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Benedict Arnold - one of the models for Anakin Skywalker?

Discussion in 'Revenge of the Sith (Non-Spoilers)' started by stormcloud8, Jun 10, 2005.

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  1. stormcloud8

    stormcloud8 Jedi Master star 4

    May 24, 2002
    Rather than clutter up the good/evil debate, I thought I'd start a separate thread. Probably the most famous traitor in American history is Benedict Arnold, the military officer from the Revolutionary War who threw his hat in with the British after serving the Americans for many years. As I'm looking into his story, I see many parallels with Anakin's story. Here's an edited bit from one web page I've been looking at:

    By James Henretta

    "Benedict Arnold was different: a military hero for both sides in the same war....

    Quebec was only the beginning. For the next five years Arnold served the Patriot side with distinction in one battle after another, including a dangerous assault against the center of the British line at Saratoga, where he was again wounded in the leg. No general was more imaginative than Arnold, no field officer more daring, no soldier more courageous. Yet Arnold has gone down in history not as a hero but as a villain, a military traitor who, as commander of the American fort at West Point, New York, in 1780, schemed to hand it over to the British.

    These events illuminated Arnold's great strengths and fatal flaws and were prophetic of his ultimate fate. He was bold and creative, a man who sized up a situation and acted quickly. He was ambitious and extravagant, an egocentric man who craved power and the financial rewards that came with it. He was intrepid and ruthless, willing to risk his life "and the lives of others" to get what he wanted.

    Such men often are resented as much as they are admired, and so it was with Arnold. At Quebec some New England officers accused him of arrogance and tried to withdraw from his command, but Congress rewarded the intrepid colonel by making him a brigadier general. When Arnold again distinguished himself in battle in early 1777 "having his horse shot out from under him" Congress promoted him to major general and gave him a new horse "as a token of their admiration of his gallant conduct." But then, in the middle of the struggle at Saratoga, General Horatio Gates, the American commander, relieved Arnold of his command, partly for insubordination and partly because Gates considered him a "pompous little fellow." Washington rewarded Arnold nonetheless, appointing him commandant at Philadelphia in July 1778, after the British evacuation of the city.

    By then Arnold was an embittered man, disdainful of his fellow officers and resentful toward Congress for not promoting him more quickly and to even higher rank. "Having ... become a cripple in the service of my country, I little expected to meet [such] ungrateful returns," he complained to Washington.

    Faced with financial ruin, uncertain of future promotion, and disgusted with congressional politics, Arnold made a fateful decision: he would seek fortune and fame in the service of Great Britain.

    Arnold served George III with the same skill and daring he had shown in the Patriot cause. In 1781 he led devastating strikes on Patriot supply depots: In Virginia he looted Richmond and destroyed munitions and grain intended for the American army opposing Lord Cornwallis; in Connecticut he burned ships, warehouses, and much of the town of New London, a major port for Patriot privateers.

    His treason was not that of a principled man but that of a selfish one, and he never lived that down. Hated in America as a consort of "Beelzebub ... the Devil," Arnold was treated with coldness and even contempt in Britain. He died as he lived, a man without a country.
  2. hippie1kenobi

    hippie1kenobi Force Ghost star 4

    Apr 28, 2002
    Interesting thought. Some historians write that Arnold was also influenced by his growing distrust of congress. The body's inability make decisions and properly fund the Continental Army (issues that also frustrated Washington and other leaders of the army) was enough to make Arnold feel that the young country wasn't worthy of his services; some historians speculate.

    Similar to Anakin's lack of trust in the Jedi making it all the easier for him to be turned.

    With the very basic, black and white American History provided in text books, I don't think many people realize that Arnold was quite the hero at one point, much like Ankin.
  3. SixEagle

    SixEagle Jedi Master star 1

    May 30, 2002
    There are two things you have to essentially agree on to make this comparison.
    1) Why Arnold turned. I've heard everything from selfish reasons (upset with his respect, etc) to political-philosophical reasons (not trusting of the new congress).
    2) Why Anakin turned. If you believe he turned for selfish reasons (and we've debated this already, so I'm not going to re-hash it), then you can make the comparison.

    I think his turn is better modelled after a drug addict than a specific individual. Here's what I posted in the other thread.


    Basically, he was a good person, with some character flaws (lust for power/respect, temper) and a bad environment (mothers death, being a slave, padme being threatened) that made him succeptible to becoming an addict. Then with enablers (palpatine) + bad personal decisions = drug use (dark side), eventual intervention (Luke) and cleaning up (end of ROTJ).

    What I wasn't expecting in the prequels was just how much of a manipulator and opportunist palpatine was. Without Palpatine's influence, I don't see any way Anakin turns into the person he becomes. I'm a big believer in environment forming a persons personality moreso than genetics. IMO there are thousands of people in this world, drug dealers, thieves, who are good people at heart who do bad things, a lot of it influenced by environment or culture.

    When Anakin stops Mace, I look at that not only as him becoming a new Sith aprentice, but an entirely new person. To me, the dark side is almost made out to be like a drug. I have seen friends, good, honest people, who get caught up in drugs. Their priorities change, their attitude changes. They do things I could never have imagined them doing before. Drugs ruin lives. It spirals out of control, "dominate your destiny" so to speak. They begin stealing, ignoring their loved ones. Extremely self-centered. And there are usually character flaws that lead to drug use. It's not these character flaws that make them bad, it's the negative opportunities that these character flaws open up.

    And when a junkie finally gets the courage to get help, when they finally set their lives straight, it's one of the greatest things in the world. They've still done some terrible things, but they've realized their mistakes, and they correct them.

    Anakin's always had some character flaws that lead him to "drug use". He's also had some environmental issues (his mother being tortured and killed, his wife being threatened, growing up as a slave) that could initiate "drug use". And he has the greatest enabler of all time pushing him along (palpatine). When he cuts off Mace's arm, and finally takes that first hit, there's no going back. And the "drugs" corrupt him quickly.

    That's the way I view his fall, anyway. Character flaws (lust for power/respect, temper) + bad environment (mothers death, being a slave, padme being threatened) + enablers (palpatine) + bad personal decisions = drug use (dark side), eventual intervention (Luke) and cleaning up (end of ROTJ).
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