A Comparative Analysis of the Hero”s Quest: Harry Potter Vs King Arthur


From the pages of literature many ideas are born. Often these ideas are borrowed, passed down and transferred from work to work; creator to creator. This has led many to conclude that a generic mould has been established for certain methods of telling-or in some cases retelling-a story, and that authors typically write to fit this mold, whether or not purposefully or not. The primary mold discussed by celebrated novelists similar to Joseph Campbell, and used frequently by renown authors like J.

K. Rowling and T.H. White, is that of the classic hero. Rowling has made her younger protagonist, Harry Potter, very similar to the King of Camelot, as presented by the various Arthurian authors, together with T.H. White and Sir Thomas Mallory. There are a substantial quantity of parallels between Potter and Arthur and I truly have analyzed the plot and other aspects of each stories-along with the works of critics and researchers like Campbell-to demonstrate the surprising similarities between the two heroes.

The amazing similarities from each stories spawn from the constant recycling of the hero and his quest. Harry Potter as an individual, is a very dynamic character with full mood changes and ranging personalities, yet in relation to his adventures he’s not at all unique. King Arthur, as a hero, is a really dynamic character but as a person he is flat and boring. To evaluate both I learn the whole Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling ( Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

), I’ve learn the authoritative Arthurian legends (The Sword within the Stone, by T.H White, and Le Mort d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory.)

The author’s personal life tales were also analyzed in hopes that I may maybe come to a conclusion of why their Heroes are so alike.


The King Arthur novels have been part of literature for years, influencing authors, movies and even song writers. This generation’s “King Arthur” is thought by one other name. He was conceived on a napkin by a struggling single mother and goes by the name of Harry Potter. Many elements of Rowling’s Harry Potter Series are infused with components of the Arthurian legend. From reading and researching each tales I even have discovered many parallels between both tales. Arthur and Harry are both the protagonists of their worlds, each were disadvantaged of their dad and mom at an early age, each have been on quests to achieve their destiny, each had old wizard mentors, and neither knew of his personal significance until a late age. This prolonged essay explores the themes and characters linking the two tales and in addition analyzes the author’s life and language and how they affected the story.

Joseph Campbell is a world renown creator who wrote the book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces.” Mentally digesting this book has helped me to understand the bonds that tie all heroes together and was what led to the thought that Harry and Arthur are very comparable. Both Arthur and Harry fit into the category that Joseph Campbell refers to as the ‘classic hero.’ Both character’s lives comply with the sample of up and downs that guidelines the life of any literary being. Using excerpts and themes from this and different novels written by Campbell I will deliver to gentle the chilling parallels between both dramas.

Both Harry Potter and King Arthur lived lives that were chosen by them. This may seem obvious as their lives were written out by their author’s imagination, however within the novels themselves their fates have been pre-destined. Harry Potter was the one individual ever to outlive Lord Voldemort’s Avada Kedavra curse, also known as the killing curse. Any time that somebody does one thing for the first time–something that was thought impossible–they are instantly raised on a pedestal of awe and management.

Having survived the curse, Harry thwarted Voldemort’s plan of world domination, due to this fact saving the wizarding world. Besides being the first to outlive the curse, Harry was also the wizarding community’s savior, and he was only one 12 months old. So at a really early age Harry already had a status to live as a lot as. What put the final seal on the scenario was Sybill Trelawney’s prophecy which acknowledged that “neither can live while the opposite survives,” that means that when Voldemort returned to conquer the world Harry can be the only one able to saving everyone…again. No strain Harry. His destiny was chosen for him, but then again isn’t every protagonist’s future chosen for them in a sense?

The magician Merlin, who resides life backwards was already aware of who Arthur was going to be when he urged Uther Pendragon to offer him his first born baby in exchange for his help to put with the Duke of Cornwall’s spouse, Lady Igraine. Merlin knew Arthur would develop up to be King and save Britain from the Saxons when he noticed the Wart stumbling throughout the forest ground in T.H. White’s “The Sword in the Stone.” So the reality that he knew Arthur would turn into King when he asked Uther for his child signifies that Merlin is the particular person who chose Arthur’s destiny.

