Obi-Wan and the Emperor employed many similar tactics to win their pupil’s trust.
When you think of Obi-Wan in the “Star Wars” series you probably think of him as a mentor and even a father figure towards Luke Skywalker. But what if his methods behind guiding Luke weren’t exactly following the Jedi code. In fact what if his methods fell more in line with the Palpatine’s than they did the Jedi?
While Obi-Wan may be credited for shaping Luke into the savior of the galaxy by the end of “Return of the Jedi,” he played quite a dangerous game to make Luke a hero. As an avid and knowledgeable “Star Wars” fan, let me take you through some of the questionable methods used by Obi-Wan to achieve his goal.
Obi-Wan “Lies” About Luke’s Father
Obi-Wan claims that he never lied to Luke and that his statements were still true from a matter of perspective. It’s true that he may have never “lied” to Luke but he definitely stretched the truth.
The main “lie” revolved around Luke’s father Anakin Skywalker who became Darth Vader. Claiming that Darth Vader manipulated and killed his father, Obi-Wan concealed the true identity of Darth Vader. Why did he do this? Maybe to establish a vendetta towards Vader that Luke intended to carry out.
If Obi-Wan revealed that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, Luke could have been easily influenced by his own emotional curiosity, much like Anakin towards his mother Shmi in “Attack of the Clones.” This of course created the emotional instability that led Anakin to the dark side of the force. The emotional impact of Luke discovering his father’s identity and seeking him out would both compromise Obi-Wan’s mission and Luke’s chances of being the one to end the Empire.
Obi-Wan’s actions towards Luke make it seem obvious that he saw the similarities between Anakin and Luke. Being Anakin’s master, he knew how volatile Skywalkers could be. Even Luke’s Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru recognized that Luke had “too much of his father in him.”
Obi-Wan did everything he could to hide the truth from Luke. Acting as though Vader and Anakin were two different people, claiming he didn’t remember owning R2-D2 but leaving out the details of knowing of the droid, and painting the picture of Anakin as a strong Jedi passing the torch (his lightsaber) to Luke to continue a path towards the light.
Through deceit and manipulation, Obi-Wan created a path for Luke to follow. But in order for Luke to follow this path, he would need to influence him a bit more.
Obi-Wan Let Luke’s Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen Die
Did Obi-Wan let Beru and Owen die? Yes he did. He may have not done so with malicious intentions but nonetheless he knew what would happen to them. This claim is reinforced when he frantically tries to stop Luke from going back for them. It’s obvious that a powerful Jedi like Obi-Wan knows their fate if Luke can come to the same conclusion.
Obi-Wan’s intentions were not malicious but more logical from a Kantian ethics perspective. To benefit the “greater good” the galaxy needed Luke. Both Obi-Wan and Luke himself knew the emotional connection to his Aunt and Uncle may prevent his destiny.
After Luke finds them both burned alive, he then admits in an instance that he has no reason to stay on Tatooine and is ready to be trained by Obi-Wan to become a Jedi. He even makes a point to say he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps which plays perfectly into the scenario Obi-Wan has setup when describing Anakin to Luke.
Obi-Wan’s Intentional Death by the Hands of Vader
Don’t think for one second that Obi-Wan let Darth Vader kill him just to become a “force ghost.” Throughout Vader and Obi-Wan’s battle Obi-Wan could have let Vader win at any moment. The real reason he prolonged his demise was so that Luke could see his fate at the hand’s of Darth Vader.
It was inevitable that Vader would discover Luke to be his son and Luke to discover that Vader was his father. But the only way to ensure that Luke would be able to disconnect himself from that relationship would be to create a personal tragedy at the hands of his father.
As Obi-Wan looked over to see Luke standing close by, he knew this was his opportunity to “become more powerful than [Vader] could ever imagine.” The moment Luke saw Vader strike down Obi-Wan, a rift was created in this future father/son relationship between Luke and Vader. Luke may have that longing to reunite with the father he never knew, but he would also carry the weight of losing Obi-Wan to Darth Vader.
In addition, Obi-Wan would still be there to guide Luke as a ghost and the relationship between Luke and his father would be forever severed. This did in fact make Obi-Wan more powerful than Vader could ever have imagined.
When Luke was given a point of no return and practically nothing left, he was more than ready and willing to do Obi-Wan’s bidding. The only family he knew was taken from him at the hands of the Empire which started his path towards joining the Rebels. In his time of loss he was drawn to Obi-Wan like a son would be to a father. When Obi-Wan purposefully dies at the hands of Darth Vader, it triggers another emotional milestone in Luke’s life furthering his hatred towards the Empire. Obi-Wan hid the information that Darth Vader was his father so that he could build Luke’s hatred towards Darth Vader in hopes that it was strong enough to counter the eventual revelation that Vader was Luke’s father.
Much like the relationship between Anakin and Palpatine, Obi-Wan used Luke’s faith in him as a mentor to manipulate his allegiance. Luke was young and a dreamer just like his father and his allegiance could have been swayed either way. In order to be a pilot he was ready to join the Imperial Academy which was run by the Empire and this could have led him down a path to the dark side. Obi-Wan forced Luke into a corner with nowhere to turn by initially feeding his dream of becoming something greater, letting the only people he knew as family die, and eventually letting himself die to put Luke on the path to which he wanted him to be on.
Even though the Jedi were peaceful and mostly benevolent, drastic measures were taken by Obi-Wan which would not fall in line with the Jedi code. From a certain point of view, Obi-Wan used elements from the Sith code to manipulate Luke into staying on the path of the light side of the force.