Rowling's "Harry Potter" Series of Books Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1262 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology

¶ … Rowling's "Harry Potter" series of books have been criticized for borrowing too much from myth, legend and even other authors, while J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Ring has been criticized for being excessively complicated, including the author's creation of several languages spoken by various groups of people in his book. At the same time, similarities as well as differences are apparent between the two bodies of work. While experts argue that there are no new stories to be told, a comparison of the "Harry Potter" series and the Lord of the Ring book demonstrates that by writing within the same genre but in different ways, a writer fan write new and refreshing stories in established genres.

In order to look at how Rowling's and Tolkien's writing demonstrate that similar books from genres can still have significant differences as well as strengths, we have to look at both books. Some of the plot devices used by both authors, but in different ways, include use of time, use of death imagery, use of created languages, and the use of back story, or information the author knows about the story and characters that is not put directly into the novels themselves.

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Both the Harry Potter books and Lord of the Rings use time to effect change in events and/or characters. The time span of Lord of the Rings is much broader than those in Rowling's series, and includes much ancient history and myth that turns out to have a factual basis, thus tying millennia together. As an example of this, the central character in Lord of the Rings is really the ring itself. The ring drives the person who possesses it to an enhanced desire for power. Any desire the individual has for power is greatly magnified by the ring. It affects Sauron, the disembodied soul of the ring's original holder, in extreme ways, but over time even has negative effects on the quiet Hobbits, a race of people who typically have little use or desire for power. Because the span of time is so broad, the characters only learn from past events with great difficulty. The wizard Gandolf has to go to ancient writings covered with dust and clearly not looked at for many, many years to uncover the nature of the ring that has been found by the Hobbits. The great majority of people remain ignorant about the danger the ring presents because too much time has passed. The ring has passed from memory. This leaves the people in the Shire, where the Hobbits live, completely unprepared for the evil that will face them.

Rowling's book uses time differently. Compared to Tolkien's book, Rowling's books use greatly compressed time. While there are some references to things that happened shortly after Harry Potter was born, for the most part each book covers one calendar year. However, this is somewhat unusual in writing considered children's literature, because Harry Potter and his classmates mature with each passing year. In most children's series, the children remain stuck in time. Encyclopedia Brown, for instance, is always eight years old. Each book is a new adventure, but the main character stays the same age.

Rowling's choice to have the main characters mature with each book means that the characters in the Harry Potter series deal with events much differently than in Tolkien's book. The pertinent events are all within recent history. While this makes it easier to make interpretations, the characters lack the perspective that greater time would have given them, so interpretation of events are not always accurate. In Tolkien's book, by contrast, the nature of the evil faced always very clear.


Both books use some similar imagery and symbols. In both books, an evil entity threatens stability… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Rowling's "Harry Potter" Series of Books.  (2005, August 12).  Retrieved July 10, 2020, from

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"Rowling's "Harry Potter" Series of Books."  12 August 2005.  Web.  10 July 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Rowling's "Harry Potter" Series of Books."  August 12, 2005.  Accessed July 10, 2020.