Why Harry Potter is the Fictionalized Version of J.K. Rowling
During my freshman year of college, I took a Harry Potter class at my local university, and each week, we had assignments on varying subjects revolving around the series. One week, my professor assigned a documentary to watch, titled J.K. Rowling – A Year in the Life. I’ve watched this documentary multiple times since, and whenever I think about the series, it pops into my mind.
There were many reasons as to why we were instructed to watch the documentary, but one topic that was discussed afterward was the similarities between J.K. Rowling and her main hero, Harry Potter. On the surface, some of these similarities are obvious to every Harry Potter fan. However, many of the similarities require careful thought and consideration to fully understand just how alike Jo and Harry really are.
So I pose the following question: Did J.K. Rowling write Harry Potter as a form of herself, or did she model herself into many different characters?
Although it’s possible that pieces of J.K. Rowling are in each of the main characters, I’m arguing that Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, is a fictional representation of Jo herself. My reasons are as follows.
1. Both were born on July 31.
This is one of the more obvious similarities between the two. Most likely every Harry Potter fan knows that Jo and Harry share their birthday on July 31, but do we know why? Perhaps JKR decided it would be easy to give her main character her very own birthday. However, did she do it because in reality, she created Harry as a fictional version of herself?
2. Both value courage and are “born triers.”
During the documentary, JKR states that her favorite virtue is courage. These two characteristics resemble Harry more than any other character in the series. It’s obvious from not only watching this documentary but also reading about Jo’s life that she is a brave and courageous woman. She’s endured more heartache than most and in the end, has resulted a stronger person because of her battles. Like Jo, Harry endured much heartache and was placed in Gryffindor for his courage and bravery. Harry displays these two traits constantly in the series by never giving up the fight against Voldemort.
Jo is also a born trier, as she calls herself in the video. Many of us know that she tried and tried before getting the first Harry Potter book published, and she has faced adversity for most of her life. This is a trait that Harry also has. Harry tries constantly throughout the entire series, whether he is trying to defeat Voldemort or trying to convince people of what he knows about Voldemort. Both JKR and Harry have the “born trying”-type personalities that won’t let anything stop them until they’ve reached their goals.
3. Both fear losing the people they love.
Also in the documentary, JKR says her biggest fear is losing someone she loves, which is a fear that both she and Harry share. Throughout much of the series, Harry resisted help from his loved ones in the fight against Voldemort because he didn’t want to put the lives of those he loved in danger. Both want to protect the people they love from harm and reduce the risk of losing them.
4. Both grew up on a British suburban street.
The narrator of the documentary states that JKR grew up on a British suburban street, just like Harry. Though not much information is divulged about the house she lived in, the narrator states that in the house was a cupboard under the stairs. However, Jo was not forced to sleep there like Harry was on 4 Privet Drive.
5. Both had uneasy childhood experiences.
During the documentary, there were many parts that fumbled with my emotions, but one of the biggest things that made me weep was when Jo talked about her childhood. She stated that she was the big disappointment of her mother and father’s lives because they wanted her to be boy. Her name would’ve been Simon John if that had come true.
When Jo’s sister was born, she asked her parents if they were disappointed when she was born a girl, to which they replied, “No.” Perhaps Jo’s mother and father’s desires for her to be a boy played a key role in her creating an entire series revolving around a boy wizard. Perhaps Harry Potter is what JKR was like as a child.
Harry Potter fans also know that Harry didn’t have a relationship with his parents because they were murdered by Voldemort when he was an infant. Though Jo’s parents didn’t die when she was a baby, she no longer has a relationship with either of them. Her mother died when she was writing the first Harry Potter book, and her relationship with her father is estranged.
6. Both have trouble understanding and accepting the attention they receive.
Jo said during the documentary that she always found it very uncomfortable during movie premieres because of the attention she received. She didn’t like being on a pedestal for everyone to gawk at because it made her uncomfortable. This is much like Harry, who had trouble comprehending everyone’s awe over him because he defeated Voldemort as an infant.
7. Both experienced the feelings of depression.
Though the depression wasn’t the exact same, both experienced what it feels like to be depressed. JKR said she experienced depression after the birth of her first daughter and after she divorced her first husband. In the documentary, it is revealed that her experience with depression inspired the Dementors in the Harry Potter series. Therefore, Harry experienced what Jo did when she was depressed – the soul-sucking feeling that is overwhelming and inescapable.
8. Both overcame their struggles and now have happy families.
Both Jo and Harry had uneasy childhoods, as stated previously. They both experienced depression and had rocky relationships with their parents. However, despite all the turmoil and heartbreak, both overcame their pasts and became successful. Both are now happily married with three children each. For both, all is well.
If you haven’t watched the documentary, I highly recommend it. It is something that will change not only your view of the lovely J.K. Rowling but also your opinion about life in general. It’s a truly beautiful, moving documentary worth every second.
In closing, I think Harry himself would agree with the closing quote by Jo. When asked how she’d like to be remembered, she replied, “Someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.”
After reading this, what do you think? Do you think that JKR crafted Harry Potter as a fictional representation of herself, or do you believe otherwise? Let’s discuss in comments!