anghraine: from the 2005 p&p: darcy standing at a piano while georgiana plays it (the Skywalker twins)
[personal profile] anghraine
So, the meta I alluded to but didn't write here - I've finally finished.

Disclaimers: I wrote this over about a month; it's long even by my standards, rambling, probably repetitive, and mostly off the top of my head, since I haven't recently watched any of the SW movies except A New Hope - feel free to correct me if I've forgotten something important, or gotten something wrong; TV Tropes; seriously, it's really long; this is about resemblance between members of the Skywalker family, not (necessarily) direct inheritance; as always, I only consider the original trilogy and the prequels as primary canon; I tried not to bash anyone, but I might have slipped up; since I began it a month ago, it might have wandered a bit; guys, I don't even know how it got so ridiculously long.

Awhile back, I finished Ten Facts About Lucy Skywalker, which ran fairly smoothly until #9. I knew that Yoda's fact needed to explain why Lucy got trained as a Jedi and Leia got largely overlooked, since gender obviously wouldn't be a factor if Luke were also a girl. Going with the fandom assumption that they're Different As Night And Day-style twins (yes, they're even in the trope examples), I had him deciding that Leia shouldn't be trained because of qualities X, Y, Z - and then went, "wait, Luke has all those things too. Um. Oh crap, people would probably be more likely to see similarities in twin sisters anyway."

I solved the problem in the story by presenting them as fairly similar, but far from identical - Yoda doesn't want either to be trained, because of shared qualities XYZ, but there are also significant differences which lead him to view Lucy as the less objectionable of the two.

This got me vaguely thinking about Luke and Leia in canon, and then the nine millionth iteration of "Luke is the one who takes after their father" or "Leia's the one like Anakin, Luke's like Padmé" sent me into full metarant mode. So let's talk about the twin fallacy and the Skywalkers.

As popular media would have it, twins come in exactly two types: clones and polar opposites. They either have just about everything in common, or nothing. If it's not obvious right away, there are generally some obvious verbal cues. If a pair of twins are regularly referred to as "the twins" or "the [family name] twins," they're likely to be regarded as a sort of collective -- one personality divided into two bodies. If they're almost invariably "the one who ..." or "the [adjective] one," you can safely bet that they're unlike each other in every possible way.

It need hardly be said that there's a teensy bit more variation in real life, and this is a kind of weird either/or argument.

So, Luke and Leia.

Saying "Leia is the one like Anakin" implies that if Leia is like Anakin, it therefore follows that Luke isn't. Luke being like Padmé means Leia must not be. Apparently, Luke and Leia are so unlike each other that they couldn't possibly resemble the same parent in any respect. As far as I'm concerned, that's a painful simplification of their characters and their relationship, though not a surprising one. Luke and Leia are generally reduced to a handful of traits cobbled together from their most memorable scenes across their character arcs.

Thus, Luke is completely defined as a whiny farmboy and serene warrior-monk, even though these are two completely different stages of his development, make about zero sense together, and do not remotely sum up his entire character. Similarly, Leia is a feisty, no-nonsense badass -- at all times forever and ever amen. Seen in this way, they are mirror opposites. The problem is not that those qualities don't exist, but that defining them by those alone ignores a significant portion of their characterizations.

(This phenomenon afflicts Anakin and Padmé as well -- for instance, she's often defined more by her dramatically altered behaviour while pregnant than anything that has come before. Also, the insistence that Luke and Leia's personalities are diametrically opposed, with her resembling one parent and he the other, demands that their parents' personalities are also completely dissimilar.

I may dislike the PT and consider its characterizations painfully shallow and inconsistent, but even I don't see so simplistic an opposition between Anakin and Padmé. In fact, I remember at least one occasion where their similarities are explicitly pointed out in the dialogue. Although I'm focusing more on the OT Skywalkers - Anakin, Luke and Leia - it's something to keep in mind.)

You are reckless!

This is the single quality that most renders Luke unfit to be a Jedi. Not anger, not fear, not aggression: recklessness.

Luke is rash, impulsive, impetuous, whatever you want to call it. For him, to think is to act. He says exactly what he thinks, as soon as he thinks it. He finds something interesting in the desert and promptly goes after it. He realizes that a legion of stormtroopers may have attacked his family and rushes home, heedless of the danger.

Even the older Luke of ESB (as the quote makes clear) retains the quality. When he meets Yoda, he reacts without thinking. Later he ignores his advice and rushes into the Dark Side cave. Once there, he instantly attacks the Vader-specter. He’s quick to give something up as impossible. And, of course, he rushes off to rescue his friends, springing Vader’s trap (though that’s a muddier case) and precipitating the duel. Even after he knows it’s a trap. Oh yes, he knows - Leia actually screams, “IT’S A TRAP!” as he passes, and Luke keeps going anyway.

It’s only in Return of the Jedi that we see him set that recklessness aside. And the careful patience of ROTJ is not a quality he’s had all along - it’s something he’s had to fight for, that he only acquires after a long struggle with his own disposition, and which breaks down under pressure.

