Thursday, March 3, 2016

Finding Terrific Writing in Unusual Places: William Shakespeare's Star Wars

My mother gave me the boxed set of these books, by Ian Doescher, which I thought was a wonderful gift. I love Star Wars and I love Shakespeare. I thought they would be a fun read, but probably not have a lot of substance to them. They sat on my self for a least a year, but recently I have been preparing a How to Speak Yodish lesson plan to help prepare my students for reading Shakespeare and I decided to give them another look--maybe it would be a fun addition to my lesson. Boy was I surprised. There are some beautiful lines in this sucker, and I absolutely love how the Shakespearean language elevates the story of Star Wars. So, I believe that I will be spending some time looking at beautiful lines from this trio of books.

First, let's look at a line from C-3PO in Act I, scene iv:

               Malfunctioning small fool!
               'Tis all his fault. He trick'd me so that I
               Should go this way. But he shall not fare well.
               O gods above, why have I once again
     (5)     Been short with R2, sending him away?
               I trust he knoweth well I hold him dear,
               Though in his presence oft my speech is cruel.
               'Tis words that do betray my better self
               When harshly they express my droidly rage.
     (10)   And yet for protocol I'm made, and must
               With words fulfill my task. So then 'tis true
               That words are both my ruin and my strength.
               And yet--although I find myself adrift
               And lost within a speechless sea of sand--
     (15)   This word is true if ever words have truth:
               Forever lost I'd be should I lose him.

I love the depth that this soliloquy adds to C-3PO's character. In the films you get the sense that 3PO both loves and hates R2-D2, but it is hidden behind the comic relief that those two characters provide throughout the movies. Because C-3PO is able to express his feelings here he is able to become a much fuller character. He doesn't quite understand why he rails on R2 so much. He "hold[s] him dear, / Though in his presence oft my speech is cruel," and he doesn't understand why. He wonders why he is so mean to someone he loves so much, someone he calls a friend and a companion. Someone who would cause him to be "Forever lost" if he should lose his friendship. 

The other part of this soliloquy that really adds to 3PO's character is these lines: "And yet for protocol I'm made, and must / With words fulfill my task. So then 'tis true / That words are both my ruin and my strength." Such a beautiful thought for C-3PO. The skill that defines him, the skill that he is best at, is also his curse. He is really good at talking, but often talking gets him into trouble. He is mean to his friend because he is programed to be. He cannot change who he is, but desperately wants to.

Who knew that C-3PO was such a round and conflicted character?

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