Tolkien's LOTR and Harry Potter: Diffrences and Similarities

[quote="Monica4316, post:18, topic:221595"]
In Harry Potter, Voldemort is basically a wizard who decided he wanted to conquer death.. and the way he wanted to conquer death is to find a way to always live on earth. He learned the dark arts and became a "dark", evil wizard, - and learned that he could split his soul into smaller parts if he killed another human being while doing some sort of complicated spell. This is all described as something very evil in the books. Then, using the complicated spell, he put a fragment of his soul into an object, and this is called a Horcrux. Voldemort made several Horcruxes. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, have to destroy the Horcruxes so that when Harry actually kills Voldemort, he won't come back to life through one of the objects.

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[quote="curlycool89, post:20, topic:221595"]
Ok. horcruxes are basically pieces of Voldemort's soul hidden in an object (very dark and about as forbidden as you get by Rowling's in-world rules. Creating them involves murdering other people. Basically, everyone's completely horrified by it). He's got 7 (I think?) of them, and while they all still exist they can't kill him. So, Harry needs to destroy them all in order to make Voldemort "mortal".

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The horcruxes are interesting because they do have a real world counterpart in Central Asian Shamanism. The belief is that a shaman or hero can place a portion of their soul into an object or animal, and they cannot be killed by magic unless that object or animal is killed first.

I don't know if this is Rowling's inspiration for the horcruxes. She may have come up with the idea independently. I know there's literature about this. It's in my Dictionary of Symbols book in several entries. The most obvious entry is the one entitled Soul.

Curly, the term applied to Merlin was Cambion. I just remembered.

[quote="curlycool89, post:20, topic:221595"]
I don't think I'd call that consistent. Saying "All magic is evil, except for Gandalf and elves because they're special" is more like a cop-out. If you wanted to create a world where all magic is evil, then the good guys wouldn't use magic at all. Otherwise, you've got yourself a situation where they're doing it for "The Greater Good".

Ok, so wizard and witches in HP are special. There, now we've given them the same explanation that Tolkien used.

How do we know that they're not some sort of God-given abilities (in the HP-verse)? Rowling established that it's not exactly consistent who's got magic powers and who doesn't (Hermione for example has muggle parents are no evidence of a witch or wizard in her ancestry, while some kids of 2 magical parents are non-magical ("squibs"), so we can't exactly just say "genetics" or even "mutation"). Rowling never established where the magic "came from", but it is clear that some people can and some people can't (Harry's aunt Petunia for example begged to go with her sister Lilly to Hogwarts, but couldn't because she's a muggle). There's a very bright line drawn between who can and who can't.

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What we need then is a working definition of the term magic as it has traditionally been understood. Right now, magic is pretty much an ambiguous term, and I suspect that is the case with most children's literature.

The 1916 Catholic Enclyclopedia defines magic under the article Occult Art...

"...magic is understood to be an interference with the usual course of physical nature by apparently inadequate means (recitation of formularies, gestures, mixing of incongruous elements, and other mysterious actions), the knowledge of which is obtained through secret communication with the force underlying the universe (God, the Devil, the soul of the world, etc.); it is the attempt to work miracles not by the power of God, gratuitously communicated to man, but by the use of hidden forces beyond man's control. Its advocates, despairing to move the Deity by supplication, seek the desired result by evoking powers ordinarily reserved to the Deity."

I don't know if there is a definition for fairy tale magic as it applies to fictional stories. I know in much of the literature in the past the definitions have floated between an understanding of magic as mentioned above, and the harmless magic of fiction which has no context other than something happens out of thin air.

Using this definition, how does this apply to LOTR and Harry Potter?

If natural abilities are not magic, then perhaps the term is what has caused much of the confusion over it's place in both books. Nobody confuses comic book characters such as Superman or Spider-man of having magical powers in the traditional sense. The creators of the series define the origin of these two super hero's powers very well. This is not the case with all comic book heroes or stories. I just chose Superman and Spider-man because they are very popular.

