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Melinda’s Brew : It’s A Slippery Slope…

Melinda’s Brew : It’s A Slippery Slope…

I just got back from running a few errands,* and on this rare, sure-to-be-short-lived, 40-degree day when the piles of snow are experiencing a rapid melting – causing a good amount of wetness to be sprayed across my windshield – I couldn’t help but think about the topic that is foremost in my mind – Anakin Skywalker. Why would Anakin be swimming around in my brain, you ask? I had just finished listening to Coffee With Kenobi’s fascinating chat with Becca B. (podcast #10), that’s why! I am not going to rehash everything about which they discussed. I encourage you to give it a listen (http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/2624491 or you can listen to it, as I do, over at ITunes) so you can be privy to what the most recent podcast was all about. To further the discussion, Dan and Cory have given me the green light to weigh in on the heavy subject of Anakin, his fall to the Dark Side, what led to it, and was it credible. (I try to stay clear of podcast topics. Variety is the spice of life.)

As I continued along my merry way this morning, I’d clear the grime off my windshield. Voilá, I could see clearly! Of course, conditions being what they were, it wasn’t long before the dirty spray began to cloud my ability to see everything around me. After a few miles, I flicked the switch again to clean the windshield. What a wonderful feeling to be able to see clearly once again!

All this time, I was thinking about Anakin, and it occurred to me that his passion – skewed as it was – led him down that dark and dangerous path. If only he had a cleaning solution and a pair of wipers to cleanse his soul of that blinding passion that drove him. And led him to the Dark Side.

Every time I watch – especially – Revenge of the Sith, I want to take Anakin aside, and make him – yes, make him – open his eyes to everything that is happening around him. “Anakin, follow the ways of the Jedi! Do not go down that path Chancellor Palpatine wants to lead you! Don’t you realize you are being manipulated? Listen to Obi-wan! Listen to Padmé! You know what is right. You are a Jedi!” I long to drive home to him. If only I could reach through that silver screen, grab hold of Anakin by the scruff of his neck and pull him to where I am, and say all this to him – and then send him back to that galaxy far, far away – there might be a good chance he’d make some different choices. Oh, not that I have all the answers. This is just what goes through my mind when I view ROTS.

The thing is here was a young man with so much potential, with so much promise. What happens? All that potential, all that promise go to waste … go down the reactor shaft.

Throughout most of his young life, Anakin really was driven to help others. While impetuous, impatient, sometimes rash, he really had an altruistic heart. We see this most concretely in “The Clone Wars” animated series. Remember the adage actions speak louder than words? We watch Anakin helping others and guiding Ahsoka (in much the same way Obi-wan guided his padawan, I’d like to point out). He is maturing into the Jedi he always saw himself becoming.

But even before his all-consuming love for Padmé gets the better of him, Anakin strays from his intended path. He masacres a Tusken village, and he allows himself to be goaded into killing Count Dooku. Anakin knows he should not take such a drastic step as slaying his foe. He even goes as far as to aver, “It’s not the Jedi way” when a bound Chancellor Palpatine bids Anakin, “Kill him.” In this scene, we actually witness the demons (Sith-like leanings) battling the goodness (Jedi-like forces) within Anakin’s psyche. This is a switch from the scene on Tatooine when he slaughtered the Tuskens. In that instance, he acted out of pure revenge, and only afterward did he show regret for his actions. But on General Grievous’ ship, Anakin clearly knows he shouldn’t kill Count Dooku. He listens to the devil on his shoulder, giving into his baser desires.

As ROTS progresses, Anakin’s selfishness emerges. It’s what ultimately leads him to make the poor decisions he makes. He is selfish, plain and simple. Above all, Anakin wants what he wants – to save Padmé, deciding that her life is more important than anyone else’s. I can understand Anakin’s deep love for his wife. I can understand his desire to save the love of his life. However, if he knew Padmé as well as I think he did, he knew Padmé never would want Anakin to make such a choice. She was selfless. She understood what it meant to look out for the greater good. (And let’s face it, not even Yoda could determine exactly what Anakin’s dreams [about Padmé] meant. Always in motion the future is.)

The bottom line is Anakin made the choices he made, and he had to live with them. He was responsible for his actions. Yes, we can say that Chancellor Palpatine manipulated him by taking advantage of Anakin’s weaknesses and needs. We can say being taken away from his loving mother at such a tender age – and losing her the way he did – left a deep hole in his heart. We can say loving Padmé – and having to keep it a secret – put a strain on his relationship with the Jedi. As much as Anakin may have professed his desire to be a Jedi, his actions ran contrary to what he professed. Actions speak louder than words. I know I am not alone in this line of thinking.

