Christianity in Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings

It is generally believed that literature about magic has nothing to do with Christianity. Moreover, it is regarded as satanic work, because the Bible completely prohibits all manifestations of witchcraft. Nevertheless, if to read these books between the lines, it becomes clear that, in fact, their mysterious plot is based on the religious background. The proof of it can be found in all parts of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. They reveal the main theme of Christianity – the struggle of good forces against evil ones, resemble Christian figures in their characters, and use Christian symbols.

The main theme of Christianity is the fight against evil. People should perform good deeds and follow moral style of life in order not to be captured in the webs of Satan. Nevertheless, they do not have enough power to achieve this goal by their own struggles. That is why the other basic features of Christian religion are the issues of salvation and redemption. In other words, the Christians worship the mysterious hero – god man (Jesus Christ), who came to this land to take the sins of all people on himself and destroy them with the help of blood sacrifice (death on the cross).

A series of books about Harry Potter follows the main theme of Christianity – the fight of good forces against evil ones. Harry Potter, his teachers (e.g. Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall), supporters (e.g. Weasley family), and friends (e.g. Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger) are on the side of good. In contrast to them, Voldemort and the Death Eaters (e.g. Bellatrix Lestrange) want to rule the world under the laws of Darkness and Evil. This theme is presented in all books of Harry Potter series. In general, its development takes the form of a ladder with the light on its top. From childhood, Harry Potter has solved different magical puzzles and he has fought with evil forces hoping to gain enough knowledge and power to kill Voldemort and save humanity from evil. The quotation that describes his determination to stay strong against evil can be found in Harry Potter and the Half – Blood Prince:

It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew – and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents – that there was all the difference in the world (Rowling 512).

One more thematic feature, which makes books about Harry Potter similar to Christian motives, is the issue of redemption and faith. In the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter gets to know that he should sacrifice his life in order to win the battle with Voldemort. Although the price is very high, he does not reject the idea to kill Voldemort. The objective of ultimate destruction of evil is much more important for him than his own life. Moreover, he believes that death is not the end but only transition. The proof of it can be found in the quotation, in which Dumbledore states that Harry is a true master of death, “You are the true master of death, because the true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying” (Rowling 720). The other Biblical topic which lies in the background of Harry Potter is friendship and devotion. Harry Potter, the order of Phoenix and close Harry’s friends follow the second commandment of love. They are altruists who are not afraid to die in order to save others from evil. Finally, books about Harry Potter as well as the Bible proclaim love as the biggest value. Harry Potter understands that his main weapon is not magical skills but the feeling which lives inside his heart. It is so, because the forces of evil do not have it at all. For example, Voldemort cannot kill Harry in infancy, because his mother’s love creates the magical protection which is not accessible for him. It is shown in the quotation, taken from the first book about Harry Potter – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:

Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign … to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever (Rowling 447).

Harry Potter is similar to Jesus Christ, the main Christian figure, judging from their life paths and traits of character. Firstly, this resemblance can be noticed in the infancy of the characters. Both Harry and Jesus have a miraculous birth, which has been foretold by the prophecies long before it. In other words, Harry and Jesus have been waited by people as Messiahs and saviors. Due to it, evil forces (in case of Harry, Voldemort; in case of Jesus, Herod) try to kill them in infancy. Harry and Jesus are saved by love and care of their parents. Secondly, childhood of both characters is also full of similar features. Both Harry and Jesus are not traditional children. For them, it is a little bit difficult to find common ground with peers. The main reason for it is their miraculous power, which they cannot control properly. For example, being angry at his cousin Dudley, Harry makes him fall in the aquarium of a snake. Jesus, as said in The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, also does not know how to restrain negative emotions and kills a boy for throwing a stone at him. Thirdly, both Harry and Jesus have supernatural power and perform magical deeds. Some of these actions are even similar. For example, Jesus and Harry can turn water into different liquids (in cases of Jesus, this liquid is wine; in case of Harry, this liquid is rum). Finally, the purposes of life of both characters are even similar. Harry and Jesus are sacrificed by higher forces (Dumbledore and God) to achieve the noble goal – salvation of humanity from dark powers. They are like sacrificial lambs who should give their lives in order to save the life of others. Nevertheless, it does not mean that they are doomed. They have free choice whether to follow moral duty or their own egoistic desires. As they chose the first variant, they are rewarded with the greatest gift – the ability to stand against the death. In addition, there is also the other character in Harry Potter who resembles a Biblical one. It is Peter Pettigrew. Peter is similar to Judas as he betrays Harry’s father and creates all conditions for Voldemort to kill him and his wife. The truth about sneaky nature of this character is revealed in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It is shown in the quotation:

You sold Lily and James to Voldemort,” said Black, who was shaking too. “Do you deny it?” […] “Sirius, Sirius, what could I have done? The Dark Lord… you have no idea… he has weapons you can’t imagine…. I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus and James (Rowling 314).

