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This essay is from Eric Koch
Published on November 22, 2002

Star Wars as a Modern Myth


Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi further fits the classic Greek model. The mentor and father figure of the series and indeed his mark is left over the entire saga. Kenobi is introduced as a Jedi in training in The Phantom Menace. We see him grow into a Jedi in the second episode, and find him as a hermit in the fourth installment, A New Hope. It is the classic rise and fall of a hero, with redemption at the very end.

Kenobi follows the footsteps of Oedipus Rex and other tragic hero's of the classical senesce in many respects. In the classical texts the characters fatal error or hamartia7 is what drives them down. Oedipus searches for the reason for his kingdoms misery only to find that the reason was his own fault. The murder of his father and the marriage of his mother is what caused the plagues. Destroyed by his guilt Oedipus gouged his own eyes out and exiled himself for his pride8.

While we aren't completely positive of how the galaxy is plunged into 20 years of terror under the Emperor we already know that Kenobi takes the blame for Anakin's fall to the dark side. Kenobi's hamartia is his own pride; a pride which he later says "had terrible consequences for the galaxy.9" Rather then self-mutilation Kenobi exiles himself to the deserts wasteland of Tatooine for 20 years waiting for the will of the Force to bring Luke to him10.

Obi-Wan's great sacrifice, as all great mentors' make eventually is himself at the hands of Darth Vader. Obi-Wan however, even in spiritual form continues to profess his own guilt at the situation, even after it became away he was just a pawn in the greater game. Kenobi appears to Luke through the second trilogy giving advice in his times of need. The Force possesses a form of Providence; it is a deity not the "mythic logos11" of the previous trilogy. The Force in the prequel trilogy is refereed to in such terms of providence that there appears to be no free will, rather the force leads everything. In the sequel trilogy the Force is given more religious terms, as a force which binds the universe together.

7 Domenjoz, Molly. "The Obi-Wan Complex: Kenobi's Sin of Pride." Space Magazine. May 2000
8 Domenjoz, Molly. "The Obi-Wan Complex: Kenobi's Sin of Pride." Space Magazine. May 2000
9 Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Dir. George Lucas. Mark Hamill. Harrison Ford. Ian McDiarmid. Billy Dee Williams. Carrie Fisher.
10James Earl Jones.
11 Episode IV: A New Hope. Dir George Lucas. Mark Hamill. Carrie Fisher. Harrison Ford. Alec Guinness. Peter Cushing.


 

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