Anakin's profoundly human frailty

Discussion in 'Attack of the Clones' started by Darthkarma, May 25, 2002.

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  1. Palpateen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2000
    star 4


    Not everyone "gets" profound. If you've read much of thread and have to ask that question, this stuff may be over your head.
  2. JohnWesleyDowney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2004
    star 5
    Now now Palpateen, let's not be unpleasant.

    As the originator of the thread, I'll take a whack at explaining why I entitled the thread with the word "profoundly" even though this is the ever-negative and argumentative internet and my explanation probably won't be sufficient for some. Nevertheless...

    Anakin, to me, in many ways represents extremes of the human condition: he is an extraordinarily gifted person in some ways, literally in tuned with the force, created (it seems)by fate to serve a specific purpose for a specific time. Yet despite his awesome talents and blessings, it is simple issues that degrade and darken his life, fear of losing those he loves, arrogance and vanity about his gifts, his hubris is ultimately his downfall, his anger with so many things, his inability to accept change, his desire for power. Encapsulized in Anakin's character are many of the simple, yet incredibly important challenges that many human beings face in their lives. I guarantee you some of the guys that railroaded Enron into the ground have spent a lot of time thinking about their choices. I'll bet Bill Clinton spent some time pondering his decisions during the Lewinsky scandal. It's all about choices and how we choose to live our lives. Character is destiny.

    Anakin's issues aren't as trivial how do I get a job or a girlfriend, or which team is gonna win the game on Sunday? His issues are good vs. evil, life and death, betrayal, and being saved and renewed by his children. Many of these central issues are at the core of the human condition. These issues have been represented through the centuries in the Greek Tragedies and Shakespeare and Anakin is the latest and most modern incarnation of all this, he just happens to pop up in a popular movie series. The reason those dramas that I mentioned have endured for so long is because the issues and challenges for human beings are timeless. Those ancient stories transcend the time in which they originated, just as I believe Anakin's story will outlive us all, because it will apply to future generations.

    For those that are observant regarding Anakin's failures (which are especially tragic given his mind-blowing potential) there are lessons to be learned. Lessons regarding fear, hate, anger and suffering.
    If a person could eliminate those four elements from their life, I would say they would be very lucky indeed. But very few people conquer ALL of their fears, their hate, anger and very few of us get out of this world avoiding all suffering. And if you really think about the entirety of the Anakin/Vader character arc, his suffering - spiritually, physically, and emotionally, - is profound.

    It's not so much what Anakin is on the surface, as what he symbolizes that lies within every human being, that potential for good...or for evil. And that's a profound choice.
  3. IamZam Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2002
    star 4
    Awesome postJWD. Anakin is a fallen hero and an example on a much grander scale of the flaws that are present in all of us to a degree.

    Everybody has a dark side in them, some give into it, others fight it, but nonetheless it is a battle we all fight, a constant struggle between what we know is right, and what we feel. Between what our head tells us, and what our heart and our emotions tell us. Most of the time our choices wil not have world wide consequences, but none the less they will have consequences for us, and often for our loved ones as well.

    In Anakin's case its not just him that suffers, but Padme (who had to make some tough choices of her own) as well as Obi-Wan (also faced with a few choices), his children and the entire Galaxy.
  4. Darthette Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 10, 2003
    star 5
    I'm saving that post, JWD.....very good.
  5. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    That's a fairly good argument.

    Although I would say that some of those are precisely the reason that it's not profound. While Lucas does use this model, he doesn't give a particularly deep treatment, nor does he offer any new insights into it.

    I'm not saying Lucas's portrayal is bad--it isn't. I'm just saying that there are plenty of them around that are more deserving of the word "profound."
  6. Palpateen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2000
    star 4

    this is the ever-negative and argumentative internet and my explanation probably won't be sufficient for some

    You were right, no explanation could make these issues "profound" enough for some people.
    I looked up "profound" at freedictionary.com and there are numerous definitions of profound, including these 2 words "significant", "important." The fact that Anakin is emotionally very frail is both significant and important. And it is profoundly important to the story and what Lucas is attempting to say about choices AND good vs. evil. So the usage of the word in the tread title is totally valid. The kind of person who would question whether or not that word belongs in the thread title is the same kind of person who would NEVER buy any explanation. Nothing could EVER be deep enough to satisfy them. But you certainly gave it a good try.
  7. RebelScum77 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2003
    star 6
    While Lucas does use this model, he doesn't give a particularly deep treatment, nor does he offer any new insights into it.

    Doesn't give a particulary deep treatment?! Are you kidding? Perhaps without realizing it JWD perfectly described Anakin as a Tragic Hero. The Saga completely fits into the traditional Aristotelian and especially the Shakespearean model of a Tragedy. With Anakin being the tragic hero. SW is structured like all great tragedies. Anakin is Othello, Macbeth, Achilles, Oedipus etc. He is written that well. Would you say Macbeth wasn't "deep"? Because Lucas' films are so accessible, I'd say Anakin is one of the deepest tragic heros ever put on film.

    No new insights? First of all we know what's going to happen because the story, and Anakin, follows a classical model. I challenge you to pick up any Shakespearean tragedy and find MORE "new" insights than you'll find in SW. I've read many a Shakespeare play and I'd have to think long and hard. Not to mentiont the fact that those stories are far shorter than the entire SW Saga. Lucas has had a far longer time to develop and give depth to Anakin's character. SW is told in such a simple way that "new" insights just jump into your lap. It's much easier to understand Anakin's fall than it is to understand say, King Lear.