Leia is more restrained, but not by that much. She likewise says exactly what she thinks, regardless of the consequences. I’m not sure how she managed spying. She too acts quickly, launching them into the garbage compactor (paralleling Luke shooting up the control panel). She’s more likely to think before she makes a decision - unsurprising for a senator and a senator’s daughter. But neither is it surprising that she rushes to rescue Han as soon as she infiltrates Jabba’s palace, getting them both captured.

Anakin is, of course, equally rash in his youth (there’s some implication that Padmé is somewhat reckless too, but I don’t think to the degree that he and Luke are). Like his son, he loses his first limb by rushing into battle, and the other three in effectively the same way. As Vader, he more closely mirrors his daughter - while still quick to act, he’s considerably more measured, and seems less heedless of consequences than indifferent to them. He has clearly acquired enough control to consider his actions before he commits them. The only time he even debatably acts without thinking is when Luke stabs him in the shoulder and he instantly slices his hand off, which is somewhat less than effective in helping his argument.

Personally, I think the three of them are probably about equally reckless by disposition. In Luke and the young Anakin, it’s largely unrestrained. Leia and Vader’s lives under the Empire seem to have forced some measure of control on them, though they remain outspoken and impulsive; and in the end, Luke seems to gain the most extensive control over the impetuosity they all share, via Jedi instruction (which seems to have been rather more enlightened than that his father received).

Only you could be so bold.

I’ve always found this line from Leia to Vader to be kind of lolarious, because it’s pretty much the most complimentary insult ever, and describes her every bit as much as it does him.

She’s brave and often fearless and always bold. She’s bold when she gets captured, she’s bold when she faces her chief captor, she’s bold when she takes over her rescue, she’s bold in ordinary conversation, she’s bold when she’s masquerading as a bounty hunter, when she flies through the Endor forest, when she shoots up stormtroopers. In fact, if I had to choose any word to describe her, it would be this one.

She’s more complicated than this one word, of course, so I’m not going to choose it. She has other qualities. Not every single moment of her life is dedicated to bold badassery. Just, you know, a lot of them.

As for her brother, he is many things, but a shrinking violet is not one of them. The recklessness mentioned above is augmented by courage. Lots and lots of courage. It is honestly hard to tell what he’s afraid of, because it makes no difference whatsoever to what he does. He unhesitatingly enters into … everything. He’s Luke Skywalker - daring what nobody else thinks of is pretty much his purpose in life.

He marches straight into the detention center to rescue Leia, he takes on countless stormtroopers without hesitation. He blows up the Death Star. He bombs an AT-AT. His response to finding himself in a room with Darth Vader is to attack him with a lightsaber. He defies the advice of pretty much every single person in the universe and deliberately turns himself over to the Empire, and then defies the Emperor too.

The section quote is, of course, about Vader. And this is one where I don’t have to talk about Anakin back in the day, and Vader later on. He’s bold as a nine-year-old kid leaving home, and then (somehow) winning a battle. He’s bold as a Jedi apprentice. He’s bold as a knight and then as a Sith Lord. Everything he does is bold, including dying.

Padmé is also fairly bold - I’m not sure she takes it quite as far as the other three do, but that may be circumstances more than anything else. So yes, when it comes to sheer intrepidity, Luke and Leia are like their mother. And their father. And each other. And presumably every Skywalker ever - this is not a family where anyone stands by when they could be throwing themselves into the fray and risking their lives and showing no fear. Because they are badass.

What’s that flashing?

There’s not much to say here. Luke is curious - about his family, as we all know, but also anything shiny or flashing or whatever (to Yoda's great annoyance).

If baby Anakin’s fortuitous misadventure with the ship is anything to go by, so is he. Padmé doesn’t seem to be. We don’t see much of Anakin’s curiosity with Vader, and I’m not sure about Leia. She values her dignity much more highly than Luke, so it’d be hard to tell anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were. Or weren’t.

I’ve got work to do.

Duty. This is one that Luke and Leia both have in spades.

He wants to be a hero, but when the opportunity lands in his lap, he rejects it. Not out of fear (see above!), but because he has work to do. Now, he’s willing to try and talk his way out of his obligations, but if he fails to get himself released, he sticks by them.

Likewise, when he signs up to be a Jedi, he gives his reasons why: he has no personal ties left, and he wants to be like his father. Later, when he has formed close ties with others, in at least two cases intensely close ones, when he realizes that becoming like his father is not only a real possibility but a horrific one, his commitment still never wavers. He knows his duty, as nephew, Jedi, son, and does not drift from it.

Leia’s duties are a bit different, of course. Her duty is to the Rebellion and nothing manages to break that. No, really. Not torture. Not threatening to destroy her entire planet. Not actually doing so. Nothing. We see it at Hoth, when she oversees the evacuation of the base until the last possible moment. Leia’s adherence to her duty is so all-consuming, in fact, that she doesn’t seem able to spare attention for much else until forcibly separated from it.

