Anakin knows what he’s doing is wrong...
Whenever I read people using the idea that “from Anakin’s point of view the Jedi are evil” as the ultimate proof that he felt bullied by them, I roll my eyes. Anakin is intelligent enough to know when he’s wrong.
He doesn’t really think the Jedi are evil, he’s lying to himself, he bought his own con.
Anakin was a good kid to begin with, and with the Jedi training he became a great man. If you look at things objectively, Anakin is 90% of a great Jedi. He’s seemingly learned all the rules, and is wise enough to teach them to others:
Be it by telling Ahsoka that she needs to follow the rules, she can’t just go around and do whatever she feels like, it’ll lead to trouble…
… by encouraging his Padawan not to be too hard on herself…
… or be it by encouraging rational thought over hotheadedness.
In that last image, Anakin is Anakin telling Ahsoka and Rex to stop letting their emotions do the thinking and act logically. He’s telling them to be prudent.
Hell, he even believes that patience is a virtue.
Anakin is a trained Jedi Knight. He has the theoretical know-how to get out of his problems, in ROTS.
In fact, a lot of people forget this, but Anakin’s first instinct, upon finding out Palpatine is, in fact, Darth Sidious, is this:
The Jedi are Anakin’s family. If Palpatine is asking Anakin to choose between the Chancellor and the Jedi, he’ll choose the Jedi every damn time (which is why Palpatine makes Anakin choose between the Jedi and Padmé, instead).
So where’s the problem?
That last 10% of what makes a great Jedi. Introspection, self-control.
Despite being wise, clever and thinking rationally - Anakin has trouble applying those lessons to himself.
When it comes to his own personal problems, he's hard on himself, he’s impatient, he breaks the rules and acts out of emotion instead of thinking things through.
As Obi-Wan puts it:
As a result of this flaw, Anakin keeps choosing the wrong path, despite knowing that it’s the wrong path. The Force puts a lot of tests in front of him, and he keeps choosing the easy way out, rather than the more difficult but ultimately satisfying path.
His mother was killed. He can choose to genocide a whole Tusken village, or be the better man and just walk away.
He kills the Tuskens.
Dooku is unarmed and helpless. Anakin can either kill him in a rage, out of revenge, or he can capture him, bring him to justice, and potentially discover the identity of the second Sith Lord.
He kills Dooku.
Windu is also helpless (his hand was just cut off by Anakin) and Palpatine is killing him. Anakin can either choose to save Windu and arrest Palpatine (who just revealed that he wasn’t “too weak” after all), or he can let Windu die.
He lets Windu die.
Padmé tells him that this isn’t what she wants. He can actually listen to her wishes. Or he can go on a maniacal rant about having ultimate power, ignoring her own opinions completely.
He goes on a rant, drunk with power. Then chokes her.
Obi-Wan tells him to stop, tries to reason with him: Chancellor Palpatine is evil. Anakin knows this. He can stop lying to himself and accept his mistakes, ending the fight. Or he can give Obi-Wan his two-cent rationalization about the Jedi being evil (which he doesn’t even really believe in), and keep trying to kill Obi-Wan.
He keeps trying to kill Obi-Wan.
The more the War goes on, the more it gets easy for Anakin to take the easy path, over and over. But he knows it’s the wrong thing to do.
In the director’s commentary of Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas said this about the following two scenes:
“I like this scene because he's lying to her and he's rationalizing it at the same time by saying he's doing it all for her. He's loyal to the senate and the chancellor and her. But in the end- I mean, he's twisted every fact to his own rationale to make it seem like it's okay, but in the process of lying to her he's actually just lying to himself and rationalizing his behavior. 'Cause he knows he's wrong, but he won't admit it […] he's too far gone- that he could murder a bunch of kids… and then go and rationalize it to her as just doing his job.”
“The tear [on Anakin’s face] says that he knows what he's done, but he has now committed himself to a path that he may not agree with… but he is going to go on anyway. It's the one moment that says he's self-aware that he's rationalizing all his behavior. He's doing terrible things, but in the end he really knows the truth. He knows that he's evil now, and there's nothing he can do about it.”
Anakin tells himself that he’s doing this for Padmé, he’s doing this because the Jedi betrayed him, blabla.
Truth is? He’s just really really scared. And that made him do really bad things.
There’s this incredible moment in Darth Vader: Lord of the Sith #5.
Vader has taken the lightsaber off a Jedi, and now he has to corrupt the saber’s crystal to get his red blade.
The crystal, and by extension, the Force, showed him a vision, a path where he turned to the Light, defeated the Emperor and put an end to his suffering. A path of redemption. This was his reaction:
Vader refuses to take the hard path and chooses the easy path instead, once again. He rejects the Light and hangs on to the pain… because deep down… below the “they betrayed me” bullshit he keeps telling himself… he thinks he deserves it, because he did the wrong thing.
Anakin knows he’s wrong and he’s still goes forward with doing the wrong thing, no matter what test the Force keeps throwing his way.
And that’s why his sacrifice in Return of the Jedi is so impactful. He finally does the right thing, he accepts that it’ll be hard, that he’ll die if he saves Luke… he doesn’t care. Luke loves him, like Padmé did. He failed once. He won’t fail again.
I’m gonna conclude this with one more quote from Lucas:
“It really has to do with learning. Children teach you compassion. They teach you to love unconditionally. Anakin can’t be redeemed for all the pain and suffering he’s caused. He doesn’t right the wrongs, but he stops the horror. The end of the Saga is simply Anakin saying:
‘I care about this person, regardless of what it means to me. I will throw away everything that I have, everything that I have grown to love - primarily the Emperor - and throw away my life, to save this person. And I’m doing this because he has faith in me, loves me despite all the horrible things I’ve done. I broke his mother’s heart, but he still cares about me, and I can’t let that die’.”
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