George Lucas knows his myths. It’s been noted repeatedly how he based Star Wars on the work of Joseph Campbell, a writer who analyzed mythology from around the world and syncretized them into an over-arching mythological superstructure, which he called the “monomyth.” His famous quote describing it goes as follows:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Being someone who knows his myths, though, it’s obvious that Lucas intended to tie the Skywalker family into the story of Oedipus, which sees the titular hero kill his father (without knowing who he was) and wed his mother (doubly without knowing who she was); his wife/mother later kills herself, and Oedipus blinds himself by stabbing himself in the eyes before asking to be exiled from the citystate which he rules. All of this follows a prophecy stating precisely what will happen, which Oedipus' father attempts to avoid by not killing his son, but by sending him off into the hills to die of exposure. (Bad idea.) Obviously the plots of the films don’t precisely follow Oedipus, especially in the whole mom-marrying aspect, but there is a great amount of father-hatred running through them, with fathers and father figures who turn out to be despised by their sons and beatific, saintly mothers who become doomed by the mere fact of who their family members are, as well as heavy implications that, try as you might, you cannot escape your prophesied fate. There are some interesting parallels between Anakin and Luke Skywalker, including that they both begin their life-altering journey at the same age of 19. And you thought the end of your teenage years was rough.
I don’t know of any father-son relationship that doesn’t go through some kind of bumps during the son’s teen years; it’s an awkward time, when you feel like you’re a man, ready to take on new responsibilities, but also that you’re being held back by your parents and aren’t allowed to spread your wings, to make mistakes and learn from them. There’s a bit of this in Luke’s bristling under the care of his uncle and aunt, because really, who hasn’t wanted to go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters instead of fucking around with some stupid-ass droids? (Which is how I’d phrase it if I were remaking Star Wars today.) I’ve always thought it a bit curious that Lucas never relayed what Luke actually knew or thought about his biological father in A New Hope; certainly he knew that he had a different last name than his caretakers, and he knew that his dad had fought in the war, but beyond that it’s a grey area as to how much he was told about his biological family, beyond the fact that his uncle seemed reticent to talk about it. This is another way Lucas ties him into the Oedipus myth; Oedipus was likewise raised by people who were not his parents, who likewise obscured the circumstances behind his lineage until it was far too late for him to avoid his fate (or, this being Greek myth, his Fate). It’s an obscuration that is not perhaps necessary in the case of Luke and Owen Lars, but it feeds the drama of the films; the discovery of Darth Vader’s identity is perhaps so well-worn that it has lost much of its shock value, but I’m sure that it left audiences in 1980 reeling somewhat from the weight of the revelation.
Of course, Anakin was also raised by adoptive “parents” after being removed from Tatooine, and he bristled under their control in much the same way as Luke. Lucas takes pains in Episode II to have Anakin come across as rash and impulsive, bridled by the better impulses of his foster father figure/mentor, Obi-Wan. In a way, Anakin’s story is a bit of a doubling of the Oedipus story, in that he has multiple father figures. Obi-Wan, as much as Anakin resents his presence, is the “correct” version of a father: he keeps Anakin in check, restrains his impulsive nature, attempts to rein him in and protect him from the world until he’s good and ready to confront it as a man. Chancellor Palpatine, the evil father figure, is ready to goad Anakin on, push him towards the Dark Side, encourage him subtly to resist the good advice of Obi-Wan and the rest of the Jedi. In true Oedipal fashion, he comes to attempt to kill them both, failing in the case of Obi-Wan, but ultimately succeeding with Palpatine, albeit much later than we might’ve wished.
Another Oedipal interpretation for Anakin’s story might be his rebellion against his “biological” father, the midichlorians which either conceived him on their own or were manipulated into doing so by Darth Plagueis. Anakin’s later destruction of the Jedi Order could be considered, in an admittedly meta sense, a roundabout way of destroying his creators, both physically (lots of midichlorians no doubt perished when their Jedi hosts were killed) and metaphorically (if you interpret the Jedi as the physical embodiment of the spiritual Force, which the midichlorians were tied to). That’s admittedly a bit of a reach, and I don’t mean to imply that his actions are a form of conscious rebellion against the midichlorians; merely an example of a mythological impetus. But it is interesting to think of Anakin’s relationship to the entities that created him in the light of the Oedipal influences that permeate the Skywalker clan.
Lastly, Lucas might tie Anakin into the Oedipal myth by stating that he is the child of prophecy, raised for a specific purpose, to bring balance to the Force. Oedipus himself was prophesied to kill his father, and indeed manages to do so, despite being left to die by him. Palpatine must've either not known or misinterpreted the prophecy that Anakin was supposed to fulfill; it would be rather ironic indeed if he thought that the prophecy meant that he would destroy the Jedi, when in fact it meant that Anakin would destroy him, albeit 22 years too late. The notion of fate and prophecy is only lightly touched upon in Star Wars, so far as I know, but it's a notion that is strongly mythological in origin. The hero of the monomyth might be expected to succeed as if it were fated - they wouldn't be very good myths if he died in the first challenge - but that's a bit different than actually being fated to fulfill a destiny, as both Anakin and Oedipus are.
I’ll be honest and say that I doubt any of this is necessarily news to anyone who thinks deeply about Star Wars, which, well...let’s just admit that we’re fucking nerds and move on, shall we? But still, interpreting the saga through the mutual desire to kill that which has created you gives it a bit more oomph than it has otherwise, even if Lucas seems to only go halfway there. And, if nothing else, it makes one wonder about the biographical impulse that Lucas might’ve felt in creating his opus. It’s no secret that his good friend Spielberg has some kind of father issues that lead him to create films with fathers that are generally absent or neglectful, but then, that might be preferable to creating a series of films that are entirely about killing the man that spawned you or raised you.
But what do you think? Is the Oedipal myth a credible influence on Star Wars, or is this all a reach?