Did J.K. Rowling borrow heavily from J.R.R. Tolkien?

Is it just me, or did someone else notice?

Initially, after seeing "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone", and "The Fellowship of the Ring", I thought there are too many similarities between them to be coincidental.

After seeing "The Chamber of Secrets", and reading a bit about "The Prisoner of Azkaban", I saw "Lord of the Rings" trilogy again at home on DVD.

I thought that there was a lot of borrowing that J.K. Rowling did from J.R.R. Tolkien.

Let us see a list of similarities:

Similarity Lord of the Rings Harry Potter
Villian Sauron is the head of evil. He lost his power, and needs the ring to gain it all back Voldemort is also a vanquished evil wizard. He needs the Sorcerer's Stone in order to gain his strength back
Unlikely Hero Frodo Baggins is a Hobbit, a peaceful -- almost childish -- and weak race. He is entrusted with the task of saving the world from great evil Harry is an 11 year orphan who does much the same
Special Object The One Ring is the object that the hero must prevent the villian from getting, so as to regain his full powers The Sorcerer's Stone is the same
Mentor/Protector Gandalf is a guiding, helping, mentoring, teaching figure for Frodo Professor Dumbledore is the same in the Harry Potter series
Troll In the Fellowship of the Ring, the Orcs have a Cave Troll with them, and in The Two Towers, the Cave Trolls open the gates of Mordor In Harry Potter II, there is a Mountain Troll, whom Harry and his friends have to overpower
Giant Spider Shelob is a giant spider that almost kills and eats Frodo, in The Return of the King In the forest, there is a talking spider. It is a friend of Hagred, but chases Harry wanting to eat him
Giant raptor bird A giant eagle saves Gandalf from Isengard In the Prisoner of Azkaban, Buckbeak is a giant raptor helping Harry and friends
Dragon In the Hobbit, the prelude to The Lord of the Rings, the dragon Smaug is Bilbo Baggins adversary In Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets, there is a dragon like reptilian monster, the Basilisk, whom Harry has to slay
Goblins The goblins are one of the races of evil allying with Sauron and Saruman There are goblins who run the bank. They are physically similar to the other ones, although mostly benign
Sidekick "Creature" In Lord of the Ring, Gollum is a creature with both dual good and evil personalities. He helps Frodo in his quest Dobby is a house elf who is both a hinderance and helpful at different times

Of course, J.K. Rowling has a lot of original ideas of her own, such as the concept of muggles, and the game of Quiddich.

My opinion is that she borrowed too many themes to be a coincidence. For sure she was "inspired" by Tolkien's Lord of the Ring, at least partially.

After writing this page, I found the following links that ponder some of the points above:





law suit

I read somewhere that the court dismissed the claim and had the person suing Rowling pay some 30.000 pounds for falsification of documents or somesuch...

She did not actually steal it

She did not actually steal it though, as the book in question was never published!


Rowling didn't rip off Tolkein. Its not like the idea of giant spiders, goblins,trolls, or dragons are unique to Tolkein. Those concepts are borrowed from ancient mythology if anything and used in many fantasy novels. And muggle? Muggle was a slang term for marijuana in the 1920's and 1930's. Jesus people, can't anyone just appreciate literature with out disecting it into a million pieces.


"As long as it survives so will He"
As long as the Rings survives Sauron will. As long as the objects will Voldemort's soul in it survive so will he.

Arago... Aragorn and Aragog

Loose their parents
Both Harry and Frodo lost their parents.

Living Relatives
Neither like their living relatives (except Bilbo, who, Frodo doesn't know at first, is still alive)

Both have to attack a troll.

both have scars given by the enemy that hurts if they come close. Frodo has a scar where he got stabbed and Harry where Voldemort hit him with the curse.


Concerning the Arago... point you made - that will most likely be complete coincidence as Aragog is clearly based on Arachnid (a class of animals comprising scorpions and spiders!).

Losing one's parents and disliking one's relatives are two of the oldest components in the basket case of literary tricks. They might be based on Tolkien or not. They might just as well be based on myriads of other books (Oliver Twist for an English school teacher, for example) or just literary knowledge per se. In any case, I do not think that it accounts to stealing if the concept in question is so widely used.

I agree that the names of

I agree that the names of Aragon and Aragog are completely irrelevant, however Aragog is very similar to Shelob in The Two Towers.

