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Much Ado About Harry Potter

Marianna Walat, a 13-year-old from Bydgoszcz, does not agree with all the fuss which is being made about Harry Potter. Mind you, she has read “The Lord of the Rings” twice!

The basic question is why “Harry Potter” is such a popular book. Why is J.K. Rowling considered a ‘great’ writer? There are several answers to these questions and they are very simple.

The book itself is easy to digest as it seems to aim at inexperienced readers or at Mugols, that is ordinary people from "Harry Potter". Generally speaking, this is not a complex book and this might be a reason why it is loved by average people. I would like to explain what I mean by this. The central theme of the book, MAGIC, does draw readers’ attention, but it does not fascinate, it does not leave unsolved mysteries to dwell upon and it does not leave us with this strange feeling of an unsatisfied need for more.... The result is that I will not read “Harry Potter” over and over as I do with books by Tolkien, the Master of Fantasy.

Rowling, apart from the magic theme, borrowed a number of ideas from Tolkien. Here are some examples:

  • Albus Dumbledore could be compared to the great Wizard, Gandalf the Grey, from “The Lord of the Rings”
  • Lord Voldemort is reminiscent of Tolkien’s Saruman or even Sauron
  • Rowling’s Forbidden Forest resembles Mirk Wood, both being mysterious and dangerous
  • Ain Eingarp’s Mirror from “Harry Potter” and the Mirror of Galadriel from “The Lord of the Rings” both show events from the future
  • And, finally, spiders. In Rowling’s book there is an Old Spider and in Tolkien’s two books “Silmarillion” and “The Lord of the Rings” there is Ungoliant, the great spider

As can be seen, many of the elements of the plot in “Harry Potter” were used before by Tolkien and there is nothing unusual or revealing in this book. These few examples make me wonder why “Harry Potter” is such a loved book among the children of the world. I do not think I will find the answer, for it seems to me that as long as there are unsophisticated Mugols in the world, “Harry Potter” will be perceived as a youth literature masterpiece of the 20th century.


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