The Star Wars Trilogy Analysis
A creative blend of space opera and science fiction, the Star Wars novels were very popular, as were games, toys, and comic books based on the film trilogy. Starting with Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire (1991), a whole new series of novels was developed to extend the story. As heroic science fantasy, the Star Wars books offer swashbuckling adventures and transport readers to new worlds, to exotic locales populated by bizarre characters with technological advances almost beyond the imagination.
The Star Wars story, however, is more than a simple tale set in an alterative universe. It is both fairy tale and myth. Like L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), the Star Wars novels describe how an orphaned youth learns to choose good over evil, thus finding a place in the world. The main heroes—Luke, Leia, Han, and Lando—demonstrate positive ways of being in the world, while the droids, Wookie, and Ewoks are as comforting as a child’s stuffed toy.
The Star Wars series also retells the archetypal story of the hero’s journey described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1968). In each novel, Luke must leave his surroundings, called to action by a wise old man, Ben Kenobi. First, Ben convinces Luke that he must “learn the ways of the Force” if he wants to help Princess Leia. Next, Ben sends Luke to find the Jedi Master, Yoda. Finally, Ben tells Luke that he must face his father, Darth Vader, if he wants to become a true Jedi Knight and save the universe.
Luke also undergoes several trials in each book. While rescuing Princess Leia in Star Wars, Luke is attacked by a garbage monster in the depths of the Death Star. In The Empire Strikes Back, he is nearly killed by Vader in their climactic duel, losing both his hand and his light-saber. Luke has grown in Return of the Jedi, but he still must undergo severe torture and near death at the hands of the Emperor in order to save his father and remain true to his principles.
In all three novels of the original trilogy, Luke returns to his community with increased wisdom and knowledge about himself. First, he is rewarded with applause, next with humble insight, and finally with the discovery of the importance of friendship. As he progresses from callow youth to mature hero, Luke comes...
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