Redefining Friends and Enemies in British Fantasy: Sidekicks and Anti-Sidekicks in the Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter Series

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Salmonson, Erica Leigh
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Western Illinois University
This thesis project examines characters in British fantasy through a sidekick and anti-sidekick lens, specifically focusing on The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series. Before analyzing events in these texts, I first define the fantasy genre, the traditional hero and the fairy-tale hero, and the sidekick trope. These definitions are important to establish because the characters deemed heroes, Frodo Baggins and Harry Potter, are not traditional heroes; they are fairy-tale heroes who cannot be successful without their sidekicks. In Chapter 1, I analyze Samwise Gamgee, from The Lord of the Rings, and Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter series, as sidekicks—ones who fill the sidekick trope and prove they are necessities to their respective stories. While many readers and fans regard these three characters as merely friends, these characters prove useful to the overall story and provide insight into the British fantasy genre. In Chapter 2, I examine Gollum, from The Lord of the Rings, and Draco Malfoy, from the Harry Potter series, as anti-sidekicks—ones who do not have their fairy-tale heroes’ best interests in mind, but are essential to their heroes and their heroes’ missions. Both of these anti-sidekicks are complex; they fulfill characteristics of the sidekick trope, but they are never friendly or care for their respective heroes. After thorough examination, I come to the conclusion that these anti-sidekicks are a clear blueprint of what their fairy-tale heroes could have become. An in-depth analysis of these British fantasy stories through the sidekick and anti-sidekick lens provides an enhanced reading of these texts, coming to a new, insightful conclusion of characters who are often cast aside.
ProQuest Number: 10272715