Many parallels can be made between the stories of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy (released 1977-83 and created by George Lucas) and Harry Potter in the first seven Harry Potter books (published between 1997 and 2007 and written by J. K. Rowling). Although these Harry Potter books have more installments, characters and plot twists than the original Star Wars trilogy, both stories’ protagonists have similar journeys. Both of these stories are loved by fans around the world due in part to their fantastical and magical settings. Star Wars is set in an ancient outer space war between good and evil forces while the magical world of Harry Potter is set in a late 20th century Great Britain that is filled with the destruction of an evil wizard. Additionally, these stories are loved for the hero’s journey theme that has drawn people into stories for hundreds of years.
Both Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker do not know the truth about their parents. Additionally, they both find it out from someone who helps them to fulfill their destinies. As the story goes, Luke has not been told that his father was a Jedi knight who fought to keep order in the universe. After the death of his mother and the “death” of his father, Luke is sent to live with his kind aunt and uncle, who live on the planet on which his father, the Jedi Anakin Skywalker, grew up. Little detail about Luke’s father has been given to him.
Like Luke, Harry has been given little information about his parents beyond that they were apparently killed in a car accident. In contrast to Luke, the aunt and uncle that Harry now lives with are cruel. Harry begins to receive mysterious letters around his eleventh birthday, causing his aunt and uncle to grow fearful of a secret that they have about Harry’s parents. Soon, Harry’s uncle moves his family and Harry to a different home in the hopes that the letters will stop coming. Hagrid, an intimidating but kind man who is a teacher at the wizardry school of Hogwarts, tracks down the family and tells Harry his aunt and uncle’s secret: the truth about his parents.
Like Harry, Luke’s aunt and uncle have kept the truth about his father a secret. Luke’s uncle buys two droids not knowing that they previously belonged to Princess Leia, head of the group fighting against evil known as the Resistance. Luke discovers a message in one of these droids from Leia to a man named Obi-Wan Kenobi and becomes infatuated with this mysterious princess. The droid escapes to deliver this important message to Obi-Wan, and when Luke follows the droid, he is taken into the home of the renowned Jedi teacher Obi-Wan himself. It is not Luke’s aunt and uncle but Obi-Wan who tells Luke about his father.
Hagrid explains to Harry that his mother and father, who were a talented witch and wizard, were not killed in a car accident but were actually murdered by an evil wizard because they were fighting against the destruction he was causing. This evil wizard, who calls himself Voldemort, tried to murder Harry as well, but Harry survived. It turns out, though, that the danger is not yet over since Voldemort may still be alive and seeking to kill Harry. Hagrid’s use of magic intimidates Harry’s uncle’s family so much that it is finally negotiated for Harry to go to the wizardry school, Hogwarts (“magicality” is inherited, which means that Harry has the potential to become a talented wizard just like his parents). Harry, although surprised about this turn of events, quietly takes it in and is overjoyed to be rid of his uncle’s cruel family.
Similar to how Harry is told about his parents by Hagrid, Luke finds out from Obi-Wan that his father was actually a Jedi and like Hagrid does for Harry, Obi-Wan helps Luke fulfill his destiny. After revealing the truth about his father, Obi-Wan gives Luke his father’s light saber, which is a weapon fueled by power from the energy field known as the Force (since Luke’s father was a Jedi, Luke has inherited a connection with the Force). Luke is not too surprised by this new information about his father, but he is reluctant to go with Obi-Wan to help rescue Leia from danger. In the end, Luke does decide to go with Obi-Wan, and while he is gone, his aunt and uncle are murdered by the dark side’s forces. Therefore, in the end, there is no old life to which Luke can return.
Harry and Luke Start Their Education with the Support of Friends
On the train to the Hogwarts School, Harry befriends Ron and Hermione, who stay by him, even though it puts them in danger from Voldemort. At Hogwarts, the headmaster is the brilliant Dumbledore, who becomes a mentor to Harry and counsels him many times. Dumbledore also tells Harry more about his father. A few months later, Harry anonymously receives an invisibility cloak that, like Luke’s light saber, had belonged to his father. Both Harry and Luke are given special tools and weapons that they use to defend themselves and others.
Likewise, during his mission to rescue Leia, Luke becomes friends with her and Han Solo (like Hermione and Ron, Leia and Han later fall in love). All through the trilogy Luke flies with them to many different planets to fight the dark side. During this time, Luke has a vision of Obi-Wan, who tells him to seek the renowned Jedi master, Yoda, and thus begins his Jedi training.
Struggles Test These Future Heroes, and Plot Twists Leave Them Lost
Throughout his years at Hogwarts, Harry struggles to learn difficult magical spells and skills. As he approaches his graduation from Hogwarts, he assists the headmaster Dumbledore in finding and eradicating objects that contain a bit of Voldemort’s soul (each object is called a Horcrux, and Voldemort can only be killed once all of them are destroyed). On one of these searches, Dumbledore is weakened from drinking a potion and is ultimately killed by another professor when he and Harry return to Hogwarts. Harry (along with the reader) is grief-stricken and does not know what to do.
Similarly, during his Jedi training Luke has a hard time learning how to control his emotions and his connection with the Force. After these difficulties, though, Luke is more prepared to come face to face with the evil Darth Vader, which Yoda and Obi-Wan dread because they know something that Luke does not. The whole Star Wars trilogy story reaches its most unbearable plot twist when Darth and Luke meet for the first time. Darth reveals that he is Luke’s father, the Jedi Anakin Skywalker, who was lured to the dark side by his desire for power. Luke is shocked and devastated; his view of his father as a Jedi hero is shattered.
The Evil is within
For Harry, the plot twist does not include information about his parents but is equally painful. Harry finds out from the memories of a dead professor that the last Horcrux is actually Harry himself. Harry will have to die before Voldemort can be totally annihilated since a piece of Voldemort’s soul lies within him. Harry is furious and hurt that no one told him that he contained some of Voldemort’s soul or that he must die in order for Voldemort to die.
In similar fashion, knowing the truth causes Luke to doubt himself and to feel conflicted about his legitimacy. Since his father was lured to the dark side, Luke wonders if it is his fate to succumb to its temptation as well. Luke determines that deep down, Darth must still love him at least a little, and so he tries to make that love turn Darth against the dark side. This does not work until the man controlling Darth begins to torture Luke. In his rage, Darth kills his master and gives up his own life.
Similar to the destruction and battles that Luke faces, war with Voldemort and his compatriots ensues at the Hogwarts School, and many of Harry’s friends, mentors and fellow students are killed. After the battle, Harry decides that since his death is the only way for Voldemort’s destruction to be checked, he must go to where Voldemort is waiting to kill him. Voldemort uses the killing curse on Harry; however, while this does destroy the bit of Voldemort’s soul that is in him, it does not kill Harry himself. Like Luke’s vision of Obi-Wan leading him to Yoda, Harry then has a vision of Dumbledore, who helps him figure out what to do. Harry confronts Voldemort, and they duel, which results in Voldemort’s death.
So Why Do People Love These Stories?
While Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker have different goals and personalities, their stories have a surprising number of similar themes. People tend to love strong characters with humanity and flaws just like their own. Likewise, people tend to enjoy the hero’s journey, stories whose protagonists are able to conquer their enemies and inner demons in order to save the world. These stories are also appealing because they excite the readers’ desire to be recognized for their own undiscovered talents and to be, or be saved by, a hero themselves. It is through fantastical stories like these that readers can have their own heroic desires fulfilled.