Category: parallels

Why J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Is Only Semi-original

As much as I enjoy the Harry Potter series, I’m afraid I would be lying to you if I told you that its somewhat excessive praise doesn’t bother me at times. Indeed, since its first publication, J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World has continuously been hailed by readers and critics alike as the most cleverly constructed fantasy world of all time, which I believe is a somewhat unfair statement considering the vast amount of material which the author directly borrowed from other fantasy sources. In that sense, you could even say that J.K. Rowling’s creation is only semi-original, half of the work having already been done for her.

Before I get started, I would just like to stress the following very briefly. I am not trying to offend Harry Potter fans, nor am I trying to say that your love for these books is unjustified. In fact, my criticisms have very little to do with the actual story of Harry Potter, most of them being centred around the world building instead. All I’m suggesting is that the next time you decide to praise J.K. Rowling, you may like to keep it in mind that none of the magic ever would have been possible in the first place had it not been for the likes of numerous fantasy authors from whose material J.K. Rowling has borrowed (and profited) rather freely.

In this post I would like to pay homage to one such author: J.R.R. Tolkien, who is perhaps most famous for his high-fantsy epic The Lord of the Rings, to which many of J.K. Rowling’s supposed inventions can be traced back.

Parallels between The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter

A young, orphaned protagonist who grows up in his uncle’s household:

• Frodo Baggins — Harry Potter

A wise old man who acts as said protagonist’s mentor:

• Gandalf — Dumbledoor

A formless dark lord, newly arisen following a long period of absence (in which many believed he had perished):

• Sauron — Voldemort

Protagonist’s loyal best friend who ends up saving his life through the use of a sword:

• Samwise Gamgee fights off Shelob using Sting/Using the Sword of Godric Gryffindor, Ron destroys Slytherin’s Locket after it nearly drowns Harry

Object(s) into which the dark lord has poured his life source, allowing him to exist as long as they remain in tact:

• The One Ring — Horcruxes

Jewellery that has a corruptive influence on the wearer:

• One Ring — Slytherin’s Locket

Cowardly traitor with the word ‘worm’ in his name

• Womtongue — Wormtail

Cloaked servants of evil who are drawn to the protagonist:

• Ringwraiths — Dementors

Small, pale, wretched being who becomes bound to the service of the protagonist:

• Gollum — Kreacher

Protagonist is left scarred for life following their encounter with evil:

• Frodo wounded by the One Ring/Ringwraiths/Shelob — Harry left with a lighting-bolt scar following his encounter with Voldemort as a baby

Old and reclusive beings associated with stars and prophecy; notoriously difficult to reason with due to their detached nature:

• Elves — Centaurs

A secretive and forbidden Forest in which danger is said to lurk:

• Mirkwood/The Old Forest — The Forbidden Forest

• Mirror of Galadriel — The Pensieve

• The Phial of Galadriel — The Deluminator

• The Elven cloaks — The Cloak of Invisiblity

• Giant Spiders — Acramantulas