chapter  3
22 Pages

Harry Potter’s Medieval Hallows

Chaucer and the Gawain-poet

This chapter argues for a specific connection between Harry Potter's most 'tempting objects' – the Hallows – and three dangerous glittering treasures of medieval literature: the magical green and gold girdle of Gawain and the Green Knight, the thirty pieces of silver that persuade Judas to betray Jesus and the deadly pile of gold in Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale. The convincing past that Harry Potter creates for its Hallows is strengthened by a literary heritage rooted in medieval myth and poetry. The mythic background of the Hallows is rooted in stories about over-reliance on material things: Gawain's misapplied faith in the golden girdle as a jewel against danger and Judas fatal love of money and his infamous 'thirty pieces of silver'. One further example is the traditional folk tale about a mysteriously appearing pile of gold that leads all who desire it to their deaths. This is the story that underlies Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale, Harry Potter's Tale of the Three Brothers.