Now, Anakin . . . Anakin is a different story. He takes his duties seriously, yes. But it seems largely something he’s been taught and perhaps not taught particularly well. In several cases, his allegiance to his duty is only maintained by personal loyalties, such as when Obi-Wan keeps him focused on their task as Jedi by asking what Padmé would want him to do. Anakin does have a sense of duty and obligation, but it’s easily overwhelmed by other impulses.

As Vader - well, it’s difficult to judge the dutifulness of a Dragon With An Agenda/Starscream/Bastard Understudy. He seems wholly committed to the Empire, outraged at disloyalty to it, and grudgingly respectful of Leia’s equally hardcore commitment to the Rebellion. But it’s not entirely clear what it comes from, and at any rate dutifulness is not a particularly striking characteristic of his.

There is, however, someone for whom it isn’t just a striking characteristic, but the defining one: Padmé. Her full name probably reads Padmé Duty Naberrie Amidala. From the moment we meet her, Padmé is passionately dutiful. Whether it’s her duty as queen or senator, she sticks by it until the end. Occasionally, she seems even to lose herself in it, using her duty to blot out uncomfortable realizations. Leia does something similar in Empire; Luke never does. While he shares his mother’s intense sense of duty, he also has his father’s awareness of himself as separate.

Leia, for reasons unknown, goes from absorbing herself into her duty as princess and Rebel leader to essentially resigning from it and forging a distinct identity, as Padmé never manages to do. And, whatever else I can say about ROTJ!Leia, she seems happier and more at peace with herself than we’ve ever seen her (as an irrelevant sidenote, this is why I find it difficult to envision Leia going back to politics after ROTJ).

Luke comes to terms with it in a different way. On the one hand, he has Obi-Wan and Yoda, advocating the sacrifice of every other feeling to duty, and on the other, he has Anakin, going “to hell with it, anyway.” Luke takes the third option: he adheres to what he considers his duty, not what’s being imposed on him by others - what Anakin never managed to do.

A cunning warrior

This is one of the areas where I think Luke and Leia are similar, but there’s some variance. Obi-Wan tells us in A New Hope that Anakin was a cunning warrior. What we see of Vader entirely backs that up. He’s straightforward, yes - not political at all - but he’s also quick, resourceful, and for all his brashness and intrepidity, he manipulates and he plans.

In fact, he seems to be the Empire’s resident schemer, the only person besides the Emperor himself to come up with halfway decent plans, and the only one whose plans are remotely successful. And certainly the only one (again, apart from Palpatine) who manipulates people into doing what he wants. He’s the one who thinks of bounty hunters while the other Imperials grumble about not needing scum like that. He’s the one who thinks of letting Leia lead them to the base while Tarkin blows up planets and then flails uselessly when it turns out omg she lied to me how could she?? He’s the one who manages to put Han Solo out of action.

Is Leia cunning? Well . . . to some degree, yes. She sneaks the droids off the ship, she misdirected Tarkin to Dantooine (which totally would have worked if he weren’t determined to blow up a highly-populated planet because he’s a monster), she’s the one who guesses at Vader’s plot. In Empire, she sees past Lando’s over-friendliness, but is, well, cunning enough to keep from showing her suspicion. She gets into Jabba’s palace via Chewbacca ploy, and wins Jabba’s approval with the bomb stunt.

She’s a bit like Harry Potter, impressive under pressure and on the spur of the moment, but not much of a planner. She doesn’t look ahead a lot. She deliberately antagonizes the man with the planet-destroying weapon and apparently has no real plan for escape (beyond possibly seducing a stormtrooper). She gets caught by Jabba because she doesn’t seem to have considered anything beyond getting in, and didn’t think of just biding her time until Luke's arrival.

Luke’s cunning is both more erratic and more long-range. He’s more reckless than she is; he rushes into things without thinking. But when he does stop to think, he’s waiting until morning to go find Artoo, he’s manipulating Han via a motivation that makes no sense to him, he’s the one who thinks of the Chewbacca ploy, he’s the one who thinks of destroying cameras as they flee. He comes up with a plan for blowing up the Walkers, and of course ROTJ begins with him carrying out a Vader-worthy plot (complete with Force-chokes and death threats).

I honestly don’t remember if anybody except Palpatine was particularly cunning in the PT. But on the basis of the OT, I think all three are reasonably cunning warriors, especially Leia, while Luke and Anakin are effective in the long-term as well - when they’re not sabotaging themselves with sheer recklessness.

Ariel syndrome

I . . . want . . . moooooooore!

This is, if I recall correctly, the first bit of family resemblance ever mentioned: He’s just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.

No kidding. Anakin dreamed of more, even as a small child with even less hope of attaining it than Luke has. It didn’t matter. He wanted it anyway, and when his chance did come, he seized it with both hands. His only hesitation came from his personal attachment to his mother, and with encouragement from her he was on his way. He became a Jedi, as he’d dreamed, and he still wanted more.

