***NOTE: I did not write this but found it online! No credit to me***
The Twilight vs. Harry Potter debate : Team Potter and Team Twilight take on Question #1
December 24, 12:44 AM
by Michelle Kerns, Book Examiner
If you haven't met the members of the Twilight versus Harry Potter Debate Team, cast your eye on their qualifications here.
Now, on to the debate! If you've got your own opinions (and what self-respecting Twi-hard or Potter head doesn't?), feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page. However, let's remember we are civilized witches, wizards, vampires, and werewolves engaging in a bit of well-mannered frivolity; don't let your devotion to your series turn you into a screaming banshee.
Question #1: How does the development of the main characters in each series compare to one another?
Let's see Team Twilight's response to this one.
Ms. Laura Nelson: I think that variances in narration make a big difference here. The Harry Potter Series is written mostly in 3rd person narrative, while the Twilight Series is written in first person (with a changing narrator in Breaking Dawn.) I think that this made the reader’s absorption of the main characters much different. For example, my introduction to Edward and the rest of the Cullens was through Bella’s awed point of view. I think this made for a more dramatic character development of such complex characters as vampires. The reader became educated about the intricacies and secrets of the Cullen family through Bella’s eyes, rather than a narrator which, in my opinion, is part of the reason so many people fell in love with vampires. Basically I felt immersed in Bella’s world and all the characters in it, while reading Harry Potter I felt more informed of the characters.
Twilight was also full of characters with rich and vast backgrounds, who where fully developed at the beginning of Twilight. The Cullens had centuries of years lived that readers where informed about, mainly through Edwards explanations to Bella. The introduction and perception of Charlie, Renee, Jessica, Angela, Mike, Eric and other pivotal characters where all through Bella’s eyes, therefore they were perceived in a different light than main characters in Harry Potter. For example, we were given a personal look into Charlie and Renee’s private life, including their daily habits and funny quirks. This was not always the case in Harry Potter. The use of third person narrative made for an extremely detailed and sometimes humorous use of main characters’ development. I should also state that I think the incredibly rich and realistic characters that make up the Twilight series in one of the core reasons the books have become a big enough of a phenomenon to rival Harry Potter. The characters truly seemed like real people to me. Stephenie Meyer saw Edward and Bella as real people in her head while she composed these books, and their reality is prevalent on every page.
Ms. Caroline Gates: I think the development of the characters are similar in the fact that you get to watch them grow up. The only real difference is the time span. In Twilight you get to see Bella grow into herself as a person and Edward finally finding out what he wants in his insanely long life. With the Harry Potter books, you get to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione go through everything together. You literally get to see them grow up from an awkward dorky kid to a still-dorky-but-more-mature young adult. I personally enjoyed reading about Bella's character developing rather than Harry Potter because Harry is just dealing with an evil wizard lord coming to kill him. With Bella, you get to see how she really handles her life. She was very interesting to see from the beginning as she moves away out of her comfort zone, deals with a vampire boyfriend, gets hunted by James, goes through a break-up, deals with her best friend as a werewolf, gets back together with Edward, gets hunted by Victoria, gets married, has a kid, and then becomes a vampire, and then deals with the Volturri. Remind you, the Twilight books only deal with the span of about two-ish years. Thats a lot of a young girl to go through. Harry, he had a few more years to deal with Voldemort, friends, and family issues. It got boring at times though.
Ms. Taelor Ball: *Breaking Dawn Spoiler Alert* Twilight is a love story where an average, ordinary girl falls in love with the one guy she can’t have, but they eventually get through all the difficulties and get married and have a child.
Harry Potter, on the other hand, is a story about a bunch of friends getting through school, and the problems and possible near-death experiences that being a wizard brings.
