Guest Post: Narnia, Hogwarts, and Fantastic Beasts

All Star HogPro All-Pro on deck! Pay Attention! Thank you, Prof. Hardy, for sharing this brilliant survey of magical animals in the Hogwarts Saga and the Narniad.

Fantastic Beasts: C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling, and the Menagerie of the Imagination

by Elizabeth Hardy, author of Milton, Spenser and the Chronicles of Narnia: Literary Sources for the C.S. Lewis Novels

Every author is influenced by what he or she experiences, believes, or learns. Authors are also profoundly affected by what they read. All authors weave into their own work that which they have read, from the great stories of the Bible or classical mythology, to the poems of childhood songs or nursery rhymes, to phrases or words caught in passing. Far from indicating plagiarism or unoriginality, such connections rather display the variety of influences, often unconscious, that an author may have had, while allowing the reader to notice the ways in which an author, both subtly and overtly, uses material from other sources, often by twisting it into strange and wonderful new forms.

J .K. Rowling is certainly no exception. In fashioning the remarkable world of Harry Potter, she has drawn from an array of literary sources. Sometimes such interweavings are used for comic effect, as when Hagrid accidentally reveals that he bought Fluffy the three-headed dog from “a Greek chappie” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 192), reminding us that the three-headed canine, Cerberus, does come from Greek mythology. Sometimes these influences are used for dramatic effect, as when the living chess pieces of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass become dangerous obstacles for Harry and his friends to overcome in their quest to protect the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone.

In other situations, Rowling uses her sources for a powerfully poignant effect likely lost on many younger readers, as with the name of Tom Riddle’s mother, revealed in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as Merope: a perfect choice, as Merope is the name of Oedipus’s adopted mother, from whom he flees because of a misunderstood prophecy. The man who would become Lord Voldemort also rejects his heritage and allows himself to be directed by a prophecy that he does not understand. In other circumstances, the influence of a source on Rowling’s work is subtle, perhaps even unconscious, drawing naturally from her positive and early experiences with books as well as her habit of reading whenever she possibly can.

One author whose work has undoubtedly influenced Rowling’s composition process is C. S. Lewis. Like Professor Dumbledore, Lewis was a many-faceted teacher who produced serious literary scholarship, Christian apologetics, poetry, fiction, science fiction, and one of the most beloved children’s series of all time, The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis himself was well known for using ideas and influences picked up in his widespread and diverse reading. As Colin C. Manlove claims in Christian Fantasy from 1200 to the Present, Lewis “looked for sources as he looked for friends… essentially gregarious in his vision” (232).

In turn, Rowling frequently displays the influence of the Chronicles upon her own work. She often salutes Lewis with names, dubbing Fred’s and George’s replacements on the Gryffindor Quidditch team Jack Sloper and Andrew Kirke ( Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 453 ). Lewis, who despised both the name Clive and the name Staples, for which his initials stand, always went by “Jack”; Andrew Kirke is a connection to The Magician’s Nephew, in which the scheming Uncle Andrew menaces his nephew, Digory Kirke, who later becomes the Professor of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Digory’s name, with the addition of one “g,” was bestowed by Rowling on the doomed Cedric Diggory.

Even more intriguing than the name connection, however, is the way in which Rowling employs animals in much the same way as Lewis does in the Chronicles. From heraldic beasts, to “ordinary” animals, to the fantastic beasts of mythology, these two remarkable authors use animals in a variety of strikingly similar ways. While this is often a case of authors drawing from mutual sources, such as mythology, there are other similarities that reveal deeper links.

Heraldic, or symbolic, animals figure prominently in both series and with congruent associations. The four houses of Hogwarts are each symbolized by an animal as well as a distinctive color scheme, and each of these representations has a link with The Chronicles of Narnia. Just three pages into The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first of the Chronicles of Narnia, the four Pevensie children speculate about what kind of wildlife they will find on the rural estate where they have been sent during the London air raids. Peter, the eldest, says,

“Did you see those mountains as we came along? And the woods? There
might be eagles. There might be stags. There’ll be hawks.”
“Badgers!” said Lucy.
“Snakes!” said Edmund. ( Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe 3)

The eagle, badger, and snake, so prominently mentioned here, taken along with the book’s titlular lion, connect directly with the emblematic animals of Hogwarts’s four houses and share characteristics with those symbols as well.

Of Weasels and Badgers

Hufflepuff, while sometimes viewed as a house for “a lot o’ duffers” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 80), is actually the home of some of the most loyal and steadfast individuals. As the Sorting Hat proclaims: “Those patient Hufflepuffs are true/ and unafraid of toil” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 118). The Hufflepuffs Rowling introduces include the unfortunate but always honorable Cedric Diggory who, in Prisoner of Azkaban, wants to throw out the match in which his Quidditch team defeats Gryffindor:

“Diggory got the Snitch,” said George. “ Just after you fell. He didn’t realize what had happened. When he looked back and saw you on the ground, he tried to call it off. Wanted a rematch.” (180)

In fact, Cedric’s death is a direct result of his honorable desire to do the right thing in the Triwizard Tournament by becoming co-champion with Harry since they together grasp the cup that snatches both of them off to meet Voldemort. Other Hufflepuffs include Susan Bones, Hannah Abbot, and Ernie McMillian, all positive, loyal characters who participate in Harry’s illegal Defense class in The Order of the Phoenix. Hannah and Ernie also take part in the pivotal Battle of Hogwarts in The Deathly Hallows.

Hufflepuff is always symbolized by a badger, an association going back to founder Helga Hufflepuff, whose badger-emblazoned cup is stolen by Tom Riddle and later transformed into one of his precious Horcruxes, only to be destroyed by Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and a well-placed basilisk fang. The connotations of loyalty and hard work are strongly connected to Lewis’s use of badgers. While some of these associations also connect to the traditional heraldic meaning of badgers, Rowling has shown that she has no qualms about altering traditional associations with animals.

Such is the case with the weasel, who traditionally has negative connotations, but whose name she grafts onto the loyal and trustworthy Ron and his delightful family(“Other Stuff”). Lucy, the character who indicates an interest in seeing badgers, has much in common with the Hufflepuffs of Hogwarts. Besides the fact that, like Hannah Abbott, she has blond pigtails according to Lewis’s descriptions of her (but illustrator Pauline Baynes always drew her hair as black), Lucy is also a remarkably loyal character. She staunchly defends the truth, even when it causes her discomfort or outright misery.

