Examination of Caves in Star Wars and Medieval Literature
Within cinema and medieval literature caves are strategically placed, creating a space for characters to face an inner struggle. In The Empire Strikes Back, for example, one finds Han and Leia facing romantic temptation in the cave-like space provided by the Space Slug’s belly. Han and Leia’s erotic encounter here recalls that of Dido and Aeneas in Book IV of the Aeneid. Again in Empire Strikes Back, the cave on Dagobah forces Luke to confront his own capability of turning to the Dark Side. When Luke enters this Dark Side cave, it is like he is entering his own psyche. That is, the vision of Darth Vader he encounters in the cave is really a reflection of the darkness within himself. In The Faerie Queene, the Red Cross Knight has a similar encounter with the character Despair. Here, the psychomachia in the cave indicates the loss of hope for salvation within Red Cross Knight himself. Turning to Return of the Jedi, we find Luke facing the Rancor monster in another cave-like setting. Luke defeats the rancor with just the bones he finds in the cave, demonstrating how much he has matured as a hero since A New Hope. Similarly, Beowulf’s defeat of Grendel’s mother indicates how accomplished a warrior Beowulf truly is. All in all, caves possess great ethical and spiritual meanings in both cinema and literature, with Star Wars being a prime example of this phenomenon.
Walker, Scott and Fortuna, Trista, "Examination of Caves in Star Wars and Medieval Literature" (2015). Videos: Nature Holocron. Paper 2.