Why J.K. Rowling Was Influenced By Monty Python

A Completely Serious Essay That Is To Be Taken Seriously- Seriously!

By Anne Elk [Miss] 

(Kelsey, or palin_fan, did suggest a word or two to her, Miss Elk must add.)

Now, we’ve all heard of the Harry Potter books and movies- the famous boy wizard that became a national bestseller and swept the world with its true characters and completely unique storyline.

But exactly how much is unique? I must take this chance to point out a few things- that perhaps Ms. Rowling did not think all of this up herself. Perhaps she had an outside force… a very strong, influential force that rocked the world. The force that shaped the world how it is today. How people talk. How people communicate. When tragedy strikes, people look to this force as a beam of hope- lifting their morose hearts from ravenous despair. What could this amazing force possibly be?

Yes. Monty Python.

Now, you may be laughing. You may be falling out of your chair with laughter. But this is no laughing matter. I, for one, find it terribly amusing. I mean, tragic. How can one give so much credit to Rowling, when in whole, it was the men of Python that made it all possible?

Let us look at her main hero- Harry James Potter himself. Now, Harry is a nickname for Harold, as we all know. Now, Python shows us that they owned this name first- that Python’s Harold Potter was indeed famous before hers ever was.

 Monty Python’s Harold Potter (played by Michael Palin) was walking home, clad in a typical suit and small moustache, umbrella in hand. He pauses at the gate, uneasy, eyes darting from behind the thick rimmed glasses firmly secured on his nose. A strange sound fills the air as a large spacecraft hovers aloft in the sky, sending down a beam of mystical looking light. Harold Potter jolts, body racked with tremors as the strange radiation enters his body.

And he changes.

His tidy suit is gone, the umbrella disappears. The look in his eye is wild, a hunger for green hills and bagpipes- yes; he had changed into a Scotsman.

Mr. Harold Potter of England was now wearing a kilt and long orange beard as he marched, arm straight in front of him, towards Scotland, to the merry tune of Scottish bagpipes. The next morning, the headlines of all the papers were “Man Turns Into Scotsman!”

Hmm. So Mr. Harold Potter of England/Scotland became famous ever before Mr. Harold Potter of England/Hogwarts ever did. Maybe this is where Ms. Rowling picked up the name…?

Skip a day ahead, in the land where aliens turn perfectly good Englishmen into Scotsmen. A reporter, (Terry Jones) is interviewing a woman (Eric Idle) at the gate where Harold Potter changed.

The woman is wearing an apron, long blonde hair being whipped around with the wind. The reporter says to the woman, jotting down the woman’s replies in a notebook, “You knew Mr. Potter quite well, I believe?”

“Oh, yes, very well, he was my husband,” she replies.

Ah! What a trail of clues this leads on to… Long blonde hair… could this mean J.K. Rowling did indeed mean that Harry Potter was Monty Python’s Harold Potter, and his wife is Luna Lovegood, or Fleur Delacour? We all know J.K.R. loves her foreshadowing…

Let’s observe Albus Dumbledore- kind Headmaster of Hogwarts. When Rowling was asked where she came up with the name Dumbledore, she said, “Dumbledore was the old English word for bumblebee.” She also adds that why Dumbledore has to do with a bee is because she always pictures him humming. Now where have we heard of a bumblebee...?

Ah! So you remember Eric Idle and John Cleese’s short, humorous song about “Eric the Half a Bee.” The refrain goes as such-

Fiddle di dum, fiddle di dee, Eric the Half a Bee
Ho ho ho, tee hee hee,
Eric the Half a Bee

And fiddle di dum, fiddle di dee, is certainly classified as humming! So, we are drawn even further into the great mystery which is Monty Python and Harry Potter…

Let us now introduce a Monty Python staple- yes, the Gumbys. Famous for smashing bricks together and just being plain stupid, the Gumbys enjoy… well... banging two bricks together. What characters, you ask, can we possibly parallel the Gumbys to?

Think Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle. They’re stupid. They talk in deep, slow voices (at least, according to the movie). Sadly, the author of this essay has not been able to spot them wearing knotted handkerchiefs on their head, as well as a mustache and glasses with rolled up trousers and rain boots. But she’s on the lookout.