Sitting around doing humdrum tasks, or nothing in particular, seems to have made him restless at best and profoundly unhappy at worst. When he does have something to do, he wants to expand it, to do more. His greatest misery comes not just when something awful is happening, but when something awful is happening, he knows (or at least guesses) that it’s happening, and he can’t do anything about it. These are the situations where his resolve cracks.

And then he goes far beyond a simple defiance of his restrictions - in fact, the resolutions that guide his life don’t just crack, they break down entirely and people start dying. Off the top of my head, there are three major occasions when this happens: his mother is tortured to death, and he slaughters every member of the tribe responsible, even those who weren’t personally involved (like children!); he foresees his wife’s imminent death, and turns to the Dark Side to save her; his son is being tortured, and he destroys the man responsible, even though it kills him.

So he has this restlessness that is barely restrained most of the time, and completely unrestrained the rest of the time. He dreams of more and is driven to seek after it. He’s attracted to excitement and adventure, and at his best when he’s in the thick of it. PT!Anakin is probably never so attractive a character as when he’s the daring warrior and brilliant starpilot we heard about back in Star Wars. And in the same movie, Vader’s most purely admirable moment has to be in the Death Star trench, when he fights on the front lines with the other pilots, while the officers stay safe (well, “safe”) on the Death Star - which, in a universe brimming over with Laser-Guided Karma, unsurprisingly results in Vader’s survival and their noisy deaths.

Okay, that’s Anakin. Moving onto his children, Luke obviously shares Anakin’s dissatisfaction with the prosaic, his longing for more, and his drive to achieve it. A Jedi shouldn’t crave excitement or adventure, but (as Yoda pointedly observes), Luke does, oh-so-very-much. Just as Anakin is in his element in the thick of battle, Luke seems happiest when he’s fighting in a starship or swinging a lightsaber. There’s a (awesome!) vid that handily illustrates the point with this picture:




Similarly, Luke’s mind falls under the greatest strain when something awful is happening/could happen and he’s expected to do nothing about it. And that’s when his resolve breaks: when he realizes the stormtroopers may have traced the droids to his uncle and aunt, when he foresees his friends’ danger in Cloud City, and finally when Leia is threatened and he takes a running leap off the deep end. Only the specter of Darth Vader pulls him back (one which, of course, didn’t exist for Anakin Skywalker - along with a few other things).

To sum up: Aunt Beru is totally right about him.

Now, Leia . . . I don’t know about Leia. I don’t think we ever see her dreaming of a better life or longing for more or whatnot. But then, she’s already leading a high-intensity existence as a spy and leader of a ragtag team of rebels; when the Rebellion’s organization coalesces into the more clearly defined structure we see in ROTJ (if not anything so rigid as the Empire’s), she switches over to fighting in personal quests and elite squads.

So it may be that she would be restless, dissatisfied, and likely to blow out when pushed too far if she were forced to answer to anyone - but she isn’t, so we don’t know. Subjectively, she doesn’t strike me as ambitious in the way Anakin and Luke are. And competent warrior though she is, I’m not sure she finds that much fulfilment in fighting - she’s just capable of doing it when it comes to that. But I haven’t watched ROTJ in a while, so I can’t be sure.

Padmé, for the record, strikes me as more like Leia here. She needs to be doing something, but that something doesn’t have to be blowing shit up. It can be an election or a speech. It can be fighting the Trade Federation. It can be working for months on a bill. It can be running off to Geonosis.

But as annoyed as she is to leave Coruscant and her bill, she actually seems quite happy frolicking with Anakin at Varykino. And she doesn’t seem generally dissatisfied (though, as with Leia, this could be because she’s already in a satisfying position). I think she has the drive to accomplish her ideals, but not much in the way of free-floating ambition, and she’s much more able to put up with prosaic details and red tape and so on than her husband or either of her children.

Damned fool idealistic crusade

The idealism is strong in this family. Luke and Leia are obvious idealists, ready and happy to fight for a noble cause. They never have to ask each other, “why are you doing this?” To them, it's self-evident. A lot of their easy affinity, I suspect, comes from their mutual idealism - as do their clashes with Han.

For example, here’s Leia’s response to Han’s pragmatic cynicism: You needn’t worry about your reward. If money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.

And here’s Luke’s (separate) one: Well, take care of yourself, Han. That’s what you’re best at, isn’t it?

Their father was, of course (cf. A New Hope) also an essentially idealistic person who wanted to generally help people, free slaves, see a government that could effectively do so, end the war, etc etc. Whether a teenaged Jedi apprentice or a forty-something cyborg, his conversation revolves around the same concepts: peace, order, and how much bureaucracy sucks. And he seems willing to accomplish them at any cost. And that’s the Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader definition of “any,” which does not in fact mean “very high.”

