Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Harry Potter and Twilight: Know the Difference


By now I am sure that everyone has heard the infamous quote from Stephen King with his opinion on Harry Potter and Twilight. If not, let me refresh your memory: “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.” While there have been several opinions and mud slinging going on from both Harry Potter and Twilight fans, it is difficult to ignore the facts. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and I acknowledge that the Twilight saga is an entertaining read, but to go further and say it is superior to Harry Potter is where I draw the line. Having read all of the Twilight and Harry Potter books, I believe it is appropriate for me to say whether or not I agree with this quote, and I do so wholeheartedly. Harry Potter is superior to Twilight in so many ways, whether it is through the overall message of the story, the literary quality, the many social issues presented through all of the novels, or the hard facts of box office records.

Typically when comparing Harry Potter and Twilight, a person would want to explore how each story presents the concept of love. The fact is that the love depicted in the Twilight saga between Edward and Bella is oppressive and obsessive. Their relationship is unhealthy, especially when the reader sees what happens to Bella in the second book when Edward leaves her. She becomes incredibly depressed and can’t find anything worth living her life for. She begins to ignore her father, isolate herself from her friends, and becomes near suicidal, as displayed by the cliff diving incident. If you are not familiar with this particular scene, Bella decides to go cliff diving by herself into dangerous waters. She decides to do this because Edward has left her and the only way she can remember him is when she does something risky. So what does she do? She risks her life for an imaginary glance of Edward, and she would have died had it not been for Jacob Black rescuing her. If a relationship gets to the point that someone would be near suicidal, it simply can’t be healthy. Bella even admits her obsession to herself: “I was consumed by the mystery Edward presented. And more than a little obsessed by Edward himself” (Twilight, 67). There should be a healthy balance in every relationship, and if one person is completely consumed to the point of not caring about anything else in their life besides that one person, it simply can’t be healthy. That person becomes entirely dependent on the other, and in Bella’s case, if Edward leaves her, she lacks a purpose for her life.

It is bad enough when one person in a relationship is entirely dependent on the other for his or her existence, but it is even worse when the other is as well. Edward does not have a purpose for his life, that is, until he meets Bella. Edward isn’t even initially attracted to Bella for who she is, or even what she looks like. He is attracted to her because her blood smells good. Essentially, he has an incredible urge to kill Bella and suck her blood. “About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how potent that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him” (Twilight, 195). Not only does Edward have an urge to kill Bella, but also Bella knows all about this and loves him in spite of the threat to her safety. Edward even knows that he is a threat to her safety, and yet, he ignores it for his own selfish desires. “I wrestled all night, while watching you sleep, with the chasm between what I knew was right, moral, ethical, and what I wanted. I knew that if I continued to ignore you as I should, or if I left for a few years, till you were gone, that someday you would say yes to Mike, or someone like him. It made me angry” (Twilight, 303). While Edward and Bella’s relationship appears to be toxic, it is even harder to believe that the two would love one another in the short amount of time they had known each other, which was only for a few months in the first book. The two barely knew each other and could not back up why they had the feelings they did, suggesting that their feelings for one another are simply lust, not love. Their relationship is unhealthy and should not be a role model for couples today.


When we compare the two main relationships in the Harry Potter series to that of Edward and Bella’s, we realize that the relationship between Harry and Ginny, as well as Ron and Hermione, is one that we would want to emulate in our own lives. Harry and Ginny, and even Ron and Hermione, knew each other for many years before their relationship developed into a romantic one. Their feelings had time to grow, and they each had time to recognize what they loved about each other. When Harry had to leave Ginny in the last book to keep her safe and help defeat Voldemort, Ginny did not sit back and watch life go by, unlike Bella. Instead, she loved Harry so much that she supported him from the home front by attempting to steal the Sword of Gryffindor for Harry, restarting Dumbledore’s Army with Neville and Luna, and even fighting alongside Harry at the Battle of Hogwarts. Ginny held her own without Harry and was not dependent on him. Instead, she showed her true love for him by making a difference in spite of his absence. Then there is Ron and Hermione. Their relationship started out as one of two best friends and grew into love through all of their shared hardships and experiences. Ron and Hermione are their own person and did not make their decisions based on their feelings for each other. Hermione cared about more than her relationship with Ron – she cared about maintaining excellent grades, accumulating knowledge, and house elf rights. Her life was not devoted to Ron’s, nor was his to hers, showing that love should not require dependence on each other for survival. In fact, the relationships in Harry Potter that are on the same level of obsession and oppressiveness as that of Edward and Bella’s are not shown in a positive light, like the relationship between Voldemort and Bellatrix, for example.

