Hidden meanings and messages in Palpatine lines throughout the Saga

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by mandragora, Nov 12, 2005.

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  1. mandragora Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2005
    star 4
    The purpose of this thread is to collect and discuss Palpatine lines that have hidden meanings and messages to them. I owe the idea for this thread to an article by Shanti Fader in Kevin Decker?s ?Star Wars and Philosophy? book, which states:

    While Palpatine fort he most part doesn?t tell direct falsehoods, his words are always layered with hidden meanings, most of them for the benefit of the audience members who know exactly what he?s really after. (So much of what Palpatine says in Episode I and II seems to be directed at the audience, rather than his fellow characters, that I?m tempted to suspect that his Sith powers include the knowledge that he?s fictional and the ability to read ahead in the script!) The best example of this, interestingly, is his acceptance speech upon being granted ?emergency powers? by the Senate in Attack of the Clones ? the very speech that appears his most blatant lie.

    ?I love democracy,? Palpatine proclaims. Of course he loves it! Democracy is the tool that granted him a smooth and bloodless rise to absolute power. Just because he discards the tool when it?s no longer necessary doesn?t mean it didn?t please him while he was using it. As for his pledge to lay his powers down once the crisis was resolved, clearly Palpatine wasn?t thinking of the same crisis as the rest of the Senate. As late as Return of the Jedi, Palpatine (now the Emperor) still sees threats to his power and to the Empire he rules. If he doesn?t consider his ?crisis? resolved, he?s being true to the letter of this speech; and if the Senate heard something other than what Palpatine secretly believed, we in the audience know better. Like Obi-Wan, Palpatine lied only ?from a certain point of view?.
    (Shanti Fader, ?A Certain Point of View, in: Kevin S. Decker and Jason T. Eberl (eds.): ?Star Wars and Philosophy, More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine?, p. 195.)

    The statement that Palpatine?s words are always layered with hidden meanings caused me to search for Palpatine lines with hidden meanings throughout the Saga purposely - and very soon I found a lot more than I had expected, obvious and less obvious ones. So I thought it might be interesting to start a thread for the purpose of collecting and discussing them. For a start, I?ve put together what I?ve found by now and tried to sort them somewhat; at present, most of them refer to the Prequels and TPM and AOTC really ? I haven?t yet managed to do the corresponding research in the other films, but from the few that immediately come to mind, it seems there are more of these lines for certain in ROTS and also in the OT.

    Palpatine?s political goals and convictions

    ?Your Majesty, if I am elected, I promise to put an end to corruption..." (TPM)
    By wiping out the Neimodians in the end, in a sense he did. In essence he replaced corruption with oppression it seems to me.

    "I will not let this republic that has stood for a thousand years be split in two." (AOTC)
    And he didn?t let it be split in two. He reunited the whole republic by transforming it into the Galactic Empire.

    ?I love democracy. I love the republic. The powers you gave me I will lay down when this crisis has abated.? (AOTC).
    Fader in the above quoted paragraph has commented on this.

    ROTS: ?The end of the war is near.?
    Perfectly true. The end of the Republic as well.

    ROTS: ?Once more the Sith will rule the Galaxy ? and we shall have peace.?
    With the war ended, the Galaxy had its ?peace?, in a certain sense.

    Lessons on how to achieve ones goals:

    "There is a question of procedure but I'm confident we can overcome it." (TPM)
    The characters thought it was about Padme?s speech in the Senate, but actually he was talking about the proper procedure for him to become chancellor. And on a story wise level, this quote seems to be his way of action anyway. He has his goal and a rough outline of a plan, and oftentimes he doesn?t exactly know how to get there, but this is a ?question of procedure? and he?s confident he?ll come
  2. DARTHIRONCLAD Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2005
    star 3
    What do you think about this Palptine dialogue from ROTJ?
    "Strange that I have not."
  3. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    Fantastic thread!

    A second meaning is that he was in league with Dooku. His negotiations literally couldn't fail when he was, unbeknownst to everyone else, "negotiating" with his own apprentice who was leading the opposition.

