Studying Skywalkers: Themes in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

A Jedi shall not know anger. Nor hatred. Nor love. Or will he know them all?

Studying Skywalkers is an exclusive column that investigates the characters, themes, and lessons of StarWars from an educational, literary perspective. In this installment, looks at prevalent themes in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Previously, Star looked at Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and examined prevalent themes that permeate the entire saga, and help to enhance our understanding of the story, both as separate films, as well as overall. As the countdown towards Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues, Star seeks to explore the six existing films’ themes. These themes are powerful reminders of the scope of the Star Wars saga as a whole, and perpetuate a strong, cohesive narrative that binds this fictional galaxy together. Up next is the second cinematic chapter in the mythology, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.
Padme and Anakin discussing their relationship
The Paradox of Attachment
The conundrum that is attachment is at the crux of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala’s internal conflict throughout Attack of the Clones. The motif of forbidden love is a popular one in literature, and causes a major rift in Anakin Skywalker’s psyche. He speaks of Padmé being in his “very soul,” and expresses sincere frustration that they cannot be together as a couple. This longing is a catalyst for attachment, which is, of course, also forbidden. This doctrine is paradoxical to Anakin; at the beginning of the film, Obi-Wan sternly reminds his Padawan that the lightsaber is “his life,” which implies an attachment to an inanimate object. Conversely, love is forbidden, even though compassion is at the core of what a Jedi ascribes to. Attachment does lead to obsession, much to the detriment of the Jedi’s existence as an order. The semantics of this, however, lead to much conflict for the young Jedi and his bride.
Anakin rushing on a swoop to save his mother
The Destructive Nature of Anger
The psychological damage that anger can do to a character is an oft repeated theme in literature. A pivotal scene in Attack of the Clones centers on Anakin’s search for his mother on the desert planet, Tatooine. Once Anakin witnesses the death of Shmi, a berserker frenzy overtakes him. His slaughter of the Tusken Raider village should be a wake-up call, but this blind rage is a harbinger that leads to his descent to the dark side. Yoda will one day warn Luke
Skywalker that, “once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny,” and the message rings true here. Balance and control of one’s emotions lead to harmony, but giving in to a temporary emotion can lead to a decision that is permanent for the Republic.    
Attack of the Clones - Obi-Wan on Kamino
The Danger of Deception
The creation of the clone army on Kamino is shrouded in mystery, as is the motivation of former Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas (which was later made clear in the Clone Wars episode, “The LostOne”), who commissioned the Kaminoans to produce the Jedi-led army. The creation of the clone army is an enigma to Master Yoda as well, and yet, the apparent necessity of such a force is seemly paramount for the longevity of the Republic. Ultimately, deceit leads to the decay of moral fiber in the Republic, courtesy of the machinations of Palpatine. Lies beget lies; even further, the decision by the Council not to investigate their doubts further proves to be their undoing. Deceit also plays a major role in two of the major players in Attack of the Clonesas well.
Attack of the Clones - Anakin and Padme
The Paradoxical Nature of Love
The love that Anakin and Padmé share will eventually bring peace to the galaxy, but the journey towards that peace is ripe with strife and discord. The Jedi Knight and the former queen wish to be together, and express this in the coliseum on Geonosis. Love can sometimes bring pain, as the couple learns; in order to be together, they must practice deceit, as well as lie to their friends. This is not an ideal foundation to build a relationship on, and their marriage, along with the Clone Wars, both become a metaphor for the destruction that dishonesty can do.
Dan Zehr is a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning, and runs Coffee With Kenobi (with co-host Cory Clubb), a Star Wars podcast that analyzes the saga through critical thinking, analysis, interviews, and discussion. He is also a member of the Rogues (as Blue Leader), a network of teachers that incorporate Star Wars in the Classroom.