Had it not been for his request to receive Arthur, Uther would by no means have given him over and maybe Arthur would never have turn out to be King. Furthermore, Merlin was the one who positioned the sword in the stone and prophesied that whoever pulls it out would become King. Merlin already knew that Arthur was of noble blood, but had he not placed the sword in that stone nobody would have identified that Arthur was the inheritor to the throne. So not solely did Merlin arrange for King Arthur to really be born, but he also organized for the circumstances that made his nobility come to life, due to this fact Merlin steered Arthur’s destiny.

Arthur and Harry were additionally raised in full ignorance of their true lineage. Merlin knew that Arthur would not be secure with the Duke of Cornwall on the prowl for Uther’s heir, so he hid him away with a knight named Sir Ector. Knowing that Arthur could be protected Merlin went to stay in the woods nearby, and left him alone till his providers have been wanted again. Therefore Arthur grew up considering he was Sir Ector’s nephew and had no idea of his noble heritage. He lived comfortably sufficient and managed to gain the correct morals and code of honor that may one day benefit him as King.

Harry was not so fortunate. From what we surmise from JK’s novels, Harry Potter would have lived quite a comfortable and quiet life had he not been thrown into tragedy when Voldemort attacked. On the night of the assault Harry was barely a year old, and his mother and father and he have been quietly having fun with their night at Godric’s Hollow. Voldemort burst in and massacred James and Lilly Potter, Harry’s dad and mom, but when he attempted to kill Harry, the love that Harry’s mom had shown in making an attempt to guard her child shaped a type of protective barrier which caused the curse to bounce back and strike Voldemort. Dumbledore hid the orphaned Harry with his Aunt and Uncle Dursley, who wished to don’t have anything to do with him as a end result of his being of “that lot,” that means a wizard. For eleven years Harry grew up hated and ridiculed along with his aunt and uncle, not having a clue of his magical world connections.

At this level we notice that whereas Arthur grew up comfortably with his loving foster household, Harry grew up hated and down trod with his insufferable aunt and uncle. Also, while Arthur’s foster brother Kay greatly helped him on quests and adored him as his personal brother, Harry was bullied and annoyed by his cousin Dursley.

Another striking similarity between Arthur and Harry is that they both exist to guard and save the folks they lead. When Harry unwittingly vanquished Lord Voldemort as a young baby he saved the wizarding neighborhood from the greatest risk it had ever confronted, at least till Voldemort returned in The Goblet of Fire. So from a surprisingly early age Harry was the savior of his people. When he attended Hogwarts and have become a distinguished figure within the lives of many people he was not only their “leader,” but their savior. After Lord Voldemort had returned to power Dumbledore started to guess that he and Harry would be pitted towards one another until one was vanquished.

This was made certain by was Sybill Trelawney’s prophecy: “‘The one with the facility to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either should die at the hand of the other for neither can live whereas the other survives… the one with the ability to vanquish the Dark Lord shall be born because the seventh month dies…” So once again Harry was made the only one able to saving the world from the evils of Marvolo Riddle, or Lord Voldemort. The energy which he had that Voldemort knew nothing about was his deceased mother’s love, which made it possible for child Harry and teenage Harry to thwart Voldemort on every attempt he made to overcome the wizarding world. In the ultimate part of J.K Rowling’s thrilling series Harry vanquishes Lord Voldemort as quickly as and for all, due to this fact fulfilling his prophecy and saving “his individuals.”

Arthur additionally was introduced as a hero and savior for his subjects. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, historian and writer of History of the Kings of Britain, around 1100 Britain was overrun by Saxons, Picts, and Scots. Arthur happened as a result of subdued and downtrodden imaginations of the British folks. Whenever a individuals are topic to tyranny they create heroes and saviors. Arthur was the product of poverty, hunger and injustice, so in the Arthurian legends he is the ultimate word hero, the total savior and the peace bringer of Camelot. Another similarity between both heroes is that Arthur is helped on his method to victory by the legendary Sword Excalibur, and Harry defeated Lord Voldemort with the help of The Elder Wand.

