This essay is from Eric Koch
Published on November 22, 2002
Star Wars as a Modern Myth
Anakin Skywalker/ Darth Vader
Anakin Skywalker is the main character of the Star Wars Saga, and indeed he represents the most glaring traits of a tragic hero in the Greek model.
In the Greek model the hero is either born of noble stature or an orphan. In the case of Anakin Skywalker we have a mix of both in a very complex nature. Anakin's mother claims there was no father for Anakin; hence Anakin is born of virgin birth. Enter the biblical context of Jesus and the coming of the savior though virgin birth. Furthermore, when Anakin is discovered by the Jedi, he is declared to be the 'Chosen one' according to an age old prophesies. Mace Windu, skeptical asks the finders of Anakin "you reefer to the prophesy of the one who will bring balance to the force, you believe it's this..Boy?3" Trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin is to be trained in the ways of the Jedi. However, Anakin falls from to the Dark Side and is converted into the Evil Darth Vader, only to finally redeem.
In Greek literature the tragic hero, although not perfect, falls from what is perceived to be a tragic flaw. Anakin's tragic flaws can be seen in his aggression which he is unable to control throughout the saga. In the second installment of the saga "The Attack of the Clones" Anakin lets loose his rage, aggression, and impatience. Anakin is a Jedi in training and told to guard Pademe Amidala, a senator. The two grow close and soon a forbidden love theme arises. Padme quickly puts an end to the feelings; Anakin says they can "keep it a secret." Padme balks saying "We'd be living a lie, one we couldn't keep even if we tried, I couldn't do that, could you Anakin?" Anakin, realizing this forbidden love could never work signs and says "you're right, it would destroy us 4."
Again Anakin's theme of impatience comes to the forefront. Upon finding his mother; killed by sand people Anakin is at first sad and mournful at the loss of his mother. However, in a very un-Jedi like moment Anakin gives in to his hate and anger and slaughters the entire encampment. We find later as he is confessing to Padme, that Anakin not only slaughtered the men, but the women and children in a fit of absolute rage. "They're animals" Anakin yells "and I slaughtered them like animals, I HATE them5" Anakin confesses as his rage takes over him. Anakin is consoled by Padme as Anakin, still good at this point weeps on the floor. While the third and final installment of the sage isn't completed yet, it is obvious that Anakin will be tempted by the quick and easy path as he sees his mentor; Kenobi's training to be to slow, and he is seduced by the quick and easy path of the dark side6.
However, after years of being a slave to the dark side, Anakin fulfills the prophecy and brings balance to the Force. His downfall isn't a total loss rather before his death, he commits some redeeming act. This is seen in the final installment of the Saga The Return of the Jedi. With his son lying in pain on the floor as the lightening Vader returns to the Light side of the force, killing the evil Emperor. In doing this Vader, now Anakin again has fulfilled his destiny. In killing the Emperor he has brought himself back from the dark side to the light, and brought balance to the force by killing the symbol of pure evil which was gripping the galaxy.
Lastly, in a sign of true tragedy, Anakin's Death doesn't result in a mournful moment for the audience. Anakin's death scene in which he becomes one with the force like Yoda, and his mentor Kenobi doesn't inspire sadness in the audience rather we feel a sense of relief that good won out at the very end. Anakin sacrificed himself for his son and for the sake of the good side, rather then allowing his son to be tortured and killed.
Anakin Skywalker is the focal point of the entire saga, and only at the end does he realize his true destiny.
3 Episode I: The Phantom Menace. 1999. Dir George Lucas. :Liam Neeson. Ewan McGregor. Jake Lloyd. Natalie Portman. Ian McDiarmid.
4 "Episode II Attack of the Clones." 2002. Dir. George Lucas. Hayden Christensen. Natalie Portman. Ewan McGregor. Ian McDiarmid. Christopher Lee. Jimmy Smits.
5 "Episode II Attack of the Clones." 2002. Dir. George Lucas. Hayden Christensen. Natalie Portman. Ewan McGregor. Ian McDiarmid. Christopher Lee. Jimmy Smits.
6 "Star Wars Databank." Anakin Skywalker. www.starwars.com/databank. Nov 11. 2002.