Is Anakin Skywalker Othello?

A fan made a video comparing Anakin Skywalker with William Shakespeare’s tragic hero Othello:

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30 Responses to “Is Anakin Skywalker Othello?”

  1. Hoggle Says:

    Cosmic poetry, storys within storys, GL’s star wars 1-6 epic jazz of a symphony 🙂

  2. LadyJediScientist Says:

    A very thought provoking analysis although I don’t think I would call Palpatine’s lust for power a virtue. Also, that is not his sole motive for his actions. His other motivation is revenge.

    I’ve always enjoyed the classical references in Star Wars and the Shakespearen references always seemed, at least to me, to be more potent in the Prequels than in 4-6. So glad Coopla gave Lucas that copy of Shakespeare’s plays☺️☺️

    • James Says:

      Yes that last section was more of a joke than anything else but you are absolutely right. Thanks so much for checking it out! I also heard that story about Coppola giving GL the works of Shakespeare.. that was a great day for humanity!

      • LadyJediScientist Says:

        Most definitely. Star Wars would not be the same without the influence of Shakespeare😉

  3. James Says:

    I feel so honoured to have my video musings featured here! This site has brought me so much joy over the last few months (since I discovered it!).

  4. jayoungr Says:

    I never thought of that comparison before, but now that you say it, I can definitely see it. (I checked out the paper you linked in 2014 as well.) There are differences, of course–most notably that Othello doesn’t suffer from the crushing fear of loss that Anakin has–but that’s what keeps it in the territory of echo/borrowing rather than ripoff.

    Thanks for posting this! I’m so glad I discovered this site. So few of my friends like or even tolerate the prequels that I’m very happy to have found a place where thoughtful discussion goes on.

    • LadyJediScientist Says:

      Anakin also parallels Hamlet at times. Truth be told, I think there are multiple parallels to many of the Bard’s works in Star Wars. You just have to know the Bard’s work in order to catch them. 😉

  5. Jacobesico Says:

    I remember Ian McDiramid describing The Emperor’s charcter as an Othello type

    I would probably describe Anakin as MacBeth.

    Mind you I haven’t gotten too deeply into Shakespeare. I’m more of a visual sort of person but I’m trying to get into some of them.

    • James Says:

      Just did a search and found this on wikipedia from McDiarmid:

      “I’ve been trying to find a redeeming feature to Palpatine, and the only one I’ve got so far is that he’s clearly a patron of the arts because he goes to the opera.” McDiarmid compared the character to Iago from William Shakespeare’s Othello:

    • LadyJediScientist Says:

      Try live productions. There are good film versions of the Bard’s works, but I’ve found that live stage productions of Shakespeare’s plays are far more captivating.

  6. ladylavinia1932 Says:

    The problem with this theory is that unlike Iago, Palpatine does not make any insidious hints of a relationship between Padme and Obi-Wan. Anakin’s suspicions and jealousy are of his own making . . . or his premonitions.

    • Nariel Says:

      True, although there is the deleted scene from ROTS in which Palpatine suggests to Anakin that Senator Amidala is hiding something, though he doesn’t mention Obi-Wan specifically. But apart from that, I think there definitely are parallels between Iago’s manipulation of Othello and Palpatine’s manipulation of Anakin.

    • jayoungr Says:

      Again, that’s what keeps it in the realm of inspiration and not direct copy.

  7. princesselwen Says:

    I saw some of those parallels before, but not all of them. Very good analysis. 🙂
    One Shakespearean element I’ve seen in Star Wars is from the original trilogy. Han and Leia are in some ways like Benedick and Beatrice–they’re two strong-willed people who banter and bicker and insult each other before eventually falling in love.

    The other parallel I’d see with Palpatine is Shakespeare’s Richard the Third, who schemes against everyone and manipulates everyone so he can get in power, and then (eventually) has everything backfire on him.

    • James Says:

      Oooh Benedick and Beatrice are absolutely like Han and Leia. Can’t believe I didn’t see that before! I see the Richard III link too. Particularly the way in which Palpatine is willing to throw his apprentices under the bus when the time suits him just like Richard does with Buckingham.

      • jayoungr Says:

        Even more so since, weren’t they supposed to have had an offscreen relationship between ANH and ESB? Benedick and Beatrice also had a previous fling that ended badly (hence Beatrice’s remark about how he won her heart with false dice).

    • LadyJediScientist Says:

      I once thought Han & Leia were based more off of Taming of the Shrew, but the parallel didn’t fit. They are definitely Benedict and Beatrice. Just like Romeo and Juliet are major influence for Anakin & Padme’s relationship.

  8. princesselwen Says:

    And if we extend the Othello comparison to the Clone Wars, Rush Clovis is like Rodrigo. He’s in love with the lady who married the Othello figure, and gets manipulated by the villain.

  9. Shaman McLamie Says:

    I’ve heard Anakin being called Othello before. It was actually pointed out in an article(that I can’t find) talking about how Jar Jar Binks is the Clown in Othello.

    • LadyJediScientist Says:

      Or Jar Jar could be Falstaff?🤔 By the way, I am loving this thread!!!😍😍😍😍

      • Nariel Says:

        Maybe, although isn’t Falstaff a bit smarter than Jar Jar?
        And I agree, this thread is so much fun 🙂

      • LadyJediScientist Says:

        Not if you include some the episodes of The Clone Wars. He is hapless, but not unintelligent.

        And yes, this is a wonderful thread!!!

  10. Shaman McLamie Says:

    They originally planned for Supreme Leader Snoke to be a totally hot woman who was disguising her true form disfigured by the Dark Side using the Force. Then I was thinking that if they stuck with that they could have played a Macbeth angle with Kylo Ren.

  11. princesselwen Says:

    I have to admit I would have preferred female!Snoke with that characterization. As awesome as Ventress is in the Clone Wars, the movies are sadly short on Sith Ladies. Besides, it would give some more insights into Ren’s motivation, and would keep Snoke from being Palpatine 2.0. (Who’s betting that he’s actually two feet tall?) He or she still needed a better name. Snoke sounds like something more suited to Harry Potter than Star Wars.
    Jar Jar does fit as the clown character, that often appears in Shakespeare’s plays.
    The real counterpart to Iago in modern cinema is Heath Ledger’s Joker: Screws with the main characters’ lives for no discernable reason, causes the downfall of a noble man (Othello/Harvey Dent), and never gives a consistent reason for what he’s doing–he just gives different reasons every time! He has that same sort of what Coleridge called ‘motiveless malignanty.’

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