All parts of Harry Potter series are also full of different Christian symbols. The most vivid of them is the opposition between the lion and the serpent. In the Bible, the lion is a mark of Jesus who is called “The Lion of Judea”. In Harry Potter, the lion also symbolizes good forces. Especially its courage is associated with Harry Potter. The opponent of the lion in both books is the serpent. It is mainly associated with the forces of evil. In case of the Bible, this force is Satan, while in Harry Potter it is Voldemort and the death eaters. The book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets presents the description of battle between the lion and the serpent. The lion is Harry Potter, because he gains the sword of Gryffindor (the famous wizard whose favorite animal is a lion). The serpent is basilisk, ruled by Voldemort through his diary:

A gleaming silver sword had appeared inside the hat, its handle glittering with rubies the size of eggs […] Harry was on his feet, ready. The basilisk’s head was falling, its body coiling around, hitting pillars as it twisted to face him. He could see the vast, bloody eye sockets, see the mouth stretching wide, wide enough to swallow him whole, lined with fangs long as his sword, thin, glittering, venomous […] The basilisk lunged again, and this time its aim was true – Harry threw his whole weight behind the sword and drove it to the hilt into the roof of the serpent’s mouth (Rowling 274).

The other symbolic things in Harry Potter which resemble Christian tradition are seven Horcruxes. They can be regarded as puzzles, which are required to be solved in order to kill the complete evil – Voldemort. The same task can be noticed in The Book of Revelation; the plot is built around seven seals, which are necessary to destroy in order to get a sacred scroll. These symbols prove that seven is a magical number. In addition, they show that a person should overcome certain difficulties on the path to the salvation.

The Lord of the Rings also follows the main theme of Christianity – the fight between good and evil. The good is presented by Frodo Baggins and the fellowship of the ring. The evil interests are protected by Sauron and his servants such as orcs. The confrontation between “white” and black” is described in the first part of trilogy The Fellowship of the Ring in the quotation, “The Company of the Ring shall be Nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders that are evil” (Tolkien 304). Secondly, The Lord of the Rings is also characterized by such Christian themes as friendship, devotion, and support. The fellowship of the ring is ready to support Frodo under any circumstances as well as apostles are ready to follow Christ. The proof of it can be found in the quotation, taken from The Fellowship of the Ring, “You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo” (Tolkien 150). Thirdly, The Lord of the Rings reveals the issue of fragility of humanity in the face of temptation. Many creatures cannot stand the power of the ring as well as they cannot stand the power of sin. They do not have enough faith and inner strength. Due to it, they are easy prey to the forces of evil. The quotation taken from The Fellowship of the Ring shows it, “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Mordor, where the Shadows lie” (Tolkien 65). Finally, the problem of redemption and sacrifice is also one of the themes of The Lord of the Rings. Frodo has to take on himself all hardships of holding the ring to destroy it and save the world from evil. It is similar to the sacrifice of Jesus who takes the cross for the same purpose.

Characters from The Lord of the Rings also resemble Biblical ones. The combination of Frodo’s, Aragorn’s, and Gandalf’s traits create the picture of Jesus Christ. Frodo is similar to Jesus in the aspect of sacrifice. They both sacrifice their own interests for the benefit of “higher goal” – the destruction of evil. Aragorn as well as Christ is regarded as Messiah and King. The humanity waits for his arrival, because it is believed that he will be able to defeat enemies and bring prosperity. His coronation in the third part of trilogy The Return of the King is shown in such a way, “Then Frodo came forward and took the crown from Faramir and bore it to Gandalf; and Aragorn knelt, and Gandalf set the White Crown upon his head and said: Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!” (Tolkien 241). Gandalf resembles Christ because of his wisdom and the ability to lead people. The proof of it can be found in a quotation taken from the second part of the trilogy The Two Towers, “The Dark Lord has Nine. But we have One, mightier than they: the White Rider. He has passed through the fire and the abyss, and they shall fear him. We will go where he leads” (Tolkien 121).

The Lord of the Rings is also rich in some Christian symbols. The most prominent of them is the ring. Taking into consideration Biblical stories, it can be compared to the cross. In general, it has a meaning of a thing which brings sufferings and with which only the true hero can deal. The other Christian mark is the fellowship of the ring. It is described as a symbol of the first Christian Church created on the basis of devotion of apostles to Jesus. Finally, seven gifts of Galadriel also have Christian meanings. On the one hand, they present the sacral Biblical number – seven. On the other hand, they resemble seven sacraments of Christ’s Church.

In conclusion, both literary works Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings have some Christian motives incorporated in them. The first one can be revealed on the thematic level. Such Christian issues as the fight against evil, redemption, faith, love, sacrifice, friendship, devotion, and sinful nature of humanity are typical for these books. In addition, the major characters of them, such as Harry, Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf, resemble Jesus Christ (the main figure of Christianity) in many aspects. The most typical of them are miraculous life, heroism, altruism, wisdom, and influence. In addition, both works are full of Christian symbols. In case of Harry Potter, the most prominent symbol is the opposition between the lion and the serpent. In case of The Lord of the Rings, it is the ring of Sauron which has a similar function to the Biblical cross. Moreover, Biblical number seven is also a common feature of both books.

Works Cited

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York, NY: Scholastic Press, 2012. Print.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York, NY: Scholastic Press, 2010. Print.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and Half Blood Prince. New York, NY: Scholastic Press, 2012. Print.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York, NY: Scholastic Press, 2012. Print.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York, NY: Scholastic Press, 2009. Print.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring. London: Highbridge, 2001. Print.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Return of the King. London: Unwin & Hyman, 1988. Print.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Two Towers. London: HarperCollins, 1993. Print.