The Nature of Evil in the Saga

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Marcus-Aurelius, Aug 1, 2004.

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  1. Marcus-Aurelius Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2004
    star 2
    I for one have always thought that Lucas has meant to tell us something through Star Wars with much depth. Personally, I think that the saga was influenced by Eastern ways of thinking, but I think it is an intriguing part of the story in general.

    To me, the nature of evil in the saga is perhaps one of the most important issues in the story. The Force is dualistic in that it has a light side and a dark side. Lucas says the dark side is "more powerful" because it satisfies one's natural need for power in life. This goes along with the beliefs of Friedrich Nietzsche. It is hihilistic in some ways. Palpatine seems to be the embodiement of this worldview. We see him primarily as an politician on the galactic stage in the prequels who usurps absolute power for himself. By the time we see him again in Return of the Jedi, he has lost his humanity: all he lives for is the exercise of power. Ian McDiarmid has a unique insight for his character. He says that he imagined that Palpatine was evil at birth, "an awful thing to imagine."

    There is no single embodiement for the light side of the Force. Yoda is perhaps the best example of someone who resists temptation for all his life, since he lived to be over 900. Anakin and Luke, though, are the saga's main focus. Anakin gives into the dark side because he cannot overcome his own weaknesses. His son, Luke, however, does not fall because he chooses to resist his temptations in the end, even if it means death. The best part of the story overall, to me, is when Vader saves his son from Palpatine. He chose not to remain in the dark side.

    To me, most things are a matter of choice. It is clear that destiny and such are things that influence Lucas's beliefs. But choice is a major factor of his thinking, too. How do you view the nature of evil in the Star Wars saga?
  2. SomeRandomNerd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 20, 1999
    star 4
    >>>>The Force is dualistic in that it has a light side and a dark side.

    I have to disagree with that point- I don't think there is a "light side of the Force"; it definitely isn't mentioned anywhere in the films.

    The Jedi philosophy is all about using the power of the Force only in order to serve the Will of the Force- avoiding using it for their own personal wishes, to the extent that they aim to completely surpress their personal wishes and desires completely. The Dark Side is a corruption of the Force, of using it's power selfishly, which disturbs it's balance.

    However, there is the question of whether what the Jedi do is morally right- it's fine to make the choice to live that life, but the Jedi recruits aren't really at an age where they are mature enough to make that decision. In TPM, I think it's clear that Anakin doesn't truly understand the commitment that he's making (or rather, Qui Gon makes for him...) when he joins the Jedi, and it's his failed attempt to surpress his personal desires and so on which ends up leading him to the dark side, and then his love for his son which brings him back in ROTJ.

    There is a distinction, albeit a fine one, between morality in general and the morality of the Force. For example, on a general scale of morality, there would be nothing wrong with someone using any powers at their disposal to attack the Emperor, in order to bring down the evil Empire. However, "Force-morality" is slightly different- in using the Dark Side against the Emperor, someone would be bringing themselves closer to the Dark Side, leading them to simply end up in the Emperors position and either end up replacing him, or simply joining him.
  3. origjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2001
    star 3
    I agree with your last paragraph, SRN. To use the Force to destroy evil simply for the sake of destroying would be going against what the Jedi teach. I remeber reading a comic once with Qui-Gon and OB1 as the characters. They hunted and killed a large, evil creature because it had been destroying and killing everyone. After they killed it, OB1 felt wrong killing the creature because he felt the creature has a natural right to exist, even if it was for evil. It was just part of nature and was doing what nature intended it to do. Qui-Gon didn't have a direct answer, simply stating that they were servants of the Force and maybe that was the will of the Force for them to destroy the creature. I thought OB1 made an interesting point, though. Evil exists because good exists and vice-versa. As OB1 would say, they are "symbiotes of each other".
  4. Marcus-Aurelius Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2004
    star 2
    These are excellent points. I never really thought of the Force that way. I suppose it is neither good or evil, but, when a Jedi or Sith joins one "side," their sense of goodness or evil is enhanced by the Force. Palpatine seems to be pure evil, and he is THE villain of the saga as a whole. This leads to the issue of whether or not Palpatien could have turned from evil. We all know Vader could have because he did, but whether Palpatine could have is another debate.
  5. Aiwendil Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2002
    star 1
    SomeRandomNerd wrote:
    There is a distinction, albeit a fine one, between morality in general and the morality of the Force.

    This is a very good point. I once brought this up as a plot point in a Star Wars RPG I was running - I basicly offered one of the characters immense power if he joined the Dark Side, and had several NPCs plant in his mind the suggestion that there would be nothing wrong with joining the Dark Side if in doing so you can destroy the Sith (who were about to take over the galaxy at this point). In other words, it would be "dark" in the morality of the Force, but "good" morally. The trick was that once he had fully joined the Dark Side and saved the galaxy, the Dark Side would have control of him and he would be unable to restrain himself from seeking power himself, and rising up as just as much a menace as the Sith had been. In the end, he chose the Light Side and they won the hard way.

    I have to disagree with that point- I don't think there is a "light side of the Force"; it definitely isn't mentioned anywhere in the films.

    The Dark Side is a corruption of the Force, of using it's power selfishly, which disturbs it's balance.


    I'm not sure I agree here. I've always seen the Force as dualistic. The very fact that it is called "the Dark Side" suggests that it is half the Force, and that there is a corresponding Light Side.

    Marcus Aurelius wrote:
    Lucas says the dark side is "more powerful" because it satisfies one's natural need for power in life. This goes along with the beliefs of Friedrich Nietzsche. It is hihilistic in some ways.

    I've got to disagree here. If Star Wars were Nietzschian, Palpatine would be the protagonist. Nietzsche believed that "good" and "evil" were human inventions - and specifically that "evil" was a trick used by the weak "morally good" people to suppress the strong. In Star Wars, good and evil are treated as very real things - so real that there is an external Force that embodies them.
  6. Jedimancer Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2004
    star 2
    I think that the people who are saying there is no "light side" are right. The dark side is the disharmony in the force. Anyways, this reminds of a point C. S. Lewis made in his book, "Mere Christianity." He said he thought of evil as a parasite of good. In other words, evil is taking a good desire to an unhealthy level. For example, wanting enough money to provide for oneself and family IS a good thing. But wanton greed is not. I just thought it was an interesting perspective.
  7. Marcus-Aurelius Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2004
    star 2
    By the way, I meant to say nihilistic, not hihilistic, earlier.

    I didn't say that Star Wars was Nietzschian. I think that Palpatine's worldview similar to that, though.
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