archetypes in literature and film, Darth Vader, George Lucas, iambic pentameter, Ian Doescher, identity, intimations of awakening, legacy, Luke Skywalker, parenthood, possibility of redemption?, self-reflection, Star Wars, the dark side of the Force, the Force, William Shakespeare
VADERThe strangest feelings have been mine of late.
To know my son exists confounds my wits
As I did ne’er imagine. What is this
confusion that doth obfuscate my mind?
For evil I am made, for punishment
Of foes, for conquering of peoples, and
To do the perfect will of my great lord
And Emperor. Of these I certain am,
For this hath been my role full many years.
Yet where within this surety is room
For offspring? For a son? What can a life
Liv’d on the dark side of the Force have still
To do with heirs, with flesh and bone that sprang
From me and that sweet life that once I led?
How can this Sith, this man of pain and death,
Be father to the fruit of far-gone love?
It seems well nigh impossible when one
Considers what I’ve been. For, verily,
I may not hide the man I truly am:
A warrior devoted to the cause
Of Emperor and Empire both. ‘Tis who
I am: I must be mad when I have cause
And smile at no one’s jests. No humor doth
Give pleasure to my mouth or stir my heart,
Nor would I dare to ever love again,
If e’en this mess of tangl’d wires could love.
I am a Sith, most surely to be fear’d.
Yet that perplexing thing remains: a son.
From ACT II, SCENE 4 of William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return: Star Wars Part the Sixth by Ian Doescher, 2014.
We have here a soliloquy from the third volume in this recasting of the first (film) trilogy (Parts 4 to 6) of George Lucas’ Star Wars universe, published by Quirk Books over the last couple of years.
What can I say about these three books, except that they’re brilliantly conceived and masterfully executed in a Shakespearean (pseudo-Shakespearean?) style—while also being very reader-friendly and accessible, as great fun to read as the movies are to watch (for an ardent reader, maybe even more fun, dare I say?). They should be required reading in the Grade 9 or 10 curriculum, the whole set of them (perhaps with other, more ‘normal’ work, interspersed). (By the way, there are a couple of teeny typos in second book / to keep you on your toes :) Doescher does justice to both Shakespeare and Lucas, being well-versed in and deeply respectful of both traditions. The books are not long, but manage to convey a rich, full spectrum of emotion and wisdom as the characters interact and grow. (The trilogy had the added benefit of catching me up—well, not quite, my knowledge of the prequels is poor—with the plots and characters of the Star Wars universe.) Each volume has an Afterword with the author briefly recalling his own childhood experience of the films; also, he describes some of the stylistic issues of the writing and introduces the reader to the concept of literature’s archetypal underpinnings. I’ll quote here his closing words of this final volume’s Afterword:
“. . . Return of the Jedi is where the story of Darth Vader comes full circle. The character development of Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader—from Episode I through Episode VI—is a triumph of modern cinema. Vader’s transformation in Return of the Jedi has more depth than people tend to acknowledge, due in large part to the cathartic final scenes between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Luke realizes how close he comes to the dark side, as he considers his own robotic hand and the severed limb of his father, which Luke himself cut off in a moment of fury. Darth Vader realizes he has a decision to make: save his son, or remain a slave to his Emperor. We see him make that choice in the most dramatic way possible, as he grasps the Emperor and casts him into the abyss to his doom. Those two events—the separate awakenings of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader—are masterful film moments, and utterly Shakespearean. Darth Vader realizes in the end that it is his son, not his Emperor, who matters, just as King Lear realizes before his death that Cordelia loved him better than Goneril and Regan ever could. These are weighty moments. I knew that even when I was six.
Thank you, all of you who have entered the world of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars trilogy. This has been a special journey for me; I hope it has been for you as well.
May the Force be with you, always.”