There is a line between inspiration and plagiarism. Did JK Rowling cross that line when writing Harry Potter? Or are the similarities just a coincidence?
Two of the most popular franchises ever to have some of the most loyal fan bases in the world who know everything there is to know about their respective worlds. The Lord of the Rings and Harry potter fans have noticed some similarities between the two cinematic universes over the years. Of course, these two popular movie franchises are actually adaptations of novels written by authors JK Rowling and JRR Tolkien. Because The Lord of the Rings was written decades before Harry potter was, many believe that all of these similarities between the two works are not a coincidence or an inspiration, but rather a copy of each other.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy of books began in 1954, while Harry potter was only published in 1997 and was not completed until 2007. And it’s a bit ironic that both authors chose to use a pen name made up of the initials of their first and middle names followed by their full last name. Although this is actually just a coincidence since author Joanne Rowling was advised by an editor to use a false name because at the time, readers were more likely to pick up and read a book if it had a male author. But perhaps that is an indication of Rowling’s admiration for Tolkien. However, there are real similarities in Harry potter who have copied the the Lord of the Rings.
One thing Hollywood film producers and book publishers care about is making money. Most of the time, they want the same story, but different. That means they want the creators to tell a story that’s already been told and proven financially, but with changed details like the setting and the characters. It would make sense if JK Rowling understood this and chose to use The Lord of the Rings like the outline of her own story so that she too can gain enough fame and fortune to perhaps write a new story or a more personal story later.
Some of the similarities are quite significant parts of the story. Starting with a single, the first similarity between the two worlds is the idea that there is a “chosen one” who must complete a mission in order to defeat the evil villain or else (presumably) all people in this world will suffer as a consequence of the failure of the mission. In both stories, this person is a young man who lives with his uncle, and they have to fight a being called in both franchises the Dark Lord. But they are young and cannot know what to do without help.
Both works include the use of a wise old wizard who serves as the protagonist’s mentor. Not only do Frodo and Harry look similar, Gandalf and Dumbledore both share similar characteristics such as a long gray beard and a wizard’s hat. In both stories, the inciting incident that triggers a series of events that propels the protagonist into the story is an anniversary. For Harry, it’s his 11th birthday, and for Frodo, it’s Bilbo’s 111th birthday.
In The Lord of the Rings, the life force of the Dark Lord is linked with the One Ring. In Harry potter, the Dark Lord’s life force is linked to seven Horcruxes. The two heroes must destroy the items so that the Dark Lords cannot regain their full power. If Frodo puts on the ring, it will become invisible to everyone. This is similar to Harry’s invisibility cloak. Frodo normally keeps the ring on a necklace around his neck to keep it safe, but wearing it always placed a burden on him since the Dark Lord drains his will and energy. This is similar to the Slytherin Horcrux locket that Ron wears around his neck until it can be destroyed. Ron and Frodo both undergo a personality change due to the items they wear.
There are a lot of characters in The Lord of the Rings that JK Rowling clearly used in his Harry potter series. Instead of Nazgûl, she called them Dementors. The two creatures are dressed in black, they are neither alive nor dead. Both works include a small creature that the reader is believed to sympathize with. For Harry potter, this character is Dobby, and in LOTR, it’s Gollum, both of whom speak in the third person. And there is a big giant spider in both stories. In the first entry of the two franchises, the main characters fight a big troll.
In both stories, there is an object that allows the protagonist to see a possible future or a desire. In LOTR, Galadriel shows Frodo a mirror (which is in fact only a basin of water) which shows him the future, the present or the past. In Harry potter, there are two different objects used. The first is the Mirror of Erised which allows Harry to see his greatest desire (or possible future) and the second is the Pensieve, which shows memories (or the past).
Harry is the boy who lived and has a scar on his forehead that he received from the evil Dark Lord. In LOTR, when Merry and Pippin are picked up by the orcs to be taken to Isengard, Merry has his forehead cut off, leaving a scar. Now Harry and Merry have their foreheads scarred. Additionally, Frodo receives a scar from a Morgul blade. So now Harry and Frodo both have scars, left by evil forces, which still hurt when that evil force gets stronger. All of these similarities make it hard to believe that JK Rowling Harry Potter the series had some originality. It looks more like a fun take The Lord of the Rings story instead, and is perhaps the greatest fan-fiction.
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