Death Eaters of Mordor
by Adam D. Bram
“I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien
I know I’m going to get letters for this one. “How can you like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings at the same time?” Well, it’s easy. I can honestly say I like them both equally for many reasons both different and similar. I don’t like one more than the other. It all depends on what mood I’m in. For example, The Lord of the Rings holds a special place because my favorite character of fiction resides in that universe. But being an 18-year-old in my last year of US high school, I relate in many ways to the Harry Potter books. Both universes are great literature (though Tolkien admittedly had a habit of meandering narrative) and the film versions do them justice. I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter books incessantly lately, but I also just watched the Extended DVD Edition of Return of the King (the third and final Rings book/film). And I thought I’d share with you some interesting parallels I noticed.
Now, bear in mind that this is purely in my head, but since people like to draw parallels between Harry Potter characters and other things, why not LotR? After all, Mugglenet has a whole page of similarities. But, since I like the darker aspect sometimes, I thought I’d explore the villains only. Feel free to agree or disagree.
Tom Marvolo Riddle/Lord Voldemort – One Ring to Rule Them All
Now, the changing of name and physical attributes reminds one of Gollum, but to draw a parallel between Voldemort and Sauron is easier, stronger, and generally a no-brainer. Obviously, we’re dealing with two dark lords here. Forces so evil that people rarely dare to speak their names. And they’re both powerful sorcerers.
The thing that really connects them is that there was a period of time that they were both in incorporeal states, slowly building their power back while the rest of the world thought they were defeated. The main difference here is that though we’ve seen the resurrection of Voldemort into a mortal body, Sauron remained nothing but an all-seeing fiery eyeball until the ring was destroyed, destroying him in turn.
This brings another similarity and difference in itself. The One Ring and the Sorcerer’s (or Philosopher’s, if you like) Stone. Both parties needed their respective trinket to become whole again. The difference is that once the Stone was destroyed, Voldemort found another way to come back, while when the Ring was destroyed, Sauron was finally vanquished.
At first glance, bodiless Voldemort seems to get around more than bodiless Sauron. But Sauron’s eye is all seeing (though it can only focus on one thing at a time), so he really doesn’t need to move too much. And so Middle-Earth and the Wizarding World have their devil figure. Their source of all evil. But every evil overlord needs minions.
Lucius Malfoy – The Many Colored
Lucius Malfoy is essentially a puppet of Voldemort. He keeps in good with the ministry so he can find information for and of Voldemort. He has a lot of clout until he is revealed for what he really is and carries a lot of power.
It’s harder sometimes to find a parallel for the wizard characters in LotR because 90% of the characters in Harry Potter are wizards themselves. But Lucius Malfoy makes a rather clear picture of Saruman. Lucius is the Death Eater that gains the most respect from people outside. Saruman’s reputation was for being the wisest of the order. Lucius was, of a time, one of the more influential school governors. Saruman was head of the White Council.
The problem is that they’re both greedy and ambitious. I have no doubt that Lucius would love to be Voldemort’s right-hand man and gain the power for himself. He may not have done anything drastic in this area yet, but we know his character. Likewise, Saruman desires the power from the ring. He joins Sauron for that sole purpose, hoping he’ll be the dark lord in the end. But his greed became his undoing. As he ruined Isengard and the surrounding Fangorn Forest more and more, nature struck back with the force of the Ents. Similarly, Lucius was captured inside the Ministry he worked so hard to get on his side. They both got too arrogant for their own good and failed to watch their backs.
Saruman was killed by a servant he kicked around once too often. Dobby has already done damage to Lucius, and we have to wonder if maybe he won’t do a bit more?
Peter Pettigrew – Ill News is an Ill Guest
I tried to avoid this because it’s too obvious (both have “Worm” in a name). But thinking about it, it does make a lot of sense to group Peter “Wormtail” Pettigrew and Grima Wormtongue together.
Again, like Voldemort, Pettigrew’s downfall draws echoes of Gollum in many ways, but the true parallel has to be drawn elsewhere. In this case, it’s Saruman’s spy for Rohan, Grima Wormtongue. Grima looked after King Théoden under the pretense of Advisor. However, in a rather Rasputin-like turn, Grima was actually keeping Théoden weak and unaware of Saruman’s antics. Similarly, Peter was friends with James, Sirius, and Remus. Under pretense of that friendship, Peter was actually in Voldemort’s hand. When Sirius switched Secret-Keeper jobs with Peter, Peter handed the Potters to Voldemort.