“Anakin can blame no one but himself,” Kevin Hearne, author of an upcoming installment in the Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion series, says in a recent Star Wars Insider article. “We may not get to choose the circumstances of our lives, but we are always free to choose how to react. … Anakin reacts to his personal tragedies with unholy killing sprees.”

Authors Aaron Allston and John Jackson Miller concur. “…Anakin was ultimately responsible, because at every stage of his process of corruption, he could have chosen to say ‘enough’ – to suffer loss or even to die rather than to perpetuate the tragedy he was living,” Allston explains. Adds Miller: “…Anakin is ultimately the one who acted. He could have turned back.”

“… Anakin made his own decisions, and what is man who can’t be measured by his own actions?” artist Douglas Wheatley states in the same article.

Issue 145 of the Insider included the outstanding eight-page spread delving into Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side, who was responsible, and whether Anakin was more of a hero or villain. If you’d like, check out the magazine at http://titanmagazines.com/t/star-wars-insider/

If Anakin had a set of windshield wipers to swipe away the fog that – mostly – Sith Lord-in-Chancellor’s-Clothing Palpatine was creating, would Anakin make different choices? If I could reach into the movie screen to grab the young Jedi to talk to him, would he heed my warnings? I’m not altogether sure he would. Like I said earlier, Anakin was selfish. He was driven to appease his own desires. He never asked Padmé if she wanted him to save her at all costs. (And don’t forget – there was no definitive reason to believe she would die. Anakin’s dreams never showed her in an expired state.)

Anakin most definitely was a tragic character. To my reckoning, he was no hero. The way he was portrayed, I think his fall to the Dark Side was credible. Did he bring balance to the Force? I know most fans think he did. However, I have a different slant … that will wait until my next post. I’ve already bent your ears long enough. Until then, MTFBWY.

(*I wrote this on Monday. Hoth-like conditions have returned to this winter wonderland we call Wisconsin. I knew the warm up couldn’t last.)

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23 Comments

  1. Lillian torres
    January 15, 2014 at 15:42 Reply

    Melinda, great thoughts as always. My favorite characters are Anakin and Padme as you know and I would like to blog about my feelings on this also one day. I will say that experience has me understanding his logic even though I know it’s wrong. But I’ll save my thoughts for later. Love you Melinda

    1. Melinda
      January 16, 2014 at 16:52 Reply

      I can’t wait, lily! 🙂

  2. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 18:41 Reply

    Thanks for the “shout out”, Melinda! Much appreciated.

    1. Melinda
      January 16, 2014 at 16:53 Reply

      You are more than welcome. It was such a great chat. 🙂

  3. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 18:43 Reply

    While I see your points/views, I still can’t help but to feel the way I do for, Anakin.

    1. Melinda
      January 16, 2014 at 16:58 Reply

      I knew I wouldn’t change your mind. 😉 I hope you know I never go out to change minds. Just to offer a different perspective.

  4. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 18:44 Reply

    I’m not saying that he IS NOT responsible for his actions and decisions, quite the contrary.

  5. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 18:45 Reply

    Unfortunately, at the time, they are at war. With war, many things changes; including perceptions.

  6. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 18:47 Reply

    With that, his judgement is misplaced. He’s sickened by all that has transpired and tormented by his nightmares.

  7. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 20:51 Reply

    Keep in mind, in ROTS we don’t actually see him taking the lives of the younglings hiding out in the High Council Chamber.

  8. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 20:52 Reply

    It’s possible to think that a unit of clone troopers are following behind him. Those troopers could have very well done “the deed.”

    1. Melinda
      January 16, 2014 at 17:04 Reply

      Oh … that’s an interesting perspective. It has been a long time since I’ve read the novel. Have you read ROTS recently? Does the novel go into more detail? Hmm…

  9. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 20:55 Reply

    I’m not try to make excuses here, just pointing out the possibilities. In the end, Anakin DID save Luke and returned to the light side of the Force; restoring balance.

  10. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 20:57 Reply

    Anakin was FINALLY able to “let go” of all he feared to lose; his son and his true self.

  11. Becca Benjamin
    January 15, 2014 at 20:59 Reply

    As he did, so did Luke. With that, Luke completed his own “Trials” and became a Jedi Knight. Funtastic blog, Melinda!

    1. Melinda
      January 16, 2014 at 17:08 Reply

      I love reading your perspectives. 🙂 They add so much to the discussion. They certainly broaden my outlook. Thank you so much! 🙂

      1. Becca
        January 17, 2014 at 00:01 Reply

        Oh Melinda, you’re too soft on me lol! Your insights/perspectives/and ideals are always fascinating!

