While generally regarded as Star Wars’ villain, this succint paper will show Darth Vader was the victim in the first two Star Wars trilogies.
Star Wars is set in a universe where certain beings have developed the ability to influence matter and space-time in many ways. These beings are known in Star Wars canon as “force-sensitive individuals .”
In canon, the ability to influence matter and space-time is correlated to the stock of a particular microorganism (midichlorians) in the individual.
There are various examples across films that suggest the Jedi were clearly defined as a religion in their society. In other words, this suggests a group of these force-sensitive individuals interpreted midichlorian-dynamics in a religious manner. It should be noted that the infallibility of the totality of the Jedi’s teachings has not been established in canon.
The Jedi’s religion argued force-sensitive individuals should practice non-attachment, where we overcome our attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world. This arguably benign principle is clearly practiced in an extremist fanatical manner by the Jedi, as shown through the tragedy of Anakin’s mother and the lovestory of Anakin and Padme.
In other words, the Jedi tried to indoctrinate Anakin in their extremist ways since he was very young. Thus, Anakin was unable to use his abilities to help his suffering and enslaved mother, or even love romantically.
Anakin, as would be expected, felt worry and solidarity towards his mother, but was forced to repress these feelings and thoughts by the Jedi’s dogma. Anakin was similarly forced to repress himself when he fell in love with Padme.
It follows that Palpatine took advantage of the obvious mental health crisis the Jedi were inflicting upon young Anakin for his own political gain. The result was a deepening of Anakin’s mental health crisis and developing psychiatric disorders.
Due to Anakin’s state of mental health from Episodes II to VII, he is mentally unfit to be held accountable for his actions. However, the extremist Jedi cult, along with Palpatine, should be held accountable for the mental damage they inflicted directly on Anakin and on thousands of others indirectly, as they became victims of Anakin’s actions.
Despite his actions, by executing Palpatine, Anakin directly contributed to the galaxy’s welfare, possibly much more than any other character.
In sum, Darth Vader is undoubtedly a victim in the Star Wars universe, while the Jedi actually meet villain criteria.