Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jedi Lies?: Episode III

According to the Jedi code, is it okay for a Jedi to tell a lie or to act deceptively? As we've seen from Episodes I and II, certainly some Jedi lie some of the time. We continue to look for evidence to answer this question within Episode III. Now, to be fair, at this point in continuity Anakin is walking down the path of the Dark Side to be sure so any untruths told by Anakin cannot be held against the Jedi Order. Still, for the sake of completeness, and because Anakin doesn't truly become a Sith until the end of the film, we'll document all occurrences of deception in this Episode.
  • Padme asks Anakin, "What's bothering you?" Anakin, clearly troubled, answers, "Nothing." Certainly not the truth! If he didn't want to tell her, he could have said, "Yes, I am troubled but, I'm sorry, it's Jedi business and I can't talk about it."
  • Perhaps the damning evidence from this film is when the Jedi Counsel asks Anakin to spy on Palpatine. Even Anakin recognizes this as an act of treason. You might say, "Desperate times call for desperate measures," but I think this just goes to show how corrupt the Jedi have become. They're willing to throw away their most cherished principles. Spying, by its very nature, is an act of deception. Anakin would appear to be Palpatine's friend but really would be causing him harm. Even Chancellor Palpatine, when he suspects the plot, tells Anakin, "They asked you to do something that made you feel dishonest." The fact that the Jedi Counsel asked Anakin to spy shows that it isn't a case of one or two Jedi telling lies but deception is ingrained into the Jedi way of life systemically. 
  • Once again, Padme asks Anakin, "What is it?" because she clearly sees he is stressed out. "Nothing," is Anakin's reply again.
  • Oddly, in this film, it seems a considerable amount of truth is spoken by the main bad guy, Chancellor Palpatine. Palpatine says, "Good is a point of view. Sith and Jedi are similar in almost every way." Anakin replies, "The Sith rely on their passion for their strength. They think inwards - only about themselves." Palpatine retorts, "And the Jedi don't?" What's shocking is that Palpatine is correct. The Jedi act in ways shockingly similar to the Sith. Using deceptions and lies to their advantage just makes the Jedi all the more similar to the Sith.
  • The film's only promise turns out to be a broken one. Anakin promises Padme that she won't die in childbirth. This is the only example so far of a Jedi breaking his word. Still, you can hardly hold this against the Jedi in general because Anakin was actually a Sith when he broke this promise he made as a Jedi. Sith, clearly, have no qualms about breaking a promise.
  • Anakin says to Palpatine, "I know there are things about the Force they're not telling me." Palpatine responds, "You must break through the fog of lies the Jedi have created around you." It seems that the fear and perhaps jealousy the Jedi Counsel feels toward Anakin has caused them to hide certain truths from him. Palpatine uses the outright lies and/or lies of omission the Jedi tell Anakin to create doubt in Anakin's mind. Doubt that is, perhaps, justified.
  • Anakin, now a Sith Lord, tells Padme that, "The Jedi have tried to ovethrow the Republic." When it may be easy to label this as a clear lie, perhaps some part of Anakin truly believes this or at least wants to. Either way, we can't use this as evidence against the Jedi because Anakin is no longer a Jedi.
  • When Obi Wan reveals to Padme was Anakin has done, she says, "I don't believe you. I can't." If the Jedi were known to always tell the truth would it be so hard for Padme to believe Obi Wan? I think not. Clearly this is evidence that Padme is aware that the Jedi don't always tell the truth.
  • After confronting Padme to learn Anakin's whereabouts no result, Obi-Wan has no qualms about stealing away on her ship. I do not believe that Obi-Wan's true intention was to cause Padme to go to Anakin but nonetheless this is the result. Instead of asking to go along he once again uses trickery in hitching a ride. 
  • Once again, Anakin (now Darth Vader), says to Padme, "He's trying to turn you against me!" when she reveals that she knows what he did to the younglings. This might be true from Anakin's perspective but I would not say it is "the truth." Once again, however, the actions of the Sith cannot be counted against the Jedi. 
  • Anakin says to Obi Wan right before their final battle, "I see through the lies of the Jedi!" Clearly this concept of the Jedi as liars has a profound impact on Anakin. Could it be possible that if the Jedi were against lying that Anakin would have never gone to the Dark Side? 
To summarize, I think the two big pieces of evidence to walk away from Episode III with are that the Jedi Counsel asked Anakin to do something inherently deceptive, revealing the depths to which deception is practiced by the Jedi, and Chancellor Palpatine skillfully uses the lies of the Jedi to turn Anakin against them.


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