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, she refuses to say that Narnia is a figment of her imagination. She knows she has been there, and no amount of pressure from the snide Edmund or the concerned Susan and Peter will make her say otherwise. In Prince Caspian, it is Lucy who sees the great lion Aslan when no one else can, and only her unwavering devotion saves her fellow travelers, and Caspian’s army, from destruction. Lewis also features a trustworthy and steadfast badger as a major character in Prince Caspian. Trufflehunter is the very epitome of loyalty:

“You Dwarfs are as forgetful and changeable as the Humans themselves. I’m a beast, I am, and a Badger what’s more. We don’t change. We hold on” (65).

Trufflehunter is the first of the hidden Old Narnians to swear fealty to Caspian and remains loyal to him even in the most difficult of circumstances. The qualities of loyalty and trustworthiness Lewis thus ascribes to badgers and those associated with them are also attributed to Rowling’s badgers, the Hufflepuffs.

The Eagles of Narnia: Ravenclaw Raptors?

The eagle, the animal named by the soon-to-be-High King Peter, is also the animal that represents the House of Ravenclaw. Ironically, the House’s symbol is not a Raven. Both eagles and ravens figure in the Chronicles. It is appropriate that Peter, in his regal role, speaks of the eagle, a bird connected with majesty and power. This foreshadows his role in Narnia. At Hogwarts, the Ravenclaws are known for their intellect, prompting the Sorting Hat to state that in this house “Those of wit and learning/ will always find their kind” ( Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 118) and causing Terry Boot to marvel at the fact that Hermione, with all her intellect, was not placed in his house (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 399 ).

When Luna Lovegood takes Harry into the Ravenclaw common room, she must answer a thought-provoking riddle: “Which came first , the phoenix or the flame?” Luna provides an appropriately wise answer: “A circle has no beginning.” ( Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 587). Rowena Ravenclaw’s lost diadem, stolen by her daughter who envied the founder’s great wisdom, is emblazoned with the motto: “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 635).

Some Ravenclaws, of course, do not make the most intelligent choices; Cho Chang’s ill-placed trust in her friend Marietta leads to the discovery of the illegal Defense club Harry teaches in Order of the Phoenix, for example. Yet, their reputation for wisdom and good advice prevails. Ravens, of course, are remarkably intelligent birds, and Lewis includes a sage old raven, Sallowpad, as a wise counselor in the court of Peter and his siblings.

In The Horse and His Boy, it is Sallowpad whom King Edmund consults about the dangers of the desert, inadvertently providing the eavesdropping protagonist, Shasta, with all the information he needs to survive the crossing. Sallowpad also counsels against trying to make a desperate last stand, and supports Tumnus’s plan for escaping Tashbaan.

The eagle Farsight, who plays an pivotal role in The Last Battle, provides the terrible news that the Narnian capital, Cair Paravel, has been taken by sea. Although his message is grim, he is able to prevent King Tirian and his supporters from walking into a trap. Likewise, Rowling’s most prominently placed Ravenclaw, the delightful Luna Lovegood, has a knack for revealing painful truths. Even in the most dire situations, Luna is wise, if eccentric, helping her friends in the Ministry of Magic and, in The Deathly Hallows, aiding in the escape from Malfoy Manor and encouraging Harry with her Patronus when his “happy thoughts” fail him.

Serpentine Slytherin

The snake, symbol of Slytherin, and the animal mentioned by Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has negative connotations stretching all the way back to the Garden of Eden, but Rowling’s use of the symbolic snake has strong ties to Lewis’s work as well. Edmund, of course, becomes a traitor, but is later redeemed, and though Rowling makes it quite clear that Slytherin has produced a disproportionate number of evil witches and wizards, there is also the Sorting Hat’s reminder that all four Houses have roles to play.

The house with a tendency for treachery turns out to be just as crucial to the preservation of good as the other three, as Harry discovers when he sees the memories of Severus Snape, learning that the loathed Head of Slytherin was devoted to Harry’s mother Lily Evans, and, for her sake, became, like Harry, a “Dumbledore man through and through.” His actions, on numerous occasions, save Harry and serve the greater good. Harry’s Slytherin-like qualities and the possibility that he could have been placed in that house emphasize this ambiguity.

In addition, the villain by whom Edmund is led astray is Jadis, the White Witch, whose wand turns people and animals into stone, much like the indirect stare of Slytherin’s basilisk. The Turkish Delight, with which the White Witch enchants Edmund, is in a box tied with a green ribbon, and green and silver are the emblematic colors of Slytherin. This color combination is also associated with the Chronicles’ impressive snake-villainess, the Green Witch of The Silver Chair. Just as Salazar Slytherin and his heir, Tom Riddle, can speak to snakes, the Green Witch actually becomes a serpent as terrifying as the basilisk that inhabits the Chamber of Secrets:

Her arms appeared to be fastened to her sides. Her legs were intertwined with each other, and her feet had disappeared. The long green train of her skirt thickened and grew solid, and seemed to all one piece with the writhing green pillar of her interlocked legs…her head was thrown far back and while her nose grew longer and longer, every other part of her face seemed to disappear, except her eyes. Huge flaming eyes they were. ( 159-160)

When the Witch takes human form, she always wears a green gown, and has a voice as seductive and subtle as the hiss of a snake. Like most Slytherins and Lewis’s other villains, she is willing to use any means, from deception to violence, to achieve her goals. Also, the Green Witch is a female snake, like Voldemort’s beloved Nagini, who takes on her own female human form, though Bathilda Bagshot is certainly no winsome maiden. Nagini, like the Green Witch, has her snake-head chopped off by a sword.

Lions of Hogwarts and Narnia

The lion, emblem of Gryffindor, is the one animal not mentioned by the four children in the opening chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. However, he hardly needs any mention since he is the dominant character of the series. Aslan, the great lion, savior of Narnia and King over all High Kings, is remarkable for many characteristics, but one is certainly courage; and courage, the trait that Rowling herself has said on numerous occasions that she most admires, is the defining trait of Gryffindor, “where dwell the brave at heart,/ Their daring, nerve, and chivalry, set Gryffindors apart” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 118).