    "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." If that isn't the most concise, accurate and profound description of what happens with a tragic hero I don't know what is. New insights abound.
  8. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2002
    star 6
    Anakin isn't "profound" in the sense that philosophers will be debating about him for 1,000 years (except maybe on the JC ;) ). Anakin's frailty is "profoundly human" in the sense that there is a little of Anakin in all of us.

    Nobody's arguing that the Star Wars Saga is "Othello" or anything. The point is that Lucas managed to capture certain elements of human nature. That's why we bother watching these movies.
  9. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    And there, Ophelia has gone and made my point in one sentence.

    If a writer makes even semi-realistic characters, we should be able to recognize a bit of human nature in them. What else comes out as human's respond to situations but human nature? What exactly are we doing when we sympathize with a character but recognizing a commonality between them and ourselves?

    There's a little bit of most every character in every one of us. And we've all seen those same elements of human nature played out a thousand times over. Themes of "choices" and "good versus evil" are just as old. There is no new enlightenment here. It's little more profound than any other story.

    So I guess my question wasn't so much "Is profound an appropriate word to describe Anakin" but, "If Anakin is profound, then what do you call Othello, MacBeth, Oedipus or Achilles?"
  10. RebelScum77 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2003
    star 6
    They are all profound, and there are different things to learn from each. But this isn't a contest. What makes Anakin a little different is because we can so easily relate to him. There's something a little untouchable about Macbeth. But we see how Anakin's life began, innocent and good, and how it gradually declined into darkness. It's easier to grasp than a month in the life of a Shakespearean character (for example).
  11. DamonD Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 2002
    star 6
    I feel that the character of Anakin Skywalker deserves to be placed alongside others such as Hamlet, MacBeth, and so on. Althought there's an obvious difference in style and setting, it only takes a little thought to realise that Anakin represents a number of different facts of humanity.

    Really, I think he works best in comparison to his son Luke as well...another good example of characterisation.

    Lucas always tends to write in a very simple style, but in a way that leaves great scope for people to successfully apply different theories and ideas.
  12. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    It's interesting the dichtonomy actually

    Anakin is a creature of divine birth, his mother is callously murdered which he retaliates with a massacre too, he is and will be the greatest of the Clone Wars heroes, he carries a forbidden passion that violates his sacred oaths to the highest calling

    He is Chosen to destroy the Ultimate Evil

    Yet his most memorable sequences are scenes that attach him to the most absolute of mortal aspects to him.

    He says "Yippie", he's Naive as a child, he's awkward as a teenager, and he's not able to fully harness his miraculous powers yet

    In effect Anakin is in my mind the first fully post modern Tragic Hero (followed by Neo)

    He is in effect a study of a normal man thrown into an insane situation

    Only Anakin deals with it far more poorly
  13. DamonD Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 2002
    star 6
    Anakin could've basically lived a perfectly normal and happy life, with all his flaws and worthy attributes.

    But fate has chosen something else for him, given him special powers that come with a great responsibility. He's not even a regular Jedi, Anakin has the millstone around his neck of being potentially the most powerful Jedi since Master Yoda.

    I love how the Confession Scene is rounded off. Off the top of my head, so this may not be word perfect...

    Padme: To be angry is to be human.
    Anakin: I'm a Jedi. I know I'm better than this.

    Anakin is a regular guy in so many ways, but his tragic role is due to being in a situation that he just truly cannot cope with.
  14. MissPadme Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 1998
    star 4
    Great thoughts here by JWD and RebelScum77.

    Just because Star Wars is accessible and popular entertainment doesn't make it any less worthy than any other type of literature. Shakespeare's plays were popular entertainment in their time. They were designed to appeal to everyone from the educated and the highborn to illiterate peasants. What sets Star Wars apart from the average popcorn flick is that it carries on the traditions from older stories.

    --MissPadme
  15. RebelScum77 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2003
    star 6
    He is Chosen to destroy the Ultimate Evil

    Yet his most memorable sequences are scenes that attach him to the most absolute of mortal aspects to him.


    GREAT post Charlemagne. The dichotomy is completely fascinating. His divine nature makes him more human than human.
  16. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I don't have a problem with stories being designed for mass consumption. In fact, I like that better than designing stories for a coterie audience.

    My issue is that Lucas's model, while present is more simplified than the models that appear in other works already mentioned, like Shakespeare. Given that fact, it seems strange to me to use "profound," which I consider something of a superlative, when there are clearly things better than it.
  17. anidanami124 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2002
    star 6
    The way I look at it is that well he is a Jedi. He is still human. That's what Padme reminds him. But the thing is there are somethings he does not know how to deal with. Lossing loved ones is one of those. But really who does know how to deal with the loss of a loved one?
  18. IamZam Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2002
    star 4
    Jabba-wocky,

    I think that's the whole point to take something as complicated as human failings and flaws and illustrate it by using larger than life character in a story that anybody could follow.

    When Shakespeare was writing his plays I doubt he thought people would still be reading and studying them in school several hundred years later.

    Only time can define what becomes a classic and what doesn't.
  19. JohnWesleyDowney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2004
    star 5


    Only time can define what becomes a classic and what doesn't.

    And I think the story of Anakin is inevitably destined to become just such a classic.
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