Harry Potter And The Chronicles of Narnia from a Religious and Moral Perspective
Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia are arguably among the most entertaining works of fantasy, especially when it comes to magic. The Harry Potter series primarily focuses on Harry’s struggles against Lord Voldemort, an evil wizard with the intention to achieve pure-blood dominance by ridding the wizarding world of Muggle, a world of non-magical beings. On the other side, The Chronicles of Narnia focuses on the adventures of children in Narnia, a fantasy world of magic, talking animals and mythical beasts, ruled by Aslan, a powerful lion full of wisdom who can speak. However, while they are both worlds of magic, Harry Potter appears to exalt magic and mischief, while The Chronicles of Narnia attempts to suggest that magic is bad and abhors mischief. This leads to the suggestion that while the former is often projected is a work of strong morals, a comparison with the latter reveals otherwise, with The Chronicles of Narnia presented as more grounded in Christian values and as such more morally conscious and more suited for children.
To better determine the above, it is critical to have a comprehensive overview of the novels above. To begin with, Harry Potter as mentioned above focuses of the life of Harry Potter as the central character in his struggles against Lord Vermort, the main antagonist, who plans to become immortal, conquer both the wizardry and the Muggle worlds and achieve a pure-blood dominance. The Harry Potter novels begin with Harry as a young boy who lives with his uncle, his aunt, Surrey, and his cousins, the Dursleys in Little Whinging. At the age of eleven, Harry discovers that he is a wizard despite leaving living in the ordinary world of the Muggles, a world of non-magical people. Parallel to the Muggle world is the wizarding world that exists in secrecy where children like Harry are allowed to attend magic schools that teach them the essential skills to be successful in the wizarding world.
Consequently, Harry joins the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry located in Scotland where the story mostly revolves. Here, he learns more about magic and how to overcome other life challenges he encounters including emotional and social challenges. He also gets to overcome the more difficult test of preparing for the increasingly-violent second wizarding war. Each of the Harry Potter novels looks at one year in Harry’s life from 1991 to 1998 and are increasingly characterized by flashbacks mainly experienced by Harry and in which he views the memories of other characters.
On the other side, The Chronicles of Narnia centers on the magical land of Narnia that is filled talking animals and mythical creatures. It focuses on the adventures of children in this world, guided by Aslan the great lion who is the King of Narnia and considered increasingly wise such that he is increasingly adored. Being the King, he watches over Narnia and together with the children overcome many challenges including fighting the White Witch, an increasingly prominent antagonist in the different series of the novel. The Chronicles of Narnia comes as a series of seven books. However, unlike Harry Potter, almost each of the book focuses on the lives of different children. Regardless, like Harry Potter, magic is also a significant theme in this novel.
Looking at the two works above, it is clear that magic plays a vital role in how the events in both unfold. However, they also appear to contrast each other in terms of their objective with the Harry Potter series appearing as if intended mainly to entertain, while The Chronicles of Narnia is characterized by Biblical allegories aimed at warning about the use of magic, particularly when employed wrongly. Due to this, it also comes out as with more strong moral values compared to its Harry Potter. To an extent, The Chronicles of Narnia appears to have similarities with items in the Bible that appear intentionally made in the bid to project it as not merely centered in fantasy but also to teach about Christian values. One realizes that it increasingly attempts to reveal a connection between Religion and magic while the Harry Potter series does not. In essence, The Chronicles of Narnia is aimed at achieving an increasingly moral angle based on Christian values while the Harry Potter series is merely a work of fantasy that is not grounded on the conventional Christian values.
To better determine the above, it is increasingly vital to determine the relationship between religion and magic. In this regard, religion and magic are two elements that have always been related, albeit implicitly, with magic considered a significant aspect of the former. In certain cultures across the world, magic was and remains considered as a means of influencing either the natural or supernatural (Young & Killick, 2017). While this is so, magic and wizardry are usually largely condemned in Christianity as a religion, with some Christians perceiving it as satanic and others as just superstition and full of mischief. However, it is worth noting that while a significant percentage of Christians loath magic and wizardry, some sections of esoteric Christianity tend to participate in magical practices. Still, the overall perception of magic among Christians is that it is mostly evil and only considered good when associated with God (Young & Killick, 2017). Considering this relationship, it is increasingly clear that the Harry Potter series represents the world of magic in which wizardry is increasingly adored regardless of what it is used for. It also presents a world that condones mischief thus undermining its ability to focus on morality. On the other side, The Chronicles of Narnia represents the world that is mostly adored Christians, hence inclined towards strong moral values compared to Harry Potter. This can be seen in how magic, violence and morality between the two works of fantasy are portrayed.
