This essay is from Austin Johnson
Published on November 21, 2002
Frodo and the Force:
A Comparison of Modern Epic Stories
The Star Wars Enigma
Another great modern epic is the story of Star Wars. It too reflects the beliefs of its author. George Lucas' religious beliefs are a veritable smorgasbord of new philosophies. His tale reflects the melting pot of faiths that he has incorporated into his personal life. Star Wars is a decidedly post-modern tale that calls upon medieval themes of Arthurian literature, then, strangely, turns them on their heads.
Luke Skywalker for instance, is something of an enigma. At first glance he seems to vaguely resemble Lancelot, or perhaps Gawaine, the most courageous of the Knights of the Round table. But the problem with this theory is that halfway through The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker's journey takes a decidedly mystical turn.
In A New Hope, more commonly known as Star Wars, the only people capable of using the Force, a mystical power vaguely similar to the Tao of eastern philosophy, are Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Vader, who, in his first incarnation here, appears to be a kind of Dark Wizard. In The Empire Strikes Back, however, Luke Skywalker begins to learn to channel the Force. A skill that was formerly available only to a few wizards is now usable by a common person. Luke personifies the American dream. He rises from being a farm boy in the desert to becoming a great hero, capable of saving the world. He is, in this sense, similar to Frodo, but this is where the similarities end. The difference occurs in that while Frodo and his companions represent a traditional Christian medieval tale, Luke is part of a brand new hierarchy of heroes.