Their mother, if possible, was even more of an idealist - though her ideals included a strict personal ethic that I don’t think Anakin’s did. It’s not that he doesn’t have ethics, he obviously does, but that the ideals he fights for and the standards he applies to himself are not the same things. For Padmé, they were, which is why Anakin’s Utopia Justifies the Means approach wasn’t just abhorrent, but - I think - didn’t even make sense to her.

If Anakin does something terrible to achieve his ideals (or simply in the process of trying to achieve his ideals), in all probability he knows it’s wrong (see: Tears of Remorse), but considers it a justifiable, if regrettable necessity. Padmé couldn’t do that; the terrible thing would itself be a violation of her ideals, and couldn’t be justified by another ideal. She would have to convince herself that it was right. (I still think Empress Amidala would be the creepiest thing ever. Sort of how Tolkien described dark!Gandalf - not merely ruthlessly evil, like Sauron, but self-righteous in that evil. However, the very things that would make her so horrifying are what make it so unlikely to happen.)

Luke and Leia, I think, resemble Padmé more than Anakin here. At a guess, though, I’d say Leia veers closer to Padmé; we don’t see her violating her principles for her ideals - like Padmé, her principles seem to be her ideals. And like Padmé, she’d make a terrifying villain.

Luke, though, does commit acts that are, at best, morally ambiguous in the pursuit of a greater good; e.g., he attacks the unarmed, elderly Palpatine, and not in a fit of rage or crusading zealotry. He’s furious, but he stops, deliberates over it, then attacks him anyway because hey, it’s totally worth it to get rid of the evil jerk who trapped his friends (and, in a bizarre twist, is only stopped by his father). But it’s rarer and harder for him than it is for Anakin, I think, because his ethics are part of his ideology - as they are for his mother and sister - but a lesser part that can be overriden in extreme circumstances.

Much anger in him.

And her!

In-story, nobody makes much of a fuss about Leia’s temper, but it’s blatant. She snaps at Vader and snarls at Tarkin and snarks at Han. She doesn’t kill people for incompetence, but within the constraints of her morality, she puts up with it about as well.

When something goes wrong, she either shouts at people or makes snide remarks. Anyone who is not her brother gets raged at on a regular basis. She reacts to Lando’s betrayal by strangling him by proxy. She reacts to Jabba’s objectification by strangling him in person. In both cases, she’s furious, remorseless and determined.

To sum up, Leia is short-tempered, irritable and easily enraged. There is plenty of anger in her. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone question this, little as it’s emphasized in the movies (penalties of the retcon, I assume). No, it’s Luke whose anger-creds are in doubt.

It’s true that Luke is very calm throughout much of Return of the Jedi. Even in ANH, he’s just mildly snappish at first, and puts up with Artoo’s antics with little more than resignation. But that changes quickly enough. He snaps over Han’s exorbitant fee and spends a good portion of the journey to Alderaan snarling at him. He completely flips out at Leia’s execution/Han’s refusal to help, and joins Leia in screaming at Han in the garbage compactor.

To illustrate, here are two quotes from ANH:

Put that thing away! You’re going to get us all killed!

Between his howling and your blasting everything in sight, it's a wonder the whole station doesn't know we're here!

One’s Luke, one’s Leia, and I doubt most people could guess which twin said which line unless they guessed from context.

In ESB, Luke is famously short-tempered with Yoda, earning the section description: There is much anger in him, like his father. That’s, uh, kind of blatant. In Cloud City, Vader says, You have controlled your fear. Now release your anger. This would be … rather pointless if he didn’t have plenty of anger to release. And if there was any doubt, ROTJ makes it super-obvious: at his most controlled, he’s still furious at Obi-Wan for trying to pretend he didn’t lie through his teeth, and flies into a murderous rage when Vader vaguely threatens Leia.

Personally, I suspect that Luke registers as less angry than his father, regardless of the characters’ opinions, and despite flying into screaming fits on a regular basis, because his anger is justified. To pretty much everyone. While I, for instance, see Anakin’s anger as just about equally justified in the PT, a lot of people don’t, so for them he just seems to have this bottomless reservoir of random rage that he draws on, not clear and present causes for anger.

As Vader, on the other hand, he has clear reasons to be angry - not reasons we necessarily agree with, but reasons which make it seem reasonable for him to be angry. Dealing with people he regards as traitors, dealing with incompetent subordinates all around, dealing with a master who’s trying to replace him, dealing with colleagues who insult his religion. These are things that would make anyone annoyed, so I think it makes him come off as a bit chillier than Anakin. However, his reactions to these things are so completely excessive that he also comes off as intensely furious (in a chilling way), even without Yoda’s helpful exposition.

As for Leia, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest she comes off as considerably angrier and more abrasive than Luke does, even when they’re doing the exact same thing - sometimes even doing the exact same thing in the same scene - because … well, because she’s a girl.