They both bring about their master’s defeat, though one intentionally, and the other unintentionally. Peter, in handing Voldemort the Potters, inadvertently lead to Voldemort’s destruction, after which he had to frame a murderous Sirius Black and live twelve years as a rat before returning to his master and trying to make up for what he did. Grima, however, killed Saruman of his own accord. After being offered kindness by Frodo (Théoden in the movie), Grima appeared to be ready to change sides. Saruman, however, not learning, kicked him around some more and said he’d always be a worm, which prompted Grima to promptly slit Saruman’s throat. Grima was killed second after by an arrow in a heart, courtesy of some itchy trigger-fingers. What fate awaits Peter? We already know he’s indebted to Harry for his life. One can only hope he pays it back.
Bellatrix Lestrange – The Greatest of the Nine
As I sat down to write this article, I promised myself I would not make any Dementor/Ringwraith connections. So who is the Ringwraith? Why, Bellatrix, of course. In fact, she’s not just a Ringwraith; she’s the Witch-King of Angmar.
Bellatrix is definitely the most unhinged of Voldemort’s crew, making her one of the most dangerous. She’s also the closest to being Voldemort’s second than a lot of other characters. The Witch-King is the leader of the Nazgul, being a powerful sorcerer before receiving Sauron’s ring. Bellatrix drove Frank and Alice Longbottom insane and killed Sirius Black. The Witch-King stabbed Frodo on Weathertop and broke Gandalf’s staff (he would have killed him if he hadn’t been called to battle elsewhere at the last minute).
They are definitely the prize warriors of their respective dark lords, but they can be beaten. It has been said the Witch King cannot be killed by any man. He was finally slain by a woman (with the help of a Hobbit). This is why I think that if anyone can best Bellatrix in the end, it would be Neville Longbottom. I’m rooting for him.
Draco Malfoy – The Dark Lieutenant
Once of the scenes I was looking forward to seeing restored in the extended cut of “The Return of the King” was a scene outside the Black Gate of Mordor. A creature calling himself The Mouth of Sauron appears and taunts the heroes with Frodo’s confiscated mythril undershirt. It was a very well-done scene. The character was done in a way that reminded me of the Ridley Scott film “Alien” and its sequels.
I was originally going to write off Draco Malfoy as nothing more that a “hero orc” (translation: An orc or Uruk-Hai with a name). However, after watching the extended cut of RotK, I find Draco has quite a bit in common with The Mouth of Sauron. Even though The Mouth only appears once in the series, and Draco is a major character, their similar method of “taunt and leave” made me pair them up. For Draco’s favorite pastime is making fun of our heroes, threatening them, and otherwise acting as if he’s better than they are. The Mouth of Sauron’s only purpose in the story is to make our heroes doubt whether Frodo is alive or not, essentially having them give up hope.
The Mouth’s fate is uncertain. In the book, he is told off by our heroes and he retreats through the Black Gate to join the army massed behind it. In the film, he has his freakishly-grinning head lobbed off by Aragorn, who then tells the group not to believe a word of it. What fate awaits Draco?
Severus Snape – We Hates It Forever
Sméagol of the Stoor strain, otherwise known as Gollum, has to be my favorite character of literary fiction. So, as you can imagine, I thought long and hard on who he could be paralleled with, which is hard because everybody’s got a little Gollum in them. It was drawn to three. Voldemort has a Gollum touch because of the startling physical change and the adoption of a different name. Pettigrew has a Gollum touch with his backstabbing, sniveling nature. But I think the character from Harry Potter who has the most Gollum in him (besides, of course, Kreacher) is none other than Severus Snape.
Once upon a time there was a Hobbit named Sméagol. He came from an affluent family along a river. He was a strange hobbit, though. He was always looking downward; interested in roots and beginnings. Then, on his birthday, he and his cousin Déagol were fishing when Déagol found a pretty ring. After asking for it nicely and being denied, Sméagol strangled Déagol and buried his body. After he found the ring made him invisible, he took to sneaking around, thieving, and muttering to himself. He became very unpopular very quickly and was banished from his home. He went to live in the Misty Mountains where over 500 years he became the creature Gollum.
Once upon a time there was a child named Severus. He (most likely) came from an affluent wizarding family that was abusive and bigoted. He was a strange child, though. He was always highly interested in the Dark Arts. One can safely assume that his horrible home life hardened him into a fairly nasty individual himself, when he started to attend school at Hogwarts.
