similarities in tolkien and rawlings

Philippines
April 23, 2008 10:27am CST
I read the trilogy of JRR Tolkien a long time ago and it was a very fascinating read. When the Harry Potter books and movies came out I could not help noticing some similarities foremost of which was the use of giant spiders. I thought Rawlings lifted the idea from Tolkien. What do you think?
10 responses
• Philippines
29 Apr 08
yeah, somehow it is. i can see the similarities on some folklore they used in their books. but its still quite different. lol! its complex but its not. lol. ok, im stopping now, i cant understand me either!
• Philippines
30 Apr 08
I like reading fairy tales, folklore, myths and what not. There are very clear similarities that one can easily find no matter if the setting is in ancient Europe or ancient China or Japan. There must be a common origin or if not, a commingling of sources brought by travelers and merchants.
@procne (80)
• Philippines
30 Apr 08
Kudos to that. Plots based on ancient europe, myths, folklores and fantasy adventure are very appealing. Those worlds sweep you away and makes you wish those worlds ACTUALLY exists. *sigh* It'd be astounding to know Middle-earth exists OR existed.
@tthom64 (535)
• United States
2 May 08
Other than the Shire, I think Middle Earth would be too scary a place for me LOL. I would really like to see the elfin city though. That would be cool.
• United States
2 Oct 08
It is quite common for authors to be inspired in their writings by other authors they admire. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, my favorite author, belonged to a group called the Inklings back in the 40's and 50's that would meet regularly to discuss their writing. They were good friends and C.S. Lewis's Narnia series was inspired by Tolkein's Ring series. I can see where an author like Rowling whose interests lean in the same direction might be inspired to use some of Tolkein's ideas. I think that all writers must gain inspiration from one another. Hopefully, this spurs even more creativity and imagination.
• Philippines
3 Oct 08
Your information is quite illuminating and I agree that authors tend to influence each other after all, their favorite activity must be reading, aside from writing. This is also very true with music where there is a lot of copying and influencing. Early Western music would build upon a tune written before and musicians would create something quite fresh and unique, the original tune becoming the cantus firmus and the new tune becomes a counterpoint to it.
• United States
3 Oct 08
Exactly my point. A good example in music is the early music of the Beatles which was greatly influenced by the rhythm and blues and early rock and roll music of the 50's in this country. It certainly seemed to encourage more creativity on their parts. I would have to agree that writers must generally love to read as well. Others ideas provoke new ideas in us which we then want to share with others...and so the cycle continues.
@jdrhodes (111)
• United States
14 May 08
I fail to see the similarity as being just between the two. Certain fantasy elements lend themselves to being repeated. Spiders creep people out. Big spiders are scarier. More primative and alot more formidable. Stephen King's IT and Arachnophobia both use the giant spider as well. I would say that Tolkien and Rawlings both were more influenced by the Arthurian Legends. What I mean to say is Merlin would be the archtype that is embodied by Gandolf and Dumbledore. It is the idea of the heroic epic journey that Beowulf, Jason and the Argonauts, Hercules, and other myths and legends embody. J.K. Rawlings has sucessfully modernized the hero journey tale, without making it any less fantastic or mysterious. Remember that Arthur's tale begins with him as a child, and he is the "chosen one." Ditto Frodo and Harry, although why Frodo doesn't curse Bilbo for finding that pesky ring I can't imagine. Excalibur, Sting, Griffendores' Sword. The stories are the same because people really haven't changed as much as we believe they have since medieval times. We just employ new technologies to the same ends. A book is still a book. We just make a movie instead of a play. Isn't it interesting that Rowlings wizards never use cell phones or computers to aid their magic? It seems the more our world looks like Star Trek the more we want to be wizards and pirates. Go figure.
• Philippines
14 May 08
Your discussion is quite involved and lucid. I agree that archetypes are bound to be there when talking about literature, legends and myths. I think deep down we might share very similar roots and these have been shrouded in mystery as time wore people's memories down. When they surface as new material their similarities begin to show even when these are not intended to be copycats but more an expression of an archetype.
@jdrhodes (111)
• United States
17 May 08
Sure, we all have character stereotypes...they are based on age, gender, occupation, wealth, and yes...race. The reason these stereotypes are popular is because people can relate to the character, either they identify with their situation directly or the character reminds them of someone they know. Let's use Harry Potter as an example. When we first meet Harry he is living in a closet with his custodial guardians. Harry is an outsider. He doesn't fit in with this family. I'm sure that any person who has had to play second fiddle to a sibling can relate to how Harry feels, without the writer even saying how he does. Harry's situation is comically over-the-top, but when you live in that situation everything does seem to be magnified anyways. By placing Harry in this kind of situation we sympathize with the character. Who hasn't felt like an outsider at some point in their life. This allows us to directly relate to our protagonist. Some of the other characters embody other stereotypes...Hermione is a brain, Ron is the poor kid with holes in his clothes, Hagrid is kinda dumb, Dumbledore is the wise mentor, ect ect...with these characters it is not crucial to directly identify with them, only to recognize and associate. This is your "supporting cast." Shakespeare is one of the earlier examples we have of stories where the characters are fleshed out with these distinguishing traits...my recommendation is NOT to read Shakespeare, which is tedious and unpleasant, but to find a good community theatre that knows how the Bard works. Go see one of his comedies and you'll know if it is good because you will laugh. Shakespeare works up love triangles with letcherous old men and great schemes and they are very amusing, and pretty naughty. The lesson here is while we complain that stereotypes are counterproductive to progressive thinking, they are there because often they do pan out. Comedy, drama, movies, cartoons, books, editorials, and just about any form of entertainment of this sort utilize the stereotype extensively. I sugest that instead of complaining about the old stereotypes, we develop new ones. A stereotype does not have to be negative, on the contrary it can be very endearing. Have you you ever met someone new, but they reminded you of someone else you knew before? They may have had a similar appearance, mannerisms, style of dress, or even just had the same name? Did you find yourself reacting to them much like you would the person you already knew? I know I have. Perhaps you made a correct assessment, perhaps your assumptions mislead you. The point isn't whether you were right or wrong, but the fact that you made assumptions based on superficial observations. We all do this, it is part of how we enteract with our environment.
