Two men, fulfilling their destinies through a lifetime of struggle and pressure; both men overcome such obstacles and eventually lead a life of greatness. But, unknown to them, their dark past obscure their chosen path in life. Two contrasting epic characters separated by a long period of historical precedence and genre, Luke Skywalker and Oedipus break the barrier of literary context as both characters share the same tragic life, yet lead a different path destined for greatness.
The Oedipus Complex The mythical character of Oedipus, and eventually, Oedipus Rex, is popularized by the notion of his riddle-solving nature as well as his attempts to escape his own fate. However, Oedipus character is tragic, as that of Luke Skywalker’s fate since after fulfilling his destiny, he lives a life full of regret because of the Oracle predicted before his birth. Oedipus – roughly translated as ‘swollen foot’ – was born in Corinth to King Laius and Queen Jocasta.
The Oracle at Delphi, the sun god Apollo’s worldly representation, prophesized that when Oedipus grows up, he will eventually murder his father and marry his mother: “To attempt to act in such a way that the prophecy would be made void was as futile as to set oneself against the decrees of fate. Nevertheless, when the oracle warned Laius that he would die at the hands of his son he determined that this should not be” (Hamilton 256). So, the King took the child, bound him and pierced him with a stake, hence his name.
After which, he was given to a peasant and ordered for the child to be killed. Feeling pity and fear of disobeying the king’s order, the peasant allayed the responsibilities to another peasant, who in turn presented the baby to King Polybus and Queen Merope, rulers of Corinth. The couple adopted the baby and raised him to become the crown prince of their kingdom. Oedipus grew to manhood and eventually learned of the prophecy made before he was born. He set himself against it and decided to flee to Thebes, not knowing that it was his true home.
Along the way, Oedipus encounters a band of travelers, among of which was King Laius. A disagreement springs from the party and Oedipus kills Lauis. In his journey toward Thebes, he also encounters the Sphinx and the famous riddle: “What creature goes on four feet in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening? ” (Hamilton 257). Oedipus famously replies the answer as ‘man’ who walks with four feet during infancy, two during manhood, and three in old age where he supports himself with a staff or stick.
Oedipus eventually reaches Thebes and the townspeople named him king because of his deed. He marries Jocasta, his mother, finally fulfilling the prophecy. Luke and Star Wars Luke Skywalker, the destined hero to bring ‘balance in the force’ experiences fate less painfully than that of Oedipus. The son of the movie’s main antagonist Darth Vader, formerly known as Anakin Skywalker, Luke is born alongside with his twin sister Leia by Padme Amidala under the newly created Galactic Empire.
Leia was adopted by senator Bail Organa and assumes the title of princess while Luke grows up in Tatooine, the same place where his own father grew up. Luke grows up and his life changes when he finds two androids C-3PO and R2-D2 bearing a message from a hermit known as Ben Kenobi, who is otherwise known as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the later episodes. He narrates that Luke’s father was once a Jedi and that Darth Vader, the commander of the empire, had murdered him. He then offers Luke to train in the ways of the Force and become a Jedi, handing him his father’s old lightsaber.
Luke refuses, but changes his mind when he finds out that his adopted parents were murdered by Imperial soldiers. Years after the events, Luke understands that Darth Vader is indeed his father and finally realizes the truth about his twin sister Leia. He resolves that his father still has some good left in him and his journey will persuade him to come back from the dark side. The epic battle begins and Vader falls in defeat after Luke unleashing his full fury.
Vader then persuades his own son to kill him and take his place, but he sees his own robotic arm and that of his fathers and then realizes that he is on the brink of sharing his father’s fate. The Emperor angrily attacks Luke and nearly kills him. Vader then takes the Emperor and throws him to his death. Before Vader dies, he assures Luke that there is still some good left with him after all. In Comparison Both characters unwillingly commit patricide, overshadowed by their selfsame ‘destinies’ that lay ahead of them.
However, the difference lies with Oedipus wherein he is blinded by his own fate, fearing for his own life, that he unknowingly fulfills his fate. He is much too consumed on the idea of his fate that he prevents himself from seeing the truth. The truth, ironically presents itself at the very end, tormenting Oedipus as he lives his final days in exile. Luke on the other hand, has the knowledge of his father’s image and fights the desire to kill him. Luke does not kill his father; Vader willing gives up his life for his son as a sign of atonement for the sins he has committed in the past.
In addition, Oedipus and Jocasta marry each other not knowing the real truth; both characters are blinded by their fear of the oracle and even after numerous attempts to overcome it, they have become prisoners of their own actions. On the other hand, Luke almost falls in love with his own sister, because of his mentors intention to reveal the truth in due time. He uses this newfound knowledge during the story’s climax as his power to overcome his own father. Both characters were chained by their destiny, but the difference lies with Oedipus ignorance of his actions and his fear of his own fate.
He failed to see past the oracle and no matter what he did, he brought it upon himself while Luke presents himself as the master of his own fate; making steadfast choices and refuses to chain his life on the same fate as his father’s. Works Cited Hamilton, Edith. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. New York, NY: Warner Books, 1999. “Star Wars Plot Summary”. N. d. The Internet Movie Database. 12 February 2009 <http://www. imdb. com/title/tt0076759/plotsummary>.