[quote="Lost_Wanderer, post:19, topic:221595"]
I think your analysis is a question of semantics. What is "magic" really? It's really just one of those arbitrary words in the English language that remain such unless a proper context is introduced.

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This is very much like the arguments I hear in Art involving Form and Concept and how they affect meaning. What you have written would make an excellent topic for the philosophy section. I'm sure someone would bring up the term Essence.

Thanks for joining the conversation Monica! :)

[quote="Sonic, post:21, topic:221595"]
If natural abilities are not magic, then perhaps the term is what has caused much of the confusion over it's place in both books. Nobody confuses comic book characters such as Superman or Spider-man of having magical powers in the traditional sense. The creators of the series define the origin of these two super hero's powers very well. This is not the case with all comic book heroes or stories. I just chose Superman and Spider-man because they are very popular.

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The thing about those two superheroes is that their powers are more or less produced by science. Superman's an alien and Spidey was bitten by a radioactive spider. They belong to the science-fiction genre.

However, a humorous quote does comes to mind at this point:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Clarke's 3rd Law of Prediction

I think that the unique thing about fantasy magic is that it differentiates itself from fictional science in its minimum use of technology entirely. However, at the same time, the power to manipulate it remains natural. The force in magic does not come from any sort of communication with otherwordly entities (be it God or Satan). It is simply something that parallels electricity or other forms of natural energy in our world.

[quote="Lost_Wanderer, post:22, topic:221595"]
They belong to the science-fiction genre.

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True... which is why I used them as an example. They're outside the fantasy constraints of Tolkien and Harry Potter.

Most magic does seem to appear in two modes of fiction: the fantasy and the horror genre. Every now and then there is a crossover into other genres.

I don't think a strictly magic fiction genre has emerged yet. Although, I wouldn't be surprised it did some time in the future. From my own experience, most of the people I knew that were interested in "magic" ended up reading sources which had to do with the actual practice of magic as a belief system (way back when I was in high school) the occult, or the supernatural. It became a means of gratifying their interests... either to glean inspiration for stories, rpg games, computer game development, or an actual desire to form a belief system from what they read. I'd say the last category was the minority.

[quote="Sonic, post:21, topic:221595"]
What we need then is a working definition of the term magic as it has traditionally been understood. Right now, magic is pretty much an ambiguous term, and I suspect that is the case with most children's literature.

The 1916 Catholic Enclyclopedia defines magic under the article Occult Art...

"...magic is understood to be an interference with the usual course of physical nature by apparently inadequate means (recitation of formularies, gestures, mixing of incongruous elements, and other mysterious actions), the knowledge of which is obtained through secret communication with the force underlying the universe (God, the Devil, the soul of the world, etc.); it is the attempt to work miracles not by the power of God, gratuitously communicated to man, but by the use of hidden forces beyond man's control. Its advocates, despairing to move the Deity by supplication, seek the desired result by evoking powers ordinarily reserved to the Deity."

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I think that would be the important line, working "not by the power of God". Although, it doesn't help us that much. About the only think we can do is say Gandalf is not using magic by that definition (as he's a servant of the Secret Fire, aka Ilúvatar, aka God in the Tolkienverse).

Strictly by that definition though, the 3 rings of the elves would have been magic as they were something forged by their own initiative, not by the will of God or any of the other angelic beings. The 3 were not represented as evil; we were suppose to feel sad when their power waned after the destruction of the One Ring. The land of Lorien, which would have been a great land to Tolkien (one of the things you can actually identity from the books is anti-industrialization), waned and lost it's uniqueness after Galadriel's ring stopped "working". There's also the idea that they were tied to the fate of the One, which suggests something earthly made, not Divinely willed.

For HP, we don't know. People don't have any control over who is/isn't a witch or wizard. Nor do parents have any control over whether their offspring will be magical or not.

