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Why is Luke considered a hero in Return of the Jedi?

Discussion in 'Original Trilogy' started by The Birdwatcher, Dec 30, 2020.

  1. The Hero With No Fear

    The Hero With No Fear Resident Sand Hater

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    Luke Skywalker is a hero, because he saves the galaxy via love and compassion rather than by fighting. He stands confident and resolute against the most powerful and evil being in the galaxy and turns down his offer to go down the darker, easier path. He inspires his father to let go of all of the anger and hatred that is consumed him for decades and to reassume his true nature. His earnest insistence that Anakin Skywalker still lived within Darth Vader ultimately destroyed the Emperor (or took him out of commission for a good thirty years) and saved the galaxy. Luke Skywalker didn’t do this by being the best lightsaber duelist or Force wielder; he did it by being an empathetic and compassionate human being.
     
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  2. The Birdwatcher

    The Birdwatcher Rebel Official

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    He inspires his father to let go of all of the anger and hatred that is consumed him for decades and to reassume his true nature.

    Okay, but besides the symbolism of letting go of evil [because hatred, fear, anger, and aggression are attached to the dark side] and fulfilling callbacks to Yoda's and Vader's dialogue from TESB, that is honestly besides the point. If the point of Vader- his motivation- is to stop conflict, bring order to the galaxy, gain power/rule, and have Luke with him to share it, then what does anger and hatred have to do with it?

    The thing about TESB Vader that I can't ignore anymore is how there are symbols attached to the character that reference evil or the devil. [I.e. The snake on Dagobah during Obi-Wan's "agent of evil", and Vader jumping down like the devil on Cloud City]. Vader is not just a victim, as later Star Wars films make him out to be- he is a villain. He deliberately chooses this evil. He was seduced by power of the dark side; he didn't choose it out of some injustice that the Jedi posed on him (at least not before the prequels), though he may have disagreed with some of their teachings (might be implied in TESB with Yoda being frustrated with Luke). He wasn't fooled or deceived by the Emperor- he was straight up seduced by power and turned to evil.
     
    #22 The Birdwatcher, Jan 19, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
  3. eeprom

    eeprom Prince of Bebers

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    It's a distinction without a difference. Vader is both a victim and a villain. You can be both. “Luke, I don't want to lose you to the emperor the way I lost Vader." Even in ESB, the seeds were being planted.

    Anakin had been corrupted and swayed from his path, toward the dark, and the emperor was the prod that pushed him there. He was pushed there with the promise of ‘power’. All the PT provided was specificity. The ‘power’ he was after wasn’t just a general massing of power for greed’s sake. At least, not at first. It was the ability to protect his loved one. The same desire Luke had. His road to hell was paved in good intentions, basically.

    The danger looming over Luke, in ESB, is whether or not he would allow his emotions to overrule his better judgement, to give in to his darker impulses, and become an agent of evil the same way Vader once had. In that respect, he’s a tragic figure. What the prequels did is reinforce that tragedy. He isn’t blameless, but he is pitiable. And that’s the main takeaway. People like Vader, people who glean their power and influence through fear and intimidation, are sad and pitiful people. They aren’t ‘powerful’. Not truly. They’re weak and broken on the inside. And that’s what Vader is ultimately revealed to be.
     
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  4. oldbert

    oldbert Guardian of Coffee Breaks

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    Well said. The PT did a good job in providing some nuances to the massive "black and white" painting of the OT.
    Characters have a lot more depth if you show them in different situations along their road.
    Judging is a hell of a business. It's easy to see a terrifying villian back at the days when the OT came out, the PT added the context. If you read the Novel of ROTS, you will find a lot of details about the last fatal steps that fired the monster within a war tired Jedi that had issues with the Monk rules of the Jedi Order.
    Everyone looked at him in the Order, just seeing the potential chosen one. The pressure from his private struggles together with the final stages of a war going on and a clever predator that made the "best" of it would be enough to disturb the "inner ethical compass" of a majority of people who have someone to loose they deep heartily love (remember, that Anakin was completely convinced that he had do find a solution for the impossible seeming task to save his pregnant wife).
     
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  5. Martoto

    Martoto Rebel Official

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    Luke's heroism in the ROTJ is based purely on him denouncing the dark side and refusing to destroy his seemingly unrepentant father. This induced Vader to renounce his devotion to the dark side.

    That is the long and the short of it.

    The only reason he's in the same room as Vader in the Emperor in the end is because he went to Endor to help with the assault. But then decided that he was endangering everyone by being there and walked away from his friends fight. Previously he had sworn that he could not go on alone, etc etc but came to realise that he would need to face his destiny NOW, and armed only with the insight he had gained of there still being some good left in his father. (sound familiar TLJ fans/haters? ;))
     
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  6. Rusty Cheeseknife

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    Hello, I realize this is coming kind of late, but I wanted to factor into this with a reply of my own.

