“Why didn’t you tell me there was danger? Why didn’t you warn me?” — Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Like most avid readers, I’ve learned some of my greatest life lessons from stories. Their wealth of knowledge and wisdom has fed my soul for 29 years and it is because of all of them that I am the woman I am today. Fairytales, mythology, fantasy, romance, classics, adventures and darkness, I am a keeper of tales and once-upon-a-times. I know no better way to impart knowledge to other beings than through words, written and spoken alike — for they contain infinite power and magic.
Perhaps because I think in terms of what book or film reminds me of this or that particular situation, I often wonder what books and stories my favorite characters are exposed to in their worlds? What words guided their lives, gave them peace and comfort, or warned them of danger still to come?
I know to guard my heart and my senses because of stories like Star Wars, Romeo and Juliet, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I know that people who we love and are loved by can deceive because of Jane Eyre, and I know that love is very rarely ever easy because of Wuthering Heights. I am surrounded by stories that explain my world and it’s consequences to me, but what tales did Anakin and Padme have to teach them that fate isn’t always kind? What fairytales warned them to love moderately, or to perceive the monster lurking behind the face of a friend? Was there a galactic Romeo and Juliet that a lovelorn Padme quoted listlessly to herself when Anakin was sent into battle for months at a time? Did Anakin whisper desert folklore from his childhood to help himself fall asleep at night?
“My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.” — Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
Ultimately there is a difference between knowing something and understanding why it is the way it is. The clarity is found in example, in finding yourself in another. Stories give us that clarity. What stories did Anakin and Padme have? Did they find themselves in others? Would it have saved them if they had? Or did they choose to look away, to hide from the truth that could have set them free? They knew their love was forbidden, but did they have an example to show them what that really meant?
In the end, the romance between Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala is one of the most beautiful and tragic love stories in modern storytelling. Full of forbidden desire, angst, fear, secrets, and ill-fated love, it is truly a cautionary tale for the ages. It teaches the audience what its own heroes failed to learn: to love carefully, wisely, and without falsehood. But above all it teaches that sometimes, no matter your intent, fate has a hand in the way your story progresses. Sometimes you can do everything right, and still fall. Because Once Upon a Time is never a guarantee of happily ever after, it’s only a gateway to a story yet to be told and truths yet to be discovered.