As both novels developed the presences of many characters information the protagonists in the best direction, but none extra so than their mentor and protector. For Harry it’s Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, and for Arthur it is the enigmatic Merlin. Harry was hidden for his own safety by Dumbledore and throughout the entire sequence he was nudged in the right course by him. In the Philosopher’s Stone, Dumbledore tells Harry how the Mirror of Erised works, within the Chamber of Secrets he sends Fawkes to rescue him from Slytherin’s Heir and the basilisk, in The Prisoner of Azkaban he gives Hermione the Time Turner…there are a cornucopia of examples on how Dumbledore is always helping Harry alongside the way. Although J.K. Rowling claims that Dumbledore had flaws and was ‘gay,’ he was still considered one of my favourite characters as a end result of his complete devotion to the novel’s cause: defeating Lord Voldemort. In this sense Dumbledore is Harry’s major parental determine, aside from his Godfather, Sirius, and he sees him by way of all the exhausting occasions.

Merlin is that reason that Arthur exists. So if anything, you can type of name Merlin Arthur’s father. Not only did he organize for the start of Britain’s best king, but he made him king by placing the sword within the stone. He guided Arthur through his quests and adventures and made him Lord of the Knights of the Round Table. Whenever anyone thinks about Arthurian legend they think of Merlin. Merlin, who found Wart wondering in the woods. Merlin, who taught him priceless life lessons by turning him into different animals. Merlin, who gave him the marvelous sword Excalibur.

In both books the mentors are described as having long, white, flowing beards, pointed hats with stars and astrological robes of purple, half rimmed spectacles and twinkling blue eyes. Is it coincidence that J.K. had all these parallels between Arthur and Harry AND Dumbledore and Merlin?

Both Harry and Arthur lead very distinguished, eventful and public lives. The life of the hero isn’t a straightforward one, however it’s fairly rewarding. As Campbell puts it “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to one thing bigger than oneself” (Campbell). Both of those heroes have accepted their destiny and played the function perfectly.

A widespread thread present in most hero stories is the chance at immortality. Campbell writes in his novel, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces,” that “To this very day, the potential of bodily immortality charms the guts of man” (Campbell, 188). All hero figures, from Gilgamesh, to Buddha, to Jesus, even Arthur and Harry are all introduced with immortality. This eager for everlasting life may be understood once we see what a hero is and the way man (and girl in JK’s case), fears demise. As we know, a hero is spawned throughout instances of upheaval and social distress. Arthur was thought up in the course of the Saxon’s occupation of England and Harry was born when J.K. needed to be saved from poverty and discontent. Whenever a peoples is oppressed they consider turning into rich, overcoming their difficulties and residing endlessly.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry is introduced with the opportunity to maintain the Sorcerer’s Stone, from which he can create the Elixir of Life, enabling him to live endlessly. In the Deathly Hallows he was searching for the three Deathly Hallows, considered one of which was the resurrection stone. The Resurrection Stone made it so that Harry may deliver back anybody from the dead. Yet as a outcome of he didn’t want the Sorcerer’s stone or the Resurrection stone for his own use, he made himself immortal differently. He made himself immortal in his follower’s memories and in his many fans’ minds. Arthur, additionally, had the possibility at immortality.

On his quest for the Holy Grail he was introduced many times with challenges and dilemmas for which the reward was immortality. When Arthur is killed by his son Mordred, he is then taken to the Isle of Avalon to be treated. A popular legend, current among the British folks, claimed that King Arthur had by no means truly died and that he would in the future return to his individuals when their need was great. In this sense King Arthur was thought to be the right man, pure of sin. Harry is similarly clean of sin – as Dumbledore tells him in Half-Blood Prince, “In spite of all the temptation you’ve endured, all the suffering, you remain pure of heart, just as pure as you had been at the age of eleven.”