While it is quite obvious that the relationship between Edward and Bella is unhealthy, unlike those in the Harry Potter series, what really makes the two series stand out is their primary focuses. Twilight focuses on the relationship between Edward and Bella. There really is no other purpose to the story besides that. In Harry Potter, while love plays an integral role to the story, romantic love is not the focus, and even if it was, the relationships are positive and healthy ones. Instead, the series decides to put romantic relationships in the back seat while the battle of good versus evil takes the wheel.

Another reason Harry Potter is superior to Twilight is that it is much easier to relate to. For example, in Twilight, we see Bella enter a new school where all of the guys are infatuated with her. All the human males at the school are instantly in love with Bella without knowing who she is. This may not seem too strange at first read, but the fact that each guy makes their feelings known to Bella and are falling over her feet is what makes it bizarre. In reality, this simply would never happen. Sure, a few guys may be interested in the new girl, but for every guy to be mesmerized by her is to set unrealistic expectations for any girl in a high school setting. Even when Fleur appears in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the first time, we knew that many of the male students found her spellbinding. The difference here is that not every one of those students went and declared their feelings for Fleur - with the exception of Ron (which did not turn out well for him) - which is much more reminiscent of a real young adult social setting.

Stephenie Meyer also fails to acknowledge the different types of students in the school. We only see Mike, Jessica, Angela, and Eric at Forks High School, one normal group of friends. At Hogwarts, we see people from all kinds of different friend groups. Luna Lovegood, the quirky outcast; Neville Longbottom, the dorky quiet kid; Hermione Granger, the smart girl; Ron Weasley, the slacker; Harry Potter, the normal boy; Viktor Krum, the jock; Fred and George Weasley, the jokesters; and the list goes on! Beyond the students in the school, we also see an incredibly diverse world in terms of magical creatures. Stephenie Meyer only addresses vampires and werewolves in her novels where J.K. Rowling addresses both of those and more. There are witches, wizards, goblins, elves, centaurs, giants, dementors, hippogriffs, and blast-ended screwts, to mention a few. Rowling even talks about social issues in regards to some of these creatures, like house elf rights, for example. She doesn’t treat you like you’re too young to think about these issues, and encourages each reader to evaluate their social situations. The capability to be relatable and the diversity of the Harry Potter series compared to the Twilight saga is immense, and it is part of what makes the novels superior.

While most of these arguments on why Harry Potter is better than Twilight are based on the overall themes and messages of the story, it is also important to examine the literary quality of each. While each series has their flaws, Twilight has many more flaws than that of Harry Potter. For example, let’s take a look at the very last book in each series, Breaking Dawn and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Each book has an extremely strong climax, whether it is the Cullen’s facing down the Volturi, or Harry walking to meet his death in the Forbidden Forest. From a literary standpoint, there would typically be some sort of a satisfying ending after the climax that would make the reader excited. In the Twilight saga, nothing happens. The Cullens face the Volturi, and then they each go home pretending like all their problems are solved. Many readers of the books complained about this specific part of the story, even if they were fans of the entire saga. I know that I myself, as a reader, found the ending incredibly unsatisfying, and I believe that the producers of the movie did so too. In fact, at the end of the last Twilight movie, they couldn’t help creating a dream sequence that never occurred in the book, depicting a battle between the Volturi and Cullens. This sequence seems to express the producer’s feelings toward the end of the novel – it was unsatisfying and needed a little more excitement.

