Dumbledore tells Harry that

"[The Mirror of Erised] 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."
-Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12

What was the reasoning behind the mirror's creation? What purpose would it serve?

  • 17
    "What is the point of the Mirror of Erised?": To show us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 16:53
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    If nothing else, it could shave years of therapy bills off...
    – gowenfawr
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 17:05
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    @gowenfawr "Men have wasted away before it...or been driven mad..." Sounds like it would actually be adding to their mental health costs. Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 18:43
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    The first HP novel has a lot more in common with fairy tales than subsequent ones do. The Mirror is the sort of magical artifact that exists in fairy tales.
    – zwol
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 19:35
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    A sadly wrong answer which I much prefer is that of the fanfiction Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, in which the Mirror is an immensely powerful but unfinished artefact that in its completed state would not only show the desire of the viewer, but would reshape the world so that this desire was true. In this fanfiction, a great disaster befell the Mirror's creators before they could finish it, and so it endured through the ages without reaching its true potential. (It was complete enough that Dumbledore was able to use it to protect the Stone, though.) Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


Unknown / just for fun

later an ideal hiding location for objects

It's worth noting that "Erised" is "Desire" spelled backwards

The Mirror of Erised is a very old device. Nobody knows who created it, or how it came to be at Hogwarts School...The Mirror of Erised is one of those magical artefacts that seems to have been created in a spirit of fun (whether innocent or malevolent is a matter of opinion), because while it is much more revealing than a normal mirror, it is interesting rather than useful. Only after Professor Dumbledore makes key modifications to the mirror (which has been languishing in the Room of Requirement for a century or so before he brings it out and puts it to work) does it become a superb hiding place, and the final test for the impure of heart.

Source: J.K. Rowling


  • 9
    Interestingly, if Dumbledore brought it out of the room of requirements in book 1 then... when did he find the room full of Chamberpots again?
    – Liath
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 17:38
  • 7
    "It's worth noting that "Erised" is "Desire" spelled backwards".. you just blew 8 year-old me's mind... I feel like an idiot for never noticing that... Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 21:11
  • 4
    Read the whole thing backwards if you haven't already. If I'm not wrong, it's "I show not your face but your deepest desire" or something equivalent.
    – sudhanva
    Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 2:06

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