Food For Thought – Darth Vader Style

One of the last Star Wars Insider magazines posed some very thought provoking questions to a few Star Wars authors on whether Darth Vader was a product of his environment or just innately evil. I am not going to list their answers here, (sorry), so you’ll have to pick up the magazine yourself to see their responses, but the questions did make me think.  I decided to post them here with my own answers.

I’d love to know your responses as well, so please feel free to participate!


Is Darth Vader really a bad guy or a victim of tragic circumstance?

It’s hard to answer this question because we see Vader when he was younger as Anakin: at times a caring, fearless, loving, loyal person.  But I have to say that I view Darth Vader as a bad person.  There are many people who have tragic circumstances happen to them throughout their life, but they rise above it.  Anakin made decisions that were not the Jedi way…not even the way of a good being with a good moral compass.   Every decision is a choice, and the choices he made through his arrogance and insecurities caused him to be a bad guy.  He definitely had tragic circumstances, I am not denying that; I’m arguing against the word “victim.”  By using that word, it creates Anakin as someone who is blaming external events for his decisions.  And I do not think that is right, which is why I put him under the “bad guy” label.

Anakin choking padme


Who is really to blame for the tragedy of Darth Vader?  Anakin, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi, or Palpatine?

This is a hard question.  We all know how I feel about the Jedi’s shortcomings, as I went into with my post on the Jedi Code, but I really, really hate when people blame others for their actions.  It’s similar to my response to the above question, blaming your circumstances does not give you an easy out for the actions YOU did because it was YOUR choice.  And it’s the same with this question.  Why blame all these other people?  I definitely think they had a role to play in Anakin’s downfall, but in the end, the choices belonged to Anakin alone.  It is a complicated question, but I feel it really deserves a simple answer.  You are responsible for your own actions, so you are to blame.  Unless someone actually physically took Anakin’s hand and swung the lightsaber to kill others, and it was all against his will, then it is his fault.

The interesting facet to this question is that Obi-Wan and the Jedi (which, really, all that’s left is Yoda) probably blamed themselves for Anakin’s tragedy.  They probably were thinking “If only I had done this…” or “If I only I had listened more…” etc, etc.  But, as Princess Leia says, “He’s got to follow his own path.  No one can choose it for him.”

anakin and palpatine


Can he truly be redeemed given the atrocities committed: The murder of younglings, the destruction of Alderaan, torturing Leia, the purge, and his other murderous acts?

I remember very distinctly staying awake until around 2:00am one morning when I was about 12 years old, wondering what would have happened if Darth Vader didn’t die and Luke brought him back to the victorious Rebellion.  It really made me upset because I couldn’t see how it would work. I then imagined Luke having to run off and hide with him on Dagobah or something, but I could never imagine Leia wanting to do that.  I built up all these scenarios trying to figure out a way to make it work out for Luke and Vader, and how Luke would explain it.  In the end I realized there was just no other way out of this situation than to have him die at the end of the trilogy.  It was too complicated otherwise.  And keep in mind this was before AOTC and ROTS were released!

So was he redeemed?  Yes, I believe he was truly redeemed to the light side of the Force through his son, Luke.  Did he regret all his despicable actions?  If given time to actually think about it, probably.  Could he truly be redeemed if he remained alive?  No, I don’t think he would have been.  I think the Rebellion would have executed him pretty fast, no matter what Luke (and maybe Leia) said.

darth vader without mask


So…agree or disagree?  Do you have any thoughts on this?


4 thoughts on “Food For Thought – Darth Vader Style

  1. This is really another form of the nature vs. nurture question – and something that could have been built up more in the prequel trilogy. Early Anakin is portrayed as a happy, helpful child, while teenage Anakin is cocky, and it is really his impatience that destroys him. He can’t wait to be named a master, or to see if Padme will be okay, and later, as Darth Vader, he’s not very patient with his officers. So… I think, then, that Darth Vader is innately impatient, and that drives his anger which brings him to the dark side.
    As for what would happen if Darth Vader would live? It is an interesting question that I’ve pondered before. First, Return of the Jedi would not be as good of a movie. Vader’s sacrifice is key. Second, I don’t think Leia would accept him. Third, I think Luke would find a place to hide Vader – like Dagobah, or somewhere on Tatooine… What if Darth Vader took over as the head of the black market now that Jabba the Hutt has been killed?

  2. I know, I thought the same thing regarding the nature vs nurture. And there were so many things the Prequels could have built up more lol. But you’re correct, he was very impatient and I’m sure we all can relate to how impatience makes us angry. He just didn’t know how to control it.

    Haha – I don’t think Vader would take over as head of the black market. Wouldn’t that be essentially kind of dark side-ish, so then he wouldn’t be really redeemed?

  3. “[W]hether Darth Vader was a product of his environment or just innately evil”–I vote neither! In general I don’t think anyone is innately evil, and I agree that portraying him as a victim absolves him of all his horrible choices.
    I would lay the blame primarily on Anakin (obviously) and the institution of the Jedi Order as a whole. While perhaps not corrupt like the Senate, it doesn’t seem to have been a “healthy” organization. I’m sure Yoda and Obi-Wan had a lot of time to think about what they would have done differently…
    Of course he was redeemed–all that takes is his being truly sorry for his actions and wanting to change. But while Luke forgives him, the rest of the universe would never give him a chance. He got off pretty easy, now that I think about it.

    1. Lol, you are so right. He did get off pretty easy.

      And I love your positivism in thinking no one is innately evil. I’m not sure if I agree with you. The Emperor was pretty bad…I feel like he was born innately evil. It’s kind of like Tom Riddle in the Harry Potter series. I think he was born pretty evil and had a tendency toward evil from when he was very young.

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