... He scowled at the dark ceiling. Did they think he couldn't look after himself? He'd escaped Lord Voldemort three times; he wasn't completely useless....

Unbidden, the image of the beast in the shadows of Magnolia Crescent crossed his mind. What to do when you know the worst is coming....

“I'm not going to be murdered,' Harry said out loud.

'That's the spirit, dear,' said his mirror sleepily.”

I don't see a real mirror has been mentioned in the whole context. No one else was there and Harry was lying in his room alone. It might not be a literal mirror here. What does "his mirror" mean?

-- From Harry Potter - The prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 4, the Leaky Cauldron.

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The world of Harry Potter's books is full of wizardly items that include talking portraits and magical mirrors. Probably it was a mirror like the one depicted in Snow White's tale, a talking magical mirror showing Harry's image but with his own voice and thoughts.

You seem to have some doubts about the use of his. Let's check the dictionaries

his

belonging to or connected with a man, boy, or male animal that has just been mentioned or is known about

belong

synonyms: be owned by, be the property of, be the possession of, be in the ownership of, be held by, be at the disposal of, be in the hands of

The mirror is located in the room assigned to Harry. It's not exactly Harry's property, he hasn't bought nor rented the room but we say that it's his room. In the same way, the mirror placed in that room is Harry's mirror, his mirror.

  • 1
    The magic mirror in Snow White (at least the Disney version) has its own face. It isn't merely a reflection of the Queen. – Josh Townzen Nov 13 at 2:01
  • @JoshTownzen You're right. But that's the only magical talking mirror that I know. I tried to explain that it was Harry's reflection the one talking in the scene quoted by OP. – RubioRic Nov 13 at 7:12
  • @RubioRic Most of people here don't agree it's Harrys reflection. they think it's just the mirror itself talking. – dan Nov 13 at 9:12
  • 2
    @dan I think that is up to you how to imagine exactly the mirror talking. Giving no details is how J.K.Rowling sets free your imagination. I think that in the movies the reflection of Harry acts on its own sometimes, but I'm not sure. But that's the movies version. I think that you can imagine the reflection talking, another face in the mirror talking (like in Snow White's story) or little lips in the frame talking. – RubioRic Nov 13 at 9:27

It's not a figurative mirror - there is a real talking mirror in Harry's room at the Leaky Cauldron which is mentioned earlier in the chapter.

He caught sight of himself in the mirror over the basin.
...
'You're fighting a losing battle there, dear,' said his mirror in a wheezy voice."

  • 4
    It's a magical talking mirror. The mirror is literally commenting on (if I remember correctly) his attempt to comb his hair. – Roger Lipscombe Nov 12 at 11:44
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    @RogerLipscombe but Why "HIS mirror"? It's not really Harry's. It belongs to the Leaky Caudron I think. – dan Nov 12 at 11:54
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    @RogerLipscombe I think is related to how we say "my room" when you are talking about your hotel room, "his room" =>"the mirror in his room" =>"his mirror" – Dzyann Nov 12 at 12:54
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    @dan Yes, as a native speaker, referring to the mirror in his hotel room as “his mirror” is expected and “the mirror in his room” seems unnecessarily wordy. Certainly not wrong but seems like it might be trying to emphasize the transitory nature of the hotel stay, rather than being neutral. Puts me in mind of a fugitive on the run. – KRyan Nov 12 at 14:55
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    Temporary possession is a real thing. At an office, you may refer to 'my' desk and 'my' laptop, but you don't actually own those things - they are temporarily under your control. The mirror is 'his' because he temporarily controls the room. – Brian R Nov 12 at 17:22

I'd like to give a different take on this. The OED defines mirror as both a reflective surface, and:

A person or thing embodying a feature or characteristic deserving imitation; a pattern; an exemplar.

(For example: "In the eyes of Victoria he was the mirror of manly beauty.")

In this case, Harry's reflection is a mirror of Harry himself. Since Harry is the one causing the reflection, you could call it "his mirror" just as you would say "his shadow" or "his footprints."

So "his mirror" is just another way of saying "his doppelganger," "his double" or in this case, "his reflection."

  • I think you are right! Otherwise, it doesn't look quite interesting that a mirror can speak. It's a really creative thinking! – dan Nov 12 at 22:25
  • That magic mirror can get one's reflections who used it and make his reflection a live person just like his inner self. I have to say this is an amazing idea! – dan Nov 12 at 22:40
  • I'd like to know the reason why downvoted this answer. I think it makes perfect sense to me. I'm really surprised. – dan Nov 12 at 23:27
  • 4
    @dan I downvoted this answer because it is wrong. This is simply not a reasonable interpretation of the text. Even if J.K. Rowling herself came here and said that this is what she meant, I would still call that a miswording on her part. The context of the usage here is all wrong for this meaning of the word. – KRyan Nov 13 at 0:19
  • @KRyan The point is if Harry had never gotten himself reflected in this mirror, it would never response to him I think. – dan Nov 13 at 0:37

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