[quote="Sonic, post:16, topic:221595"]
I just reread the section. I had forgotten that Sam also looked into the mirror. Galadriel doesn't call it magic. Sam states that he hopes to see some elf-magic. Galadriel asks him to look into the mirror as says it's what his people refer to as elf magic (although she doesn't understand why since it's natural to the elves).

You may be right about the rings, but Galadriel does say that Sauron is trying to somewhat bend his will into her mind her.

Galadriel says...

"I know what it is that you last saw... for that is also in my mind."

"I say to you, Frodo, that even as I speak to you, I perceive the Dark Lord and know his mind, or all of his mind that concerns the Elves. And he gropes ever to see me and my thought. But still the door is closed."

Galadriel does say Frodo was testing her as she had tested him earlier.

Galadriel says... "Gently are you revenged for my testing of your heart at our first meeting."

later she says... "I pass the test... I will diminish, and go into the west..."

There was some sort of test here. Whether, Frodo intended it or not I don't know, but we can be sure it was because he was frightened by what he saw in the mirror.

Remember, I'm working from memory, and this is not a debate. So, if I'm wrong... then please correct me. I'll look up the section of the book if you will point me to it.

btw, thanks for participating in the discussion... Curlycool89 and Lost Wanderer. :)

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Just to put Galadriel's test into some context. Galadriel is of the Noldorin elves who in Middle-Earth were kin to Feanor who was in part due to the machinations of Sauron's predecessor and master responsible for a civil war amonst the elves. This ended in the 'Kin-Slaying' where the Noldorin elves slew other elves. The Noldor were forbidden to return into the West due to these actions. Galadriel despised these actions and didn't take part in them but out of solidarity to her people stayed with them and shared their fate even though she was offered an exemption from this. By the time of Lord of the Rings the Valar have apparently judged her actions in fighting Sauron's corruption are sufficient that the ban will be overturned. Galadriel is a complex character, she is inherently noble and wise but she shares also in the suprlus of pride that the Noldorin elves are seen at times to possess. But you have to read Tolkien's other works to see the depth of what she is saying.

Some differences between the two:

-HP takes place in a version of present-day Earth.
-The protagonist in HP is a child in school, not unlike many of its readers.
-Mastery of magic in HP comes in the form of the study of esoteric knowledge.
-Wizardry in HP must be kept secret from the general public.
-LotR follows the more traditional model of fairy tales where the wizard is either a mentor or villain.

For the record, I am a fan of both series, though I like LotR much more.

I guess I'll say "SPOILER ALERT" for this post, though I won't be revealing anything that is central to the plot (I don't think!).

I just saw the 7th HP movie this past weekend, and the scene near the start of the movie really struck me in regards to its similarity to LotR. In HP 7, the Minister of Magic arrives to bestow some gifts from Dumbledore's will to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. For me, it really echoed the Galadriel gift scene in Fellowship of the Ring. The gift Frodo received (the Phial of Galadriel) and the gift Ron received (I can't remember the name of it) were almost identical in that they were magical sources of light to help them in dark places.

If I were a college student again, that would make an interesting paper: compare and contrast the themes of light and darkness in HP and LotR. :p

[quote="curlycool89, post:24, topic:221595"]
I think that would be the important line, working "not by the power of God". Although, it doesn't help us that much. About the only think we can do is say Gandalf is not using magic by that definition (as he's a servant of the Secret Fire, aka Ilúvatar, aka God in the Tolkienverse).

[/quote]

If i remember right Gandalf is a servent of the Sacred Fire, which is an allusion to the burning bush that, if i remember my bible correctly, Moses saw and God proclaimed to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, the great I AM, however it has been awhile since i've read the Tolkein books, so i may have this wrong.