    Some more:

    "I need your help, son." (ROTS)
    On the surface, he was asking a close person for genuine help as benign chancellor. This is how Anakin was intended to read it. In another sense, however, he might have been stating that he needed his literal son, the Chosen One, to parastically "leech" off for unlimited power.

    "They need you, more than you know." (ROTS)
    A reference to the Jedi Council which is actually a statement about Palpatine's own need for Anakin. On another level still, this line might be suggesting that the Jedi really did need Anakin "more than [they knew]" - the dogmatic ways of the old Order had to be swept away and begun anew.

    "You will pay the price for your lack of vision!" (ROTJ)
    "Young fool! Only now, at the end, do you understand!" (ROTJ)
    In this sequence, Palpatine makes frequent reference to Luke's failure to see things and to understand. He is outwardly suggesting Luke's death. But it's Palpatine himself who demonstrates a lack of vision and comprehension when he fails to see Anakin's sudden decision to pick his master up and destroy him.
  4. mandragora Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2005
    star 4
    A possible reference to the "Sith Creation Theory", and a possible reference to his need for Anakin in his quest for immortality.

    Great catch! Very probably true.

    Another one:
    (Luke: "your overconfidence is your weakness")
    "Your faith in your friends is yours"
    In the end, his faith in his "friend" Vader was Palpatine's weakness.
    In a sense, you could turn the whole thing around: Luke's confidence, or overconfidence, that he could withstand Palpatine and that the Rebel alliance could beat the Deathstar, was a weakness on his part. And Palpatine's faith in his "friend" Vader was his own.
  5. vote_for_palpatine Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2005
    star 1
    Excellent question here. Let me provide some context:


    So are Yoda and Obi-Wan shielding Luke from the Emperor in the Force? What is Vader being asked? Is Vader shielding Luke? Is Vader still planning his coup? I'm glad you brought this up, DarthIronClad.
  6. i_dont_know Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2005
    star 4
    Glad to see this thread is up. There's some stuff I want to add when I get some time.

    This line from the deleted scenes was good -

    "I have said I will do what is right. That should be enough for your... commitee."

    Wiping out the Jedi and restoring order to the galaxy was probably doing the right thing in his books.


    I find a lot of the meaning behind character's motivations can be found by comparing scenes from other Episodes. The scene you posted above, for example, has many parallels to this scene from Revenge of the Sith. Read the two scenes, thinking about where each scene will lead, and how the main characters involved relate to Anakin's overall character arc:

    If it was hard to see any connection between these scenes, read it again with this in mind - the EP3 scene will directly lead to Anakin saving Sidous (the unarmed "prisoner"), and betraying Mace. The EP6 scene will directly lead to Vader/Anakin saving Luke (the unarmed "prisoner"), and betraying Sidious.
  7. i_dont_know Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2005
    star 4
    This is the full ROTJ scene to go with my above post:

    SIDIOUS:
    I told you to remain on the command ship.
    VADER:
    A small Rebel force has penetrated the shield and landed on Endor.
    SIDIOUS:
    Yes, I know.
    VADER:
    My son is with them.
    SIDIOUS:
    Are you sure?
    VADER:
    I have felt him, my Master.
    SIDIOUS:
    Strange that I have not. I wonder if your feelings on this matter are clear Lord Vader.
    VADER:
    They are clear, My Master.
    SIDIOUS:
    Then you must go to the Santury (spl) moon and wait for him.
    VADER:
    He will come to me?
    SIDIOUS:
    I have forseen it. His compassion for you will be his undoing. He will come to you, and then you will bring him before me.

    Some of these lines in light of ROTS:

    SIDIOUS:
    "I told you to remain on the command ship!"

    Ep3--
    Mace:
    "Wait in the Council chambers until we return".

    ***

    VADER:
    "My son is with them."
    SIDIOUS:
    "Are you sure?"
    VADER:
    "I have felt him, My Master."

    Ep3--
    Mace:
    "How do you know this?"
    Anakin:
    "He knows the ways of the force. He?s been trained to use the darkside."
    Mace:
    "Are you sure?"

