Friday, May 4, 2012

Jedi Hamlet

"May the Fourth be with you!"
"And altho with you."

It being Star Wars Day, I thought it fitting that I share one of the greatest soliloquies Jediloquies from the only known work of science fiction from the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare. I speak, of course, of Anakin Skywalker's famous lines from Jedi Hamlet.

To set up the scene: Qui-Gon Jinn has been guided by the Force to the planet of Tatooine, where he has met and befriended the young Anakin Skywalker, a slave boy owned by the Toydarian junk dealer Watto. Qui-Gon learns that Anakin is very strong with the Force and negotiates his (Anakin's) emancipation from Watto.

Qui-Gon gives Anakin the opportunity to leave Tatooine and journey to Coruscant, where he will be examined and tested by the Jedi Council, possibly setting him on the road to becoming a Jedi Knight. But doing so means leaving behind his mother and the only life he has ever known.

In this Jediloquy, Anakin struggles with the choice either to stay on Tatooine with his mother and be a slave for the rest of his life or to leave his home planet and be a Jedi's apprentice:

To be, or not to be, — that is the question: —
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The cliffs and narrows of pod racing here
Or to take arms against the pleas of Watto,
And by opposing end him? — To fly, — to leave, —
No more; and by a leave from Tatooine
With Qui-Gon, and the midichlorian count
My blood is heir to, — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To fly, — to leave; —
To leave! perchance a dream: — ay, there's the rub;
For in that leaving I'm a padawan,
When we have shuffled off this slave-boy's toils,
Must give us pause: there's the Dark Side
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the pains of Jedi trials,
The master's quips, old Yoda's constant eye,
The pangs of forbidd'n love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit the padawan takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a pod racer? who would this hair-braid bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of the Dark Side's power, —
When underestimated, from whose bourn
No Jedi Knight returns, — puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus fear can lead to anger for us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with pale light of the Force;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. — Soft you now!
My mother Shmi! — a slave, in thy orisons
Be all my trials remember'd.