Aslan, who goes willingly to his death to save Edmund, certainly displays remarkable courage, as does Lily Potter, former Gryffindor, when she sacrifices herself to save her son; and both sacrifices result in greater good. Aslan is resurrected and saves all Narnia, as well as Edmund, and Lily’s powerful love for Harry protects him from the Avadra Kedavra spell and, for years to come, from Voldemort himself. Harry’s sacrifice of himself in The Deathly Hallows is an even more dramatic mirror of Aslan’s actions, as both take a somber walk to certain death, accompanied by loved ones.

Harry is guided by the shades of his parents, Sirius Black, and the recently deceased Remus Lupin, while Aslan lets Susan and Lucy bury their hands in his mane and walk with him to the Stone table, though he sends them away before they can be in danger. Both Harry and Aslan are willing sacrifices, and both return from their deaths to return stronger than ever and uniquely able to defeat their adversaries. The resurrected Aslan frees the White Witch’s statue prisoners and sends them into battle, where he personally destroys the Witch. Harry faces Voldemort and declares that the Dark Lord cannot hurt the defenders of Hogwarts since they are protected by Harry’s willing sacrifice.

The House of Gyffindor is also represented by the colors of red and gold, colors Lewis repeatedly ascribes to Aslan. Peter’s shield with the image of Aslan on it is “as red as a ripe strawberry at the moment when you pick it” (Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 104), and when Prince Rilian is freed from the evil spell of the Green Witch, his once black and plain shield bears the image of a lion “redder than blood or cherries” (Lewis, The Silver Chair 168). Gold is also the color Lewis uses to describe Aslan’s fur.

Of course, lions are generally golden, so the color seems an appropriate choice for Gryffindor, but, as with Ravenclaw, the obvious animal is not used, for one would expect Harry’s house to be symbolized by a griffin, rather than a lion since griffins are certainly part of the wizarding menagerie and are given an entry in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Clearly, with the four animals used to represent the four Hogwarts houses, there is a strong link between the four creators of Hogwarts and the four children who come to rule Narnia.

Domestic ‘Beasts’

Since both Lewis and Rowling are known for a love of animals, it is not surprising that both include a number of “ordinary” and even domestic animals in their fantastic realms. Intriguingly, one creature often associated with magic, in particular with witches, is the cat, and both Lewis and Rowling depict cats rather ambiguously. Rowling admits that she is no cat lover, due in part to allergies (“Other Stufff”), and Lewis, though he often owned a cat, was more partial to dogs.

In the 1960s, “The Kilns family included two cats, an old Ginger named Tom (a mighty hunter in his youth but then living on a pension of fish) and Snip (a Siamese which Lewis inherited from his wife and referred to as his stepcat) …also a young boxer pup named Ricky” ( Hooper and Green 189). Both Lewis and Rowling feature ginger cats who turn out to possess a number of secrets. Cats in the wizarding world tend to be more than they seem, as one realizes from the first appearance of Professor McGonagall in The Sorcerer’s Stone as a tabby cat reading a map (2).

Crookshanks, Hermione’s ginger cat, at first appears to be only a cranky old feline intent on eating Ron’s rat, Scabbers, but, as Sirius assures Harry, Crookshanks is “the most intelligent of his kind I’ve ever met” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 364). Crookshanks is in fact half Kneazle, thus giving him the ability “to detect unsavoury or suspicious characters” (Fantastic Beasts 24) such as Peter Pettigrew masquerading as a harmless rat. While Crookshanks turns out to be a better creature than at first he appears, the ginger cat Lewis includes in The Last Battle is in fact a traitor, revealing that there is also more to him than meets the eye.

Initially, Ginger appears to be only one of the many animals summoned to the midnight meetings at which Shift the Ape brings out the hapless Donkey Puzzle dressed in a lionskin, claiming he is Aslan. Yet, it soon becomes clear that Ginger, not the Ape, is the real brains behind the scheme, and it is the cat, not Shift, who is really in cahoots with the Calormenes. Poggin the dwarf reveals that the plot is “mostly carried on by Ginger and Rishda–that’s the Calormene captain” (Lewis, The Last Battle 78) and that he has heard the two discussing that neither of them believes in Aslan or in Tash, the Calormene god; they are both interested only in their own profit.

However, when Ginger tries to go into the Stable and see “Tashlan,” as part of the carefully constructed plot, he actually encounters the supernatural and is turned into a dumb animal instead of a talking cat. Although they are very different in character, both Lewis’s and Rowling’s ginger cats are full of surprises.

Both series include dogs as well. With the exception of Fluffy, who can hardly be called domestic, dogs in Narnia and the wizarding world are generally portrayed positively. Granted, Aunt Marge’s nasty bulldog Ripper is certainly an unpleasant creature, but that seems to be more a reflection on Aunt Marge; because she is a thoroughly disagreeable person, her favorite pet follows suit, just as the seemingly fierce but actually affectionate boarhound Fang reflects this master Hagrid’s outward fearsomeness and inner gentleness.

In addition, the pestilential bulldog serves as a foil to the very different dog Harry encounters soon after escaping Ripper, Aunt Marge, and the Dursleys: “a big black thing….Like a dog… but massive” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 34). Although Sirius, in his dog form, appears threatening at first, even causing Harry to think he is a manifestation of the Grim, he does, in fact, turn out to be a loyal and true friend to Harry.

In The Last Battle, when Narnia is in her most desperate hour, “every single Talking Dog in the whole meeting…came bounding and barking joyously to the King’s side” (116). Most of these are large, heavy dogs that resemble “Snuffles,” Sirius’s animagus form or Hagrid’s lovable and enormous Fang. It is clear that for both Lewis and Rowling, dogs, especially large ones, are positive animals whose boundless energy and spirit are refreshing.

Wolf at the Door

Another kind of canine, however, has a very dark side in both series. The wolf has often generated fear, particularly when linked with the legendary werewolf. Remus Lupin, the reluctant werewolf, is perhaps the most competent Hogwarts teacher ever and a positive, decent, and admirable person whom Rowling herself admits is one of her favorite characters. However, once he transforms, he loses all identity and would attack even his dearest friends.

