by Scott Chitwood
I recently decided to pick up the first Harry Potter book and check it out. With all the Harry Potter mania going on, I wanted to see what the fuss was about. It is breaking all kinds of records in the book world and a major motion picture is currently in production. So with all this in mind, I read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".
After finishing the book, it was easy for me to see why it is so popular among kids and adults. At the core of the plot, Harry Potter follows pretty much the same course as Star Wars. All of the elements of legend and myth are there. You have an ordinary human being in an ordinary world thrown into extraordinary circumstances in which he must fulfill his destiny. This seems to be the basic plot behind myth, legend, Harry Potter, and Star Wars.
If you haven't read the Harry Potter books, the overall story is not hard to describe. Harry Potter is an 11-year-old orphaned boy who lives with his evil Aunt and Uncle. One day he discovers that his parents were wizards and that he, too, can go to wizard's school and learn magic. Once he arrives at the school, he learns that he is a legend among magical folk. This is because, when he was an infant, an evil, unstoppable wizard named Voldemort murdered his parents. Voldemort intended to kill Harry, too, but the baby mysteriously drove off the sorcerer never to be seen again. Potter was left with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead as the only evidence of the encounter. He has since been praised as a savior. But can Harry live up to their expectations and fulfill the destiny they expect of him? And can he foil a plot to resurrect the evil Voldemort?
Besides the basic similarity of the "hero's journey" plot, Harry Potter and Star Wars have a TON of similarities. Below is a rundown of the ones I could think of.
Harry Potter / Luke Skywalker - Both Harry and Luke are orphans (or at least Luke appears to be). Neither one really knows what happened to their parents. They never knew them, either. Luke and Harry both live with their Aunt and Uncle in a life that is tedious, boring, and unexciting. They long for something more in life. Their lives are both turned upside down one day when a strange character (Hagrid or Obi-Wan Kenobi) arrives to tell them the truth about their background, parents, and true potential. Luke and Harry both discover that they have strong potential in magic or the Force. As both characters rise above great danger to save their friends from certain doom, we get a glimpse of the great future ahead of them.
Voldemort / The Emperor- Voldemort is an evil sorcerer who killed Harry Potter's parents. You could say the Emperor killed Luke's father, Anakin. Voldemort and the Emperor both want to rule the world and they will do anything to make that happen. Voldemort kills many wizards and witches. The Emperor kills many Jedi. Both Voldemort and the Emperor have evil minions who do their bidding. Both are masters of the Dark Side. At one point, when talking about Voldemort, Harry Potter yells out, "I'm never going over to the Dark Side!" Sound familiar? In the end, both evil characters were defeated by one thing - love. Voldemort is defeated because of Harry's mother's love for him. The Emperor is defeated because of Anakin's love for Luke.
Professor Dumbledore / Obi-Wan Kenobi - Dumbledore is kind of the guardian and mentor of Harry Potter. Obi-Wan is the guardian and mentor for Luke. Both characters know the full histories of our heroes, but they're not quite willing to tell them everything yet. Dumbledore rescued baby Harry after his encounter with Voldemort and delivered him to Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. Kenobi rescued Luke and hid him from the Emperor with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
Hogwarts / The Jedi Temple - Hogwarts is the boarding school where children go to learn magic and become wizards. The Jedi Temple is where young children go to learn about the Force and become Jedi. Both places are run by masters who teach the children their basic lessons.
Magic / The Force - Only certain special people in the Harry Potter world have the potential to become wizards and witches. Same with the Jedi. Nobody believes in magic in Harry Potter's real world. Most people in the Star Wars Universe don't believe in the Force. Both are considered hocus pocus and a bogus religion. Both allow users to do extraordinary things.
Magic Wands / Lightsabers - In the Harry Potter books, wizards use magic wands as special tools to help them manifest their powers. The Jedi use lightsabers as their tools of the trade. Wands and lightsabers are unique to the individual users. Both pick theirs out based on unique personal criteria.
Flying Brooms / Starships - Brooms are the vehicle of choice among wizards and witches. Starships are the vehicle of choice in Star Wars. In both worlds the vehicles are customized to be tough and fast. And the faster, the better. Wizards casually chat about the latest and fastest model of flying broom. Stormtroopers casually chat about the latest model of ship.
Quidditch / Pod Racing - Quidditch is a dangerous sport played on flying brooms by half insane competitors. It is fast, furious, and someone can easily be killed if they don't pay attention. Cheating and rough play is not unheard of. Pod Racing has a different form of play and objective, but in the end they are very similar. Both sports are played with the fastest and best models of brooms or pods. There is also a lot of betting done on both sports.
Uncle Owen / Uncle Vernon - Both characters took in their nephews after a time of crisis and both knew the truth about their parents yet refused to tell them. Owen thought Luke's father was foolish to run off and become a Jedi. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon both thought Harry's mother was foolish to go off to become a wizard. In fact, at one point Aunt Petunia says, "I was the only one who saw her for what she was - a freak!" They refuse to let Harry go to Hogwarts, and Uncle Owen refuses to let Luke go to the Academy. There is one key difference between Uncle Owen and Uncle Vernon. Owen seemed to genuinely love Luke and take care of him. Vernon hated Harry and treated him slightly better than an animal.
Wizards & Witches / Jedi - Both Jedi and wizards are treated as oddities in the real world. Wizards are looked at as freaks or eccentric kooks. Jedi are looked at as people following "hokey religions". Uncle Owen even calls Obi-Wan a "crazy wizard". In both worlds the characters wear hooded robes as standard uniform.
Death Eaters / Sith - There are minions of evil in both worlds. The Death Eaters are the followers of Voldemort. Darth Maul is the minion of Darth Sidious (or The Emperor). In both worlds the characters are followers of the "Dark Side" and they practice an evil form of wizardry or the Force. Both Darth Maul and a Death Eater in the Sorcerer's Stone wear black, hooded cloaks.
Ministry of Magic / Jedi Council - In the Harry Potter books a group of wizards watches over the mystical realm and makes important decisions about what goes on. In Star Wars, the Jedi Council is a ruling group of the most powerful Jedi that make important decisions in matters of the Force.
Ghosts / Jedi Spirits - Ghosts occasionally appear in both worlds. Jedi Spirits occasionally return to guide and help Luke. Ghosts at Hogwarts act as guardians of students in various dorms. However, in the Harry Potter world they appear more frequently and are sometimes considered more of as a nuisance.
Owls / Droids - In the Harry Potter world, wizards use owls to transport messages. They also act as companions and pets to the wizards. In Star Wars, Luke has R2-D2. He is a companion to Luke and even helped Princess Leia transport a message.
That just about covers it! If you'd like to see more Harry Potter coverage, you can check out MovieHeadlines.Net. I've also got a Beginner's Guide to Harry Potter posted over there for your reading pleasure! Check it out!