Heroic Weapons from the Galaxy Far, Far Away…

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Weapons uphold the balance between order and chaos in the Star Wars galaxy, and both heroes and villains are defined by the weapons they wield. This dynamic goes back to medieval tradition, to stories like Beowulf. Simply through the use of a particular weapon, a hero can either embrace the legacy of the past or forge his own path. Anakin’s lightsaber, perhaps the most well-known weapon in Star Wars, is passed from father to son via Obi-Wan Kenobi. This ritual of passing down a weapon from one generation to another is an established tradition in medieval and Renaissance literature. For example, the Red Cross Knight in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene inherits previously owned arms, while Beowulf receives a sword from Unferth before going to fight Grendel’s Mother. Interestingly, both Anakin’s lightsaber and Unferth’s sword Hrunting are tarnished by past misdeeds. Unferth killed his own kin, and his sword fails Beowulf in his hour of need. Anakin is also a slayer of kin, having murdered fellow Jedi, particularly the younglings in the Jedi Temple. When the hero is separated from his special weapon, he often feels powerless, yet the weapon’s loss can also provide an opportunity for spiritual growth. For instance, after losing Anakin’s weapon on Cloud City, Luke constructs his own lightsaber on Tatooine, a lightsaber free from the baggage of his father’s past. Still, while the hero’s internal strength can be superior to any weapon, the hero and his or her weapon are ideally linked—the weapon revealing something about the hero and his or her mission.

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