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Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?



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Old April 2nd, 2010, 5:00 pm
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Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

At the moment I'm reading Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo for the first time, and something that instantly struck my HP-saturated brain were the striking similarities between Edmond Dantes, the title character, and our very own Sirius Black. I was just wondering if anyone else might have noticed the same things I did...

Up to a certain point their stories are almost astonishingly similar.
  • Both of them were dark-haired young men, described as extremely handsome, possessed of close friendships and promising futures;
  • both were framed by someone they regarded as a friend for a crime of which they were innocent; (Peter / Danglars)
  • both were convicted without trial as a result of the political ambition of the magistrates judging them; (Crouch Sr. / Villefort)
  • both were sent to a horrifying prison, isolated on an island in the middle of the sea, in which most prisoners were known to go mad and from which none had ever escaped; (Azkaban / Chateau d'If)
  • both were in prison for fourteen years (the same fourteen years of their lives, from age nineteen or twenty into their early thirties);
  • while in prison, both of them had an unusual advantage which kept them from insanity; Dantes had a secret friendship, and Sirius his abilities as an Animagus;
  • during the years of their imprisonment both acquired crucial information about the man or men who betrayed them (Sirius from the newspaper, and Edmond from Abbe Faria);
  • both set an unheard-of precedent by escaping the similar prisons in which they were kept;
  • both proved to be slightly unhinged as a result of their terrible experiences, and focused themselves on getting vengeance... Dantes against the men who had him incarcerated, and Sirius against Peter for all his crimes.

After this point, their stories start to diverge into different channels, but I was wondering whether the similarities I enumerated above might have been consciously included by Rowling? It wouldn't be her first reference or acknowledgment to older literature in her books, and patterning one of her own characters after a literary icon like Edmond Dantes is something I can easily see her choosing to do. Any thoughts?


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  #2  
Old April 6th, 2010, 3:41 am
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

I have never read the other novel which you referred to, but I must compliment your observational skills! There is a good chance that JK Rowling based Sirius off of Dantes. The similarities are strikingly similar as well: especially the bit about the prisons both being isolated in the middle of oceans. That's a pretty crazy coincidence, if it is one at all.


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Old April 6th, 2010, 6:54 am
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

Oooh, I love that book!

I think there are similarities, although I would also agree that the stories diverge a bit. Sirius' story is pretty tragic, whereas Dantes gets a happy ending, and Villefort's madness and the deaths of his wife and child force him to examine whether or not revenge is really what he wants. I don't recall Sirius ever getting that sort of powerful message sent to him-- revenge is only a small portion of his story, IMO, and his main role is to be another father figure for Harry.

IIRC, Jo taught French once. It's likely she did read CoMC, and maybe in the original language. So it's not too much of a stretch to say that book gave her some inspiration or at least had an affect on her.


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Last edited by ignisia; April 6th, 2010 at 7:05 am.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 9:52 am
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

I never doubted that Sirius was inspired by Edmond Dantes. When I first read PoA and reached the Shrieking Shack part, in which you learn the truth about Sirius, I cried Hey, this is Monte Cristo! The Count is one of my favourite books ever, so I liked a lot that JKR wrote such a tribute.

Quote:
I don't recall Sirius ever getting that sort of powerful message sent to him--
Yes, in the Shrieking Shack, when Harry keeps him and Lupin from killing Peter. Well, Harry's advice is a bit more utilitarian (you know, the if you kill him, nobody will believe you; if you let him live, you can clean your name thing), but the message behind is the same: revenge = bad. Oh, well, and Kreacher takes revenge on him helping Bellatrix to set the trap in OotP, resulting in Sirius's death (not that he can take advantage of that advice, anyway...)


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Old April 6th, 2010, 3:29 pm
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

I remembered that bit, but I didn't think it was quite the same because Sirius seems to walk away with the idea that Harry's the "only person who has the right to decide," that a wronged individual still had a right to decide, but the individual wasn't Sirius himself. Dantes saw what his revenge had done to the Villeforts and came to the conclusion that it wasn't up to anyone.
I think what Sirius learned that day wasn't that revenge was entirely wrong, but that he had to respect what Harry and possibly James would have wanted, and not let his anger get in the way of that.


I was thinking earlier about similarities between Edmond's persecutors and Sirius', and I think Caderousse might be a closer parallel to Peter than Danglars, who masterminded the whole enterprise. He's a pretty pathetic figure as well, and acts partly out of cowardice, and partly from greed. They're not completely the same, but he's the one with motives closest to Peter's.

BTW, I hadn't noticed the similarities between Crouch and Villefort, but they're definitely there: stern, unbending, absorbed in work, and has lots and lots of family troubles.


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Old April 6th, 2010, 6:41 pm
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

I love that book!


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Old April 6th, 2010, 8:15 pm
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

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Originally Posted by ignisia View Post
BTW, I hadn't noticed the similarities between Crouch and Villefort, but they're definitely there: stern, unbending, absorbed in work, and has lots and lots of family troubles.
Yes, and willing to make any sacrifice to further their political careers. I actually think that Crouch's condemnation of Barty Jr., rather than that of Sirius, is a closer parallel to Villefort's incarceration of Edmond. Crouch, after all, did believe Sirius to be guilty and deserving of the sentence imposed upon him, and was not emotionally invested in the case. Villefort knew that Edmond was innocent, thus resulting in his overwhelming remorse and regret (though not to the point of actually taking steps to remedy what he'd done ) after making the fatal decision. I can imagine that Crouch would have experienced similar pangs over his son, however repressed they were, and however much he would have denied it, even to himself.