    Here Anakin comes to his Master, Mace, and reveals that Palpatine is the Sith Lord. Mace asks if Anakin is sure that Palps is the Sith Lord.
    In ROTJ, Vader comes before his Master, Sidious, and reveals that Luke is among the Rebels. Sidious also asks "Are you sure?".

    ***

    VADER:
    "I have felt him, My Master."
    SIDIOUS:
    "Strange that I have not. I wonder if your feelings on this matter are clear, Lord Vader."

    Ep3--
    Anakin:
    Master, the Chancellor is very powerful. You?ll need my help if you are going to arrest him.
    Mace:
    For your own good stay out of this affair. I sense a great deal of confusion in you, young Skywalker. There is much fear that clouds your judgement.

    This one is really clever.
    Mace senses a conflict within Anakin, over Palpatine. Mace is correct, and the conflict reaches its climax when Anakin chooses Sidious over Mace.
    Sidious senses a conflict within Vader, over Luke. The conflict reaches its climax when Vader/Anakin chooses Luke over Sidious.

    Yet in both instances, neither Mace or Sidious see Anakin's turns coming.

    ***

    One more

    SIDIOUS:
    "His compassion for you will be his undoing."

    The obvious irony here was that Luke's compassion for Vader was actually Sidious's undoing.
    But Revenge of the Sith has added another layer to this line. Anakin's compassion for Padme, and for Sidious (ok, that one is debatable), is a large part of his undoing.
  8. Darth_Pazuzu Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2005
    star 4
    I wonder if your feelings on this matter are clear, Lord Vader.
    I sense a great deal of confusion in you, young Skywalker. There is much fear that clouds your judgement.

    Very keen observations, people!
    Also, let's keep in mind the deleted scene from ROTS that shows Palpatine's meeting with Padme and the dissenting senators. After the meeting ends and the senators depart, Palpatine voices his concerns to Anakin over whether or not Padme can be trusted. Anakin is adamant that Padme is indeed trustworthy, but then Palpatine says the same thing to Anakin that Mace says later on: "I sense much confusion in you, Anakin!" (Or something to that effect. I've only watched this deleted scene twice and can't remember it precisely word-for-word...)
  9. lorn_zahl Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2002
    star 4


    I'm thinking that Palps has a pretty good idea as to how things should be run though he would never nominate someone else to administrate before him, that's for sure.


    He just craves power and of course, the destruction of the Jedi.



  10. Winston_Sith Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 8, 2004
    star 4
    Yeah, but even without that line from the Deleted Scene, Anakin comes face-to-face with Mace Windu's idea that "He's too dangerous to be left alive!", which is an idea that he must see as completely identical to Palpatine's speech concerning Dooku, on the Invisible Hand; and Anakin could be forgiven for taking these conflicted statements as meaning that the Jedi and the Sith are morally equivalent. Of course, they're not, but it's in Anakin's confused, Dark-Side clouded mind, as he cuts off Windu's arm, in order to save the Chancellor, who can save his wife, while the Jedi can do "nothing" (at least, nothing "unnatural") to save her.
  11. mandragora Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2005
    star 4
    That part of ROTS is still keeping me busy.

    "I need your help, son."
    "What for?"
    "I am depending on you."
    "For what? I don't understand."
    "To be the eyes, ears, and voice of the Republic..."

    and a little bit later:

    "They will never accept this."
    "I think they will . . . they need you more than you know."

    There's really a lot behind this part of the dialogue.

    There's the reference to Anakin being his "son". Could be a hint to the Sith Creation thing; it could also be a means for establishing a family-like relationship between him and Anakin when actually the Jedi were meant to be like a family for Anakin. Only when it was way too late Obi-Wan said something similar: "You were my brother". On top of allegiances due to being his mentor and his friend and the Supreme Chancelleor, Palpatine's assiging family allegiances to Anakin here.