Ms. Caroline Suh: In terms of character development in the Twilight series, I am going to make it easy on myself and stick to the two main protagonists of Bella and Edward and just Harry in the Harry Potter series. In Twilight, we first meet Bella as a teenager who already seems to have her priorities straight, with a set opinion on matters in life, and her own self-identity that doesn't match those around her. The divorce of her parents caused her to mature faster than others her own age and become the parent-figure over her own mother. Her character development is initiated by her introduction to a supernatural world once she meets Edward. Her world of realism is overthrown as she comes to terms with the fact that vampires and werewolves exist. It is in that fantastical world that she learns about true self-sacrifice for the love of her life and her choice to exchange her mortal existence for an immortal one. With Edward, on top of being a self-restrained and well-educated vampire, readers are constantly reminded, throughout the series, of his perfect beauty and charm. Before meeting Bella, he decided for himself that even though he may have been turned into a vampire, he chooses to live a life that requires self-control and restraint (with a different eating habit) rather than live out the expectations of a lifestyle set before him. However, his character development is brought on by the challenges his relationship with Bella faces. It is through these challenges that what were once dormant human flaws of Edward's are revived (ex. jealousy towards all the boys pining for Bella's attention, especially Jacob; irrational thinking, over-reactions etc.), which makes him all the more the perfect man. For Harry, his development takes off at an earlier age of 10 and his story is more of a coming-of-age tale. His whole future is presided over an event that took place when he was merely a baby. Even after his first near-death experience at Hogwarts, he still chooses to live under the limelight of being the savior of the school and his peers - why? Obviously because he likes the attention. What else would a boy who spent a decade living as something more useless than a broom in a closet under the staircase do with his time at a magic school? The characters of the Harry Potter series depend on dramatic events for character development to take place and set in motion, whereas the characters of Twilight evolve from what they learn from each other in their relationships.
Hmm...Not surprisingly, Team Twilight feels like the Twilight series offers better character development. What say you, Team Potter?
Ms. Victoria Landaker: In my opinion, the development of the main characters in the Potter series is far more complex than that of the development of the main characters in the Twilight series. In the Potter series, the reader is allowed to grow in age and experience along with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. As readers, we get to read about Harry’s life from the age of eleven to the age of seventeen; which means that we get to experience every battle with Lord Voldemort and awkward teenage moment with him. Who Harry is in the Deathly Hallows is far different from the character he is in the Sorcerer’s Stone because of the trials he is made to face throughout the entire series. In the Twilight series, we are shown the characters in the first book, and almost nothing is left to develop in the next three books. In Twilight, we learn that Bella is caring, self-less, clumsy, shy, and intelligent; traits that become constant, and even a staple, for her character in the following books. Bella never has an experience that points towards the development of her character because she is always in the same type of “life or death” situations. The Cullen’s, as we already know, are a family of vampires, who we must assume are unchanging. Therefore, there is very little that we are able to learn about Edward and Bella after the first book.
Ms. Annalisa Freeman: One of the beacons of JKR's talent is her ability to write so many different characters all with varying and distinct personalities through a time in life when one develops and changes the most and keep all their personalities consistent. These characters start out as nave children scared about what test they will need to pass in order to be assigned a house and as they grow upmood swings, insecurities, and allthe trio ends courageously battling evil by taking on Gringotts, Bellatrix Lestrange, and even Lord Voldemort himself. Ron starts out as the insecure boy with dirt on his nose who becomes funnier as the books progress. The temper typical of a 14-year-old boy enhances that insecurity when he turns on Harry for his fame, but in the end he jumps in a lake to save his best friend now comfortable with his position of sidekick to the famous Boy Who Lived. Hermione starts out insecure in her Muggle-born status and showcases this nervousness by showing everyone up in class. As she learns more about the magical world her activism gets the better of her with her ridiculous SPEW project showing how lacking her practical knowledge of the magical world really is, but by Deathly Hallows she gently guides Harry in his choice between horcruxes and hallows, still stubborn but not so self-righteous. Harry himself starts out ignorant and in wonder of this world of wizards, works through years of infamy and anger, until he is ready to command a school of the very wizards he felt so in awe of and fall into the role that was marked on his forehead as a baby. Through the novels, one gets a real sense that these kids are growing and learning and preparing for the epic battle that is their destiny. Nobody would think the 11-year-old boy would be ready for the fight, but by the end of book seven he is. Because we as readers have grown with him, we are fully invested in his outcome and become emotional about his destiny. As you walk with Harry to the forbidden forest you can't help buy reminisce at how far he has come. The main reason closing Deathly Hallows is so hard is not because we mourn the tragedy but because we have grown right along with these characters and we hate to see their story end.
