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The Hall of Heroines
Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan

A Force to be Reckoned With

In Hiding

The next time you watch Star Wars - and you will, won't you? - please notice one crucial detail: the only person who both knows and understands what is going on all the time is Leia. She knows how to get the plans safely away from her ship. She makes Tarkin believe her when she lies about the location of the Rebel base. She realizes the stormtrooper entering her cell isn't what he seems. She knows where to shoot the wall to get out of the detention block. She knows Vader is tracking the Millenium Falcon. And that's just the short list. Everyone knows The Princess is brave, passionate, committed to her cause, and high-spirited. They tend to overlook the fact that she's smart.

leia_tarkin.jpg
"Charming. To the last."

I was twelve years old when Star Wars was released, and Princess Leia changed the way I thought about being a woman. No one other character has touched me as deeply. Her courage and self-possession awed me. Her position as a senator and a leader of the rebellion inspired me. And her sharp tongue. . . . Well, for a young girl raised to always "be nice," it was inspiring in an entirely different way. For years afterward, whenever I faced a difficult situation it was Princess Leia I drew on for courage and confidence. And it wasn't too surprising that my relationship with my first boyfriend ended up having a great deal in common with Leia and Han's relationship.

Unlike Luke and Han, who stumble into the Rebellion, propelled more by fate than choice, Princess and Senator Leia Organa is there because she has chosen to be. She could have continued to live a sheltered, priveleged life on Alderaan and Coruscant. Instead, she puts herself in harms way in order to do what she believes is right. She sees the evil the Emperor is inflicting on the galaxy, and she takes a stand against it, knowing it could cost her her life.

I have some issues with the way Leia is developed after "Star Wars", but every movie, novel and comic book do maintain her defining characteristic: public service is her vocation. She uses all her assets -- royal and political position, courage, rhetorical powers, intelligence, passion, and Force sensitivity -- to advance the cause of freedom, democracy and peace for the galaxy. As long as there is a threat to the Republic/Alliance, she will continue to fight for the billions of beings, non-human as well as human, whose lives are at stake.

First Kiss
"I happen to like nice men." "I'm 'nice men.'"

Captive to Evil

My favorite portrayal of Leia is in "Captive to Evil," which relates the story of Star Wars from Leia's point of view. The story presents Leia as someone with royal and political authority, as a resourceful covert agent, and as a very young woman who faces terrifying circumstances with great courage. If you thought her dialogue was wonderful, wait until you read what she didn't say!

 
 
Books, Links, Sounds and Artwork

Award of Honour

Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith

Leia and Vader

 
 
He stands well over six feet tall and is entirely encased in black armor. He's a master of the Force and he can kill with a gesture. He commands thousands of soldiers who give him unquestioning obediance. He is relentless. He is without mercy.
 
George Lucas shows us Vader entering Leia's cell with an interrogation droid, but leaves to our imagination the torture that follows. Over the years I've come to believe that many people forget it happened. Or downplay how terrible it must have been for Leia. That's a mistake. There is nothing Vader and Tarkin want more than the location of the Rebel base. They are willing to destroy an entire planet, without a flicker of remorse, if it will achieve their goal. Vader would have used any method, no matter how monstrous, to persuade the seventeen year-old princess to talk.
 
He failed.

Captive on the Death Star
Vader has failed. Now it's Tarkin's turn. He'll fail too.