    Then there's the "I am depending on you." For what? It could refer to several aspects - of course, there's the possible immortality thing. But there are possible meanings to it. "To be the eyes, ears and voice of the Republic" This is part of the role OT-Vader assumed for the Empire. Possibly the ROTS is a reference to this future role of Anakin. It could also refer to the need of Anakin becoming the spy for the Council - which was a prerequisite for making the Jedi appear to be traitors. "They need you - more than you know." -- OBI-WAN: "That is why you must help us, Anakin." It appears he's really foreseen the Jedi's decision to use Anakin as a spy in return to his appointment on the Council. The line in the Opera scene ("They asked you to spy on me, didn't they?") also points to that conclusion. In relation to this aspect, one could say that because the Jedi needed him, he was depending on Anakin.
  12. i_dont_know Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2005
    star 4
    Good point, I think that was a large part of it.
    Like you have demonstrated, Palpatine was always one step ahead.

    Something that also clearly stands out to me about this scene is that Sidious says basically the same thing about himself and the Jedi.
    "I need your help, son." - Makes Palpatine seem frail, and like a father figure. Helps Anakin feel sympathetic towards the Chancellor.
    "They need you. More than you know." - Makes the Jedi seem sinister and selfish, even though he is essentially saying the same thing that he said about himself.

    Yeah, in my head I always replace "Republic" in that line with "Empire" :)
    I think the words he uses could have some specific relevance -
    The eyes: Vader gets electronic vision at the end of ROTS, which he keeps until Luke removes his mask.
    The ears: Vader will soon only "hear" from Sidious when he becomes a slave to him, or perhaps this refers to the fact that Vader will only hear what he wants to, and will be "deaf" to any Rebel's plees for mercy.
    The voice: We all regognise that Vader's voice changes after getting the suit. It certainly could be referred to as the "voice of the Empire". Like Obi-Wan refers to Anakin as the poster-boy for the Republic, Vader becomes the poster-boy for the Empire.

    It would be cool if something like this was intended.
  13. mandragora Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2005
    star 4
    He's very clever with this one. The Novel states that the Chancellor was the only person who had never asked anything of Anakin but had always given support. Now, after 15 years, this is the first time he's asking something of Anakin. How could he possibly reject that request - he must have felt indebted to him for a long time. Plus, the prospect of being made a master when fulfilling that request!

    It's really cool [face_laugh] look at the Star Wars ROTS posters, where often you have Vader in the background and at the center there's Anakin!
  14. ObiWan506 Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 5, 2003
    star 7
    It's hard to figure out what Palpatine means when we says something. Mainly because you can't tell if he's saying it out of his own beliefs, or if he's lying to gain an advantage on someone.
  15. Lord_NoONE Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2001
    star 5
    I really don't know how to explain my thoughts on the matter and they might not even make sense once I type them out. It's worth a shot though, I guess. I never bifurcated the Sith Lord aspect of Palpatine and the politician aspect of his character. They were always just different elements of the same guy. So whenever I heard him speak "political" talk I always saw it as a slick maneuver on his part to further his end goal as a Sith Lord/Politician. He manipulated and used his political aspirations, which I believe he genuinely held, in order to also further his Sith aspirations of total domination of the galaxy.
  16. ObiWan506 Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 5, 2003
    star 7
    So you think the political side of Palpatine is just pure manipulation so he can eventually become a Sith Lord and once he's a Sith Lord there's no need for manipulation because he has achieved what he has strived for, thus meaning no lying after he has reached his goal. Right?

    :)
  17. mandragora Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2005
    star 4
    It's like Fader wrote in the article I quoted in the opening post - he very rarely tells blatant lies. For the most parts, the hidden message is true from a certain point of view, it's the apparent meaning that seems to be a lie. But there are instances when he's telling the plain truth, and there are instances when he's blatantly lying. This makes it so difficult (and interesting) to figure out what he actually means. Many people think he's always lying - well, in that case it would be much easier to see through his manoeuvres. But he's clever enough to deceive you even with respect to that, because he actually for the most part does NOT tell blatant lies.
  18. Lord_NoONE Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2001
    star 5
    I knew I shouldn't have tried to comment. :oops:

    I don't think Palpatine ever used his political manipulations to become a Sith Lord. I think, instead, he was a Sith Lord before he became a politician but that Palpatine the Politician was a Sith Lord Politician. [face_thinking]

    So, everything he did was oriented around achieving his ultimate goal of dominating the universe. That he chose the political route instead of leading armies and navies personally, was his own choice.

