Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader, has been one of the most misunderstood villains ever created. Why did he turn to the dark side? How did the dark Forces seduce Anakin?
If he was a bad guy, why did Vader sacrifice his life to save his son Luke? If he was a good guy, how could Anakin have killed Jedi younglings and nearly choked the love of his life, Padme?
But that is the genius of Star Wars creator George Lucas who made Anakin, and not Luke, the Chosen One. It was Anakin who was destined to strike a balance between the light and dark sides of the Force.
In a way, Anakin was destined to turn to the dark side so he could eventually restore balance. Anakin’s love for Padme remained forbidden per Jedi rules, so he had no choice but to turn to the dark side for help when her life was under threat.
The Jedi saw it as Anakin’s weakness and many fans too think that he got seduced by the dark side of the Force.
In fact, Palpatine had even promised to “save Padme from death” if Anakin would join the Sith. But things were slightly more complicated than that because even after Padme died, Anakin went ahead with his conversion to the dark side. Why did he do that?
1. Why Was Padme & Anakin’s Love Forbidden?
As per the Jedi Order rules, forming any attachment to another human being was forbidden. Children were taken away from their families not long after their birth for the same reason. Jedi Knights were sworn to celibacy and could not get married. Jedis were born for just one purpose – serve the Republic by brokering peace.
Now while all of that no-attachment shindig is great, it failed in case of exceptions. For instance, in Anakin’s case, things turned out very differently. He was discovered as a Force-sensitive kid only after he turned nine years of age.
By that time, he was already pretty attached to his mother. Living as slaves on a desert planet with a constant threat to their lives did not help his need to cling to his mother for protection either.
Then, to be discovered as someone special with an extraordinary Midichlorian count, that too just when you meet a real-life princess? That’s a bit much to handle for even an adult Jedi, and Anakin was not even a teenager yet. He fell in love, deep and unbridled.
Even before Anakin left his home planet of Tatooine to become a detached Jedi, he was already nurturing two intense human attachments.
Over the years, Anakin was further isolated by the Jedi Order, which did not trust him to stick to the right side of the Force. His loneliness and isolation grew enough for him to leap at the first chance to enter into a relationship with Padme that he could find. Padme, too loved him back, and they were soon bound in a secret marriage.
2. How Did The Sith Seduce Anakin?
In Episode II, Attack of the Clones, Anakin has premonitions of suffering and death for his mother. The Force was warning him of the impending doom for his mother, but he failed to act on it in time.
Anakin directly blamed the Jedi Masters for ignoring his dreams and fears, thus causing his mother’s death. Injured and broken, she died in his arms.
That was the first time Anakin displayed signs of unstable behavior. He goes on to avenge his mother’s death by slaughtering a whole village, whose residents had lethally attacked his mother.
Not only did Anakin kill his mother’s attackers, but he also executed several innocent souls. All moralities were losing ground in his head for the first time.
In Episode III, when Anakin once again has premonitions of harm to a beloved, this time Padme, he is willing to take no chances. He asks the Jedi Master Yoda for help but only receives a lecture on letting go of all attachments and fears.
It is when Anakin’s faith in the Jedi is the weakest that undercover Sith Lord Chancellor Palpatine makes false promises to help him.
Careful you must be when sensing the future, Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.Yoda
I won’t let these visions come true, Master Yoda.Anakin
Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is.Yoda
What must I do, Master Yoda?Anakin
Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.Yoda
Palpatine assured Anakin that the Force’s dark side could save people from death in so many words. It may be noted that Anakin had not shared about any of his prescient dreams with Palpatine by this point. Theories are doing the rounds that Palpatine had falsely planted dreams of Padme in danger in Anakin’s head to make him vulnerable.
Palpatine even reveals himself as a Sith Lord, and Anakin still follows him, hoping only to save the love of his life. Anakin kills little children, the Jedi younglings, on Palpatine’s orders. Padme is horrified by what Anakin has become. But there is no stopping the Chosen One when he sets his mind to something.
I thought not. It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you. It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life … He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.Palpatine
He could actually save people from death?Anakin
The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.Palpatine
3. Did Anakin Try To Kill Padme? Did She Die?
Even as Anakin was treading down a dark path in the name of love, Padme couldn’t believe what he was turning into. She even tries to save him and bring him back on the “right” path. But Anakin misreads the situation and thinks Padme was plotting to kill him instead in collusion with the other Jedi.
By this point, Anakin has definitely lost touch with reality. He is confused and unable to say right from wrong, true from false, real from unreal. (Some believe Anakin showed signs of paranoid schizophrenia. Add to that the fact that George Lucas has had a family history of struggles with the chronic mental condition.)
In a fit of rage after being falsely convinced that Padme was trying to kill him, Anakin tries to choke her to death. Padme manages to survive even as Obi-Wan chops off all of Anakin’s remaining limbs and leaves him to burn to death.
But Padme lives only as long as she delivers her twins, and Anakin is revived by the Sith Lord who gives him a new mechanical body.
Anakin does try to choke Padme, believing she was trying to kill him. But she does not die at that moment. However, her eventual death may have been caused by the shock of seeing Anakin in a condition where he tries to kill her.
On the other hand, when Anakin wakes up after the hours-long surgery that gives him a new body, the first thing he asks is, “Where is Padme?”.
Palpatine once again manipulates Anakin into believing he killed her in his fit of rage. But Palpatine wants Anakin at his most vulnerable before he can be turned into Sith. Anakin has now lost everyone he ever loved, hates himself entirely for it, and has only Palpatine for family. (It was Palpatine who had ordered for the creation of Anakin in Shmi’s womb.)
4. How Did Anakin Defeat The Dark Side?
Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One for a reason. He helped establish the Star Wars saga’s premise that there was no absolute black nor white but merely shades of grey. Anakin could not find a home among warriors of the light side of the Force – the Jedi Order. But when his son Luke enters the scene, there is new hope for Anakin, who had only been acting in the name of love all along.
In Luke, Anakin finally finds someone to love enough to die for and does the same. He sacrifices his own life while trying to save Luke. Anakin also kills his master Darth Sidious, thus becoming a Sith Lord at the same time he dies. In some twisted way, Anakin manages to strike a balance between the light and dark sides.
Anakin had chosen to walk on the dark path only because he believed doing so would save Padme’s life. He didn’t care for the Jedi. When he later sees that Palpatine was willing to kill his and Padme’s son Luke because the latter had joined the Jedi, he destroyed the Sith. All he ever seemed to care for was love, his love.
In the end, Anakin was only looking to find a place for the intense love he felt in his heart. It forced him down some messed up and dark paths but also pulled him out to towering heights as well. All in the name of love, and only love, always. One of the most misunderstood villains I’d say.
5. About Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
The Star Wars prequel trilogy is the second trilogy of the leading Star Wars franchise, an American space opera created by George Lucas.
The prequel series traces Darth Vader’s origins, aka Anakin Skywalker, from before the Galactic Empire era.
It all starts in 31 BBY when 9-year-old Anakin is discovered by Jedi masters Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan on a remote planet of Tatooine. The boy displays a powerful raw Force and is a racing champ.
Born without a father, Anakin is raised by his mother alone. Qui-Gon is sure that Anakin is the Chosen One, who could restore the Force’s balance in the Galaxy.