It’s not to say that Leia is not legitimately short-tempered, or even shorter-tempered than Luke is (I wouldn’t be surprised if she were more frequently angry, say). But rather, that all other things being equal, Leia shouting reads as angrier, more aggressive, and more abrasive than Luke shouting. Luke spends almost his entire time in the Falcon objecting loudly, and at most reads as whiny. Leia sits in the same chair and objects in much the same way at much the same volume, and she reads as bitchy (for many of us in a good way, but still). Moreover, when her behaviour is calm, gentle, or nurturing, it draws little attention, whereas when Luke’s is, it overshadows everything else about him and becomes his defining quality. Which leads directly to:

Moments of zen

All four of them have these moments of insightful, wise serenity. Anakin, as far as I remember, manages it . . . twice? His death, of course, and I think there’s a conversation with Padmé (though that might just be hitting on her). Padmé does it frequently, even when she’s not dying - she’s never been as tempestuous as the others, to begin with, and she also has a calm, perceptive element to her personality even at her most aggressive.

Luke is anything but calm, to begin with, and not that perceptive either (clever and resourceful, but not perceptive). But there’s that first moment of zen when he agrees to become a Jedi, and another when he destroys the Death Star. There’s another when he flings himself to his presumed death at Cloud City, and arguably after his cyborgification (I know it’s not a word, but it should be), when he smiles at/comforts Leia.

By Jedi, he seems to have completed his struggle to maintain that zen state all day, everyday, with the occasional moment of alarm, enjoyment, and annoyance that’s quickly controlled. But his control cracks when Leia is threatened. He attacks the Emperor in a clear parallel to Anakin’s murder of Dooku, regains his senses (again, paralleling Anakin’s realization immediately afterwards), loses it again, enough to go apeshit on his father, comes to his senses again and removes all temptation by throwing his lightsaber away. (People have asked why he didn't keep it to repel Palpatine's lightning, but I never wondered. I think it's evident that he doesn't trust himself to merely use it defensively - it's a sort of "death before dishonour" choice.)

To sum up, Luke’s ROTJ-era calm is something he’s struggled for, largely attained, but has trouble keeping up in extreme circumstances. It's not his basic, underlying personality. We don’t see any hint of it until he commits to the Jedi, he’s not particularly good at it at first, he more-or-less masters it after a lot of struggling, starts to crack under pressure, but is able to pull himself back.

What he isn’t is naturally calm: Luke needed that training (training his mother never received, incidentally), and he needed the specter of Darth Vader, to carry it off. And, IMO, to say that he was able to step back from Anakin’s choices, to do what Anakin didn’t manage, because he’s just a calm person seems to undercut - if not ignore - how incredibly difficult it was for him to become that calm person. You know. When he is calm.

We go to the opposite extreme with Leia. Nobody would argue, I think, that Leia is a particularly even-tempered person. She’s not - see the above section! But she has her zen moments too. She’s gentle and soothing in the wake of Obi-Wan’s death (context: this is the girl who just witnessed the genocide of her planet, at most a few weeks earlier and possibly a few hours earlier). While Luke rages over Han’s desertion, Leia tells him Han must find his own way and “no one can choose it for him,” sounding like a model Jedi Master.

She’s oddly calm after their capture by Vader at Cloud City - while she’s not the one who got tortured (...this time), she immediately takes the role of soothing Han, seeming perfectly collected herself. When he gets in a fight with Lando, she simply remarks, “You certainly have a way with people, don’t you?” She gently comforts and kisses Luke after rescuing him, and again does the same with Han after unfreezing him.

In fact, if either Luke or Leia’s moments of zen were to be regarded as part of their basic personality, I’d choose hers. She’s consistently calm, gentle and soothing when someone she loves is hurt or upset. It’s very gendered of course - Luke’s calm comes from hard-fought self-control, Leia’s from her drive to comfort people she loves (male people, as it happens), appearing as soon as she comes to care about someone in ANH (Luke) and continuing well into ROTJ (Luke and Han).

However, I think there’s also something gendered in the response to it - or rather, the non-response. Leia’s capacity for serenity is almost completely ignored in favour of angry!Leia, I think because her hot-tempered idealism is . . . salient in a way her nurturing gentleness isn’t. A woman comforting pained men just registers as a woman, not a woman who’s expressing a characteristic. A woman who rails at rescuers (and everyone), well, that’s something else.

Ultimately, I think Luke ends up calmer overall, and he strikes me as slightly less quick to rage - he gets there, but it’s not quite as zero-to-a-hundred as it is with her. Probably - I fall prey to the things I’ve mentioned, too. But I don’t think he’s really much gentler or more nurturing by nature - just that it’s more noticeable when he is.

Diplomacy

This is one where I lean towards the fandom view. Okay, Leia is technically a diplomat, and she does try to talk to her way out of trouble when she can. The first thing she tries in the first movie isn’t RAEG, it’s I’m a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan.

Playing politics, that is. But it fails and she moves to what seems a more comfortable approach for her - insulting her captors in everything from their scent to their policies. They have her completely under their control, have already tortured her for information (and failed, because badass), and really only have to decide if they’re killing her now or later. Leia figures the appropriate response to the situation is to imply that Darth Vader is stinky Governor Tarkin’s pet dog.

