the fifth Harry Potter book when the prophecy was revealed. I at least had some vague hopes that it was a fake out, but alas it wasn’t.
Even when the ultimate point is that prophesies are a bad idea, as in the Star Wars prequels, they’re still coldly alienating to an audience: That usually just means that it comes true in an ironic way, which still implies a predestined universe, which is something that audiences hate. We want our heroes to have free agency, to choose to be great, and earn their place in our hearts, without a prophesy telling us (or them) how special they are.
But as James Kennedy pointed out in the letter that started these posts:
- Aunt Beru says, “Luke's not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him” and Uncle Owen responds, “That's what I’m afraid of”, now we’re truly intrigued by Luke – there’s more to Luke than even Luke knows, and they key to it all is his father! So we’re subtly prepped for when Ben Kenobi starts talking about Luke’s father: whatever Ben says about Luke’s father (great star pilot, Jedi knight, cunning warrior) is something that is potentially true about Luke. Aunt Beru has promised it in this scene! She’s planted the seed here!
A belatedly-revealed legacy is the smart version of a prophesy. On the one hand, if you believe in nature over nurture, then you’ll feel that you can inherit the qualities and/or abilities of your dad, even if you’ve never met him…but even if you believe strictly in nurture, a secret-dad reveal can still have a powerful psychological effect on a person, because we all have limiters in our head saying “a person like me can’t aim that high.” Finding out about great accomplishments in your family lets you know, “hey, why shouldn’t I be able to do the same thing?”
Luke just chortled when Threepio called him “Sir Luke”, but once he finds out more about his father from Obi Wan, he begins to change his way of thinking: Hey maybe a guy like me can be a knight…