Home > Multimedia Essays > “Lucas, I am your father…”: Shakespeare’s Possible Influence on Star Wars

“Lucas, I am your father…”: Shakespeare’s Possible Influence on Star Wars

During the Christmas break, my friends and I did a Star Wars movie marathon. Attack of the Clones had this scene where Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala elope under the shady trees of Naboo. This scene reminded me of Romeo and Juliet. Both couples eloped and were forbidden to be with each other. The next episode reminded me again of Shakespeare. Anakin is seen with long hair and black clothes all throughout Episode III. And this is how Hamlet is usually portrayed or so I think because I’ve seen how Hamlet was portrayed by Spark Notes in one of their summery videos. Anyway, I then thought that aside from their looks they too are both tortured young souls. Such observations lead me to an idea of writing a blog entry relating Shakespeare to Star Wars. Here, I will enumerate and discuss similarities between the two.

Prince Hamlet as portrayed in Video Spark Notes: Shakespeare's Hamlet summary

Anakin Skywalker dressed in all black

In Macbeth…

In a blog, jediknight2210 says that both Macbeth and Anakin were good people who turned evil, are both heroes at first and that they also regret what they did. Macbeth was naturally good, as Lady Macbeth says, “Yet do I fear thy nature,/ It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness…”(I. v. 3-4) It is his ambition, ambition to be King of Scotland, that made him evil. What gave him this ambition? The prophecy of the three witches. On the other hand, Anakin, was also good. He was part of the Jedi, the light side of the Force. It was also his ambition, ambition to be the most powerful Jedi, that lead him to the dark side. What helped lead him to have this ambition? The prophecy of the Jedi Council. They kept talking about a chosen one who will bring balance to the Force, who will defeat the Sith, the dark side. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn claims and insists that he is the one. Even Obi Wan believed so. Indeed, prophecies played a big role in both characters’ ambitions.

They were both heroes. Macbeth was a general of King Duncan. He fought the Irish and killed the rebel, Macdonald. Anakin was a skillful warrior and pilot who was loyal to the Jedi. He fought the separatists of the Republic and defeated Count Dooku, a Jedi turned Sith. Both were heroes who were once loyal to someone. Surprisingly, both also fought rebels.

“I have lived long enough. My way of life/ Is fall’n into the sere, the yellow leaf,/ And that which should accompany old age,/ As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,/ I must not look to have, but, in their stead,/ Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honor, breath/ Which the poor heart would fain deny and dare not,”(V.iii. 24-30) Macbeth vented out his regret that though he was powerful, he knew he still didn’t have honor, love, obedience and real and loyal friends. Anakin, on the other hand, as Darth Vader, regretted his mistake also. He knew that his son was more important than taking over the galaxy. His last words to Luke were: “You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister… you were right (Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi).” The only difference is that Anakin uttered that he was actually wrong, while Macbeth didn’t.

If Macbeth has Lady Macbeth who builds his confidence saying, “But screw your courage to the sticking place,/ And we’ll not fail”(I.vii. 59-61), Anakin has Chancellor Palpatine who says, “I see you are becoming the greatest of all the Jedi, even more powerful than Master Yoda (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones).”

In Romeo and Juliet…

Romeo and Juliet's secret marriage

Anakin and Padme's Elopement in Naboo

Romeo is a Montague, while Juliet is a Capulet. Anakin is a Jedi, while Padme is a politician. The common denominator between them is that they can’t be together because they are from different worlds. In the former couple’s case, their clans are fighting. In Anakin and Padme’s, the issue is that Anakin is a Jedi who must remain celibate. Padme also explains that they live in a real world and that Anakin is studying to become a Jedi while she is a Senator. All the couples’ wish is that this division did not exist. In the balcony scene, Juliet exclaims, “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?/ Deny thy father and refuse thy name!”(II. ii. 33-34)

In Hamlet…

Prince Hamlet is instructed by the ghost of his father to confront the one who killed him. He indicates that it is Claudius who is guilty. “Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast…,”(I. v. 42) he makes a confirmation to Hamlet. In Star Wars, a ghost, Obi Wan Kenobi, also instructs Luke Skywalker to confront “the one who killed his father” which according to him is Darth Vader. Now, we all know the famous line, “Luke, I am your father” and that Anakin, his father, is Darth Vader, but Obi Wan insists that Anakin was killed by Darth Vader himself. He explains to Luke after being asked why he didn’t tell him the truth, “Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed (Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) .”Anyway, the point is that both characters have a common goal, and that is to avenge their father’s death (Greenberg, 2009), to confront the killer. Both characters are instructed and informed by a ghost.

As Hamlet breaks the heart of Ophelia, Anakin breaks the heart of Padme. “That unmatched form and feature of blown youth blasted with ecstasy. Oh, woe is me, t’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!” Ophelia expresses how miserable she is that Hamlet has changed because of his madness. Padme also expresses her disappointment in Anakin that he has changed because of his lust for power, saying, “I don’t know you anymore. Anakin, you’re breaking my heart. You’re going down a path I can’t follow (Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith).”

We may suggest that these similarities might have truly been influenced by Shakespeare. This may show how transcendent Shakespeare can be that something as thought to be unrelated to Shakespeare, as Star Wars, actually had similarities. Through reduction, Lucas might have drawn from Shakespeare.

Written by:

KERITH MARK “RAFFY” DE OCAMPO/ 09-78559/ BA Speech Communication

Works Cited:

Greenberg, John. “How Hamlet is and isn’t Star Wars .” John’s Blog. Blogger, 08 Feb 2009. Web. 03 Jan 2011. .

“Tragic Heroes: A comparison between Anakin Skywalker and Macbeth..” Where did you dig up that old fossil?. Star Wars: Blogs, 14 Oct 2005. Web. 03 Jan 2011. .

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Dir. Richard Marquand. Perfs. David Prowse and Alec Guinness. 1983.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Dir. George Lucas. Perfs. Ian McDiarmid. 2002.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Dir. George Lucas. Perfs. Natalie Portman. 2005.

Web. 17 Jan 2011. .

Web. 17 Jan 2011. < http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/5300000/Anakin-and-Padme-3-anakin-and-padme-5305500-1680-2237.jpg&gt;.

Web. 17 Jan 2011. < http://www.sparknotes.com/sparknotes/video/romeojuliet&gt;.

Web. 17 Jan 2011. <http://www.sparknotes.com/sparknotes/video/hamlet&gt;.

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Categories: Multimedia Essays
  1. theclassicalfan
    January 17, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    This is very interesting. I’m ashamed to say that I missed the reference/s to Shakespeare when I first watched the films. Now that I think about it, there seem to be similarities between plot elements in Shakespeare’s works and the plot elements in the SW films.

  2. fuchsia08
    February 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I’ve watched Star Wars I-VI more than twice because I really enjoyed the plot. I wonder why it didn’t cross my mind that they have Shakespeare elements. Maybe I was too engrossed with the special effects and the characters. I remembered I was very amazed back then (besides, I was very young when I watched them.) But now it does make sense to say Shakespeare has influenced Star Wars, even indirectly.

  3. February 27, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Great realization! It’s surprising how a film with such a futuristic theme could still be influenced by Shakespeare… which could only mean that his stories are truly universal. This is what I think makes Shakespeare such an immortal writer. People could always incorporate Shakespearean titbits in every story no matter where or what year it was set. Thanks, this made me want to have a Star Wars marathon myself!

  4. March 24, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Because I am your sister, I will say this is a great post!

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