Analysis of The Force Awakens — Leia Organa: A Princess and a General

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Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of General Leia was a wonderful surprise. The lack of her presence in the trailers beyond a few brief shots made me worry that we would either see very little of her in the film, or that Carrie’s acting wouldn’t be on par with the other actors. But her scenes with Ford immediately recaptured their chemistry, and helped start the process of filling in the gaps of Han and Leia’s relationship between Episodes 6 and 7.

Han and Leia love each other, but could not face their grief. Han believed Leia saw him as a failure who reminded her of her lost son, and Leia immersed herself in politics and the building of the Resistance, finding herself labeled a warmonger and alarmist by the majority of the Republic.

We learn in the novelization that Leia kept Han in the dark about Snoke’s involvement with their son, believing Han’s reaction would drive Ben further towards the dark side. In The Force Awakens, she has come to believe that by sending her son away to Luke, she actually lost her hold on him, and that Han, as his father, is now the only one who can save Ben. It remains to be seen what real effect Han had on his son, though the novelization suggests that Kylo did not find what he was seeking from killing his father.

Now that the New Republic’s government and fleet have been destroyed, Leia may have a larger role to play in the next film, perhaps trying to build up a greater military force (perhaps with help from Maz’s pirate and smuggler connections?) while holding together the possibly fragmenting systems of the Republic in anticipation of a First Order invasion. It is also possible that she will be blamed by many for antagonizing the First Order into striking out at the Republic.

Leia has faced many hardships and losses in her life: the destruction of her home planet; the revelation that Darth Vader – a man who tortured her and killed many of her friends – was her real father; the fall of her son to the dark side; the rise of the First Order, and the disappearance of her brother. Yet she remains strong in the face of disaster. There is an interesting note in the Visual Dictionary which states that Luke believed the Force manifests itself in Leia through her strength of will in never surrendering to grief. I am curious to see how the loss of Han to their own son will effect Leia’s decisions in future episodes. Will she ever come face to face with her son? Does she blame herself for Han’s death? I certainly hope these deeper emotional conflicts will be explored in Episode 8, a film that will reportedly much darker in tone than Episode 7.

Until next time: May the Force be with you. Always.

Chris “Darth Hound” Miller

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