Madam Puddifoot’s: Comparing Romance in Star Wars and Harry Potter

by Valerie Hall

As someone who has spent a fair amount of time on the “Love Thread,” I have come to recognize many standard arguments that seem to come up over and over again. Star Wars is consistently used as an example where the “hero” doesn’t “get the girl,” but the story still works well. People compare the trio in Harry Potter to the characters of Luke, Leia, and Han. Star Wars is a good story, and it does share some common elements with Harry Potter. However, I will attempt in this editorial to show why drawing parallels between the two great stories sheds little light on possible romance, and what little light it does shed falls on a pairing of Hermione and Harry.

The first, and most obvious reason to resist putting too much weight in the similarities between Star Wars and Harry Potter is that JK Rowling has told us not to:

Question: Is Voldemort some sort of relative of Harry’s? Possibly his mother’s brother?
JK Rowling responds: I’m laughing…that would be a bit 
Star Wars, wouldn’t it?Rumour: Voldemort is Harry’s real father/grandfather/close relative of some description
JK Rowling: No, no, no, no, no. You lot have been watching much too much Star Wars. James is DEFINITELY Harry’s father. Doesn’t everybody Harry meets say “you look just like your father?” And hasn’t Dumbledore already told Harry that Voldemort is the last surviving descendent of Salazar Slytherin? Just to clarify — this means that Harry is NOT a descendent of Salazar Slytherin.

Rumour: I am going to write a book about Lily and James once I’ve finished the seven books about Harry Potter
JK Rowling: Hmm… once again, too much Star Wars can do this to a person. No prequels are planned.

So, clearly JK Rowling is not planning on borrowing too many tricks from George Lucas.

However, if fans are still tempted to cite Star Wars as an example of “sidekick love,” then perhaps we should examine the parallel with the original trilogy, and then the saga as a whole.

In the original trilogy, there is a case of a hero, Luke; a princess, Leia; and a rogue mercenary who sympathizes with the Jedi, named Han Solo. They are all brought together when Obi-Wan Kenobi undertakes to train Luke in the Jedi ways, rescue Leia from the oppressive Republic, and Han lends his ship, the Millenium Falcon, to the cause. The parallel characters would of course be Harry = Luke, Leia = Hermione, and Han = Ron.

However, when these characters are examined, these parallels cease to make sense. Luke and Han are certainly NOT best friends, and do not even get along that well for some portion of the film. Furthermore, this mild animosity is due to the fact that Han is extremely jealous of the bond Luke and Leia seem to share. Leia and Han do embody the “quarrelling couple,” but Han’s jealousy would have most probably ruined their relationship had it not been that Luke and Leia were siblings. This exchange is from the end of the final movie, by which time Han should be fairly certain of Leia’s feelings for him (as she has told him she loves him several times):

Scene: Leia and Han have just witnessed the Death Star blowing up; Luke may have been on it, or may have escaped.
Han Solo: I’m sure Luke wasn’t on that thing when it blew.
Princess Leia: He wasn’t. I can feel it.
Han Solo: You love him…don’t you?
Princess Leia: Yes.
Han Solo: All right. I understand. Fine. When he comes back, I won’t get in the way.
Princess Leia: It’s not like that at all. He’s my brother.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I was Han, and Leia had simply said “It’s not like that at all, he’s my friend,” I think I still would have been a bit jealous.

The point of all this is that the parallel breaks down because Harry and Hermione are NOT siblings. Ron, who like Han, has a somewhat jealous nature, would not stand for their close relationship, even if he should be secure in Hermione’s feelings for him. I do not believe JK Rowling will write a doomed relationship that ends in no one being with anyone, so I don’t think she will write a situation where Ron was always jealous of Harry and Hermione’s bond when he needn’t be. At least give him a reason to be jealous (H/Hr being actually together).
As a little aside to this, I would like to mention one of the origins of the name “Hermione.” Shakespeare’s play “The Winter’s Tale” is a tragicomedy. The first half is tragedy, and that portion of the play deals with a — who is mad with jealousy — accusing his queen, Hermione, of being unfaithful with none other than his own best friend. The husband’s craziness (for Hermione’s innocence is never in question to any but her husband) results in the death of their son, the estrangement of the two friends, Hermione’s imprisonment for 16 years, and the banishing of Hermione’s and her husband’s infant daughter. Again, I can’t see JK Rowling writing Ron actually getting Hermione only to be so jealous of Harry that he screws it up. Additionally, Ron seems to decide he no longer wants things he thought he wanted once he gets them (his spot on the Quidditch team comes to mind).

Now, back to Star Wars. The second parallel that can be drawn is with the series as a whole, in particular Episodes I-III. This parallel, in my opinion is the more accurate parallel, even if it does not hold up completely. In this parallel, Harry would be akin to Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, Ron would be akin to Ben/Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Hermione would be akin to Padme/Queen Amidala (people in Star Wars have a thing for multiple names, apparently). There is very little evidence, if there is any at all, of romantic feelings towards Amidala on the part of Obi Wan (depending on what you consider SW canon, that is).

The similarities between Harry and Anakin are certainly there…Anakin, it was prophesied, would restore balance to the Force. Eventually, he does, but not after a stint on the Dark Side. The prophecy similarity should be fairly obvious. Harry, while he obviously is not going to go completely to the “Dark Side,” does have a very dark side of himself, because of his connection to Voldemort’s mind.

The main difference between Harry’s struggle against Voldemort and Anakin’s struggle against the Dark Side, is that Anakin’s struggle is more internal. It is still a struggle between two people: Anakin and Darth Vader. They are simply trapped in the same body. It could be said that one of Harry’s struggles in defeating Voldemort is keeping Voldemort out of his mind, so Harry’s struggle is partially internal as well.

The clincher for the Anakin/Harry parallel is that George Lucas himself says that Anakin/Vader is the main character of Star Wars…he is the protagonist, as Harry is the protagonist. He had this to say in an interview with Entertainment Weekly about later generations who will be able to watch the Star Wars saga in order from Episodes I-VI:

“[But] what’s really important is the story, and the development of the characters. Now, once you get to IV [Star Wars: A New Hope], you know Darth Vader’s the main character because you saw him [in previous movies].”

So, if we take Anakin as the main character, and set him akin to Harry, then, as you can see, the “hero” does in fact “get the girl.” Anakin and Amidala are married, and they are the parents of Luke and Leia. Luke eventually helps Anakin defeat Emperor Palpatine, and Anakin is restored to the Light Side before his death. Since, in Harry Potter, we will not see a second generation (presumably), the most direct parallel for this point would be that Hermione’s partnership with Harry would be beneficial to Harry’s defeat of Voldemort. Amidala was not directly helpful in Anakin’s aim to become a Jedi Master (in fact, she was the reason he couldn’t — Jedi were forbidden from marrying), but the children she gave him did aid him in fulfilling his destiny.

The main point of this essay, as I said, is to show that we shouldn’t really be drawing many parallels between SW and HP, but I suppose the secondary point is that if we are going to draw parallels, let’s try to draw the right ones.