Finally, the best parallel between both heroes is the search. The myths and legends surrounding King Arthur center on the hunt for the Holy Grail. According to legend, King Arthur saw the Grail in a vision, and subsequently he and his knights attempted to seek out the Grail. The Holy Grail and the vessel used by Christ on the Last Supper that was then utilized by St. Joseph to catch the blood of Christ had been then considered the identical cup. While the situation of the Grail was forgotten over time, there was a prophecy on the Court of King Arthur that the Grail would at some point be rediscovered by a descendant of St. Joseph. According to the prophecy, the one that would find the Grail can be the person designated to sit within the Siege Perilous, the proper seat on the round desk. This can be Sir Galahad. In comparability Harry Potter can also be on a quest. In truth seven quests, one for each book written. Each one of many Harry Potter books written includes quests.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Voldemort is on a quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone to achieve immortality. Voldemort’s quest becomes Harry’s quest, as Harry believes himself to be the only one capable of stopping Voldemort from obtaining the Stone once he learns that Dumbledore has left Hogwarts. The quest takes Harry via a series of obstacles, and whereas he is accompanied at first by Ron and Hermione, it’s he alone – like Galahad – who must full the hunt and save the Stone from Voldemort. Philosopher’s Stone truly tells us about two quests – the hunt for the Stone, as nicely as Voldemort’s quest to kill the boy who has been prophesized to be the one one who can be his undoing. As Galahad’s seat is marked together with his name, signifying that he’s the one one who can discover the Grail, Voldemort’s attack on Harry as a baby leaves him marked with the scar that signifies Harry as Voldemort’s equal and as the just one who can vanquish Voldemort.

Also, Harry is the only one who can achieve the search for the stone, like Galahad is the only one who can find the Holy Grail. As in Arthurian legend, Harry isn’t the only one who embarks on quests via the Harry Potter series. In Philosopher’s Stone, Voldemort uses Quirrell to try to discover the Stone. The entire Hogwarts educating workers (with the one notable exception of Professor Lockhart) is in search of the Chamber of Secrets in Book Two. The Dementors are trying to find Sirius Black in Prisoner of Azkaban.

The different contestants in the Triwizard Tournament, like Knights of the Round Table, are additionally on quests as they full every Tournament task in Goblet of Fire. At the Yule Ball, the contestants and the judges even sit at a large round table. In Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort is on a quest to obtain the prophecy and regain his energy. This signifies that many strive, or feel compelled to achieve the status of hero, however the true hero doesn’t choose his future. The true hero turns into what he is because he has no selection, as a end result of it is in his blood. Like Harry and Arthur, who did not select their future, and by no means needed fame and glory, the true hero does issues alone.

There exists many parallels between both heroes and in finality we are in a position to conclude that that is no mere coincidence. Rowling will have to have supposed to no less than base her protagonist off of Britain’s best hero: King Arthur.

The purpose that J. K. Rowling is ready to put a lot life and actuality in her writings is that she herself has skilled much of what she writes. She was born on July thirty first, 1965 in Gloucestershire, England. Divorced and living off of welfare Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on a napkin between her daughter’s naps. When Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was printed her life changed. Much like Harry’s life, Rowling’s has the characteristics of a fairy tale. Barely making a dwelling she managed to get by and lived in a small apartment flat in Edinburgh, where she says she was rescued by Harry Potter. She was given money to complete her books and has since turn into richer than even the Queen. She has written the harshness and nightmares of her pre-Potter life into her books, which is why they appear so actual.

Whenever a individuals stay an oppressed way of life they create saviors to rescue them, which is what J.K did. T.H White, however lived a fairly well off life, yet displeased with the world he too re-made a hero for himself, Arthur. There isn’t a lot in frequent between both authors aside from their British descent and the truth that they write. Their language is also very comparable and the best way they write is strikingly alike. Perhaps it’s the fact that they both attended Exeter college? In the quest for literary glory, both authors overcame tremendous upheaval and issues of a nasty economic begin. Yet they both wrote novels that modified mankind, and that continued the Hero’s journey via literature. It is for certain true then, that “There is simply one hero, and he has a thousand faces” (HWTF, Campbell).


White, T.H. “The Sword within the Stone.” Random House, Inc. October 1963

Rowling, J.K. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Cornell Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Rowling, J.K. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” Cornell Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Rowling, J.K. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Cornell Books Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Rowling, J.K. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Cornell Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Rowling, J.K. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Cornell Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Rowling, J.K. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Cornell Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Rowling, J.K. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Cornell Books, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Campbell, Joseph. “The Hero With A Thousand Faces.” New World Library Books, 1949, First Ed.

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