Anakin Skywalker's Psychology
With the premiere of the new Star Wars trilogy, it seems that the passion for the saga has awoken again. However, despite the new movies’ positive reviews and box-office successes, there is something missing from the two original trilogies. That is, of course, the character of Anakin Skywalker.
Anakin Skywalker, later known as Darth Vader, was one of the main characters for the first six Star Wars movies and became a movie icon. The Chosen One is, within the universe of the saga, the most complex character of all those present in the original films.
However, understanding some of his actions can be a little complicated. Why did he go from being a warrior fighting for peace to becoming the right hand of a tyrant oppressing the entire galaxy? In this article, we will examine Anakin Skywalker’s psychology to find out.
Anakin Skywalker’s psychology: Understanding Star Wars‘ most famous character
Despite the three prequels not being as acclaimed by the fans as the original trilogy, they contain the key to understanding Anakin Skywalker’s psychology. In fact, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith revolve almost exclusively around the development of this character.
In them, we can see the story of Anakin, who starts off as a kid and ends up murdering an entire town and destroying the Jedi temple. Later, already as Darth Vader, he terrifies the galaxy for decades, before redeeming himself and going back to the Light.
What caused these sudden changes in Anakin’s personality? Let’s look at the key in his story.
The repercussions of a tough childhood
To understand Anakin Skywalker’s psychology, we have to go back to his childhood. Living in Tatooine (a planet with awful living conditions), he and his mother are slaves of a junk trader. Little Anakin has to worry about his mother’s well-being from a very early age.
According to several studies, not having a father figure can hinder a child’s development. This, among other things, can make someone develop an avoidant attachment, such as the one observable in Anakin. This is especially evident in his relationship with Padmé.
People who exhibit this type of attachment avoid expressing their emotions and try to be completely self-sufficient. This is something we can observe in Anakin Skywalker’s psychology. He puts his own decisions above his teachers’ advice, despite him appreciating and respecting it.
On the other hand, Anakin shows a lot of the characteristics of a gifted child. However, being so intelligent causes more problems for the boy that those he can initially solve. It brings problems with his master, it makes him feel different, and it makes him become too innocent and idealistic. All of these traits will eventually play a part in his fall to the Dark Side.
Adopted by the Jedis
When Anakin meets Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn, he believes he has found the way out of slavery and will finally be able to help others. This is very important to him since he often complains about how no one helps those in need. For young Anakin, the Jedis represent everything that is good in the world, and thus idealizes them. Unfortunately, although joining the Jedis seems to be everything he could ever wish for, it ends up bringing many complications:
- By leaving with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan, Anakin has to abandon his mother. She is the only person who has shown him unconditional love. Even with the advanced technology of the Star Wars universe, he will most likely not be able to communicate with her while they are apart.
- Despite Qui-Gon’s certainty that Anakin will be the one to destroy the Sith and bring equilibrium to the Force, the Jedi Council doesn’t want to train him. Arguing that he is too old but in reality afraid of the kid’s future, they reject him as a padawan. This generates a strong sense of rejection in Anakin, who progressively loses faith in the Council.
- One of Anakin’s main traits is his independence. However, the Jedi masters try to impose a huge amount of rules on him to prevent him from causing harm. This, along with the pain of his rejection, makes him hold resentments.
Some turbulent relationships
In the three prequels, we can see how Anakin goes from being an innocent kid to a rebellious teenager to finally becoming a narcissistic adult. Sure of his superiority, but simultaneously insecure and incapable of opening up to others, young Skywalker feels isolated and misunderstood. On the other hand, his relationships cause him plenty of problems, such as:
- Obi-Wan Kenobi, his master, is more of an older brother than a mentor to him. Although they have an excellent relationship, there’s also some competitive behavior between the two.
- Anakin has been in love with Padmé, his wife, all of his life. Because of this, he idealizes her. The situation worsens because they spend a lot of time apart, meaning he’s not able to really get to know her. Besides, they must both hide their relationship since Anakin’s position within the Jedis would be compromised if made public.
- Chancellor Palpatine, greatly admired by Skywalker, is, in fact, a Sith Lord who wants to corrupt him. Consequently, Anakin develops a toxic relationship with him, in which the Chancellor creates insecurities within Anakin, both directly and indirectly.
Due to the complications present in his main relationships and his isolation from the rest of the world, Anakin feels very lonely and insecure in his dealings with others. This eventually leads to his conversion to the Dark Side later on.
Betraying his ideals
When Anakin, already a young Jedi, finds out that the Tusken Raiders (also known as the Sand People) have murdered his mother, he’s blinded by wrath and kills every member of this race in Tatooine, including women and children. This goes against all of Skywalker’s ideals, making him even more arrogant and full of anger.
During the first movies, Palpatine turns him against the Jedi Council, showing him how his masters’ interests differ from his. When Anakin finds out that Padmé is pregnant and starts having ominous dreams about her death in labor, he turns to the Chancellor for advice. At that moment, he reveals his true identity as a Sith Lord and tells him the Dark Side of the Force can save Anakin’s wife.
Overwhelmed with doubt (a central element in Anakin Skywalker’s psychology), the young Jedi reports Palpatine to the Council. But, when he sees Mace Windu threatening to kill him, Anakin chooses to defend his mentor. He betrays the Jedis and becomes Darth Sidious’ apprentice.
Under his new master’s command, Anakin (now Darth Vader) starts committing atrocities that make him fall into a spiral of hate and self-destruction. One of the most shocking is the destruction of the Jedi Temple, when he ends up murdering all the younglings inside. Also, his way of choking Padmé when she rejects him is also very appalling.
After having lost everything and being on the verge of dying after fighting against Obi-Wan, Palpatine saves Anakin and makes him his servant. So, even though Anakin hates him for everything he has made him lose, he has no choice but to join him due to his isolation from the world and self-hatred.
Nonetheless, this hatred towards the Emperor allows Darth Vader to sacrifice himself to save his son. He murders his master in the process. In this way, he’s able to return to the Light and rejoin his true master Obi-Wan, in the shape of a spirit of the Force.