“A Broken Heart in the ‘STAR WARS’ Saga”

“A BROKEN HEART IN THE ‘STAR WARS’ SAGA

There have been many complaints of Padme Amidala’s role in the last installment of the STAR WARS saga – “REVENGE OF THE SITH”. The main contention for many fans seemed to be her death.Many felt that Lucas had weakened her character by allowing her to die of a broken heart. Others accused her of abandoning her newly born children through death. And others have excused the circumstances of her death, claiming that she was “sacrificing herself” so that her twins could be separated and hidden from Emperor Palpatine.

I am not going to try to explain the “sacrifice”, simply because I do not buy it. I do not believe that Padme had sacrificed herself in death, for her children’s safety. I believe that she had genuinely died of a broken heart.

My next question is . . . why is it that Padme’s descent into despair was not tolerated by many STAR WARS fans? Why? Because she was supposed to be a strong woman? Since when are strong personalities incapable of giving in to despair or depression? Does anyone understand that nearly everyone possesses both strengths and weaknesses? What is this lack of tolerance over the possibility that Padme may also have her weaknesses? I get the feeling that many feel she should have been this one-dimensional portrayal of a strong character with no weaknesses. What did these fans expect her to do? After giving birth to Luke and Leia, sit up and start singing, “I Am Woman”?

Padme had just witnessed the ascension of the Empire . . . and the death of the Republic she had served with great devotion. Even worse, her dreams of a private life with her husband were dashed by news that he had participated in the deaths of hundreds of Jedi – adults and children, alike. She tried to confront Anakin about the situation and was brutally attacked by him (strangulation). His attack eventually perpetrated the difficult birth of the twins – Luke and Leia. By the time she had even considered that Anakin might still have some good in him, it was TOO LATE for her. At least physically. Both Anakin (who finally gave in to desapir after learning of Padme’s death) and Obi-Wan (who spent the next 19 years wallowing in despair, regret and guilt) were lucky that they were not in their third trimester of a pregnancy and on the verge of giving birth.

Years ago, female characters had been in danger of being stuck in nurturing roles or simply the hero’s love interest. Now, it seems that female characters have to be some kind of Xena the Warrior Princess or a female “ACTION JACKSON” in order to prevent being labeled as WEAK. Apparently, female characters are still not allowed to be all of the above. Even worse, they have to behave like men to be considered strong.

Someone on a STAR WARS forum had claimed that females roles are either of the “XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS” archetype or the “Dora Spenlow” (or weak female) archetype. This person criticized Lucas for transforming Padme from a female warrior into a weakling. My question is . . . why not allow a woman – or anyone, for that matter – to be both strong and weak? It would seem like a very human thing to be.

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4 Responses

  1. […] sticks up for Padmé on her essay, “A Broken Heart In The Star Wars […]

  2. I enjoyed your article. My thoughts about Padme are similar-women are human, not superhuman. I’m also glad you brought up Xena: Warrior Princess because I’m a huge fan of that show as well as Star Wars and though Xena was strong, in many episodes she shows signs of weakness and when it comes to being a mother she has fared no better than Padme. Early in the series fans discovered that she gave up her son to be raised by the centaurs because she felt incapable of raising him. Then when she became pregnant again with a daughter she went through a 25 year “sleep” only to find out that her daughter was grown and embittered at her mother’s absence. Some would conclude that Xena was a bad mother. Nope. Her circumstances just couldn’t allow her to raise a child. Then in the series finale-which to this day has divided fans-Xena chose to stay dead leaving her dearest friend, Gabrielle, to continue her adventures without her.

  3. Always welcome defense of prequels and specifically, Anakin and Padmé. Regarding perceived weakness – fanboys and their ilk may be comparing Padmé to her daughter who didn’t seem to ever have a weak moment. I agree that Padmé had her female warrior moments but they almost seem out of character to one who never lost her faith in diplomacy. I also think she was spiraling down to that broken heart with more than a spoonful of depression due to her recognition that she was responsible for Palapatine’s ascension to power, paving the way as early as TPM. The death of the Republic and Anakin’s descent into the Dark Side…huge guilt, life-changing/ending guilt. IMO – this double whammy of guilt and all it implies is coupled with self-sacrifice. Yes, Padmé was weak – in the physical sense but it was in the moment, the birth of the twins, the injury via Anakin (another source of bummerhood) but I still believe, just as Padmé believed there was still good in Anakin, that there was a sense of sacrifice for the greater good. The good of Luke and Leia, the belief that Anakin would one day be redeemed. This couldn’t happen if the Empire knew she survived, along with her children. Thanks for the opportunity to revisit a topic I can’t touch in various forums which is why I don’t go there any longer.

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