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☺️☺️
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.’