Star Wars Heroes: Why Leia Organa Inspires Me
If she can do it, so can we.
When I was a kid, my favorite heroes — the strongest heroes — were the ones who were the cleverest, most driven, and the most skilled in combat. But now I’m full of life experiences I didn’t have as a child, and I find that definition of strength is somewhat incomplete.
That which was missing from my previous notion of strength was resilience — emotional and psychological. In recent years I have experienced heartbreaking loss and events that have devastated me. Left struggling with depression and anxiety I find that the hardest challenges I’ve ever faced have nothing to do with physical strength, intelligence, or aptitude of any kind.
I’ve always looked to my fictional heroes for inspiration. Their adventures keep my imagination alive, which in turn fuels my drive and makes me think that I, too, can persevere. So then who is the Star Wars character that inspires me most? Who, by my current definition of strength, is the strongest?
Why, it’s Leia.
In my opinion, no Star Wars character has endured so much and still persevered. Reading Claudia Gray’s novel Bloodline is key to understanding my assertion. Certainly in the original trilogy we can see her intelligence, wit, and skill with a blaster. But in Bloodline, Gray shows us Leia’s inner struggles. We see that she is still tormented by the fact that she was horrendously tortured by her own father. We get insight into the humiliation preceding her debut as the Huttslayer. We see and understand the visceral revulsion she feels toward Ransolm Casterfo’s collection of Imperial relics. We, for the first time, begin to understand that she carries scars from dealing with a lifetime of truly awful events. We can see how much she misses her home of Alderaan and adoptive father, Bail Organa. And we watch as she is betrayed and rejected by the people and the government for which she sacrificed so much.
As a political and social outcast watching her life’s work sabotaged and twisted — no one could blame her if she had decided to abandon it all. And yet. And yet rather than running, giving up, or giving in, she founded the Resistance and donned the mantle of General. Later, when she is abandoned by her brother, husband, and son, she still persists. And what’s truly amazing is she didn’t lose herself in the process. The Leia we see in The Force Awakens is not an emotionless shell. She is weary, yes. But she is still Leia.
The strength to accomplish that, to maintain both her identity and her will to fight in spite of everything she experienced is what earns her, in my humble opinion, the title of Star Wars’ strongest character.
While all the women of Star Wars are inspirational in their right, for me, none is more so than Leia. She is not at all impervious to the sorrows and tribulations that plague her, but her astounding resilience and dedication in spite of that anguish is what really sets her apart. And it doesn’t matter if she is fictional — if she can do it, so can I. If she can do it, so can we.
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