an imagined Horcrux but not information on a real Horcrux.
But the Mirror Could Give Harry the Philosopher's Stone
The obvious answer to that point is 'so?' but I'll go into it a little more. Dumbledore used the Mirror in a very clever way. He effectively used the mirror's innate ability to see into people to act as a kind of lock on the release of the stone which he had placed inside the mirror. He programmed the mirror not to release the stone to anyone who wanted to use it, hence only people looking to find the stone but not to use it could get it out. This is an exceptionally clever thing for Dumbledore to do because it harnesses the mirror's ability to tell you more about yourself than you may consciously know to vet the receiver of the stone. Does this involve the mirror being able to see anything but the inner desires of the people looking into it? No. Hence, this in no way what so ever supports the theory that the mirror could be used to find out where the Horcruxes are. The only thing you can get out of the Mirror are insights into your self and things that have been put into the mirror.
So Maybe Dumbledore put Something into the Mirror for Harry to Find
Perhaps, but why would he do that? He has said again and again that he told Harry all he knows about the Horcruxes. He had no idea where they are and could only guess as to what they might be. He could have put some physical artefact into the mirror that will help Harry but surely he would have told Harry that he had done so, otherwise what's the point? Add to that the fact that Voldemort knows how the mirror works now and it just seems very unlikely to me.
Then Maybe Voldemort put the Horcruxes into the Mirror
Why would he do that? Seriously? Both Harry and Dumbledore know how the mirror works and as far as we know the mirror is still safe in Hogwarts. Why would Voldemort risk putting his most precious treasures right under his enemies noses when he has already proven, with the cave at the end of the sixth book, that he can provide much better security elsewhere!
The Mirror has Served it's Purpose
I don't think the mirror will make a re-appearance because I think it has served it's purpose. Everything about the mirror (apart from what Dumbledore saw when he looked into it) has been wrapped up in a proverbial neat little package. It's main purpose from a plot point of view was obviously to protect the Stone from Voldemort and it's quite likely that Dumbledore left the mirror around for Harry to find so that he would be prepared when he faced it again during his battle with Voldemort. At the end of the first book Harry feels that Dumbledore subtly helped him learn what he needed to know to beat Voldemort and then let Harry try to defeat him first. I believe Harry was right.
Another very important purpose of the mirror was to give us insights into the characters of Ron and Harry because at this early stage of the series we are still learning a lot about them. The mirror is a wonderful device for making it very clear to us right from the start of the series how very pure or heart Harry is. This becomes very important later in the series and saves Harry's life at the end of the fifth book when Voldemort tries to posses him. To a lesser extent it also gives us some insight into Ron but this is not as important.
I think it's clear from the books that the mirror can not be used to find out real-world information, hence making proverbial mince meat of this theory. I also think that we have seen the last of the mirror because it has fulfilled it's purpose and has nothing more to offer Harry or the readers in the final book.