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Last edited by LoonyForMoony; April 6th, 2010 at 8:18 pm.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 8:28 pm
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

Well, Crouch had to have believed his son was guilty as well. There wasn't anything to suggest to either Crouch or us that Barty Jr. wasn't involved in the Longbottoms' torture, even by the end of GoF, when Crouch Jr. gloats over being Voldemort's most treasured servant.
I think the closest we get to an answer is when Harry asks whether or not Barty is innocent, and (I think) Dumbledore says he isn't sure. I don't have my copy of GoF with me, so if anyone can provide the quote, that would be great.

But I agree with the rest. Sirius' case appeared pretty simple on surface, and Crouch likely didn't even spare Sirius a second thought. Barty Jr. would have been a different story no matter what Crouch thought about his son's guilt-- sending a son to prison is always a big deal.


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Old April 7th, 2010, 2:42 am
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ignisia View Post
But I agree with the rest. Sirius' case appeared pretty simple on surface, and Crouch likely didn't even spare Sirius a second thought. Barty Jr. would have been a different story no matter what Crouch thought about his son's guilt-- sending a son to prison is always a big deal.
Exactly. Although, sad to say, I don't think that Crouch would have gone through as much pain over the condemnation of his son as Villefort did over Edmond. If you remember, Villefort was crying in his room after his meeting Mercedes finally caused him to realize the enormity of what he'd done; and it says later that he would have rather stood in front of a gun at point-blank range than hear Edmond's name spoken. I doubt Crouch would ever have admitted this amount of emotion into his brain in the first place. Although, as I pointed out above, it almost makes Villefort look worse to consider that he knew perfectly well that what he did to Edmond was wrong, and he still never took any steps to remedy it. We never find out in what light Crouch considered his son's incarceration after the trial.

And yes, I'm certain Dumbledore did say that, although I don't have the books handy either... however, we know that Crouch Jr. did enough despicable things in his lifetime to render his involvement in the Longbottom affair extremely likely.


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Old April 9th, 2010, 5:30 am
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LoonyForMoony View Post
At the moment I'm reading Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo for the first time, and something that instantly struck my HP-saturated brain were the striking similarities between Edmond Dantes, the title character, and our very own Sirius Black. I was just wondering if anyone else might have noticed the same things I did...

Up to a certain point their stories are almost astonishingly similar.
  • Both of them were dark-haired young men, described as extremely handsome, possessed of close friendships and promising futures;
  • both were framed by someone they regarded as a friend for a crime of which they were innocent; (Peter / Danglars)
  • both were convicted without trial as a result of the political ambition of the magistrates judging them; (Crouch Sr. / Villefort)
  • both were sent to a horrifying prison, isolated on an island in the middle of the sea, in which most prisoners were known to go mad and from which none had ever escaped; (Azkaban / Chateau d'If)
  • both were in prison for fourteen years (the same fourteen years of their lives, from age nineteen or twenty into their early thirties);
  • while in prison, both of them had an unusual advantage which kept them from insanity; Dantes had a secret friendship, and Sirius his abilities as an Animagus;
  • during the years of their imprisonment both acquired crucial information about the man or men who betrayed them (Sirius from the newspaper, and Edmond from Abbe Faria);
  • both set an unheard-of precedent by escaping the similar prisons in which they were kept;
  • both proved to be slightly unhinged as a result of their terrible experiences, and focused themselves on getting vengeance... Dantes against the men who had him incarcerated, and Sirius against Peter for all his crimes.
I never thought of this parallel but it's very very interesting and the points you make, LoonyForMoony, are impressive.

I read Le Comte de Monte Cristo so long ago that the similarities didn't strike me, but now that you've pointed them out, they are glaring.

I guess the only person who could answer your question is JKR herself. She's been inspired by so many earlier writers, most of all Tolkien, and the accounts of Greek mythology - and she also speaks French very well, it's very possible that Edmond Dantès was at least partly a model for Sirius's stay in Azkaban. Fortunately for Edmond, he had a friend (the Abbé Faria) and a fortune waiting for him - well, Sirius was wealthy on his own right, but that's beside the point - and luckily for him there's nothing remotely like the Dementors in the Château d'If.

A quick look at the other posts in this thread brings up some other very intriguing point, which I can't take the time to explore at the moment, but I'll be sure to come back for a closer look.


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Old April 14th, 2010, 1:02 pm
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

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Originally Posted by LoonyForMoony View Post
I actually think that Crouch's condemnation of Barty Jr., rather than that of Sirius, is a closer parallel to Villefort's incarceration of Edmond.
I think that Crouch's attitude towards Barty Jr. is more like Villefort's with his wife, when he sentences her, though privately, after learning that she's poisoned half the family. Villefort condemned her because a judge couldn't have unsolved crimes at home, and Crouch Sr did not want his son to damage his reputation. Both of them thought more of their careers than of Justice...


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Old November 11th, 2010, 7:01 pm
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

I must say I doubt it. Luckily, Sirius never gets so obsessed with his vengeance. (I must admit I never liked Monte Christo's story).


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Old September 1st, 2011, 10:26 pm
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Re: Was Sirius Black inspired by Edmond Dantes?

As soon as I saw this thread, I was like "great, I'm not the only one!" I only read part of Monte Cristo, but right away I was like, "Oh my God, this is Harry Potter."

It isn't just Sirius/Edmond, either, although I noticed that one too. There is a scene early in the book where Villefort is at a party and the guests are discussing Napoleon. They discuss the fact that Napoleon is in exile but believe that he will come back. They even call him "You-Know-Who"! It's eerie.

So I think we can draw an additional Napoleon-Voldemort parallel. And just as Dantes was falsely accused of being a supporter of Napoleon, Sirius was accused of being a Death Eater.


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