    First off, I think what's necessary here is to establish what a "hero" actually is first since the meaning often changes throughout history.

    I was recently delving into Classic and Modern "hero" conceptions and on the subject the "hero" of classic literature was often one who fought on the side of order. Order versus chaos. In the case of Luke, we have an dynamic where an outsider is arrayed against an Empire. Odysseus from Homer's The Odyssey, was characterized this way. He's on a boat amidst an ocean which is a symbol order amidst the forces chaos.

    The trouble with transferring this dichotomy to Star Wars is that the Empire is an "orderly" entity. They're organized, they've a structure, they're authoritarian. They've got troops standing with military bearing, they have symmetrical star-ships. Clearly the Empire are the orderly ones in the story. This role reversal from Greek storytelling to modern storytelling remarks on how the concept of "hero" shifted from Classic to Modern. Much of this was due Christian influence upon Greek thought.

    The modern conception of a "hero" right now mixes in Christian thought. Jesus Christ is a humble Carpenter who saves the world after he is put through a world of suffering leading up to his death upon the cross. This introduced the idea of meekness to the modern concept of what a hero is. I think Lucas may have even realized this when he introduced Ewoks to the story. Ewoks are sort of the "Hobbits" of the Star Wars world--they're the "small folk" who end up turning the tide because the villains of the story completely overlook them.

    The humble Christ-like "hero" clashes with the Classic depiction of a conquering warrior laying waste to his enemies by the sword. The Christian hero comes from humble beginning. He isn't noble, strong, or noteworthy in any way. Luke exemplifies this, somewhat, in ANH. He's just a humble farm boy doing mundane tasks on a moisture farm a desert planet..

    Star Wars mixes these a bit.

    In a sense, Luke is from "noble birth." His father was a Jedi Knight, but he was raised by farmers. He is driven by an image of what his father was, but he wasn't raised by his father. There's an argument that can be made that he's a "Hercules" type in that he was innately born with the power of the "Gods." Except replace "Gods" with "The Force" in this case. Yet the Force isn't exactly access to superpowers in ANH as it was in the Prequels or even TESB and RotJ. In ANH, the Force is more like enlightenment. Jedi aren't X-Men in early Star Wars. In ANH, the Force wasn't something you're born with, innately, it's something you develop. Luke combines some Classic aspects with Modern aspects.

    So, we want to transfer this thought to RotJ, right? Luke's built a reputation for himself, for certain. However, what makes him the "hero" of the story? I suppose the question here is, what is Luke divorced from his previous incarnations in ANH and TESB?

    For Lucas and for a lot of folks who had been following the story thus far, I want to say that his "hero" attribute is more assumed given his main character status. The "hero" and the "main character" are often synonymous regardless of whether or not they actually deserve to be in a lot of modern media. We're so used to stories that place the "main character" into a "heroic" role that we've forgotten that the main character need not necessarily be a "hero" nor that a "hero" need not necessarily be the main character.

    In RotJ, Luke abandons his previous role as champion of the rebellion and instead starts attending to more selfish endeavors. He rescues Han because Han is his friend. Han was never vital to the Rebel Alliance nor did the Rebels seem to deem Han vital enough to stage a rescue mission on Jabba's Palace. Next, Luke abandons his friends on Endor to "rescue" his father on the Death Star even though he admits it's suicidal (he tells the Emperor, "Soon I'll be dead...and you with me).

    Remember too that Luke was instrumental in destroying the Death Star in ANH. Naturally he'd be vital to destroying the new Death Star in RotJ, but instead he chooses to join the strike team on Endor.

    The only way I'd argue Luke is a "hero" is if we look at him through the lens of Modern Evangelicals. Think Billy Graham types. Luke's "conversion" of Vader makes more sense from a theological standpoint if the Force actually cared about a good and evil dichotomy. In other words, do heaven or hell exist in Star Wars? Only time I think hell is ever mention is when Han says, "I'll see you in hell!" in TESB and that was just a flippant throwaway line. Ultimately, the question at hand is, if Vader is "saved" then what happens? Are we assuming that Anakin Skywalker would have been condemned to "hell" if he didn't turn from the dark side? Does that mean the light side of the Force ensures Jedi go to heaven when they die?

    What I'm trying to say is that, in RotJ, Luke could be a "hero" if he is seen as having saved his father's soul by turning him away from the Dark Side. Essentially, Anakin's soul would forever be saved from being condemned to hell. But does hell even exist in Star Wars? Does the Force really care about good and evil? I think KotoR II kinda brought all of those questions into perspective. Kreia had a lot to say about that.
     
    #26 Rusty Cheeseknife, Mar 29, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2021
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