Twilight characters on the other hand start out strong and stagnate or digress. At the beginning of Twilight I was glad that Bella was smart, independent, and considerate of others. The girl moved to a town she hated in order to allow her mother marital bliss showing maturity well beyond her years. Here was a heroine I could truly back. But then Bella meets a boy and all her reason and power dissipate. After she starts dating Edward she quits making decisions for herself and being the strong unique girl that caught his eye. We end with a girl who uses Jacob, whom she knows is in love with her, without regard to the consequences, even kissing him in front of her fiance, and eventually refusing to discuss a dangerous pregnancy with her husband. While I would expect a girl who marries at eighteen to showcase plenty of immaturity and even selfishness, SM had originally portrayed this character as a girl who had grownup quickly in order to care for her mother and therefore Bella should have acted with more responsibility. In Breaking Dawn, SM quit introducing conflict in order to protect her happily ever after marriage robbing Bella of further character development. The scenes where Bella became a vampire could have been some of the most exciting and intriguing ones of the series, but Bella quit progressing when she moves to Forks and consequentially her experiences as a changed being lack discovery and insight and become almost boring.
Edward starts off as a strong, sexy, mysterious vampire, somewhat creepy in his monstrous secret, but a puzzle you can't wait to solve. I get the appeal of Edward. He is aloof and disinterested, but after almost 100 years, Bella catches his eye and his world collapses to include her. After reading Twilight I wanted to get to know him better, but in the end I wondered what happened to the character I had loved. When that boy approached Jacob to ask him to father Bella's children, I couldn't imagine that this was the same confident, decisive character we met in Twilight. I understand that the scene was supposed to demonstrate just how broken Edward had become, but the Edward in Twilight foresaw problems and could always come up with a plan of action. The Edward in Twilight was a little too bossy and possessive of Bella. He smashed a car to save Bella and skid his own car to retrieve her from predators. The Edward in Breaking Dawn was bland. The Edward in Breaking Dawn became a doormat to Bella's desires and became almost nonexistent in the story progression. I don't feel I learned anything new or interesting about him after book one, or even that I was reading the same character. By the time Breaking Dawn ended, I just wanted the Edward of Twilight back.
Ms. Molly Gerber: At the core of the greatness of both series is, I believe, the fact that readers are able to identify with the characters in them. Whether you feel like a clumsy, fish-out-of-water like Bella, a book smart, average looking Hermione, or a misfit that can't seem to live up to the expectations of family, like Neville, you can find someone in the books to identify with. However, the characters in Twilight don't really seem to develop very much. Edward is perfect at the beginning, and he's perfect at the end. Bella is clumsy at the beginning, and at the end she is a vampire. Jacob is a normal, kind friend to Bella at the beginning, and at the end he is a werewolf. Is that really development? I suppose you could, somehow, consider it development. However, it is nothing like the development of characters in the Potter books.
Outside of the natural coming-of-age development of the younger characters in Harry Potter, each character is so fully fleshed out. I could go character by character, but that would take up way too much time, as each character has such a rich history that it would take pages to document even one. The whole story is character based. It depends to much on why the characters act the way they do and what choices each character will make. Without character development, there would be no story.
Ms. Juliana Gomes: This is a tricky question. I think the characters from both of the books are equally interesting, but obviously with different personalities. In my opinion, though, the development of the characters in the Harry Potter series is, in some sort of way, a bit more fun to watch (or read. You know what I mean.)
In Harry Potter, you actually get to see the characters grow, and not only in the physical way, but in the emotional and psychological way as well. You can see the whole difference between the eleven-year-old Harry to the seventeen-year-old. You see and you feel everything that he’s been through, especially with the Harry-Voldemort relationship, how it affects the way he is or the way he acts and feels, and then how that kind of relationship turns him in this mature and protective human being.
Those characteristics about Harry can also easily describe Bella – mature, selfless, overprotective to the people they love, and I think these peculiarities only tend to grow throughout the books, in both of the main characters.