I bet you never thought of Anakin (Darth Vader) Skywalker and Dorothy Gale as the same sort of characters? I never would have either, if not for Gregory Maguire.
This essay assumes you have read Wicked and L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and you have seen at least the first six Star Wars movies and the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz movie. I think most people would have seen the movies. As for the books, Baum’s book is different from the movie (as usual for Hollywood) but the basic story is the same. Maguire’s Wicked is that tale from the Witch’s viewpoint.
L. Frank Baum’s story about Dorothy Gale is the tale of an innocent little girl who gets thrown (literally, by a tornado) into the land of Oz. Gregory Maguire’s genius is that he realized that Dorothy really is not an “innocent” little girl. Consider this:
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy knows that the Wizard is a fraud. Still, she sets out to steal the broomstick (an act she knows is wrong) from the “witch”. She only has the Wizard’s press reports to confirm the Wizard’s claim that the woman is an evil witch. Dorothy proves herself to be evil because she will do anything to get back home. This is confirmed by the fact that her ruby slippers are all she needs to return home. She sets out to steal the broomstick (which is an evil act) and ends up killing its owner. But the Wizard is really evil. Consider that he still has the hot air balloon that can take him back to “Kansas”. Yet he does not tell Dorothy about that until she returns from killing the witch. Even so, she is still willing to ride with him in the balloon. Maguire helped me to see this in his novel, Wicked. When you read the story from the Witch’s viewpoint then Dorothy’s character becomes clear.
Likewise, in Star Wars, Anakin knows that Palpatine is evil. Unlike Dorothy, he has information from sources other than the emperor which contradict what the emperor tells him. Anakin decides to do anything to bring back his dead wife. The problem I have with him is that, when Palpatine fails to bring her back, Anakin accepts her death and serves Palpatine, the Dark Lord of the Sith. That makes no sense to me. He knows Palpatine lied to him. He knows why. And he does nothing. Until his son tells Palpatine “No”. And even then it takes him a (relatively) long time to act.
So, just as Dorothy will do anything to return home, Anakin will do anything to get his beloved wife back. But unlike Dorothy, who is merely a selfish little girl, Anakin is a trained Jedi warrior. He knows, yes he knows, that Palpatine is lying to him. He knows that no one can bring back the dead. However, he lets Palpatine delude him. And when Palpatine proves false, he does nothing. Just like Dorothy being willing to ride with the evil Wizard, Anakin ‘rides’ with Palpatine. I think Anakin really wants power. Had Luke not appeared, Anakin might, one day, usurp the throne. However, he enjoys a certain sort of freedom serving the Dark Lord. He does not have to worry about running the Empire. He gets to show off his powers and bully people.
Neither has the courage to stand up for what’s right. Both want the cheap and easy way to get their own desire no matter who is hurt.
So, what do you think?