Here, we have persecuted Snape and persecuted Gollum in their respective homes when someone intrudes. James Potter found Snape an easy target and proceeded, with the help of his friends, to bully Snape incessantly. It culminated with a prank by Sirius, whereupon Snape’s life was threatened. James grew up a bit and saved Snape, though Snape wouldn’t know his noble intention. Bilbo Baggins intrudes on Gollum’s lair and through not having any idea what else to do enters into a riddle game with Gollum, where the stakes are Gollum guide or Bilbo sandwich. Bilbo wins by an unconscious cheat; not thinking what else to ask, he wonders aloud what he has in his pocket and Gollum mistakes, complains, and accepts. Of course, what Bilbo had in his pocket was Gollum’s ring, his precious. Gollum, filled with rage, would never know how an invisible Bilbo spared his life out of pity.
After many years, both parties come in contact with a descendant of the one who wronged them. Snape encounters James’ son Harry. Gollum encounters Bilbo’s cousin/nephew Frodo. On the surface, the respective reactions of Snape and Gollum to Harry and Frodo seem totally different, but there’s more than meets the eye here. If you recall, both parties hate the individual, but are bound to protect them, at least temporarily. Snape has his life-debt, and Gollum has his promise (made after being overpowered). Both Snape and Gollum turn on their debtors, but Snape chooses to do a lot of little things while Gollum tries to have them killed.
Furthermore, they were both in the employ of their respected Dark Lord for a time, and both hated every minute of it and realize how evil they are. Snape continues to be a double agent for the Order, and Gollum, though he’ll gladly kill the hobbits, will do what he can to make sure the precious doesn’t fall into Sauron’s hands.
To sum up, when it comes to Snape and Gollum, we’re never exactly sure whose side they’re really on until the end. The truth of the matter is that they’re really on their own sides.
Cornelius Fudge and Dolores Umbridge – Eyes of the White Tower
It was hard to draw a good parallel with the evil Umbridge because she’s a villain of the system. The only way I could get a villain of the system in here was by lumping Umbridge with Fudge, and once Fudge joined in the fun, it was easy to pick a villain.
Lord Denethor, son of Ecthelion, is the steward of Gondor and the father of Boromir and Faramir. Though he was undoubtedly a great man in his day, he has, through grief and Sauron’s lies through the palantir, become quite unhinged. He chews out Gandalf and makes the mistake of favoritism with his sons. He was never that nice to Faramir, and always held Boromir in higher regard. When Boromir died, Denethor was herd to remark that he wished Boromir and Faramir’s fates were switched. However, he found his love for Faramir when Faramir came back near dead from a battle Denethor sent him to foolishly. However, the only effect this had was making Denethor, thinking Faramir was dead, try to kill himself in Faramir’s funeral pyre. Faramir was saved and Denethor was burned alive of his own making.
Fudge, though a bit daft, used to be a good man. However, he denied Voldemort’s return so much that it crazed him, bringing in the sadistic Umbridge. I see Denethor as mainly a Fudge character in standing and background. However, the lengths he ends up going to and his favoritism with sons and race is distinctly Umbridge. Of course, Umbridge was accosted by centaurs and Fudge got a chronic case of foot-in-mouth. Both were their own faults. If they had been a little nicer, perhaps it wouldn’t have ended this badly for Fudge, Denethor, and Umbridge.
Conclusion – Orcs, Spiders, and Balrogs, Oh My!
I had considered having a section where I talk about Lockhart, Quirrell, Crouch Jr., and others as being “hero orcs”, but it was all too much to get into after all this. Also, Spiders are Spiders and Trolls are Trolls, and no one is enough of a Balrog (besides Umbridge). Kreacher has Gollum written all over him, but he’s too obvious and I like the Snape parallels better.
I hope you liked my little look at the baddies of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. Think about it next time you pick up the works of Rowling and Tolkien. So long, and don’t take any wooden nickels.
Saruman the White…………LUCIUS MALFOY
Grima Wormtongue…………PETER PETTIGREW
The Witch-King of Angmar…………BELLATRIX LeSTRANGE
The Mouth of Sauron…………DRACO MALFOY
Sméagol of the Stoor strain/Gollum…………SEVERUS SNAPE
Denethor, Steward of Gondor…………CORNELIUS FUDGE and DELORES UMBRIDGE