I respectfully disagree with Michael Liliedahl that the Harry Potter tales are only "pop-culture" and "stories that glamorize black magic" (Mr. Liliedahl's words). Harry Potter books are, like Lord of the Ring books, archetypal stories of the battle between good and evil forces, and good always prevails in J.K. Rowling's series.
All the Harry Potter books contain pearls of wisdom on how to live a life of good character. At the end of "The Chamber of Secrets," Professor Dumbledore tells Harry that we are a product of more than simply our origins, but of the choices we make in life.
The adventures that Harry Potter follows in the books follow a pattern identified by Joseph Campbell, which he entitled, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces." Regarding this hero, Mr. Campbell states, "A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder. Fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won. The Hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man." Joseph Campbell found this character to be commonly universal in cultures all over the world.
For background information on all the myths and legends that J.K. Rowling drew from in creating her books, I would highly recommend, "The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts," by David Colbert. It is from this book that Mr. Campbell's information is quoted.
"...the quest of heroes stays the same. To Battle dark forces in the world, heroes must face the dark forces within, and rediscover in each adventure that they are worthy of victory. We understand Harry because, as Campbell says, 'every one of us shares the supreme ordeal.'" (Magical Worlds)
Magic other than just the ring are used in the "Lord of the Rings." The elves (on the side of good) chant and cast spells. Frodo himself contains a very powerful magic. Though he does not use a wand, he uses a magical power within him to maintain custody of the ring without allowing it to gain control of him.
By the way, I would never take my children to the theater to see any Lord of the Rings movie. They are far to graphically violent, which I think is much more harmful than magical fantasy with only a small amount of violence directly pertinent to the story line, which is what Harry Potter is.
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