… Whoa.

But she does use the aforementioned Dantooine gambit. In Empire, she doesn’t trust Lando further than she can throw him, but she nevertheless converses pleasantly, keeping him from suspecting her suspicions (not that it does any good, but still). She talks her way into Jabba’s good graces (see: cunning!) and later, the Ewoks’. She definitely tries talking first, attacking second. But most of the time, it doesn’t really work.

It could be another gendered thing, but I’m inclined to think it’s because Leia!diplomacy is brusque and aggressive. She’s not trying to placate people, usually, she’s trying to cow them into submission. Anakin is the same. His manner to Grievous directly mirrors hers to him and Tarkin, and obviously any kind of placating is foreign to every cell/chip in Vader’s body. He demands, he intimidates, he even manipulates, but diplomacy is something that happens to other people.

Padmé, though - Padmé is a diplomat. And unlike Leia, she is an at least somewhat successful one. And I think it’s because she’s versatile. She can be brusque and uncompromising, as she is with she announces that she won’t let her people’s fate be decided by committee (a vague callforward to Leia’s outraged I am not a committee!). But she also placates, as she does with the Gungans and on any number of occasions with Anakin.

Luke isn’t a politician, and he’s enough like his father that I don’t think he’d make a very good one. But he also has a gift for persuading people (the cunning thing probably helps), and switches between demanding and placating fairly well. We see him trying to placate in his argument with Owen, and even more so in his response to being assaulted in the cantina (“I’m sorry” - can you imagine Leia responding with an apology?). He’s mostly demanding with Han and Yoda, who he doesn’t perceive as threats, and mixes the two styles in his approach to Jabba - placating, but with an uncompromising threat underlying it all.

The specific subtext (“do what I want and I won’t kill you”) has distinct shades of Vader. However, overall Luke’s use of diplomacy, and especially his consistent attempts to solve problems diplomatically before turning to violence, is more akin to Padmé, I think, while Leia’s aggressive talking aligns her more with their father.

I care!

Kindness is another one that flies in all directions. Baby Anakin is explicitly and evidently kind-hearted; we don’t see that much of it in the teenage Anakin, but he doesn’t have many opportunities to display it, either. There are distinct hints of compassion in ROTS. The rest, I presume, was crushed out.

Padmé is, as Leia’s memory Force-vision makes equally explicit, also very kind. It appears to be her driving motivation for being in politics at all. She can be kind even when she really, really shouldn’t be, as when she responds to her love interest’s confession of mass murder by taking compassion on him and comforting him. We see plenty more instances of it in ROTS (mostly with Anakin, but that’s mostly because her life seems to revolve around Anakin in ROTS).

Leia, as seen in the zen section, can be kind, but it’s … ah, not her most distinctive quality. Rather, she veers between being mostly abrasive and unsympathetic to being compassionate and comforting in extreme situations, with very little in-between. She’s also grown up in a less than encouraging environment (the Empire), like Anakin, but she’s probably the least generally kind-hearted one in the family, her compassion pointed firmly at those she personally cares for.

Luke is so kind-hearted that, as with Padmé, there’s not much point into going into all the examples. He’s kind to Threepio, fusses over Obi-Wan, gets concerned over Artoo, tries to comfort Leia with varying degrees of efficacy, and that’s not even getting into his phenomenal compassion for his father. The section heading is (of course) his line, and it’s practically his mantra. He does care, and not just about her. As far as kindness is concerned, he’s very much his parents’ son, and especially Padmé’s.

Never give up, never give in

If the Skywalker family had a motto, I suspect this would be it. Anakin, Luke and Leia do not seem to believe in giving up ever. If they flee, it’s only to fight another day.

Anakin, after losing three limbs and being left to burn alive in lava, claws his way out with one cybernetic hand, dons his Vader armour, and is only more badass from that day forward. Unsurprisingly, he’s the one who tells Tarkin that threatening Leia with the genocide of her entire planet will not sway her (and positively gloats when that turns out to indeed be the case). He seems even more satisfied by Luke’s dogged persistence in their duel; however horribly outclassed Luke may be, he will not quit until he no longer has a hand to fight with. And even without a hand or weapon, he refuses to give in.

Really, “Skywalker” is pretty much synonymous with “Determinator.”

Padmé is the only one of the family I can remember giving up - not changing goals or postponing a confrontation for a more advantageous moment, but simply losing the will to keep going. But while Padmé was always fairly resolute, and losing the will to live didn’t quite seem to fit, she never struck me as the Energizer bunnies that Anakin, Luke, and Leia are, either. So I chalk this up as another one where the twins share the trait with each other and their father.

Loyaulte me lie

This is a big one: personal loyalty.

Without question, all four of them are basically very loyal people. It takes something phenomenal to shake their loyalties - well, Anakin’s, Luke’s, and Leia’s; I’m not sure we see enough of Padmé’s relationships to tell, and we don’t know what exactly soured her on Palpatine. But it was probably something big.