  12. Kathy Griffee
    January 16, 2014 at 02:27 Reply

    Love, love, love!

    1. Melinda
      January 16, 2014 at 16:51 Reply

      thank you, thank you, thank you. You’re a peach! 🙂

  13. Jay
    January 28, 2014 at 17:34 Reply

    Hey Melinda! 🙂
    Great references to the Insider article. It was one of my all-time favories! I loved hearing all the “experts” weigh in with their opinions.

    You made me giggle, too – I can just see the vision of you grabbing Anakin by the scruff of his neck! Such a Mom thing to do – I could see myself doing the same thing!

    As a teacher, I’ve experienced the same helplessness of watching certain kiddos that seemed to have so much promise make one terrible decision after another. Many times its a product of their environment – the apple not falling far from the tree, so-to-speak. Other times it’s the company they keep. Yet again at times it has to do with a strong desire to “fit in”, or to “impress the popular kids”. Low self-esteem…you name it.

    For Anakin, I think there were so many outside (and inside) elements at play which ultimately contributed to his fall. I like what Christie Golden said in that artice: “…his actions were a unique combination of personality, history and circumstances…He was flawed, as all beings are flawed, and in such a fashion that he made choices that led, inexorably, to his fall.”

    None of these explanations can ever forgive those horrendous deeds he did, but at least it helps explain them, and can set the stage for some degree of redemption.

    Sometimes there’s no amount of windshield wiper fluid that can completely clear your vision…as I have found out this winter! Ohio with -15 actual temperatures? Yep, welcome to Hoth. At least these “cold” days are giving me a chance to read all these wonderful blog posts!!

    I also must say – it’s great to see so many “old faces” again – Lily, Kathy, and of course Becca! 🙂

    Nicely done, as always!
    Jay
    ~MO2YP~

    1. Melinda
      January 30, 2014 at 02:45 Reply

      You are so, so right, Jay! 🙂 As a teacher, I’m sure you see quite the gamut of youngsters/young adults — on a regular basis — beset with so many factors influencing them. Without the right guidance, it is so easy to fall.
      I think that is why I have such a hard time accepting Anakin as the Chosen One, making the decisions he made. He had so many positive influences in his life — Obi-wan being the biggest and strongest. I know Obi-wan gets a lot of blame for Anakin’s fall in some circles, and I just don’t buy it. Anakin had blinders on — because he was selfish — and didn’t heed the lessons nor follow the example right before his eyes.
      I am so glad you found us over here at CWK!!! 😀
      Stay safe out there is Ohio! 🙂 Hoth indeed!

  14. jk
    October 8, 2014 at 13:34 Reply

    Hi Melinda, this an interesting post. I too see Anakin as a more selfish character, definitely not as a hero. However, I think of his “selfishness” as a kind of a balancing agent for the overly “selfless” Old Jedi Order. The Order forbids people form having personal possessions, forming relationships, and showing feelings. Anakin takes things too far in the opposite direction, to the side of possessiveness, rage, and a will to conquer death. Luke has a mixture of “selfless” and “selfish” traits because he is willing to sacrifice his life for a cause but still makes his own choices, forms personal bonds, and follows his dreams and instincts. In this regard, he could been seen as a combination of his two father figures, Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, or of his two parents, Padme and Anakin. That is what makes him the hero that Anakin could not be and the right leader to bring the Jedi Order in a new direction.

    Although Anakin had the ability to make to his own choices, I do think his environment helped to pushed him to further extremes. For instance, because the Jedi would not intervene to save his mother, he felt the need to take things entirely into his own hands. The strictness of the Jedi Code also meant that he couldn’t form a relationship with Padme without that relationship becoming entangled with lies and secrecy. The Jedi asked Anakin to do the impossible- to completely ignore his own “self”- which lead Anakin to rely more on Palpatine than his Jedi teachers.

    My personal theory is that the Force needed something to bring balance to a world that had become overly rigid, stagnant, and oppressive. The Jedi didn’t have to be so stubborn and Anakin didn’t have to be so destructive, but one way or another things had to change.

    1. Melinda
      October 16, 2014 at 10:21 Reply

      Very astute, jk! 🙂 Thank you for your well-thought out comments.

      Regarding the Jedi saving — or refusing to save — Shmi, Anakin never asked. He decided to do it on his own, and off he went. I wonder what response he would have received had he asked the Jedi.

      That being said, there certainly was a myriad of forces at play that led Anakin to the Dark Side. Which, despite the fact of the way I view Anakin/Darth Vader, was a tragedy. He had such potential.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 MTFBWY

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