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Creation Date

2015

Description

This poster compares scenes of Princess Leia and droids being tortured to similar scenes from medieval literature. In medieval culture, torture often expressed male dominance over women. For example, a man might force a medieval heroine to watch her male lover undergoing torture. We see this exact thing in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader forces Leia to watch Han Solo get frozen in carbonite. Leia remains stoic, however, resembling famous female martyrs such as St. Cecilia from Chaucer's Second Nun's Tale.

However, in medieval literature torture can also sometimes be intentionally comic, as in Marie de France’s Bisclavret, where a werewolf tears off his wife's noise to punish her betrayal and his resulting banishment. In comic torture the victim usually seems to deserve their punishment somehow, and/or the torture does not lead to death. For example, droids are constantly being tortured and even torn apart in Star Wars, but this torture is comic, since we know the droid can be put back together again and continue to "live.” Interestingly, in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi we actually find a droid who tortures other droids in the figure of EV-9D9, who resides deep in the dungeons of Jabba's Palace. Significantly, EV-9D9 is the only droid with a female personality in the Original Trilogy. As her name's resemblance to "Eve" further suggests, EV-9D9 is a robotic stereotype of female capriciousness and cruelty. Thus, despite the fact that she is the torturer rather than torturee, EV and her droid torture chamber do not really empower women. Rather, a more truly feminist moment in Return of the Jedi is when Leia slays the male torturer Jabba the Hutt all by herself.

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