The biggest difference between the Harry Potter books, and the Lord of the rings, is the way magic is treated, in Tolkeins books, its treated as something special, to be used only when completely neccessary, and only after time to reflect, you can liken to this to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, in the harry potter books, magic is used for everyday tasks, from cooking, cleaning to writing and simply getting around.

I havn't gone into much depth, but it is late here (2 in the morning)

Forgive me if this was already addressed, but there was a post a little ways back about Elf magic being like divination. It seems that Elves also have other magic in addition to that. In 'Flight to the Ford', Elrond was the one who said the spell that brought the river down on the Nazgul.

[quote="Rand_Al_Thor, post:29, topic:221595"]
Forgive me if this was already addressed, but there was a post a little ways back about Elf magic being like divination. It seems that Elves also have other magic in addition to that. In 'Flight to the Ford', Elrond was the one who said the spell that brought the river down on the Nazgul.

[/quote]

'Who made the flood?' asked Frodo.

'Elrond commanded it,' answered Gandalf. 'The river of this valley is under his power, and it will rise in anger when he has great need to bar the Ford. As soon as the captain of the Ringwraiths rode into the water the flood was released. If I may say so, I added a few touches of my own: you may not have noticed, but some of the waves took the form of great white horses with shining white riders; and there were many rolling and grinding boulders. For a moment, I thought that we had let loose too fierce a wrath, and the flood would get out of hand and wash you all away. There is great vigour in the waters that flow down from the snows of the Misty Mountains.'

Gandalf helped, too! :D

I just remembered something very important, and the book tell this explicitly. It's so subtle that you might not pick up on it.

Tolkien intended LOTR to be a chronicle recorded by the Hobbits themselves, and the novels tell that the Hobbits interpreted the wonders the Elves performed as magic.

It's curious that in the passage above, there is no mention of how Elrond produced the flood. It simply states the river was under Elrond's power and Gandalf helps. Gandalf's contribution is told to us in detail by Gandalf, but he doesn't describe what Elrond did.

So, are these things described as magic because the Hobbits interpreted these events as such in the memoirs of Bilbo and Frodo?

[quote="Sonic, post:6, topic:221595"]
Okay, the Muggles and the Wizards are two different races in Harry Potter in much the same way the Elves and Men are related to each other in Tolkien's universe. That's a point of similarity. ...

[/quote]

I disagree that wizards and muggles are different races in HP. I think they are the same race.

As someone noted above, they can marry, have children. Two muggles can give birth to a magical child (muggle-born), two wizards can produce a non-magical child (squib), siblings can be magical and non-magical (Lily and Petunia Potter). The ability to work magic (in humans at least) in HP does not seem to follow any rules of heredity - some characters have it, some don't.

From the Silmarillion chapter entitled Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age:

It was in Eregion that the counsels of Sauron were most gladly received, for in that land the Noldor desired ever to increase that skill and subtlety of their works. Moreover they were not at peace in their hearts, since they refused to return into the West, and they desired to stay in Middle-earth, which indeed they loved, and yet to enjoy the bliss of those that had departed therefore they hearkened to Sauron, and they learned of him many things, for his knowledge was great. In those days the smiths of Ost-in-Edhil surpassed all that they had contrived before; and they took thought, and they made Rings of Power. But Sauron guided their labors, and he was aware of all that they hid; for his desire was to set a bond upon the Elves and to bring them under his vigilance.

Now the Elves made many rings, but Sauron made One Ring to rule all the others, and their power was bound up with it, to be subject wholly to it and to last only so long as it too should last. And much of the strength and will of Sauron passed into the One Ring; for the power of the Elven-rings was very great, an.d that which should govern them must be a thing of surpassing potency; and Sauron forged it in the Mountain of Fire in the Land of Shadow. And while he wore the One Ring he could perceive all things that were done by means of the lesser rings, and he could see and govern the thoughts of those that wore them.

