Study Guide

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Spirituality

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THE EMPEROR: Rise, my friend.
DARTH VADER: The Death Star will be completed on schedule.
THE EMPEROR: You've done well, Lord Vader. And now I sense you wish to continue your search for young Skywalker.
DARTH VADER: Yes, my master.
THE EMPEROR: Patience, my friend. In time, he will seek you out, and when he does, you must bring him before me. He has grown strong. Only together can we turn him to the Dark Side of the Force.

Here we have the two biggest abusers of the Force in the entire galaxy. First, they're going to use it to track Luke down. Then they're going to use it to ruin him.

YODA: Soon will I rest; yes, forever sleep. Earned it, I have.
LUKE: Master Yoda, you can't die.
YODA: Ah. Strong am I with the Force, but not that strong. Twilight is upon me, and soon, night must fall. That is the way of things. The way of the Force.

Like most spiritual tenets, the Force is shrouded in mystery. There's an "it is what it is" quality to it that requires believers to put faith in something greater than them. In other words, Yoda's going to die because that's the way it goes. There's nothing he or Luke can do about it. Womp womp.

YODA: Remember, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware: anger, fear, aggression—the dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

Here, Yoda sums up the duality of the Force: Your spirituality will make you wicked strong, but if you put your faith in power and aggression, it'll lead you to the Dark Side and just make you wicked, period.

DARTH VADER: He will come to me?
THE EMPEROR: I have foreseen it. His compassion for you will be his undoing. He will come to you, and then you will bring him before me.
DARTH VADER: As you wish.

For dudes on the Dark Side, Luke's compassion is his greatest fault. For the Jedi, on the other hand, empathy and consideration for others is Jedi 101. No wonder they don't get along.

C-3PO: I do believe they think I am some sort of god.
HAN: Well, why don't you use your divine influence and get us out of this?
C-3PO: I beg your pardon, General Solo, but that just wouldn't be proper.
HAN: Proper?
C-3PO: It's against my programming to impersonate a deity.

Obviously, C-3PO doesn't have the Force; he's a droid. Still, his view on spirituality and its use is in keeping with the Jedi party line when it comes to respecting the connectedness of all things and generally not being a butthead.

LUKE: Soon I'll be dead, and you with me.
THE EMPEROR: Perhaps you refer to the imminent attack of your rebel fleet? Yes, I assure you, we are quite safe from your friends here.
LUKE: Your overconfidence is your weakness.
THE EMPEROR: Your faith in your friends is yours!

Here, Return of the Jedi's two stances on spirituality go head to head. Luke is guided by his faith in his pals, and the Emperor is led by his desire for power. You get the sense that the Emperor doesn't use the Force so much as he thinks he is the Force.

THE EMPEROR: Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you!

If the Dark Side wanted to embroider their spiritual motto on a throw pillow, this is what it would say.

DARTH VADER: Obi-Wan has taught you well.

Darth Vader's trying to get a dig in at Obi-Wan here, but what he doesn't know is that he's speaking the truth. Obi-Wan was Luke's spiritual mentor: He helped Luke strengthen his faith and focus his belief in the goodness of others like a laser.

THE EMPEROR: If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed! Young fool, only now, at the end, do you understand. Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side. Now, you will pay the price for your lack of vision.

Lack of vision? Ha. Luke's vision is his greatest strength. That's why he doesn't give into the Emperor's constant "Jump in the hate pool! The water is fine!" taunting. That's why he never gives up on his dad, either.

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