Both well-written

Also, in LOTR, Sauren does not allow anyone to speak his name, and in part of the Fellowship it refers to him as "he who must not be named", which is how Voldemort is referred to throughout HP. They are both also referred to as "Dark Lord". In LOTR the Two Towers there is a close adviser to the Lord of the Mark in Rohan named "Wormtongue" whereas in HP there is a man called "Wormtail" who is in league with Voldemort. I noticed a lot of similarities in reading all of these books, however, I believe they are simply two books of a similar tale and are both very well written. Tolkien was so popular and influential it would be hard to write a book of such myth and magic without using any of his ideas. He was an extremely thorough and descriptive writer. Sufficing to say, he covered it all. Both series were very well done in my opinion.


In the Hobbit, what if Smaug, the Dragon, was one of Sauron's Horcruxes?

Someone posted this link

Someone posted this link over in the leakylounge asking for some perspective, I responded to it there and thought I'd also put my response here. I've copied and pasted, so some of it may seem out of context:

Okay, I'm going to try to answer this with the points presented in the linked article. I believe that Jo did not borrow heavily from Tolkein, but that they BOTH borrow from older literature and mythology. I must also say that the person making this argument had only seen the first two movies and read about the third. This is all purely my initial reaction. I'm reading it as I'm writing.

1. Sauron vs. Voldemort: The simlilarity they point out is limited to the Sorcerer's Stone and that book alone. (It was published in 2004) I'm pretty sure Sauron had nothing like horcruxes.

2. Frodo vs. Harry: Again, limiting argument to SS. Frodo ages, what? a couple of years? Since Jo mapped Harry's whole life and gave us much insight into some of it (I'm pretty sure she knows what happens to Harry after book 7). Oh yeah: Harry's a wizard! Frodo's basically a short Muggle with hairy feet.

3. The One Ring vs. the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone: Well, since the Sorcerer's stone is an actual legend, his argument is moot that she stole the idea from Tolkein.

4. Gandalf vs. Dumbledore: Oh no! There's a wise old wizard with a silver beard! Wait? What's that? Merlin, who? Again, drawing on legend, which many authors do, including Tolkein. Though they couldn't have known this at the time of they wrote this, Dumbledore died and will not be coming back (pulling a Gandalf).

5. Troll vs. Troll: For one, this person says that the troll in HP appears in COS, which it does not as we all know, so they are wrong on the basis of ignorance. But, for argument's sake, I'm going to say that Tolkein didn't invent trolls. Just look at fairy tales. Also, the troll in SS/PS is used to bring the trio together. The trolls in LOTR are just purely minions in the context of the story.

6. Shelob vs. Aragog: Again, who said Tolkein had the patent on monsters? Please tell me where that is written. They both serve different purposes. Shelob is for pure fear factor as far as I'm concerned, though it's been awhile since I read the books. Oh, yeah the person never says anything about reading LOTR, only watching the movies. The meeting with Aragog proves that Hagrid is not the heir of Slytherin, which is very important information.

7. Giant eagles vs. Buckbeak: Um, duh. Tolkein looked at eagles, thought "I'll make them giant." Jo looked at the mythological creature hypogriff and decided to make it a magical creature in her world. The eagle helped Gandalf and Buckbeak helped save Sirius, but it also saved itself.

8. Smaug ( a dragon from The Hobbit) vs. the Basilisk: Apparently, they didn't even bother with looking into the other books like GOF. Again, both dragons and basilisks are mythological creatures.

9. Goblins vs. Goblins: Okay, LOTR goblins fight on Sauron's side; HP goblins run a bank and we know they have a history of wars, but we don't know the details of those wars because Harry tunes out in History of Magic.

10. Gollum vs. Dobby: Oh, dear. Okay, apparently this person doesn't know that Gollum was once a hobbit and he turned into the creature he is because of the greed and lust for power that the ring poisoned him with. He is a metaphor for what greed does to you. Dobby was born a house-elf and will die a house-elf. He and other houselves represent racism and other types of prejudice and what those things can create: slavery. Gollum hindered Frodo for selfish reasons; Dobby hindered Harry in COS because he feared for Harry's life.

I did not mean to make it sound like I dislike LOTR or The Hobbit. I just think that this is a ridiculous argument, especially in the link given since the person didn't bother to read HP or it seems LOTR and based all their arguments off of the movies. Also, Jo has said that she doesn't really read fantasy and LOTR is certainly that.