Teach Me, You Did… How the Mentors of Star Wars Are Not What You’d Expect

On the planet Dagobah, it is a dark and cloudy evening. Well, every night is a dark and cloudy evening, but all the same it is tonight as well. Then, suddenly, the peace that nature brings is disturbed by the squeal of a droid and the booming sounds of an X-Wing crashing towards the swamp. This is where our story begins.

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It is a story of mentors. A story of becoming who destiny has called you to be. It is a story about growing up.

When Luke first ventured to Dagobah, he went to find a warrior. Someone to teach this weak and worthless farmboy how to be a hero. Someone to make him great by battling evil the galaxy over. Instead, he got, “Wars not make one great.” He got lessons on overcoming your inner demons rather than your outer ones.

Needless to say, when Luke found out who his original mentor, Ben Kenobi, sent him to, he was a bit underwhelmed. As the everyman, Luke acted just as we so often do when we meet your mentors. He expected a hero and someone powerful. Someone who was strong where he knew himself to be weak. Instead he got someone who showed him where he was truly weak and helped him to overcome.

“Rey has a certain expectation of what she might be getting from Luke and what that might entail and, as a lot of people may know, it’s difficult when you meet your hero because it might not be what you expect.”- Daisy Ridley

This has been an underlying theme in Star Wars since its inception. A New Hope saw Luke meeting his mentor in terms of the larger galaxy, and it was not what he expected. Smugglers, stormtroopers, wrongful imprisonment, and rebels that were not the most heroic of folk (re: doubt in their ability to defeat the Death Star, all of Rogue One). It was a big learning curve for the young farmboy.

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Then, of course, there were the trials found throughout Empire when it comes to both Yoda. As the story progresses to Return of the Jedi, Luke is more in need of a mentor than ever. When he returns to Dagobah, however, he again finds something about his mentor, Yoda, that he does not expect, he is dying. Further, he learns that the mentor who had always lived up to his expectations, Ben, might not have.

Now seemingly alone in the world (for Force ghosts seem unable to follow us around like a loyal teacher), Luke has to find someone to show him the way. It is arguable that he is trying to find that by redeeming his father. Once again, Luke goes to find someone to be his mentor, but instead finds someone, and something, else. Instead of searching for a warrior and finding a monk, he searches for a father and finds a devil.

And then he finds the Force.

This, in the end, is his ultimate mentor. It also shows his ultimate growth. He started out young, brash, and unwilling to submit to the people who were trying to mentor to him. He complained to Uncle Owen, doubted Ben, and dismissed Yoda. Eventually, through the steadfastness of his mentors, and learning to let go of expectations, Luke was able to find the truth of the Force. He was able to reach the pinnacle of the student/mentor relationship.

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And now he must “unlearn what he has learned” in The Last Jedi. Considering the clue given by Daisy Ridley that Luke might not be the legend she was expecting, it might hold that she will have to learn a similar lesson to Luke.

The Force Awakens gives evidence to this in the form of Han Solo. From her reaction, it seems like she knows of the rogue, particularly as a smuggler. More than likely she heard tales at Niima Outpost of the great and, probably, dastardly Han Solo. She had to learn, through interactions directly with him, that he was more than that. He was a good man.

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Will the same be true for Luke? Will his reluctance to teach her to question herself, in the same way Yoda’s assurance caused Luke to question himself? Or will we see an entirely new mentor/student relationship?

Regardless, I think we can all agree that we have a lot to learn from our mentor: Star Wars.

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