As earlier noted, magic plays an increasingly significant role in both books. To a significant degree, it is the element that ensures the continuity of the books. Harry Potter, for instance, cannot exist without magic as it is primarily what it is based on. On the other side, magic also takes precedence over many other factors in The Chronicles of Narnia albeit not at the level witnessed in Harry Potter. However, it is how magic is perceived in the two books that first set them apart from each other. In the Harry Potter series, magic is increasingly exalted to the effect that knowing how to practice it or becoming a powerful wizard is adored. This is seen in how beings without magical powers are portrayed as inferior to those with magical powers, a fact that is evidenced by the existence of the two worlds of the Muggles and the wizards respectively. Here, magic is presented as a skill and a technology with nothing more associated with it other than the desire to achieve some form of protection and superiority (Ostling, 2003). Even more, it is portrayed as a skill that besides protection and superiority, can also be employed to commit mischief with Harry seen using magic to engage in certain misconducts such as stealing. This is despite its ability in relation to how it is used in the books being able to cause trauma among children and children who are traumatized “often feel helpless and unimportant” (Brownlee, 2013). This significantly emphasizes the difference between the two works.
In being projected as a skill, Harry Potter positions it as something that can be learned by children, an act that is considered wrong in the conventional Christian settings, especially considering the way magic is used in the book. In contrast, magic is used in a preserved manner in The Chronicles of Narnia. When used for good, it is associated with Aslan who in the Christian context portrays the image of Jesus who guide the children on a journey in the world of Narnia to better their souls. Unlike in Harry Porter, magic in this book is restricted and mainly associated Aslan and the White Witch, with children rarely practicing it. Here magic is left for the mystical beings with humans, to an extent, prohibited from practicing it. Using it attracts negative consequences as seen in how Lucy almost ruins one of her friendship when she attempts to use magic in the “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”. Evidently, The Chronicles of Narnia in this aspect takes an in
Another difference that can be noted between the two books is the manner in which morality is positioned. Often, the Harry Porter novel is presented as a work of strong morals the projects kids as heroes and characteristics such as hard work and commitment. However, a deeper evaluation of the books suggests that this is only so to a certain degree as the book is increasingly filled with mischief. Harry, for example, continuously lies to his friends, teachers, the headmaster and even Dumbledore, a characteristic that is considered harmful to children. Additionally, together with his friends they also engage in stealing as seen witnessed when they steal Professor Snape’s potions ingredients. In doing this, the Harry Potter books trigger a sense of “moral panic” where the main character continuously breaks the law (Soulliere, 2010). Even more, when he breaks his first rule at the academy by flying in the broomstick despite warnings that one should not do so in the absence of a teacher, he is rewarded as if to validate mischievous acts. Other characters also contribute to this anarchy with Professor Lupin also seen neglecting to alert the headmaster that a convicted murderer has set foot in the school as if to suggest that it is right to lie or hide crucial information when the consequences are not favorable.
On the other side, while children in Narnia also involve themselves in mischief, they are reprimanded and have to face the consequences. For instance, in the beginning, Digory, one of the kid characters, commits an increasingly foolish mistake bust is punished for it. He awakens the White Witch, brings her into Narnia, consequently destroying it. However, unlike in Harry Potter in which Harry and his friends mostly escape the consequences of their mistakes, Digory is punished for his. He is forced to face Alsan and explain himself and is also instructed to complete a task to cover for the damage he has done. On the other side, Edmund’s siding with the White Witch against his family also almost gets him killed and instead Aslan has to die in his place. In the same respect, children are instead taught honesty and faith with the book emphasizing that “one must train the habit of faith” (Ivanova, 2012). Generally, children in The Chronicles of Narnia make mistakes but are consistently punished for it, something that is not common in Harry Potter.
From the revelations above, it is increasingly evident that The Chronicles of Narnia is more suited for children compared to Harry Potter. This is seen in how the former attempts to portray increasingly strong Christian values as the latter remains largely a fantasy world with no clear rules or moral restrictions. For instance, while The Chronicles of Narnia children get punished for their mistakes, Harry Potter thrives on mischief and characters are left to break the rules, most often, without being punished. Additionally, magic is restricted in the former because of its dangers while the latter increasingly adopt magic in almost every aspect of their lives. The fact that magic is a means for achieving mischief even the more suggests that Harry Potter compared to the Chronicles of Narnia is less suited for children.
- Brownlee, E. M. (2013). Fighting for Hope: The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter Series as Transformative Works for Child Readers Traumatized by War.
- Ivanova, E. V. (2012). Religious Fantasy as Element of Contemporary Religious Mythology.
- Journal of the Siberian Federal University. Series: Humanities, 5(1), 56-62.
- Ostling, M. (2003). Harry Potter and the Disenchantment of the World. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 18(1), 3-23.
- Soulliere, D. M. (2010). Much ado about Harry: Harry Potter and the creation of a moral panic. The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, 22(1), 6-6.
- Young, S., & Killick, H. (2017). Religion and the Decline of Magic. Macat Library.
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