    I dunno...I'll just be quiet.
  19. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    I don't think many people would doubt this assessment for a moment.

    Indeed.

    Sidious used his powers of manipulation and treachery to maneuvre his way into the political system governing the galaxy. The Palpatine guise was fake, and to such an extent, it may never have even been his former identity at all. It's implied in the prequels' narrative that the Jedi and Sith previously thought each other openly in galaxy-wide skirmishes and battles; Sidious' decision to pursue a political path and ascend to power through a combination of illegitimate and legitimate means was something that caught the Jedi completely off guard. The poor Jedi never expected a Sith to have the brains or tenacity to execute such a move - but Sidious did exactly that. That's what makes the prequels so compelling and the birth of the Empire so thrilling.
  20. Lord_NoONE Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2001
    star 5
    That I shouldn't have commented? You're probably right...[face_blush]
  21. Darth_Pazuzu Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2005
    star 4
    While it's true that most of Palpatine's lines aren't necessarily blatant falsehoods, and that there are layers of hidden meaning in them, I can think of two statements that are quite obviously untrue:

    "A surprise, to be sure. But a welcome one!" (The Phantom Menace) (Regarding of course, his nomination to the chancellorship.)
    "I must say you're here sooner than expected." (Revenge Of The Sith) (I don't believe for a minute that he was surprised at the arrival of Mace & Co.!)
  22. DARTHIRONCLAD Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2005
    star 3
    Actually I was thinking when Palpatine said, "Strange that I have not", is showing the audience that the light side of the Force is clouding his vision, however, no one would really be able to understand this dialogue until 2002, when Dooku tells Obi-Wan that the dark side of Force is clouding the Jedi's vision.



  23. mandragora Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2005
    star 4
    Why is it that so many lines Palpatine says in ROTJ in reference to Luke actually turn out to be true for himself?

    "His compassion for you will be his undoing."
    Vader's compassion was Sidious' undoing.

    " Yes...I assure you we are quite safe from your friends here."
    Actually Luke was quite safe from Sidious friend Vader here.

    "Your faith your friends is yours (your weakness)."
    His faith in his "friend" Vader was his weakness in the end.

    "Oh, no, my young Jedi. You will find that it is you who are mistaken...about a great many things."
    He was the one who was mistaken about Anakin.

    "I am defenseless - strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!"
    In the end he struck down defenseless Luke with all of his hatred, and after that his own dark side journey was complete.

    "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed!"

    "Young fool, only now, at the end do you understand."
    Equally true for Sidious himself.

    "Now you're paying the price for your lack of vision!"

    "Now, young Skywalker, you will die!"

    Apart from the fact he's wrong more often within these minutes than in the entire Saga before taken together - why these switches of meanings, why is it that so much turns out to be true for himself he thought was true for Luke? That can't be coincidencal, there must be something behind it, I think.




  24. DarthMateous Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 1, 2002
    star 4
    Great thread!

    If I may say so, Your Majesty, the Chancellor has little real power. He is mired by baseless accusations of corruption - the bureaucrats are in charge now." (TPM)

    This line shows two things.

    1) Palpatine, believing the position of Chancellor has little "REAL" power, obviously has his sights on becoming the Emperor so that he can obtain REAL power.

    2) Palpatine realizes that the bureaucrats (i.e. Trade Federation, Commerce Guilds, etc...) have the greatest influence on the proceedings of the Senate. So he's going to use them as pawns to attain his ultimate goal of becoming Emperor. Which he does!

    It's a brilliant foreshadow by GL.


  25. mandragora Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2005
    star 4
    Palpatine's insights on how to gain power:

    AOTC: "It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. The powers you gave me I will lay down when this crisis has abated."

    ROTS: "I need your help, son."
    ROTS: "I am depending on you."

    ROTJ: "With each passing moment, you make yourself more my servant!"

    In the Babylon5 series it is said that "nobody takes power. Power is given to them by the rest of us, because we are stupid, or afraid, or both." Palpatine's lines in essence state the same - he is depending on others for power, and he's perfectly aware of it.
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