Unlike that of Breaking Dawn, the ending of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was exciting and wrapped up the entire series as a whole. Even when the last book was at the climax where Harry sacrifices himself, it is not the end of the story. It is the beginning of the end, and so many more exciting and important things happen after this moment. For one, Harry actually defeats evil in the series, unlike Twilight where they let them get away. The end of the book also provides an epilogue that takes place nineteen years later, instead of an immediate epilogue like that of the Twilight saga. By doing this, Rowling creates a sense of finality in her work and satisfies her readers by assuring them that their favorite characters are alive and happy. The ending was exciting and heartbreaking all at the same time, but it was much more satisfying than the ending of Breaking Dawn.

What is also important to examine when debating on whether or not Harry Potter is better than Twilight is the capability for each series to be re-read. If one decides to go back and re-read Twilight, they will find nothing new in the books. It will be the same story all over again, and this is because Stephenie Meyer gave the reader all of the answers immediately. J.K Rowling did not do this. Instead, if one goes back to read Harry Potter all over again from the beginning, the amount of foreshadowing Rowling has in her books is astounding. It only goes to show how complex the entire series is and how much Rowling had a purpose to all of her novels. She knew how the story would end from the very beginning, and this enabled her to leave hints of what was to come beginning in book one. Clearly the Harry Potter series is superior to the Twilight saga when a person can read the series over and over and discover something new each time they do.

Harry Potter is also superior to Twilight when it comes to the box office. Every book in both series had their own movie, and both of the final books had their movies split in two. As such, each series had an equal opportunity to have their stories represented. When we take a look at box office records, we realize that Harry Potter holds many more number one records than Twilight. Harry Potter has been number one in the categories “Opening Weekend Worldwide,” “July,” “Thanksgiving 3 Day – All Movies,” “Thanksgiving 5 Day – All Movies,” “Single Day,” and “Opening Day” for box office sales. Twilight has been number one in the categories “Holiday,” “November,” and “Opening Wednesday.” As such, Harry Potter has been happily received by many more people than Twilight has, and it has even achieved the most important record, that of “Opening Weekend Worldwide.” This specific record accounts for box office sales in the first weekend a movie is open for the entire world. If we take a closer look at the top ten record holders in this category, we see that Harry Potter holds positions one, two, nine, and ten whereas Twilight holds only position eight (All Time Records). These records speak for the world itself, showing that the people prefer Harry Potter to Twilight.

While everyone will have their opinion on whether or not they like Harry Potter better than Twilight, it is near impossible to say that Twilight is superior. When one examines the overall message, the literary quality, and box office records of each story, it is obvious that Harry Potter is superior. It is not to say that Twilight doesn’t make for an entertaining read, it is just that it is unreasonable to say that Twilight is the superior story. Harry Potter and Twilight have been exposed to the same group of people and ended within a year of each other. Neither one has a distinct advantage over the other, but it is quite obvious that Harry Potter is the more respected book series. As I recall, there isn’t a class at the University of Michigan that is about Twilight, but there is one on Harry Potter. I think that speaks for itself on the superiority of Harry Potter over Twilight.



"All Time Box Office Records." Box Office Mojo. IMDb, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.
<http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/>.
Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and, 2005. Print.

6 comments:

  1. Great points, and great post. Go Harry Potter! :)

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  2. Thank you for your post. This is excellent information.
    zoella harry potter

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  3. See - I'm not a Twilight fan at all. I just don't get how it became such a huge sensation when it was not impressive at all. My sister couldn't make it thru the books but for some reason loves the movies. Weird right? Me I felt it was just so MEH, nothing memorable or marvelous about it and quite a few things that were very lackluster. No way could it hold a candle to the awesomeness of Harry Potter. (But then I also think there are alot of books I've read that totally whooop Potter's ass)

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  4. Harry Potter is waaaaayyyyy better than twilight. JK Rowling is the world's best author, while Stephanie Meyer is the worst

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  5. Why do we have to compare books with different genres? Sorry,was simply wondering...

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