Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

by

J. K. Rowling

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The Mirror of Erised Symbol Icon

The Mirror of Erised, which Harry encounters on accident one night, hidden in a random room, symbolizes how intense, emotionally charged desires can be dangerous. “Erised” is “desire” spelled backwards, and the Mirror fittingly shows the person peering in it the deepest desire of his or her hearts. For Harry, an orphan without a loving family, this means he sees his parents, Lily and James, in the Mirror, as well as the rest of his extended family. While it initially seems innocent and even beneficial for Harry to be able to interact with his fallen family to some extent, the novel warns that even virtuous desires can prove harmful. Indeed, Harry quickly grows obsessed with the Mirror, ignoring virtually everything else in his life and returning three nights in a row (risking punishment for being out of bed) in order to stare into the Mirror’s reflection, as if in a trance. Dumbledore joins Harry on the third night, cautioning him that wizards have been driven insane by what they see in the Mirror, either entranced by the image or maddened by wondering if what it shows is possible. Thus, even though Harry’s desires are pure—he understandably misses his family and wants to see them—his deep yearning for something that can never happen prevents him from living in the present.

The Mirror of Erised Quotes in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Mirror of Erised. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Magic, Difference, and Belonging Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scholastic edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone published in 1997.
Chapter 12 Quotes

“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.”

Related Symbols: The Mirror of Erised
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

“You see, only one who wanted to find the Stone — find it, but not use it — would be able to get it, otherwise they’d just see themselves making gold or drinking Elixir of Life.”

Page Number: 300
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Mirror of Erised Symbol Timeline in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Mirror of Erised appears in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12: The Mirror of Erised
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Inside the room, Harry discovers an enormous mirror (later revealed as the Mirror of Erised). Harry looks in the Mirror, and to his shock sees a crowd of... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Harry doesn’t know how long he stands in front of the Mirror , until a distant noise makes him realize he has to go back to bed.... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
That night, Ron and Harry return to the Mirror . Harry once again sees Lily and James. But Ron can’t see anything, so Harry... (full context)
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
...out of the room and back to their dorm. The next day, Ron realizes that the Mirror is still plaguing Harry. Ron tells Harry he shouldn’t go back that night, but Harry... (full context)
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
The third night Harry returns alone. Harry sits down in front of the Mirror , knowing that nothing can prevent him from staying there all night with his family.... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Dumbledore tells Harry that the Mirror will be moved to a new home the next day, and asks that Harry not... (full context)
Chapter 13: Nicolas Flamel
Magic, Difference, and Belonging Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Friendship Theme Icon
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Harry doesn’t search for the Mirror of Erised again, but he starts to have nightmares about “his parents disappearing in a... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Man with Two Faces
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Harry then realizes that the Mirror of Erised is behind Quirrell. Quirrell examines it, knowing that it must be the key... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
...at that moment is to find the Stone before Quirrell. Thus, if he looks in the Mirror of Erised, he should see himself finding it. Meanwhile, Quirrell is also trying to figure... (full context)
Power, Greed, and Desire Theme Icon
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Quirrell unbinds Harry and tells him to stand in front of the Mirror . When Harry sees his reflection, it smiles at him and pulls the blood-red Stone... (full context)
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Rules and Rebellion Theme Icon
...would be useful. Harry’s asks a final question: how he got the Stone out of the Mirror . Dumbledore explains that only someone who wanted to locate the Stone, but not actually... (full context)
Humility and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
...a chance, teaching him just enough to help them (the Invisibility Cloak, the information about the Mirror ) rather than stopping them. (full context)