Very recently, I discovered the Harry Potter fan PodCast, Hogwarts Radio, and I have been going back through all of their older episodes, to get caught up. This past week, I listened to their Halloween 2010 episode, in which they had a very interesting conversation topic for their main discussion (not that they don’t have interesting conversation topics for all of their episodes, but this one in particular caught my attention).
For this discussion, they took three works of classic horror literature – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde – and compared them to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
I was particularly intrigued by their discussion on Frankenstein, in which they compared Victor Frankenstein’s monster to Lord Voldemort and, to a slightly lesser extent, Victor Frankenstein to Harry Potter.
As intriguing as their discussion was, I think they rather missed out on a key point that would have enabled them to broaden their comparison even further. Throughout their discussion, they stuck to the analysis of Victor being the protagonist, and the Creature being the antagonist. While this is certainly not an inaccurate analysis of the characters, part of what makes Frankenstein such a wonderful work of literature is that there are many, many layers to the story and its characters.
On the surface, it is very easy to label Victor as “The Hero” and the Creature as “The Villain.” However, when you really delve into analyzing the book, and Mary Shelley’s overall message of the story, it is actually almost more accurate to label the Creature as the protagonist, and Victor as the antagonist.
Everything that happens in the story is because of Victor and his actions – or lack thereof. Victor brought the Creature into the world, and Victor abandoned the Creature when he saw how hideous it was after he had brought it to life. The Creature was initially benevolent in nature, but when left to face the world and the cruelty of human nature alone, his benevolence became warped and twisted by fear and hate. We are left to wonder what might have happened had Victor not abandoned his creation, but proceeded to care for it and educate it himself, and perhaps even introduce it to the world at large, not as a monster, but as an experiment (not unlike Mel Brooks’ envisioning of the story in his timeless parody, Young Frankenstein).
But, unfortunately, Victor did abandon his creation, and therefore the Creature was forced to fend for himself in a world of humans who fear and hate anything that which is different and that they do not understand.
And yet, up until his dying moments, Victor refused to acknowledge the possibility that the Creature was not evil in nature, but became evil due to this abandonment.
So, how does this tie in to Harry Potter? Not very much, even I admit. However, there are very intriguing comparisons to be made, nonetheless. The Hogwarts Radio team made some very interesting observations in their comparisons of Victor to Harry and the Creature to Voldemort, however I find the comparisons between Victor and Voldemort and the Creature and Harry much more intriguing.
For example, Victor created the Creature out of his obsession with conquering death. Voldemort, as we all know, was also obsessed with conquering death, so much so that he went so far as splitting his soul into seven pieces for the purpose of anchoring himself to the mortal realm. It was this blind obsession with defeating death that led Voldemort to Godric’s Hollow on Halloween, where – in a sense – he created Harry Potter by killing Harry’s parents and inadvertently placing a fraction of his soul inside of Harry. In the end, it was Voldemort’s quest for immortality that led to the “creation” of the one who ultimately brought him to his downfall, just as it was Victor’s quest for immortality that led to the creation of the one who ultimately brought him to his downfall.
As I said earlier, up until his last breath, Victor refused to acknowledge the possibility that he might have been wrong about the Creature, and yet the Creature grieved over the death of his creator and the lives he had cost. Despite all the pain Victor had caused the Creature, the Creature was still able to find it in himself to pity and forgive Victor. Likewise, Voldemort also never was able to admit that he might have been wrong about Harry, yet Harry was able to find it in himself to pity and forgive Voldemort.
That’s about as far as I’ve been able to take it. I’m sure that there are even further comparisons that could be made between the two works of literature, if one were to really dissect the two, but those are the obvious ones to be found.
So, even though it may seem on the surface that these two stories – written almost two hundred years apart – may not have all that much in common, we can still see that there are parallels to be drawn, as the Hogwarts Radio crew started to show and that, hopefully, I have elaborated on.