With the release of the new Star Wars trilogy, it looks like the passion for the saga has rekindled again. However, despite the fact that the new films received fairly good reviews and were well received in theaters, they are missing something that was present in both original trilogies. We are referring here, of course, to the character of Anakin Skywalker.
Anakin Skywalker, later known as Darth Vader, was one of the central characters of the first six films, and one of the icons in movie history. The chosen one of the prophecy, in the universe of the saga, is without a doubt the most complex character of all those who make up the original films.
However, understanding some of this character’s actions can be a bit tricky at times. Why after being a warrior fighting for peace has he become the right hand of a tyrant who oppresses the whole galaxy? We’ll be looking at Anakin Skywalker’s psychology for the purposes of this article in order to find out.
The Psychology of Anakin Skywalker: Understanding Star Wars’ Most Famous Character
While the three prequels aren’t as popular with fans as the original trilogy, they hide the fundamentals of understanding Anakin Skywalker’s psychology. Indeed, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith all focus almost exclusively on the development of this character.
We can, through them, see the story of Anakin, which begins as a child and ends with the slaughter of an entire city and the destruction of the Jedi temple. Later, already converted to Darth Vader, he plunges the galaxy into terror for decades, before redeeming himself and returning to the light side of the Force.
What caused these sudden changes in Anakin’s personality? The keys must be sought in its history.
The ravages of a difficult childhood
To understand Anakin Skywalker’s psychology, we have to go back to his childhood. Living on the planet Tatooine (a desert with few resources and with brutal living conditions), he and his mother are slaves to a junkyard. The young Anakin will have to take care of the well-being of his mother from an early childhood.
The absence of a father figure, according to a large body of research, can generate many complications in a child’s life as it becomes an adult. Among other things, this may be one of the reasons why the person ends up generating an avoidant attachment, a way of behaving that we can observe in Anakin, especially in his relationship with Padme.
People with this type of attachment avoid expressing their emotions and try to be completely self-sufficient. This is something we can observe in the psychology of Anakin Skywalker, who puts his own decisions before the advice of his teachers, even though he appreciates and respects them.
Besides, Anakin exhibits a large number of traits of children with high abilities. However, being very intelligent creates more problems for young Anakin: it brings him conflicts with his master, makes him feel different, and makes him very innocent and idealistic. All these traits will have their influence on his passage to the Dark Side.
Adopted by the Jedi
When he meets Obi Wan and Qui Gon Jinn, Anakin believes he has found a way to break free from his slavery and be able to help others. This is something very important to him because one of his complaints, in the first film, is that no one is helping those who need it. To young Anakin, the Jedi represent all the good things in the world, which is why they are idealized. Sadly, while joining the Jedi seems like all young Skywalker desires, it will come with a lot of complications.
- To leave with Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Qui, Anakin will have to abandon his mother to her fate. She is the only person who has shown him unconditional affection, and although the technology of the Star Wars universe is very advanced, it seems that he will not be able to reconnect with her while they are apart.
- Although Qui Gon is convinced that Anakin will be the one tasked with destroying the Sith and restoring balance to the Force, the Jedi Council refuses to train him. They claim he is too old but, given the obvious fear about the child’s possible future, they finally accept him as a padawan. This causes a strong feeling of rejection in Anakin, who will gradually lose faith in the Council.
- One of the most important characteristics of Anakin Skywalker’s psychology is his independence. However, the Jedi Masters try to impose a lot of rules on him to prevent him from doing any harm. This, added to the damage he suffered when they rejected him, causes him to hold a growing grudge against them.
Some very turbulent relationships
We can see throughout the three prequels how Anakin goes from an innocent child to a rebellious teenager, to later become a narcissistic adult. Certain of his superiority over others, but at the same time uncertain and unable to open up to others, the young Skywalker feels isolated and misunderstood by others. In addition, the relationships he maintains cause him many problems:
- Obi Wan Kenobi, his teacher, fulfilled the role of older brother rather than mentor. Although the two enjoy an excellent relationship, we can observe the existence of certain characteristics of competition in the behavior of both.
- Padme, his wife, is a person Akakin loved all his life, so he idealized her. It doesn’t help that they spend most of their time apart , so he can’t really get to know her; furthermore, they must keep their relationship a secret as Anakin’s position among the Jedi would be compromised if discovered.
- One of Skywalker’s most admired characters, Chancellor Palpatine, is actually a Sith master who wishes to corrupt him. As a result, Anakin develops a toxic relationship with him, one in which the Chancellor causes insecurity both directly and indirectly.
Due to the complications present in his main relationships, and his isolation from the rest of the world, Anakin feels very lonely and insecure in his relationships with others. This will later cause him to fall into the Dark Side.
Betrayal of his ideals
When Anakin, already a young Jedi, discovers that the Sand Dwellers murdered his mother, anger blinds him and causes him to kill the entire population of this race on Tatooine, including women and children. This act flies in the face of any ideals Skywalker had held until then, and it makes him even more arrogant and angry.
On the other hand, throughout the first three films, Palpatine regularly warns him about the Jedi Council, making him see that his professors’ interests are contrary to his own. When Anakin finds out that Padme is pregnant and starts having premonitory dreams about her death in childbirth, he asks the Chancellor for advice. That’s when he reveals to her that he is actually a powerful Sith master, and that the Dark Side of the Force can save his wife.
Gnawed at by doubts (a central part of Anakin Skywalker’s psychology), the young Jedi denounces Palpatine to the Council, but when he sees how Mace Windu threatens to kill him, he stands up for his mentor. He thus betrays the Jedi and becomes an apprentice of Darth Sidious.
Under the orders of his new master, Anakin (already Darth Vader) begins to commit a series of atrocities which pushes him further into a spiral of hatred and self-destruction. Among them, the most striking are the destruction of the Jedi Temple and the murder of all the children inside, as well as his attack on Padme when the latter rejects him.
After losing everything and being on the verge of death after confronting Obi Wan, Palpatine saves him and makes him his servant. So although Anakin hates him for everything he has caused him to lose, he has no choice but to join him because of his isolation from the rest of the world and his utter contempt for himself. .
It will nevertheless be about this hatred for the Emperor which will allow Darth Vader, in Return of the Jedi , to sacrifice himself to save his son Luc by assassinating his master. This allows him to return to the Light Side of the Force and reconnect with Obi Wan, his master, who has taken on the form of a Force ghost.