Darth Vader: A Modern Macbeth
Obsession with ambition eventually causes heroes, who have achieved greatness, to lose control. These heroes are called tragic heroes. This is true for the men created by William Shakespeare and George Lucas. Macbeth, written by Shakespeare, turns evil, as does Anakin Skywalker from the Star Wars movies, made by George Lucas. The downfall of both men comes from the numerous problems they have.
Anakin Skywalker and Macbeth were both heroes at one time. Anakin Skywalker saved a lot of people. What made him a hero was the fact that he was willing to help everybody. During the war, the people were depending on Anakin. He also had a best friend and mentor in his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. "They are closer than friends. Closer than brothers". Macbeth had also done many heroic acts. He had saved many soldiers on the battlefield. He was a General in the Scottish army and a true war hero. "But all's too weak; For brave Macbeth, Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel...." In the beginning of the play, Macbeth saves Scotland and restores peace with help from his best friend, Banquo. Macbeth also looks up to Duncan, the King of Scotland.
Anakin Skywalker and Macbeth both had a tragic flaw that led them down the path to the dark side. Anakin has always had anger, fear, and a desire for more power. Macbeth has also had similar ambitions and desires for power. Once Macbeth hears of the witch's prophecies, he begins thinking evil thoughts and murderous ideas. He considers doing it, but has internal conflicts about it. Both men had evil influences in their lives. Anakin had Palpatine manipulating him since he was a small boy, and Macbeth had the witches to give him evil thoughts. "Know Banquo was your enemy." Both men had dreams about their own empires. They also committed many murders that were not necessary. Both men loved their wives. Both were obsessed. Anakin's main reason for turning to the dark side was to save Padme, his wife, from dying. Macbeth allowed his wife to convince him to murder Duncan and do other bad deeds. Anakin Skywalker and Macbeth had many things in common with their circumstances in becoming evil.
Both Anakin Skywalker and Macbeth realized they could not live this way. Anakin redeemed himself in the end. Macbeth had the opportunity to, but did not. Anakin could not stand seeing his son dying. He destroyed his evil influence, Palpatine. By doing this, he fulfilled his destiny and brought balance to the force. Anakin Skywalker died peacefully in his son's presence. "Help me take this mask off, let me look upon you with my own eyes". Macbeth did not destroy his evil influence, the witches, but he did recognize their evil intentions. He realized that their prophecies were meant to deceive him. Macbeth became a warrior again. He died with honor, bravely. "Yet I will try the last. Before my body I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff...." Macbeth almost redeemed himself when he put his sword down, but he refused to surrender. Macbeth is an example of a classic tragic hero, whereas Anakin is no longer a tragic hero by redeeming himself.
Anakin Skywalker and Macbeth are both great examples of a tragic hero. They were once great heroes who gave in to the dark side. Later Anakin redeemed himself, unfortunately Macbeth did not.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. 2nd ed. New York: New American Library, 1998. 3-97.
Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi. Dir. Richard Marquand. Perf. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher. DVD. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 1983.
Stover, Matthew. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Del Ray Books, 2005.