Yes, they’re all loyal people. And I’m reluctant to say that Anakin and Luke are more loyal. But they’re loyal in a different way than Padmé and Leia are, I think.

I recently got in a discussion with [livejournal.com profile] ladyhadhafang about Luke’s forgiving-ness vs Padmé’s, and described my interpretation of the characters’ approaches to personal loyalty there:

>>>I think Luke is less a forgiving person than a loving one - not in a bland saccharine way, but in the intense and unwavering and slightly scary way (see: turning to the Dark Side) that Anakin is. When they love someone, it's absolutely unconditional.

Anakin's failings may be personally upsetting to Luke, but they don't shake his devotion - nothing does. Not finding out that he's Darth Vader. Not being tortured to death. Nothing. I don't think Luke forgives him for what he does, so much as he loves him regardless. For Luke, forgiveness is a non-issue. He's forgiving in the sense that fish are wet. Anakin loves in that same absolute way, I think, while Padmé and Leia need to draw firm lines, and say "this is okay/not okay, I forgive you/I'm not putting up with this shit."<<<

So, for instance, compare Padmé’s forgiveness of Anakin’s mass murder with Luke’s (debatable) forgiveness of Darth Vader’s general evilness. Padmé says his actions were only human - were justified, in a way; I’m not sure she believes that, but I think she has to convince herself she does, to stay with him. She can’t follow the road he's going down. She can’t bring herself to leave him. So she has to pretend it’s not there.

Luke doesn’t do that; he doesn’t need to do that. There’s good in Vader. He’s Luke’s father. Luke loves him. The end. Nothing else matters, not to Luke’s loyalty. He won’t partake in Vader’s crimes, he won’t justify him, he won’t say what he’s doing is right. But he’ll leave the Rebellion and leave his friends to be with him, whether Vader does what Luke wants him to, or not.

Or, to put it another way, I don’t think Leia would turn to the Dark Side for Luke, or that Padmé would make herself Empress of the galaxy for Anakin. Oh, they might do these things, but not out of personal loyalty; they’d have to believe it was right, or at least tell themselves it was. And they wouldn’t accompany dark!Luke or Vader down their paths.

But if, say, Padmé became a creepy despotic empress and Anakin didn’t turn, I think he would stay at her side, without necessarily countenancing her actions (I’ve seen lots of stories where Padmé sticks with Anakin through his dive into the deep side of the alignment pool, but I don’t think she could sacrifice her principles that much - IMO, it’d only really work the other way around). If Leia became a Sith Lord, Luke would be horrified, but I think he’d remain loyal to her regardless, and he'd refuse point-blank to turn against her - no matter what.

However self-destructive it would be for them, however much they might hate themselves for being even indirectly party to what was happening, their personal loyalties take precedence over everything. The only thing that can possibly break that loyalty is betrayal - Anakin considers himself betrayed by the Jedi Order, by Obi-Wan, at some level by Palpatine, and finally by Padmé. Is he right? Ehh. I think he conceives of love the way he experiences it - unconditional and absolute - and any reservation reads as betrayal to him.

Luke loves in the same way, but I don’t think he has the same expectations attached; he might be willing to do anything for Leia, but he wouldn’t want her to do anything for him. Luke can turn himself over to his father, align himself with him, be unswervingly loyal to him - that is, he can love him in the way Anakin understands love, without doing what Anakin wants him to do, or adopting his allegiances and ethics. He can, in fact, oppose just about everything his father wants, does, and values, and still be wholly on his side. Not the Empire’s - Anakin Skywalker’s. And he does it regardless of the cost to him.

Padmé and Leia, though - I don’t see their personal loyalties overriding their principles. I don’t see them being able to live with being party to something they found morally abhorrent. And I don’t think they should - just that they’re fundamentally similar when it comes to loyalty, as are Luke and Anakin.

I'm not exactly sure how this all adds up - mostly that the four members of the immediate family can't be reduced to neat equivalencies or oppositions, but are similar in some ways and different in others. At a guess, though, I'd think that Anakin and Luke probably have the most in common, as ROTJ made fairly blatant anyway.

on 2016-07-22 10:39 pm (UTC)
kaoriva: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] kaoriva
I'm SO happy to know this awesome meta is here too! <3333

on 2016-07-23 05:06 am (UTC)
kaoriva: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] kaoriva
Talk to me about it! Tbh this whole "Luke is like Padmé and Leia is like Anakin" thing wouldn't had bothered me so much if it wasn't because 90% of the fandom took it as canon, and it didn't helped that some people wanted to make the Anakin/Luke relationship some kind of extension of Anidala, despite that they are two different kind of relationships (You know, the whole "Anakin saved Luke because he reminded him of Padmé" argument that often I caught on fics). It also kind of bothers me because it seems like people are afraid to see Luke beyond the 'Cinnamon roll' facade, when one of the things that define him is that he has a dark side he had to learn to control - and that allowed him to relate to his father and eventually redeem him.

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