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Religious and Mythological Influences:
Harry and Jesus - According to Christians, Jesus Christ came prevented the devil and his henchmen from taking control of humanity. Ironically, in crucifying Jesus Satan and his demons doomed themselves to defeat.
In Rowling’s books, Harry Potter came to break the grip Voldemort and his Death Eaters had on the whole of the wizarding world and in Voldemort’s attempt to kill Harry he doomed himself to defeat. The cross is Jesus’ symbol of triumph over evil and death; Harry’s lightening bolt is his symbol of triumph over evil and death.
Demonic Possession - In the Middle Ages, people actually believed that the devil and his minions could possess people. In the book, Voldemort possessed Quirrell.
Tolkien’s Influence - Although Rowling says that fantasy is “not my favorite genre,” there are noticeable similarities between Tolkien’s work and Rowling’s. Here’s what Rowling has to say about that: “I didn't read The Hobbit until after the first Harry book was written, though I read Lord of the Rings when I was nineteen. I think, setting aside the obvious fact that we both use myth and legend, that the similarities are fairly superficial. Tolkien created a whole new mythology, which I would never claim to have done. On the other hand, I think I have better jokes.”
Ring to Rule Them All, the Sorcerer’s Stone - a hero must destroy the Ring/the Stone to get it away from a powerful dark wizard.
Sauron, Voldemort - An ancient evil (Sauron / Voldemort) threatening to rise again and disturb the time of peace. Sauron’s body is gone, but his spirit lives on and possesses the greedy; Voldemort’s body is gone, but his spirit seeks to be reborn. Directly before the fellowship is created, the dwarves, elves, and humans are divided against Sauron/Saruman. At the end of book 4, the wizarding world is divided in the fight against Voldemort. Gandalf seeks to unite the forces of good, as does Dumbledore.
Gandalf, Dumbledore - Gandalf, like Dumbledore, is a very powerful wizard yet still young at heart and loved by children. Gandalf likes fireworks; Dumbledore likes ten-pin bowling and chamber music. Some (Tooks, Malfoys) see him as a disturber, but most enjoy his company. Again like Gandalf, Dumbledore can make himself intimidating if need be: he speaks softly and carries a big stick. Compare Dumbledore’s anger to the scene in which Gandalf demands the ring from Bilbo at the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring. Dumbledore might follow in Gandalf and Obi-Wan’s footsteps by sacrificing himself, only to rise again as Gandalf the White did. Dumbledore destroyed earlier evils (Grindenwald fell shortly after WWII), and I’m assuming Gandalf did the same. Directly before the fellowship is created, the dwarves, elves, and humans are divided against Sauron/Saruman. At the end of book 4, the wizarding world is divided in the fight against Voldemort. Gandalf seeks to unite the forces of good, as does Dumbledore. Gandalf spares Gollum because Gandalf can see into the future; Dumbledore introduces Harry to the Mirror of Erised because he can see into the future. Both of the great wizards are against killing. Gandalf’s position against killing Gollum seems almost anti-death penalty, as is Dumbledore’s position on the trials Harry oversees in book four. Using evil ends for good means (the Machiavellian problem) is evident in Gandalf’s not wanting to use the ring and Dumbledore’s dislike of Dementors.
Bilbo, James Potter - James Potter’s passing his burden onto Harry is like Bilbo’s passing the Ring onto Frodo. The burden of Voldemort has been passed down to another generation. Just as Bilbo passes on his coat of armor to help Frodo, James passes on his invisibility cloak to help Harry.
Saruman, Quirrell - Saruman is a traitor like Quirrell, turning to the dark side as Vader and Voldemort both did. There is also a Judas character in the Fellowship, both Saruman and that human representative. I’m not sure who the Judas is in the Potter series, except perhaps Pettigrew or Quirrell. Bible influences bind the Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter books together.
Ring-Wraiths, Dementors - The Ring-Wraiths are like the skeletal Dementors. Neither can see, neither is alive nor dead, both are hooded and disturbing.
Strider, Sirius Black - The Ranger Strider (Aragon) originally seems evil; Sirius Black originally seems evil. Appearances can be deceiving.
Communicating with Animals - Sirius Black can communicate with Crookshanks; Gandalf can communicate with insects, among other animals.
Underground Dangers - The deep tunnels under Middle Earth hold ancient dangers, as do the tunnels under Hogwarts (Chamber of Secrets).
Frodo, Harry - Frodo and Harry are both unlikely candidates for heroes, as was Jesus, Moses, and Israel as a whole. Bible influences bind the Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter books together.
Mirrors with magic - The Mirror of Erised is similar to the prophetic fountain mirror in the forest of Fellowship that shows Frodo the Shire burning.
Elves, Centaurs - both are aloof forest prophets.