But the Elves were not so lightly to be caught. As soon as Sauron set the One Ring upon his finger they were aware of him; and they knew him, and perceived that he would be master of them, and of an that they wrought. Then in anger and fear they took off their rings. But he, finding that he was betrayed and that the Elves were not deceived, was filled with wrath; and he came against them with open war, demanding that all the rings should be delivered to him, since the Elven-smiths could not have attained to their making without his lore and counsel. But the Elves fled from him; and three of their rings they saved, and bore them away, and hid them.

Now these were the Three that had last been made, and they possessed the greatest powers. Narya, Nenya, and Vilya, they were named, the Rings of Fire, and of Water, and of Air, set with ruby and adamant and sapphire; and of all the Elven-rings Sauron most desired to possess them, for those who had them in their keeping could ward off the decays of time and postpone the weariness of the world. But Sauron could not discover them, for they were given into the hands of the Wise, who concealed them and never again used them openly while Sauron kept the Ruling Ring. Therefore the Three remained unsullied, for they were forged by Celebrimbor alone, and the hand of Sauron had never touched them; yet they also were subject to the One.

So, the three rings held by Galdriel, Elrond, and Gandalf were subject to the One Ring.

It also states that the creation of the rings was due to the elves desire to stay in Middle-Earth. This seems like Tolkien is giving us a lesson on worldliness and materialism.

All the rings were created by the elves but under the direction of Sauron. So, the power of the rings (and who knows what else might be considered magic on Middle-earth) originated from Sauron… who taught them how to give power to the rings.

But elsewhere the Elves received him gladly, and few among them hearkened to the messengers from Lindon bidding them beware; for Sauron took to himself the name of Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, and they had at first much profit from his friendship. And he said to them: "Alas, for the weakness of the great! For a mighty king is Gil-galad, and wise in all lore is Master Elrond, and yet they will not aid me in my labours. Can it be that they do not desire to see other lands become as blissful as their own? But wherefore should Middle-earth remain for ever desolate and dark, whereas the Elves could make it as fair as Eressëa, nay even as Valinor? And since you have not returned thither, as you might, I perceive that you love this Middle-earth, as do I. Is it not then our task to labour together for its enrichment, and for the raising of all the Elven-kindreds that wander here untaught to the height of that power and knowledge which those have who are beyond the Sea?’

[quote="JHow, post:31, topic:221595"]
I disagree that wizards and muggles are different races in HP. I think they are the same race.

As someone noted above, they can marry, have children. Two muggles can give birth to a magical child (muggle-born), two wizards can produce a non-magical child (squib), siblings can be magical and non-magical (Lily and Petunia Potter). The ability to work magic (in humans at least) in HP does not seem to follow any rules of heredity - some characters have it, some don't.

[/quote]

I was the one who mentioned they could marry and have children. Since, I'm not a HP reader I could not dispute the assertion about them being a different race or the same race. I thought the were the same race from what I read online.

It seems we have a point dispute over this. Do any other HP fans agree of disagree about the Muggles and Wizards being of the same race?

[quote="JHow, post:31, topic:221595"]
I disagree that wizards and muggles are different races in HP. I think they are the same race.

As someone noted above, they can marry, have children. Two muggles can give birth to a magical child (muggle-born), two wizards can produce a non-magical child (squib), siblings can be magical and non-magical (Lily and Petunia Potter). The ability to work magic (in humans at least) in HP does not seem to follow any rules of heredity - some characters have it, some don't.

[/quote]

Not necessarily. Black people and white people are two different races yet they can still marry and have kids right? :shrug:

[quote="Lost_Wanderer, post:34, topic:221595"]
Not necessarily. Black people and white people are two different races yet they can still marry and have kids right? :shrug:

[/quote]

Yeah, marriage isn't an issue - it's heredity I am wondering about. My point is that "race" is hereditary, but ability to work magic in HP does not appear to be.

E.g., Lilly and Petunia (Harry's mom and aunt) are from the same parents and one could work magic and the other couldn't. Children from parents of different races (like our president!) will still resemble each other, sharing characteristics of their parents.

