Jul 14 2008

Mythology of Darth Vader: Symbol of evil or example of the impact of trauma and loss?

Darth Vader ranks third on the American Film Institutes Heroes and Villain list and is well known to most adults and children as an icon of evil.
Whats less known is Darth’s history as Anakin Skywalker and� his transformation from loving husband and Jedi hero to evil lord of the dark side of the Force.
Looking at his history helps us understand the powerful impact of trauma and loss in the lives of human beings.


In Star WarsEpisode III: Revenge of the Sith, we learn about Darth Vader’s heroics as Anakin Skywalker and his secret marriage to Padme Amidala, played by Natalie Portman in the movie.

The Evil Emperor Palpatine manipulates Darth Vader into joining the Dark Side by telling him it will save his pregnant wife, Padme Amidala, from dying during childbirth. This is enough to lure Anakin to the dark side of the Force, where is renamed Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Siths.

Darth Vader next fights Obi Wan Kenobi, his mentor, and is defeated. Obi Wan actually cuts off Darth Vader’s arms and legs and leaves him to die. Rescued by Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader is reconstructed with robotic arms and legs, air rebreather mask, and armor.

When he regains consciousness, his transformation into the iconic villain is cemented when Emperor Palpatine deceitfully tells Darth that he killed his wife during the struggle with Obi Wan.

Driven into despair, Darth flies into� a rage and destroys everything around him with his powers of the Force.

Fueled by grief and rage, Darth energetically joins the Emperor in his quest to kill all Jedi knights and move the galaxy under his autocratic control.

So, it is Anakin/Darth’s fear of losing his loving wife and then his despair that he killed her, along with all the other history of his life that leads him into the path of evil displayed throughout most of the Star Wars mythology.

What would it be like to think you killed your wife? How would one recover from that?

And to have your limbs cut off during a fight with your mentor, probably a loving friend prior to the epic fight to the death…what could that be like?

Anakin was a human being with his own strengths and vulnerabilities. His transformation from heroic Jedi knight to evil Dark Lord of the Siths can be explained by the tragedy in his life, not his lust for power or all that it brings.

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