@tthom64 (535)
• United States
29 Apr 08
One of the most noticeable similarities in these two books as well as others in this genre like Eragon and the books by Terry Brooks I think his name is, is the wise old wizard or mentor, that rides with the hero and is obviously much stronger and more knowledgeable, but for some reason cannot be the one to overthrow the evil in the end. So they usually die or something so that the hero has to go on alone.
• Philippines
30 Apr 08
Now that you mentioned the wise wizard, I am reminded of Merlin and King Arthur. There is a parallel and a twist in Arabic fairy tales which have the wise but often treacherous vizier to guide kings and sultans and is usually the arch-enemy of the hero.
@tthom64 (535)
• United States
2 May 08
Yeah, like in Aladdin - or was that just the Disney version?
@procne (80)
• Philippines
29 Apr 08
When I saw the name 'rawlings' I racked my brain to remember which author you were referring to. Good thing I looked up the responses, you were actually referring to JK Rowling author of Harry Potter. Both authors are very imaginative, they created a whole new world and getting the readers to embrace it, love it and even try to live IN it. I'm not much a fan of Rowling though. JRR Tolkien's one of my utlimate authors I look up to. All those maps, worlds, people, languages (he created his own languages for each race), places, creatures and stories. Aside form The Hobbit and LOTR, he also has Lost Tales and Silmarillon. These books accounts the history of each major character like Galadriel, Elrond, and Arwen. All those creative juices. I can imagine he's creativity and imagination were overflowing he needed an outlet badly. Thus the creation of other books complementing the characters of LOTR. Jk might not top that. But who knows.
• Philippines
30 Apr 08
I stand corrected on the name of the author of the much-beloved Harry Potter. As someone else has pointed out, they drew, both Tolkien and Rowling, heavily on Northern mythology which makes it even more interesting. There seems to be an upsurge in interest on these matters, I just saw the movie on the Brothers Grimm which puts a new, modern take on fairy tales.
@procne (80)
• Philippines
30 Apr 08
Thanks to our modern technology, it's possible for movie makers to adapt our favorite adventure and fantasy books. Ever read the book series 'Wheel of Time' by Robert Jordan? Surely you'll love his books too. He's on the same genre as Tolkien's. In fact more on Tolkien's style. You should. From the very first book, you'll get hooked!
@Hastur (101)
23 Apr 08
Yes, there are indeed a lot of similarities. But also, most of Tolkien's work is based on Norwegian and other nothern european legend. The ring itself, for instance, there is this legen about a dwarf, who found a ring at the bottom of a river and which made him invisible. Tolkien got together a lot of folklore from different countries and put them together. Rowling has done pretty much the same. A good story succees on the way its told, and how the carachters interreact. They are both good in their own fields. Try some science fiction books. Most of their stuff its original, not from other mythologies or folklores.
• Philippines
23 Apr 08
I like myths, legends and fairy tales too. They seem to be something that come from the mists of time which makes them believable even when telling something outlandish and improbable. Science fiction on the other hand tends to become science reality as time goes by. I like Jules Verne.
@jedopi (401)
• Canada
24 Jun 09
I agree that there are similarities in Rowling's books and Tolkien's. Yes, the giant spider from Chamber of Secrets is very similar to Tolkien's Shelob and also the fact that Voldemort is called the Dark Lord is very similar to Tolkien's Dark Lord Sauron and Morgoth before him in The Silmarillion.
@justszack (333)
• Indonesia
10 Apr 09
well, its kinda simmiliar character on those books. but i dont know whether Rowling got an idea from Tolkien...maybe yess, coz LOTR books trilogy realeased ahead than HP
@blazonvj (430)
• India
30 Jan 09
yes, there are similarities because both the writers tried to a standalone magical world.And most of the magical creatures present in Tolkeins novels are also there in Rowlings.But i dont think rowling was copying tolkein's work.Its just that tolkein was a writer of the old era and in his "Massive" book he described all the magical creatures present in myths to the readers.sowhen rowling was writing her story, she also had to add the creatures we know in her story rather than all new ones.But she has also created some new magical creatures also. Other than the similarities of creatures the stories of both the writers are entirely different.Tolkien was defining how all the creatures(mostly men) stood together to fight against evil and the evil ring.Rowling tells us the story of a boy who's destined to save the world from the evil Voldermort
21 Dec 08
I think that some elements of the books are the same because all authors of science fiction and fantasy books are influenced by each other so there will never be something like a "totally original book". There are some references of mythology and some monsters like dragons and so on are used in every book because they are "cool" and everybody knows them. I don't mind if there are only a few similarities and the plot is original and interessting enough to read.