Study Guide

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Hate


VADER: If he could be turned, he would become a powerful ally.
EMPEROR: Yes, he would be a great asset. Can it be done?
VADER: He will join us or die, my master.

Vader and the Emperor are pretty much hatred embodied. Here, this gruesome twosome is finally realizing that Luke Skywalker poses a threat—and that their only hope for defeating him is to turn him to the dark side.

YODA: Much anger in him, like his father.
OBI-WAN: Was I any different when you taught me?
YODA: He is not ready.

Here, we see that Luke—like his father, and like Obi-Wan—is a bit more passionate than Yoda would like. While passion can be great in many contexts, it can also be twisted towards negativity, as we see with Vader.

YODA: Beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression [...] Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight.

Although the dark side isn't necessarily stronger than the light side, it is a lot easier to access—all you have to do is think nasty thoughts. This leads to an almost addictive relationship that doesn't end until you're entirely consumed by hatred.

LUKE: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
YODA: You will know. When you are calm. At peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.

According to Yoda, a Jedi must always be in control of his or her emotions in order to keep from straying to the dark side. As it happens, Luke has a hard time with this. It's not like he doesn't have any reason to be angry—Vader massacred his entire family in the previous film, after all—but it's still a flashing warning sign for the future.

YODA: That place is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.
LUKE: What's in there?
YODA: Only what you take with you.

Luke faces his greatest challenge yet in the cave and... fails. The key to this passage is Yoda's claim that the only thing that's in the cave is "what you take with you," which indicates that the shocking scene that follows (which we'll discuss in detail shortly) is some sort of reflection of Luke's inner turmoil.

YODA: Your weapons, you will not need them.
[Luke shakes his head no]

This is the first test, and Luke straight-up bombs: His fear leads him to hold on to his lightsaber. As a wise muppet once said: "Fear is the path to the dark side."

[Luke decapitates a manifestation of Darth Vader in a mystical cave on Dagobah. The head explodes to reveal Luke's own face beneath the helmet.]

This striking image (which scared the Ewoks out of us when we were kids) represents Luke's hatred and anger towards Vader, which could lead him down the same dark path as the Sith Master if left unchecked. Of course, it also foreshadows the later revelation that Vader is Luke's dad.

OBI-WAN: This is a dangerous time for you, when you will be tempted by the dark side of the Force.
YODA: Yes, yes. To Obi-Wan you listen. The cave. Remember your failure at the cave.

Both Obi-Wan and Yoda can see that Luke is in trouble, but they're unable to convince him to remain on Dagobah and complete his training. Luke is still too emotional—too angry—and they worry that this will make him rife for conversion to the dark side. Let's just hope that Luke was taking notes during Decapitation 101.

VADER: Obi-Wan has taught you well. You have controlled your fear, now release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me.

On some level, it seems like Vader would be totally cool with Luke killing him. After all, this would represent the young Skywalker fully giving in to his hatred towards Vader and, by proxy, turning to the dark side of the Force. Like father, like son.

VADER: You are beaten. It is useless to resist. Don't let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did.

Luke does resist, though, choosing to throw himself to near-certain death instead of giving in to his hatred. That's an important moment for him. Although he failed the trial in the cave, he's managed to stay true to the Jedi code and the light side of the Force.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...