Also, I would add that, judging from their names and descriptions, characters in Harry Potter do come from the usual human racial categories (e.g., Cho Chang).

[quote="JHow, post:35, topic:221595"]
Yeah, marriage isn't an issue - it's heredity I am wondering about. My point is that "race" is hereditary, but ability to work magic in HP does not appear to be.

E.g., Lilly and Petunia (Harry's mom and aunt) are from the same parents and one could work magic and the other couldn't. Children from parents of different races (like our president!) will still resemble each other, sharing characteristics of their parents.

Also, I would add that, judging from their names and descriptions, characters in Harry Potter do come from the usual human racial categories (e.g., Cho Chang).

[/quote]

Well, you know how it is with heredity. When you mix blood many times enough, you're gonna end up with an unpredictable gene pool. I know for certain two of my brothers resemble neither my mother or my father but I've been told they look closer to my grandfather on my mother's side. :shrug:

[quote="Lost_Wanderer, post:36, topic:221595"]
Well, you know how it is with heredity. When you mix blood many times enough, you're gonna end up with an unpredictable gene pool. I know for certain two of my brothers resemble neither my mother or my father but I've been told they look closer to my grandfather on my mother's side. :shrug:

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Well, another thread topic could be done on whether "race" is a really meaningful concept for humans.

But as for magic in HP, one of the (admittedly a sideline) themes is the "racism" between "purebloods" and "mudbloods", with all the bad characters supporting a sort of racial purity, and all the positive characters making the arguments I do about how magical ability does not seem to follow "racial" rules.

[quote="Sonic, post:30, topic:221595"]
Gandalf helped, too! :D

I just remembered something very important, and the book tell this explicitly. It's so subtle that you might not pick up on it.

Tolkien intended LOTR to be a chronicle recorded by the Hobbits themselves, and the novels tell that the Hobbits interpreted the wonders the Elves performed as magic.

It's curious that in the passage above, there is no mention of how Elrond produced the flood. It simply states the river was under Elrond's power and Gandalf helps. Gandalf's contribution is told to us in detail by Gandalf, but he doesn't describe what Elrond did.

So, are these things described as magic because the Hobbits interpreted these events as such in the memoirs of Bilbo and Frodo?

[/quote]

LOL, I actually had typed "Gandalf made the horses appear", but then deleted it because I thought perhaps everyone would think I was calling Gandalf an Elf! :)

That's an interesting idea about the Hobbits and their perception of magic. I had not thought about that before. Makes sense, though--the Elves do seem to always be portrayed as really magical and mythical beings.

In Christ,
Rand

[quote="Rand_Al_Thor, post:38, topic:221595"]
LOL, I actually had typed "Gandalf made the horses appear", but then deleted it because I thought perhaps everyone would think I was calling Gandalf an Elf! :)

That's an interesting idea about the Hobbits and their perception of magic. I had not thought about that before. Makes sense, though--the Elves do seem to always be portrayed as really magical and mythical beings.

In Christ,
Rand

[/quote]

From the view of the hobbits and most men and many dwarves yes. However as has been pointed out here before Galadriel herself points out to Sam that what he regards as 'magic' is only the expression of natural abilities inherent to the elves in various degrees.

[quote="JHow, post:37, topic:221595"]
Well, another thread topic could be done on whether "race" is a really meaningful concept for humans.

But as for magic in HP, one of the (admittedly a sideline) themes is the "racism" between "purebloods" and "mudbloods", with all the bad characters supporting a sort of racial purity, and all the positive characters making the arguments I do about how magical ability does not seem to follow "racial" rules.

[/quote]

Rowling has said that Voldemort and the Death Eaters were suppose to be "magical Nazi's" (the movie went and even made it less allegorical and more literal). So maybe we're suppose to interpret that magical and non-magical folks are somehow more "different" then it appears.

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