In addition, in The Half-Blood Prince, Rowling introduces a werewolf who is vicious and enjoys his power and bestiality: Fenrir Greyback. Unlike Lupin or other unintentional werewolves, Fenrir deliberately places himself near those he wants to attack so that when the full moon effects his transformation, he will be able to reach his chosen victims, connecting him to the savage werewolf that attacks Prince Caspian after being denied entry into the Old Narnians’ army. This monster has a “grey” voice, echoed in the name “Greyback.”

Worse, Fenrir Greyback attacks untransformed, ripping out throats and thriving on human flesh while he is still in human form. In The Deathly Hallows, he is eager to devour Hermione and is a serious opponent in the Battle of Hogwarts before being taken down by Ron and Neville Longbottom. With the introduction of this chilling character comes another connection with the Chronicles: “the grey Wolf, Fenris Ulf, the chief of the [White] Witch’s Secret Police”(Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 93). ( His name is Maugrim in the British editions of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). This savage creature nearly kills Susan before Peter slays it.

Though Fenris Ulf is all wolf, rather than a werewolf, he does speak, and he also has a confused identity, since Edmund thinks he is a statue, and Peter, astonished at the monster’s size, thinks at first he is a bear or perhaps an Alsatian dog. Both Lewis and Rowling name their wolf villains after the Norse Fenris Wolf, one of the monstrous children of the god Loki, destined to destroy Odin in the great battle of Ragnarok. Lewis drew a number of the Chronicles’ elements from Scandanavian legends: the dwarfs, giants, the eternal winter laid on Narnia, even the White Witch herself.

So it is not surprising that the Witch’s devoted Wolf, whom she sends to kills the children and the Beavers if he catches up with them, draws his name from Norse legend. Rowling’s use of the name may be a case of using the same source, but it also forms a strong link between the texts.

Fine Feathered and Flying Friends

In addition to the standard domestic animals, like cats and dogs, many wizarding homes include domestic owls, with even the impoverished Weasleys able to support pathetic old Errol, and later, Percy’s Hermes and Ron’s Pigwidgeon. Lewis also employs owls, particularly in The Silver Chair. In the Parliament of Owls (Lewis’s homage to Chaucer, one of his own influences), Jill and Eustace meet Glimfeather and a host of other owls in a setting very much like the Hogwarts owlery, which has “glassless windows” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 282).

The Narnian owls meet inside the top of a stone tower or “dusty belfry sort of place” (54) which Jill notices is “rather fusty inside” (45) and filled with soft hooting and rustling feathers. Rowling also characterizes her owls much as Lewis does. Though Hedwig and the other owls do not speak per se, and Glimfeather and the Narnian owls do, they are still alike in temperament. While everyone else is distracted by the sailing of the King’s ship, only Glimfeather notices the magical arrival of Jill and Eustace: “There’s something magical about you two. I saw you arrive: you flew. Everyone else was so busy seeing the King off that nobody knew. Except me” (31-32).

Likewise, Hedwig and the other messenger owls always seem to have special knowledge, particularly about where people are. No matter where the Dursleys drag Harry in The Sorcerer’s Stone, the letters from Hogwarts keep coming, and Hedwig and other owls Harry uses always have an uncanny ability to find even Sirius when he is in hiding. And yet, also like Lewis’s owls, Rowling’s winged messengers do not get directly involved in the plot. They deliver their messages and get out of the way.

Likewise, Glimfeather and his associates deliver to Jill and Eustace very important information about Prince Rilian and his history, and then deliver the children themselves to Puddleglum the Marshwiggle, who becomes their companion and the perfect guide. Although both Lewis and Rowling are drawing on a cultural history that casts owls as wise counselors and using the zoological facts about owls’ habits, such as eating rodents and preferring nocturnal activity, they also depict the owls in remarkably similar ways.

Transfigured Characters

Because Narnia is populated with talking animals, nearly every “real” creature in our world has a talking and intelligent counterpart in the land beyond the lamp-post, thus turning “ordinary” creatures into extraordinary ones. Rowling also follows this practice. Certainly, each author has creatures not included in the other’s work. Lewis has a number of Talking Horse characters, particularly in The Horse and His Boy, while all Rowling’s equines, such as the Thestrals, are distinctly not regular horses, and Lewis did not include giant spiders, such as the acromantula Aragog and his kind, anywhere in Narnia. He was terribly phobic about spiders and insects, particularly large ones.

But another creature they both include is a stag, with both authors transforming an ordinary male deer into a magical white stag. Lewis describes Talking Stags a number of times, including one who brings news of Aslan’s supposed return in The Last Battle and one who is killed by the Giants of Harfang then inadvertently eaten by the protagonists of The Silver Chair. Peter also mentions stags in his expectation of wildlife he wants to view on the Professor’s estate. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the four Pevensies, at the zenith of their magnificent reign in Narnia, go out hunting “the White Stag who would give you wishes if you caught him” (182).

When Tumnus first describes this magical creature to Lucy, he calls it a “milk-white stag” (13). The color and the magical power are both similar to the stag that Harry conjures as his patronus: “It wasn’t a horse. It wasn’t a unicorn either. It was a stag” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 411). The patronus is an elusive creature, defying Harry’s best efforts to summon it until the moment he needs it most and realizes that he can do it.

In addition, a patronus protects the conjurer from dementors, surely answering the one wish that anyone under such an attack would have. Likewise, the Narnian milk-white stag, with its ability to grant wishes, is elusive, appearing only when the time is right for the four children to go back into their own world. Harry also discovers why his patronus takes this specific form.

Some patronuses appear to take a shape to which the conjurer has an emotional connection; hence, Dumbledore’s patronus is a phoenix, like his beloved pet Fawkes, Tonks’s patronus changes to a wolf when she falls in love with Remus Lupin, and Professor Snape’s patronus is a doe, a reflection of his undying love for Lily Evans Potter. So it is not surprising that Harry’s Patronus takes the shape into which his animagus father was capable of transforming.

In fact, for a short time in The Prisoner of Azkaban, he thinks it is his father who summons the Patronus, because he catches only a glimpse of a person who looks like the images of James he has seen in photographs. Only after traveling back in time with the time turner does he realize that he saw himself, not his father, conjuring the patronus that saves him, Hermione, and Sirius from the dementors. Harry is at once the dying teenager in the grip of the dementors and the powerful young wizard who could easily be mistaken for James Potter.