Now that we’re on the subject of Gumbys, let us bring up on of the most famous, a Gumby crooner who sings and smashes his head with two bricks- all with a lovely singing voice, of course. His name? Why, Professor R.J. Gumby.

Professor R.J... Wasn’t there a character of that name somewhere in the books? Yes, this is by the name Harry and his friends knew Professor Lupin, before his first name was ever said. None of the other professors were introduced by their initials, like Lupin was in the third book… I wonder why Lupin decided to put it on his briefcase instead of Remus John… 

And, so we must delve into the last name, Lupin. Lupin is the Latin word for wolf, and that is why J.K. Rowling picked his name- I have a theory to prove otherwise.

 Let’s go back to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, episode 37, entitled Dennis Moore. This is about a highway man who steals from the rich and gives to the poor- sort of like Robin Hood. Except that his gifts aren’t all that welcome. Instead of stealing silver, gold and jewelry, Mr. Moore takes something a little more- colorful.

A party is taking place in a lovely ballroom- the terrace windows open as the full moon shines in. The guests laugh and talk, patting their powdered wigs and drinking red wine when suddenly, a gust of wind cuts them short.

Dennis Moore, (John Cleese) clad in black, swoops in on a wire, wearing a dark mask and hat which covers his long, brown hair. Pistol in hand, he waves it threateningly in the faces of the terrified guests.

“Stand and deliver!” he demands, smiling eerily.

“Dennis Moore!” they all gasp, and crowd together. 

“Yes,” he replies, still giving the small smile. “Now- ladies- lords… your life- or your lupins!”

The famous Dennis Moore steals lupins from the rich and gives them to poor. Perhaps this is where Rowling got the name? Now, you may be saying, “Lupin is spelled lupine! There’s absolutely no comparison!” But, as I look through the Monty Python DVD, I see that indeed, the word lupine is spelled without an 'e' at the end. An English spelling? Or misspelling on Monty Python’s part? Whatever the reason- JKR spells her Lupin without the 'e' also.

Now, you’re probably getting bored with this article. And really, it’s just speculation, stupid speculation at that, and it makes me hungry. So let’s go to the cupboard- and find chocolate frogs and Coachroach Cluster, the wizarding world’s favorite sweets. Hold on… I’ve heard of those before…

Yes, in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, there is an episode where a man (Terry Jones) talks about his candy while two less than happy policemen listen to the delectable delicacies (John Cleese and Graham Chapman- RIP!)

In that, he mentions Coachroach Cluster, and also Crunchy Frog, (The finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose, Terry Jones describes his treats as.) My, this is starting to get convincing. I wasn’t sure at first, but now it seems worth writing!

Let’s veer away from wizards now, and go to some rather unpleasant relatives that Harry lives with. Yes, the Dursleys. One in particular, I feel worth mentioning- Dudley Dursley. The fat, gluttonous boy that stuffs so much food in his mouth, I wouldn’t be surprised if he exploded! Wait- backtrack… explode?

Now, this is reminding me of Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones), an obese man who walks into a restaurant, eats an appalling amount of food, throws up a few times, then, after eating a wafer thin mint, explodes. I have a feeling I know who Dudley’s role model is now.

We have covered the major Monty Python characters… let’s move on to the Pythons themselves. Take John Cleese- the black haired, argumentative one who seems to lead the group- Hmm. That sounds oddly familiar…

 But we can’t make our decision based on that, can we? So, here I bring in Eric Idle- accomplished songwriter and actor who recently wrote a musical ‘loving ripped off of’ Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ Who can we compare him to?

Let’s look at him at a first glance in the Holy Grail. The first thing you’ll notice is a very long nose, then a shock of red hair. Nothing more to see. So let’s look at Eric Idle in perspective of the person Idle. The Python is famous for having witty remarks in the group, as well as being the target of many girls’ (used to be, anyway,) desires.

Long nose… humorous… red hair… popular among fan base… this is getting to sound awfully like Ron Weasley.

