Unbroken: An Exploration of Purity in a Savage World in "Return of the Jedi and The Faerie Queene"

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Spring 2014


The Ewoks from Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi are not the fluffy, friendly teddy bears they are often made out to be. Rather, these savage natives of the planet Endor are true descendants of the wild lions and satyrs from medieval literature—and especially Edmund Spenser's epic The Faerie Queene. Although sometimes violent, all three kinds of creatures possess a deep connection to the natural world that results in them eventually allying with the human heroes in their stories. For example, as the Lion rushes at Una aggressively in Book I of Spenser’s poem, so too does Wicket the Ewok accost Leia with his spear, eyeing her suspiciously at first. However, the Lion and Wicket soon become Una’s and Leia’s protectors, recognizing in the two women a purity similar to their own. This alliance between humans and beasts contrasts with the violence committed against Nature by Spenser’s evil knight Sansloy, on the one hand, and George Lucas’s evil Galactic Empire, on the other. The barbarism of Sansloy is fully revealed through his slaying of the savage but noble Lion, just as the Empire’s technological brutality is shown through both their disregard for Endor’s trees and their slaying of a hapless Ewok. Turning to Spenser’s Satyrs, one finds them learning truth from Una much as the Ewoks learn about the righteous cause of the Rebellion from C-3PO. The Satyrs and the Ewoks also both worship their respective teachers. Ultimately, the Satyrs and Ewoks overcome Sansloy and the Empire, showing the superiority of Nature to Technology. In conclusion, medieval stories like Return of the Jedi and The Faerie Queene feature such powerful representatives of the natural world as the Ewoks, the Lion, and the Satyrs because medieval society’s existence so obviously depended on Nature prior to scientific, agricultural, and industrial revolutions.

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