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This essay is from Austin Johnson
Published on November 21, 2002

Frodo and the Force:
A Comparison of Modern Epic Stories

Luke Skywalker, The Human Yin-Yang

Another eerily Eastern ideal in Star Wars is that of "balance." The Dark and Light sides seem to always be in conflict, but it seems that this conflict is intrinsic. Dark and Light are perpetually in opposition, but they are equal. This is easily reflected in the eastern concept of the Yin Yang. Opposing sides must balance each other out in order to maintain harmony in the world.

In the prequel trilogy, all of the Jedi are looking to Anakin to "restore the balance." Some have speculated that this prophecy is fulfilled when Anakin, as Darth Vader, kills all but two of the Jedi, bringing them down to the same number as the Sith. However, a problem that arises with this theory is that Anakin would then be upsetting the balance when he kills the Emperor, and then dies. It is possible that Luke represents the coming of a new form of Jedi. Indeed, he seems to tap the Dark side several times in The Return of the Jedi. He kills two guards in Jabba's palace by choking them. He gives in to anger in the Emperor's throne room. It is possible that Luke is a perfectly balanced Jedi. He is the Yin Yang personified.

Another Post-Modern ideal is found in the fact that the old knowledge had become useless. Both Obi-Wan and Yoda believed that Vader could not be turned, and were proven wrong. Obi-Wan told Luke's father had been betrayed and murdered by Vader, which, though true from a certain point of view, was not the case in reality. Obi-Wan genuinely believes that Anakin Skywalker has ceased to exist. He is proven wrong when Luke turns him from the Dark side. Both mentors warn Luke that his friends should be left alone to face Vader on their own at Bespin. They think Luke will fall, but he does not. In addition, both mentors are shallow characters, confined to hermitages on remote planets. They are pure light. Yoda is almost the incarnation of the Light side. He therefore seems much less human than Luke or Anakin. People have difficulty identifying with him because of the unlikelihood of a character like him. His role is to teach Luke the Light side, just as the Emperor teaches him the Dark side. Very little of his knowledge is usable in the real world. Rarely does Luke need to lift a rock, or fire lightning from his fingertips, as his Light and Dark side mentors teach him. All of this "old" knowledge is outdated. The new knowledge of balance that Luke has reached is the true point of new knowledge.


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