An Analysis of Darth Vader Using Psychoanalytic Theory

Today, contemporary culture is inundated with literature, movies, and cable television as common hallmarks of life in the 21st century. Apart from serving as a source of entertainment, these same mediums also present a unique opportunity for interested parties to conduct psychoanalytic probes. The riveting accounts provided by talented scriptwriters and prolific authors have captivated an eager audience heavily invested in captivating plots. It also offers a unique opportunity to harness invaluable tools to better understand the primary motivations driving characters and a comprehensive look at human behavior. The fictional character Darth Vader, from Twentieth Century Fox’s multi-million dollar Star Wars space epic franchise, has enchanted popular culture for decades and will serve as an exceptional choice for this review. Also featured in this evaluation are associated demographics, history, presenting problem, analysis of problem, and alternative analysis.

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Darth Vader Demographics

Darth Vader, formerly known as Anakin Skywalker, is the main antagonists in Star Wars. His steady descent into the grip of “the Force”, a pervasive power in the franchise’s fictional universe, is generally accepted as his destiny given it foundation in Jedi prophesy. As an iconic figure in the franchise, Darth Vader still captivates pop-culture as one of the most familiar villains in cinema. His inclusion in the Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, The Rise of the Skywalker, and The Clone Wars is no cinematic fluke.

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 Darth Vader is a special character with an exceptional story that cements the plots within the franchise. As Sith Lord, he has successfully managed to capture the imagination of millions of viewers eager to follow his inimitable story and how he navigates his highly complex world. He plays the role of a Dark Lord preoccupied with the dark side and meting out pain and suffering to individuals he deems worthy of this type of punishment. As a human, Darth Vader is represented by Anakin Skywalker whose primary objective is striving for equity in the universe and essentially introducing balance. Yet he still grapples with the reality of Darth Vader reemerging and the possibility of destruction in his home planet of Tatooine. Darth Vader demonstrates strong superhuman features such as telepathy, telekinesis, and clairvoyance (Shively et al., 2017). However, his dark side overshadows the possibility that they could be harnessed as a source for good given his troubled childhood.

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His History

Darth Vader’s fraternization with then dark side is likely a consequence of his upsetting childhood experiences.  The loss of his mother at a relatively young age may have triggered a series of events which eventually culminated in his morphing into Darth Vader from a benign Anakin Skywalker.  In particular, the psychological impact of these events may have shaped a future Darth Vader given their magnitude.

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 Typically, parents are tasked with the crucial role of nurturing and guiding children during the formative stages of life when they are most impressionable. The absence of a mother may, therefore, explain the transformation from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader, before ultimately joining the dark side and serving Emperor Palpatine. Darth Vader’s rapid change into a menacing villain is further bolstered by his new mechanical hiss, helmet, and helmet which seem to complete his transformation to a new state of being (Flotmann, 2014).  His experience as a slave boy also caused great distress to a young Anakin Skywalker resulting in a warped view of the power structure in the Galactic Republic and his position in the ensuing chaos.  Following his recruitment, Darth Vader is later actively involved in the accompanying conflict that leaves him injured and severely maimed. The only remaining option is to transform him into an archetypal cyborg after which he becomes one of the most respected and influential enforcers within his domain (Siracusa, 2015). The ruthlessness, lack of empathy, selfishness, and violent outburst are often associated with the absence of a father in Anakin Skywalker’s early loge. Furthermore, their rocky relationship was fraught with tension compounded by Darth Vader’s role as the “Chosen One”.

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Presenting Problem

Anakin Skywalker is torn between standing for the right ideals espoused by the empire or moving to the reviled dark side. This quandary is further complicated by the Jedi prophesy identifying him as the “Chosen One” given  the added responsibility bound to accompany this newfound plateau. Anakin’s ruthless disposition first becomes evident after his mother’s tragic death. This is evident in his decision to decimate the tribe responsible for enslaving his mother; swearing to prevent this from ever happening again to his loved ones. This marked the beginning of his terrifying reign of terror and a platform for his final transformation to Darth Vader. Although he wanted to use his power and influence to help Pademe, he realized their relationship was an abomination and opted to feed his dark side.

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Analysis of Problem

Darth Vader is essentially presented as the epitome of evil in the Star Wars franchise. His transformation is associated with the death of his dear mother and the arrival of R2-D2, Qui-Gon Jinn and Padme at Tatooine. Vader’s calm demeanor prior to his mother’s death even saw him linked to midi-chlorian heritage; although this was to change after his mother’s death. Balancing between his true calling and family also proved difficult, especially considering his enticement to join the dark side.

The Freudian psychoanalytic theory is crucial to providing an in-depth evaluation of Darth Vader’s problem. It is centered on the idea that motivation and awareness shape the overall development of personality and ensuing mannerisms (Falzeder, 2019). In this regard, Darth Vader’s behavior may simply be the result of a fractured sense of identity centered on his id-controlled personality He is impetuous and solely motivated by personal gain. A dented and underdeveloped superego then convinces him then erroneously convinces him that he was capable of saving his loved ones and serves as one of the main primary reasons why he has difficulty regulating his behavior. Freud also believes that dreams represent individual’s reality, especially as it relates to psychic anarchy (Brower, 2018). Anakin’s dream involving his dying mother and Padme’s death became a reality as expressed in his desperate attempts to save their lives. Furthermore, he activates Freud’s defense mechanism proposition as seem in Anakin’s never-ending anxiety. He later projects his fears by lashing out and demanding fear from his adversaries.

Alternative Analysis

An alternative analysis of this problem would appropriately benefit from Carl Jung’s insightful perspective. He suggests that individual’s demeanor is a direct consequence of unrealized thoughts and preconceptions (Jones, 2015). These ideas then serve as a major motivation and guide in an individual’s life. Jung suggests that children are capable of evaluating their parents independently and whether or not to gradually gravitate towards evil. Darth Vader’s drift towards the dark side may, therefore, have been preconceived and may have been responsible for creating his character. The idea that he was the “Chosen One” may have resonated with him given that images formed in the mind may have guided him steadily towards evil as they were already instilled in psyche

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