Lewis’s stag is also directly connected to time travel and identity confusion, as the Pevensies have, by the time of the stag hunt, completely forgotten their past identities as young British children “and if ever they remembered their life in this world it was only as one remembers a dream” (Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 181). Only after they have left behind their courtiers and horses to pursue the stag into the depths of the forest do they find the lamp-post and, shortly beyond it, the wardrobe door. Once they pass through, they have been returned to the very same day they left, and the fifteen years that have passed in Narnia have taken no more than a moment or two of time in their own world.

They have transitioned from powerful and confident adult versions of themselves back into children just as Harry switches roles at the appearance of his own milk-white stag. In addition, the time-travel element is an important factor of the Chronicles. As Professor Kirke says: “I should not be at all surprised to find that that other world had a separate time of its own so that however long you stayed there it would never take up any of our time” (Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 46). In all of the Chronicles, the children experience effects similar to those of a time turner, since they return home to find that no matter how long they have been in Narnia, no time at all has actually passed.

In just such a fashion do Harry and Hermione go back in time to save Sirius and the hippogriff Buckbeak from their respective executions, and only because they have time traveled does Harry conjure the stag patronus and experience the strange sensation of being in two places at once. The stag then, in both Rowling’s world and Lewis’s, is a magical creature that appears in conjunction with altered time and leads the protagonists to remarkable reunions with the past.

Mythological Monsters and Mavens

In addition to using creatures that at least resemble ones in our everyday world, both Lewis and Rowling employ a host of creatures born in mythology and in their own imaginations. As such, many of these animals are unique, including a number of the fabulous monsters of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Many other mythological monsters have direct connections with similar creatures in Narnia.

One of the most popular of all magical beasts is one which figures prominently in both Narnia and the wizarding world. The unicorn receives only a short paragraph in Fantastic Beasts, but plays an important role in Harry’s adventures, beginning with the Sorcerer’s Stone in which Voldemort, sharing the body of the hapless Professor Quirrell, kills unicorns and drinks their blood, for “ blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price…and you will have but a half-life, a cursed life” (258).

The purity and power of the unicorn is part of its legend, and these traits appear in Rowling’s unicorns as well as in Lewis’s. While Harry only encounters dead unicorns in his first trip into the Forbidden Forest, Professor Grubbly-Plank, substituting for Hagrid, later teaches a lesson on the remarkable creatures, including an actual live unicorn “ so brilliantly white it made the snow all around look gray” ( Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 436). Unicorn hair and horn are also extremely valuable commodities in the wizarding world, as Professor Slughorn observes in The Half-Blood Prince, but these items are apparently harvested without harming the unicorns, as killing one is considered such a heinous crime. Lewis also characterizes his unicorns in similar fashion.

Unicorns make only a brief appearance in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where they are included in the animals Aslan frees from the White Witch’s statue spell and join in the battle against her army. In The Last Battle, however, a unicorn, Jewel, is a prominent character distinguished primarily by his devotion to King Tirian. When Tirian’s honor dictates that he must hand himself over to the Calormenes, Jewel goes with him, saying “If you are dead and Aslan is not Aslan, what life is left for me?” (25)

Jewel, described as “one of the noblest and most delicate of beasts” (76), also connects immediately with Jill, the only woman among the protagonists. Although he is devoted to the King, he also shows the preference Professor Grubbly-Plank describes for “the woman’s touch” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 436) by his immediate bond with Jill. She, in turn “had quite fallen in love with the unicorn. She thought…he was the shiningest, delicatest, most graceful animal she had ever met; and he was so gentle and soft of speech that…you would hardly believe how fierce and terrible he could be in battle” (87-88).

Like the female students in the Care of Magical Creatures class, Jill has an immediate rapport with Jewel. Unicorns, in both series, embody beauty and purity, but also power, and it is interesting to note that though these are traditional attributes of unicorns, both Lewis and Rowling dispense with the part of the myth that a unicorn can only be tamed by a virginal young woman. Hagrid works closely with unicorns, and Grubbly Plank is no fair maiden. She only warns students that unicorns are somewhat fonder of girls, just as Jewel is deeply attached to Tirian, but soon grows close to Jill. It is intriguing that both authors have dispensed with the same traditional part of the legend.

Another legendary animal they depict in similar fashion is the centaur. The centaurs, like merpeople and giants, are not exactly beasts, of course. However, they prefer to be considered as such, and are rather less anthropomorphic than merpeople and giants, both of which also have connections between Lewis and Rowling. Since the centaurs are somewhat more beast-like, they are included in this study, though merpeople and giants are not.

Rowling tackles the beast/being question handily in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Although centaurs figure prominently in Greek mythology, Rowling characterizes them in much the same way as Lewis does. In fact, Rowling has inherited Lewis’s habit of pulling together influences from diverse mythological backgrounds. Though many of Lewis’s colleagues, including J.R.R. Tolkien, found his meddling with these traditions irksome, thanks to Lewis, elements of classical mythology are now woven inextricably with British and Germanic elements in the fantasy genre.

In Narnia, the centaurs are “solemn majestic people, full of ancient wisdom which they learn from the stars, not easily made either merry or angry; but their anger is terrible as a tidal wave when it comes” (Lewis, The Silver Chair 206). These centaurs are frequently seen in their role of sage advisors, seeking knowledge from the stars. In both Prince Caspian and The Last Battle, centaurs speak of the future as they have seen it in the heavens. Glenstorm the centaur, having viewed the conjunctions of great stars in the night sky, knows that Caspian must wage war against the usurper Miraz: “I watch the skies…for it is mine to watch….Tarva and Alambil have met in the halls of high heaven, and on earth a Son of Adam has once more arisen…The hour has struck. Our council at the Dancing Lawn must be a council of war” (Lewis, Prince Caspian 74). Several hundred years later, his counterpart, Roonwit, tells King Tirian:

Never in all my days have I seen such terrible things written in the skies as there have been nightly since this year began. The stars say nothing of the coming of Aslan, nor of peace, nor of joy. I know by my art that there have not been such disastrous conjunctions of the planets for five hundred years….the stars never lie, but Men and Beasts do ( Lewis, The Last Battle 15).

