I’m a huge Star Wars aficionado. I’m also a huge fan of Hayden Christensen, the charismatic actor who played Anakin Skywalker in Episodes II and III. Recently, I went back to watch Episode III and began to ponder the question, “Why did Anakin turn to the dark side of the force?”This tragedy tells the story of the evil mangling of the mind once innocent. Here are my thoughts.
Anakin always dreamed of becoming a Jedi and much more. He was powerful, he knew he was powerful, and this made him very arrogant and conceited. He was well aware that he was the “Chosen One” and because of this title, and because of his youthful exuberance, his ego got the better of him.
Unfortunately, buried deep inside Anakin was an enormous amount of pain and sorrow. Like a rebellious teenager, Anakin was full of rage, and this was on display when his mother had been tortured and beaten to death. Anger and loss, as it has been said, is a path to the dark side. It’s because of this that the Jedi are taught to “let go” of all that they fear to lose and to make no attachments. Anakin couldn’t live like that and he fell in love with Padme.
Anakin knew Palpatine for years. Palpatine had always been there for him. While the council doubted Anakin and didn’t believe that he should be trained as a Jedi, and some even believed him to be untrustworthy and dangerous, Palpatine showered Anakin with praise. He told Anakin that he was strong and that one day he would be one of the best Jedi’s in the Galaxy, even better than Master Yoda. This boosted Anakin’s ego and made him take a strong liking to Palpatine. Palpatine was like the father Anakin never had.
The Jedi treated Anakin diametrically opposite to that of Palpatine. They held Anakin back and didn’t believe that he was ready to be part of the council, a Jedi, or a Master. He was too full of fear and anger, two emotions that easily lead to the dark side. This angered Anakin and made him feel betrayed. He could not understand why the Jedi distrusted him and why they treated him like an outcast. Palpatine told him that the Jedi didn’t trust him because they knew he was superior to them and because they feared him. Anakin believed this.
When Obi-Wan told Anakin that the council wanted him to spy on Palpatine, Anakin not only felt betrayed for being denied the rank of a Master, but he felt betrayed that the council, and especially Obi-Wan, would ask him to do such a thing when Palpatine was not only a close friend of his, but the Chancellor as well. He lost trust in the Jedi after this.
Palpatine told Anakin that the Jedi were planning on taking over the Republic. Again, Anakin believed him.
Palpatine was always there to comfort Anakin, stroke his ego, and feed him lies. Obi-Wan, on the other hand, was hardly around for the boy. Anakin felt that he had no one else to turn to but Palpatine, especially after Obi-Wan had agreed with the council that Anakin was not ready, and after Obi-Wan was the one who asked him to spy in the first place. Anakin felt betrayed by the council and by his Master.
Anakin had premonitions, or visions, through dreams, that foresaw Padme (his wife) dying from childbirth.
Obsessing over Padme’s death, Anakin became confused and too emotionally distraught to think clearly. And this is how he became putty in Palpatine’s hands. Palpatine kept feeding Anakin dark lies, introduced him to the dark side, and told him how the dark side could save people’s lives — including Padme. He seduced Anakin to the dark side by manipulating his mind and exploiting his weaknesses, none of which were more fervent than the love he had for Padme. These weaknesses were the very reasons why the Jedi believed Anakin not to be ready and mature enough.
Anakin reported Palpatine to the Jedi when he discovered that Palpatine was a Sith Lord. However, fate had him arrive just as Master Windu was but an inch away from slaying Palpatine. Something inside of Anakin snapped. Fear took over. Desperate to save Padme from dying at childbirth and realizing that Palpatine was his last vestige of hope to prevent this prophecy from becoming fulfilled, he succumbed to his feelings and killed Master Windu.
After realizing what he had done, Anakin panicked and knew that he had no other choice but to join Palpatine to save Padme and his own life. Anakin believe that if he could become powerful enough in the dark side, that he could save Padme. Anakin subsequently committed heinous acts, none more gut-wrenching than massacring innocent young Jedi Knights, before his epoch dual with Obi-Wan on Mustafar.
Ironically, Padme died. Some say that this was due to the fact that Anakin was not powerful enough to save her. I disagree. I’d argue that Palpatine used his dark powers to ensure that Padme would die so that Anakin would forever be his servant and that his loyalty would not be to anyone but him.
Anakin became Vader before he got into the iconic suit; it was a ceremonial name the emperor gave him.
After that, Anakin, now Darth Vader, became the emperor’s second in command, ruled the galaxy as a Sith for over twenty years, committed heinous acts, like Alderaan and the death star for instance, until he eventually betrayed his master and saved his son, Luke Skywalker.