Dante’s Hell Alive and Well in Star Wars (Return of the Jedi)

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Spring 2015


Within Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the scenes centered on Jabba the Hutt can be extensively compared to the hellish imagery in Dante’s Inferno. When C-3PO and R2-D2 first enter Jabba’s Palace, a direct parallel can be seen to the entrance of Dante and Virgil into Hell. Like the damned, the slaves who enter Jabba’s Palace must lose all hope of ever escaping, with the droids in particular faced with the threat of hellish torture. Underneath Jabba’s audience chamber is the Rancor, to which—via a trapdoor—Jabba feeds disobedient slave girls and his enemies. Just as the ravenous Rancor feeds upon its victims (including a hapless Gamorrean pig guard), so too does the three-headed dog Cerberus harass the gluttonous damned in Hell. Another creature Jabba enjoys feeding his enemies to is the Sarlacc. The Pit of Carkoon where the Sarlacc nests resembles the pits of tar in Cantos 21 and 22 of Dante’s Inferno, especially as the Sarlacc keeps its victims alive for a virtual eternity to teach them “a new definition of pain and suffering.” One might very well wonder, then, whether George Lucas created Jabba to be the Lucifer of Tatooine, punishing those who have “wronged” him in an infernal manner.

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