Roonwit’s dire predictions come true, as Tirian, the last king of Narnia, leads his country in its final battle. Rowling’s centaurs are of a very similar temperament. They are also stargazers, carrying on a nearly incomprehensible conversation about the brightness of Mars when Hagrid asks them about suspicious activity in the forest: “Never…try an’ get a straight answer out of a centaur. Ruddy stargazers. Not interested in anythin’ closer’n the moon” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 254).

However, Firenze, at least, understands that what is written in the heavens can be read more than one way: “The planets have been read wrongly before now, even by centaurs. I hope this is one of those times” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 259). Emotionally, Rowling’s centaurs also resemble Lewis’s. While Bane is fiercer and wilder than Ronan or Firenze, they are all generally solemn, and terrible when truly angered as they are against the loathsome Professor Umbridge or when they join forces against the Death Eaters in the climactic Battle of Hogwarts.

Narnian centaurs are somewhat aloof, but still involved with humans and their affairs, while the centaurs in the wizarding world even refuse classification as “beings,” preferring to officially remain beasts. They have little contact with the ministry of Magic: “Although a Centaur Liaison Office exists in the Beast division of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, no centaur has ever used it”(Scamander xiii). When Firenze casts his lot with humans in The Order of the Phoenix, he is ostracized from the herd, who see him as a traitor “peddling our knowledge and secrets among humans” (698) while they view themselves as “a race apart and proud to be so….an ancient people who will not stand wizard invasions and insults” (756-7).

Both authors also emphasize the fact that it is most unusual for centaurs to be ridden by humans. In The Silver Chair, the Faun Orruns stresses what a great honor Jill and Eustace are being given by the centaurs who have offered to carry them to Cair Paravel: “you realise it is a most special and unheard of honor to be allowed to ride a Centaur. I don’t know that I ever heard of anyone doing it before” ( 204). Firenze is chided by Bane for giving Harry a ride in order to escape Voldemort: “you have a human on your back! Have you no shame? Are you a common mule?” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 257)

Firenze, however, understands how crucial it is to protect Harry, and does not let his pride keep him from assisting. Like the centaurs who transport Jill and Eustace, telling them “about the properties of herbs and roots, the influences of the planets, the nine names of Aslan with their meanings, and things of that sort” (207), Firenze is a grave and polite teacher, instructing Harry on the dreadful use to which unicorn’s blood can be put, and later joining the Hogwarts faculty as teacher of Divination; his lecture echoes the words of the Narnian centaurs: “We watch the skies for the great tides of evil or change that are sometimes marked there” (Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 603). Clearly, there is a strong similarity between Rowling’s centaurs, and those of her predecessor, Lewis.

Much More than Flying Lizards

One of the most dramatic magical creatures in all of fantasy literature is the dragon. In Fantastic Beasts, the dragon is one of only a handful of creatures given the impressive XXXXX ranking as a known wizard killer that resists all efforts at domestication. Both Lewis and Rowling employ dragons, often in similar fashion. Though there are a number of dragon or dragon-like creatures in the Chronicles (one of the statues in the White Witch’s collection; the sea-serpent encountered by the crew of The Dawn Treader; the monsters that take over the world at the end of The Last Battle), the most interesting dragon employed by Lewis is not technically a real dragon at all. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the obnoxious Eustace, attempting to skive off work detail, wanders to the interior of a strange island and beholds a bizarre sight:

The thing that came out of the cave was something he had never even imagined–a long lead-colored snout, dull red eyes, no feathers or fur, a long lithe body that trailed on the ground, legs whose elbows went up higher than its back like a spider’s, cruel claws, bat’s wings that made a rasping noise on the stones, yards of tail. (69)

Eustace, who has read none of the “right” books and has no idea how dragons behave, is still surprised when the dragon dies. After Eustace falls asleep on the dragon’s horde, he wakes up to discover he has become a dragon himself. Though it is some time before he becomes fully cognizant of the awful truth, Eustace soon realizes that he is trapped in the monstrous body of the dragon, and it is only the redemptive intervention of Aslan that saves him.

Rowling’s dragons are clearly dragons rather than pernicious British schoolboys in disguise, but there are a still a number of similarities between the two authors’ giant reptiles. Like the Antipodean Opaleye described in Fantastic Beasts, the dragon Eustace emulates “dwells in valleys rather than mountains” (11). In fact, the valley is so remote that it is only because Eustace, in dragon form, can fly that he can even get out of it. The Ukranian Ironbelly has red eyes, similar to the dragon Eustace sees and the one he becomes, while the Herbridean Black has similar spine ridges and “batlike wings” ( Scamander 12).

Interestingly, this species, dwelling in the Hebrides, is an islander, as is the dragon Eustace finds. The independent nature of dragons is also emphasized by both authors. Once Eustace has been transformed, he eats nearly all of the dead dragon’s carcass before he realizes what he is doing: “There is nothing a dragon likes so well as fresh dragon. That is why you seldom find more than one dragon in the same country” (Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 76).

Rowling emphasizes in Fantastic Beasts that the Chinese Fireball is very unusual in that it will tolerate several of its own kind. The dragons that Harry and his fellow champions must fight also have a similar temperament to Narnian dragons. They are all treasure-guarders, although the treasure guarded by the dragons in the Triwizard Tournament has been disguised to look like their eggs, thus making their violent defense more understandable. The dragon that is imprisoned in the bowels of Gringotts has had its treasure-guarding instinct co-opted by the Goblins. Even blind, it is a seriously dangerous creature that only assists Ron, Hermione, and Harry in their escape because he doesn’t know they are riding on his back.

In addition, both authors’ dragons behave in much the same way. One of the ways Eustace’s shipmates know that there is something funny about the dragon he has become is its behavior, since he does not breathe fire or behave aggressively, like Hagrid’s pet Norbert, who is vicious from birth, or the dragons Charlie Weasley works with, who have left him with burn scars despite his expertise. Also like dragons in the wizarding world, Eustace the dragon lives on sheep and wild pigs that he dispatches humanely with his massive tail (83).

Although the dragon is sometimes seen as a stock fantasy creature, it is important to note the similarities between Lewis’s dragons and Rowling’s since not all authors depict dragons in the same way. The infamous Smaug, of The Hobbit, for example, can speak like a human, while Rowling’s have no such capability, and even Eustace, who really is human, cannot speak or communicate effectively in his terrible form.

