The Emperor has been expecting you.
I know, father.
So, you have accepted the truth.
I’ve accepted the truth that you were once Anakin Skywalker, my father.
That name no longer has any meaning for me.
It is the name of your true self. You’ve only forgotten. I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn’t driven it from you fully. That is why you couldn’t destroy me. That’s why you won’t bring me to your Emperor now.
I think we take for granted just how important a name can be. Think about it…if you didn’t have your name, who would you be?
My name is Kiri. My name is of Maori origin and means shining and bright, which suits my energetic, happy personality. I love watching, writing and reading about Star Wars. I love drinking tea. I could eat a whole jar of olives in one sitting. My favorite day would consist of it raining outside, putting all responsibilities on hold, snuggled up in bed with a cup of tea next to me and reading a great book. Because of my name, I have always had trouble introducing myself. It is now wrapped up in my identity so much that I cannot imagine meeting someone and them not having a problem pronouncing my name, asking me how it’s spelled, or where it is from. Attendance was always difficult in school, as is telling people my email address over the phone. My name is so intertwined with who I am, that I would not be able to distinguish it from my personality. If I was named Isabel, would I still like tea and reading? I’ll never know, because all I know is Kiri: the person who eats olives, drinks tea, loves Star Wars and sometimes dreads introducing herself.
So when I watched ROTJ this past Christmas break, this scene stood out to me. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for Luke to find out that the galaxy’s most feared person (along with the Emperor) is his own father. But Luke is smart…he realizes that the man that was his father, and who possibly loved his mother, was not the same man that is before him today. That man was Anakin Skywalker.
And see how Vader reacts when Luke says his original name? He lashes out quickly in fear. “It no longer has any meaning” to him. That part of him is dead, or so he believes. By speaking Vader’s original name, it brings up his “true self”, and he does not want to see that again.
Because who was Anakin? Anakin was a person who was powerful, but full of emotion. Within those emotions was love and compassion. Love for his secret wife, love for his mentor, love for his mother. Compassion for those less fortunate than him, like slaves still captured around the galaxy. Anakin was ambitious but felt stifled with his powers. He was powerful, but always held back. In short, he was a boiling pot of emotions. Just like my name is so intertwined with who I am, it’s the same with Anakin. Isn’t it so much easier just to compile all of those emotions and channel it into rage, unlimited power, and hatred? And when you ignore and push down this other side of you, why not become your new name?
When we look at the saga as a whole, I noticed that it’s only the Sith that give themselves new names. The Jedi do not. But then again, why would the Jedi need to? The Jedi never grow into something different from themselves. Taken from their families at a young age, they keep their names while they train to become a Jedi. So becoming a Jedi is intertwined with their name and identity.
Though not all Sith chose a new name, most did. Most of the Sith we see in the movies had a different name originally: Vader = Anakin, Sidious = Palpatine, Tyranus = Dooku. The only exception is Darth Maul, who had a history similar to the Jedi, in that he was given to Sidious as an infant. Therefore his name was wrapped up in his identity as a Sith since he didn’t know any different. When researching the EU, I see that most adopted a new name for themselves when they became a Sith Lord.
We see this constantly throughout literature as well. Either characters choose a name for themselves and create a new identity, or they work hard to break away from a forced name to become who they really are. I am not referring to a nickname that is Liz from Elizabeth or Joe from Joseph. In Harry Potter, Dumbledore was not afraid to speak to Voldemort and use his real name of Tom Riddle. He certainly never feared calling him Voldemort around others either for he believed that, “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” Voldemort was similar to the Sith in the way that he chose a name to create a new identity and to cover his old one. King Arthur was once known as Wart, a naïve, unassuming boy who breaks out of his mold to reach his full potential as King Arthur. And to bring it back to Star Wars, Luke’s nickname in the original script was “Wormie.” Like King Arthur, he would have had to break out of that nickname to show his true colors and embrace his original name.
But if you have an adopted name, given or forced upon you, isn’t it always a burden? Your “true self” is hidden and waiting to emerge given the right set of circumstances. Maybe those circumstances never come to play, but perhaps they might as we see with Vader and Luke. What if Luke had not started off his first conversation in ROTJ with Vader using his true name? By telling Vader that when he calls him father, he is referring to Anakin, he creates a pattern that he uses over and over throughout ROTJ, slowly chipping away at the “Vader shield” that Anakin hides behind. He invokes memories of Anakin’s true self and slowly begins to win his battle against the Emperor. He didn’t need to defeat the Emperor, all he needed to do was defeat Vader.