Harry Potter fans are probably now gasping in horror that I even suggest such a thing, so if you are in the least offended, turn back now. Well, not RIGHT now, because you just read this, so it’s really impossible to go back to a different page immediately. I mean, like now. I mean, in five seconds. Can anyone do that? I mean, it’s rather hard. Some people have a hard time with the mouse. Perhaps I should say seven seconds- no, too long. 5.3 seconds? Yes, that seems more reasonable. Alright, turn back in 5.3 seconds! That sounds too strange… I’ll just say now. Turn back now sounds better, anyway, even if you can’t click it that fast. Or can you?

Well, as many people have just shouted at me very loudly and rudely, “Get on with it!!!” I feel that I must continue on with the following paragraphs. All right then…

Next, we’ll observe most innocent face- and best looking, in the author’s opinion- Python, Michael Palin. He doesn’t resemble a character from Harry Potter, which is good.

Ah! But now as we look into how the Python’s describe Palin, we begin to see some similarities… To quote John Cleese in the book Monty Python Speaks- “Michael’s greatest aim in life is to be affable. And this makes him enormously pleasant and enormously good company, but infuriating if he doesn’t want to do something.” Skip a few paragraphs, and we see the main sum up of what John Cleese is getting to. “But when he does that [say no straight off the bat to something] he risks his affability. So that’s the main problem with Michael.”

Who else do we know who tends to side with something he doesn’t agree about, because he wants to be affable?

Right now, Remus Lupin is coming into mind…

All the evidence has been laid before you, on a silver platter. Not even mentioning, of course, that many of the Python’s have worked beside future Harry Potter cast, such as Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane in Nuns on the Run, and Michael Palin, Maggie Smith and Timothy Spall in The Missionary. Actually, Palin and Smith were reunited again for another movie, Private Function. But I won’t get into that.

So, overall, I conclude that Ms. Rowling probably did jip off Python. First, Rowling actually wanted Terry Gilliam to direct Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but of course the producers of Harry Potter requested the movie to be a little more… kid friendly, and the honor went to Chris Columbus.

Next, John Cleese is even IN the movie, for Heaven’s sake! And, for the first one, had a long speaking part, a much longer one than in the book… I wonder why…

Lastly, and most importantly, Rowling was interviewed on Scholastic- and she gives this reply. The interviewer says, “As an adult reader, I loved the books and was surprised at how much humor is in them. The Dursleys sound like something out of Monty Python! Do you like British comedy?”

“British comedy is an obsession of mine. I love Monty Python,” she replied.

And those words, J.K. Rowling has mainly summed up this essay.

Stuff To Look At If You Really Want To Draw More Comparisons Between Python and Potter

Monty Python’s Flying Circus (DVD’s, A&E Entertainment)
Harry Potter movies (Warner Brothers)
Harry Potter books (J.K. Rowling, Arthur Levine Press)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Python Pictures, 1974)
Monty Python’s Life of Brian, even though it wasn’t mentioned here in this article    (Handmade Films, 1979)
How Not To Be Seen (British Educational Film, or in Monty Python’s Flying Circus)
About A Boy, just because it’s a good movie (I don’t know)
Star Wars Episode Three, because everyone’s watching it (Lucasfilm, Ltd.)

About the Author

Anne Elk [Miss] would like to declared that this essay is all hers. ALL HERS. No one else’s, just hers. This is her article, and this article is hers. If this belongs to anyone, it belongs to her. This is her essay. An essay that is all hers-

Stop that! Stop it! This is entirely too silly. This whole article is silly. An author as famous as Mrs. Rowling would NOT cop off some comedy show that was aired 30 years ago. More importantly, a SILLY comedy show. And if she likes it, I’m not at right to protest. But I, for one, think it silly. Harold Potter is perfectly common name. It was just a coincidence that that was the name she gave to her hero- completely normal. Now, when I say cut, I want this to come out to a serious, well thought out article unlike the last. Director! Cut!

- A Warning Message From The Colonel

Another Message, Not From The Colonel, But From The Author (the real one): This is made in pure fun. Basically, I draw any connections between Monty Python and Harry Potter I possibly can and type them up. Technically, this is poking fun at other people who make so many connections between Harry Potter and whatever- so if you’re really starting to think JKR ripped off Python, I am worried for you. This essay was NOT mean to sound convincing. If it did, then I am horrified and I apologize profusely.

I do not own Anne Elk [Miss]. It is a Monty Python character, played to perfection by John Cleese.



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