Narnian Influence on the Hogwarts Menagerie?

Clearly, Rowling uses a number of elements similar to Lewis’s in her depiction of animals, which leads one to ask why this is the case. Certainly, many of the similar traits come from their voracious reading habits and the fact that both authors are working within the confines of a fantasy world. However, the similarities are also evidence of Lewis’s subtle influence on Rowling’s work. Just as Jack Lewis was himself influenced by everything he read, from The Faerie Queene to Norse myths, so too has J. K. Rowling woven together elements from her own journeys to other literary worlds to create a world that rings with reminders of other authors.

In no way does this pattern of influence diminish her work. Rather, it speaks of the amazing way in which her world can be unique and yet familiar, original and yet hinting of a place we’ve been before. It reminds us that great authors are not independent and self-sufficient, laboring in a creative vacuum. Instead, they are part of a community, a network of writers whose stories allow elements of previous tales to live on in new forms, and one hopes, allow readers to see and appreciate their interconnectedness.

Works Cited

Fraser, Lindsey. Conversations with J.K. Rowling. New York: Scholastic, 2000.
Ford, Paul F. Companion to Narnia. New York: MacMillian Publishing Company, 1986.
Hooper, Walter, and Roger Lancelyn Green. C. S. Lewis: a Biography. New York, Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1974.
Lewis, C. S. The Horse and His Boy. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1988.
—.The Last Battle. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1988.
—. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1988.
—. The Magician’s Nephew. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1988.
—. Prince Caspian . New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1988.
—.The Silver Chair. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1988.
—.The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1988.
Manlove, Colin. Christian Fantasy: From 1200 to the Present. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992.
“Other Stuff” J. K. Rowling. 22 Sept. 2005.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic, 1999.
___. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York: Scholastic, 2007.
—. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic, 2000.
—. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York: Scholastic, 2005.
—. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic, 2003.
—. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic, 1999.
—. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1999.
Scamander, Newt. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. New York: Arthur A Levine Books, 2001.


  1. revgeorge says

    “…it speaks of the amazing way in which her world can be unique and yet familiar, original and yet hinting of a place we’ve been before. It reminds us that great authors are not independent and self-sufficient, laboring in a creative vacuum. Instead, they are part of a community, a network of writers whose stories allow elements of previous tales to live on in new forms, and one hopes, allow readers to see and appreciate their interconnectedness.”

    The concluding paragraph sums up very well the thoroughness of this article and the point it is trying to make. The ability of authors to tap into something that makes their works “unique & familiar, original & yet hinting of a place we’ve been before” is perhaps one of the most underrated characteristics of good authors & yet one of the greatest.

    And the great joy of all this is that an author can do this either consciously or unconsciously. One can’t really tell how much connection to Lewis or other authors like Nesbit or Goudge Rowling has drawn upon for her work. Some may completely intentional on her part; some may be completely unintentional but shows up because she has been steeped in those previous works & in their imagery & themes.

    But it’s a wondrous and comforting thing to pick up a story written thusly & feel like you’re at home in that story.

    Thanks very much for this great article, Prof. Hardy.

  2. Lily Luna says

    Very interesting article. Thanks. 🙂

  3. What a wonderful article. I particularly enjoyed the way Prof. Hardy draws attention to that early exchange between the Pevensies in LWW, and how most of the “Hogwarts House” animals are present in that listing (with the notable exception of the lion who so permeates the whole of the Chronicles)! I’ve been spending a good bit of time with LWW and PC lately so especially enjoyed her look at the “Hufflepuffian” qualities of Trufflehunter the badger. The sound of the names is even similar!

    Although I think the connections are wonderfully drawn out, it would be interesting to see further unpacking of Prof. Hardy’s statement “Clearly, with the four animals used to represent the four Hogwarts houses, there is a strong link between the four creators of Hogwarts and the four children who come to rule Narnia.” I don’t think she’s trying here to draw a complete and tidy parallel between the four children and the four houses, and I think that would be difficult to do (except in a broad sense of examining character attributes and house attributes). But within this article there are connections drawn between Lucy/Hufflepuff, Peter/Ravenclaw, and Edmund (at least early Edmund)/Slytherin. The correspondences break down a bit when we try to find a place for Susan (who notably doesn’t take part in the brief “I wonder what animals we might see here” exchange) or when we try to think which Pevensie child might be most connected to Lion/Gryffindor. Certainly within the Chronicles the child most deeply connected to Aslan would be Lucy.

    I started making comparisons between magical creatures/beasts in Narnia and HP just a couple of weeks ago, so this article feels like a real gem as I continue to delve into the texts. Phoenixes, merpeople and giants also provide interesting correspondences (phoenixes don’t play a large role in the Narnia stories at all, but do turn up in the Last Battle behind the thrones of the first human rulers, Frank and Helen).

    Thank you again for a great article, Prof. Hardy (I’m interested to find/ready your book!) and for posting it, John!

  4. revgeorge says

    Beth, actually Susan does take place in the animals conversation. Her choice is ‘rabbits.’ I’ve got some thoughts on that but must deal with them later because of all the severe weather around me right now.

  5. revgeorge says

    Takes part, I mean.

  6. RenaBlack says

    This looks wonderful! I’ve printed it out to take with me to the beach tomorrow. :]

  7. revgeorge says

    Beth, our weather has calmed down. We had a fair few tornadoes & funnel clouds yesterday plus lots of rain & flooding & hail deep enough in places that they had to get the snow plows to clear the roads.

    I was quite sure that Susan refers to rabbits & Edmund references foxes. Which version are we talking about here? There are some differences between the UK & USA versions of the books. Like Maugrim instead of Fenris Ulf. I believe I was reading the UK version; I bought it off of the Sony ebook store. It had Maugrim. When I was growing up & only had the USA versions it was always Fenris Ulf. So maybe they’ve changed the dialogue about animals at the beginning too? I’ll have to check when I get home; I should have an American version around, too.

  8. revgeorge, I stand corrected. 🙂 She does take part in the conversation, but not in the snippet quoted in Prof. Hardy’s article (perhaps because the point she was making pertained to the animals symbolically associated with Hogwarts).

    Susan actually refers to foxes, not rabbits — does that change your thoughts at all?

    Hope your weather has calmed down. My brother has been weathering (literally!) tornadoes this week.

  9. revgeorge says

    Elizabeth, my thoughts on Susan were going to focus on the rabbit comment & her later behavior. She is continually the most timid of the four Pevensies & is always suggesting they turn away from adventures. She does it at the beginning of LWW as the child Susan & she does it at the end of LWW as the adult Queen Susan, too.

  10. Elizabeth says

    Thank you all for the generous and thoughtful comments! I’m glad so many folks enjoyed the post and that it has sparked some great discussion.
    I would have loved to go on about merpeople and giants, but there came a point at which I just had to yell STOP! Since they are more “peopley” than “animaly,” I thought that was a good place to draw the line. The phoenix also makes a brief appearance in The Magician’s Nephew in the walled garden. I also love Lewis’s poem “The Phoenix,” but there’s not much connection between it and Fawkes.

    Good points about editions! As per the works cited at the end of this tome, I am using the 1987 Scholastic paperbacks, which I love because they were the last American set in the original(and to my mind, proper) order, but without those creepy 1970s covers. Susan says “Foxes!” in this version. We could probably ponder interesting points about the change to “Rabbits,” animals far more in keeping with her later behavior than the clever fox. I often wonder what other changes Lewis might have made if he had been able to do the compete revision he had planned.
    Thanks again for the support and feedback!

  11. Elizabeth says

    “She hated killing things,” our narrator tells us. Definitely more rabbit than fox, but if we are connecting with HP, the obliviously courageous Luna Lovegood has a rabbit Patronous. That is, I believe, more a march hare to highlight her battiness. I wonder which edition Rowling had? One would assume the British, but who knows? I read Philosopher’s Stone first in the British ed., and I still prefer it. Susan is an interesting character, as Lewis always seemed surprised that readers found his treatment of her harsh.

  12. revgeorge says

    Susan is an interesting character, & I think the fault Lewis was trying to get at with her was lack of faith or trust & especially lack of belief. What happens when one who has known the truth & has received such great blessings essentially turns their back on it & denies it.

    Susan’s real sin, which unfortunately gets obscured by those who get all riled up about lipstick & panty hose, is that she denies the existence of Narnia, calling it all pretending & games.

    Of course, would this be as big a question if it was Edmund or Peter who got left out of Narnia because they became obsessed with cars or soccer or womanizing & denied the existence of Narnia?

    But perhaps I’m going far afield of your post, Elizabeth. 🙂

  13. I was wondering if it might be a difference in editions. If so, that’s a bit fascinating, isn’t it? And yes, I’m using an American printing (first Collier edition, paperback, 1970 — they’re the ones I had as a child and still love most to read…are they the creepy covers you refer to, Elizabeth?).

    Total rabbit trail here (as seems appropriate to the discussion!) but I’ve always been much more influenced by the illustrations by Lorinda Bryan Cauley in Paul Ford’s Companion to Narnia than the original Pauline Baynes illustrations. I think that’s because the Collier paperbacks only use small thumbnails of the Baynes pictures (and they call them pictures “adapted from” the original illustratons). It’s only been in recent years that I’ve begun to get copies with the original illustrations.

    I love the “March Hare” connection with Luna’s patronus. Fun thought!

    Susan’s character is fascinating, both in herself, and in the amount of ink that’s been spilled in conversation about her. It’s been interesting to see how the recent feature films have not quite known what to do with her (though they don’t know what to do with Aslan either, which is of even more import!).

  14. Perelandra says

    Although the weasel has bad modern connotations, in the beastiaries it stands for fertility, diligent care of the young, destruction of vice, and cleansing from sin. The weasel is a fierce enemy of snakes, basilisks, and cockatrices, bravely conquering foes much larger than itself.

    Perhaps Rowling was playing the traditional and current meanings off each other in naming the Weasleys.

  15. Lily Luna says

    I always thought of Luna’s rabbit as standing for gentleness and hyperfertility (Lovegood), with a bit of the Velveteen Rabbit (who became real through being loved) thrown in.

  16. Lily Luna says

    We recently rewatched TLTWATW on DVD and I thought the sacrifice of Aslan was very well done. I really had a sense of him suffering which, considering it’s a lion, is pretty good movie-making.

  17. Elizabeth says

    Some cultures also see a rabbit, other than a man, in the moon, a good fit for Luna. Maybe she’s also a descendant of Rabbity Babbity!
    I also rather liked the the LWW film, especially Mr. Tumnus, as James MacAvoy makes him particularly complex.

  18. I thought there were some lovely moments in the LWW film, though I still struggled with it a bit. I recently re-watched PC though, and have many more problems with that particular adaptation.

    I too connect gentleness with Luna. My daughter and I watched a very young rabbit in a neighbor’s yard for quite some time today…there’s something very quieting about watching a rabbit lope around foraging for food. And something vulnerable and endearing about the way they freeze at the slightest movement, as though hoping against hope that their very stillness will render them unnoticeable!

  19. Lily Luna says

    Susan hates killing things and she wants to see foxes — perhaps a reference to the anti-fox hunting movement? Perhaps a more modern, and especially foreign, audience wouldn’t make the connection so it was changed to rabbits?

  20. Emily Bronte says


    I very much enjoyed your comparison of the animals of Hogwarts and Narnia. Regarding Merope–not many others have mentioned that. I thought it likely she was also referencing the legend of the Pleades–who became seven stars–Merope is the one that is not easy to see; she hid her face in shame because she married a mortal. The Merope of JKR’s universe was also ashamed because she married a Muggle.

    Thanks for an interesting read!


  21. Elizabeth says

    Great connection, Mari! Isn’t it nifty when a name does double duty? (Like Hermione’s wonderful Mercury connections that John always points out so nicely, and the character from The Winter’s Tale who is the restored statue!)
    When my 113 students have their reading quiz on Oedipus Rex, I often give an extra credit question: What famous literary villian’s mother has the same name as Oedipus’s adopted mother? I hardly ever get any takers! I guess Merope Gaunt Riddle’s name jumped out at me since I spend every semester with poor old Oedipus, another guy who goes through life mangled because of prophecies and the attempts to circumvent them!

  22. Outstanding article it is surely. I’ve been awaiting for this content.

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