Every Star Wars fan knows the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker’s story, his rise as Darth Vader, and his redemption while saving his son (Luke Skywalker) from the Emperor. One question that looms is, if Anakin Skywalker’s intentions were to use the Dark Side of the Force to save Padmé from death, why did he continue to be a Sith after she died. You really have to know his journey to the Dark Side in order to understand his inevitable fall.
Anakin’s first step towards the ways of the Dark Side of the Force were when he went to Tatooine When Anakin Skywalker slaughtered the Tusken village, he gave in to the rage and anger that consumed him over his mother’s death. There was still a part of him that fought this urge, but he dove into his anger anyway. When he stopped looking at them as people, and more like animals, he lost his compassion for life. He hated them.
He also lusted for power in his conversation with Padmé, where he confessed killing the Tuskens. A Jedi must learn to control his emotions, and in turn his anger. This was his first steps towards the dark side.
The next reason can further be explored in the Return of the Sith novelization. When Anakin Skywalker first fought Count Dooku, Dooku saw how natural the force came to Anakin. He was a powerful young Jedi. He fought with a fury and rage that was only held back by his Jedi will and training.
It was as if Anakin was holding back his full potential, afraid of what would happen if he fully gave in. By this point, he was beginning to let his emotions drive him in battle, and this is the way of the Sith, not the Jedi.
When Anakin bests Dooku, and has the fallen Jedi at his mercy, this is the moment I feel that Obi-Wan Kenobi should have seen that Senator Palpatine was hiding something sinister. A Jedi as smart as Kenobi should have seen that Palpatine was preaching Sith morals when he spoke to Anakin. This is that exchange:
“Don’t fear what you’re feeling, Anakin, use it!” he barked in Palpatine’s voice. “Call upon your fury. Focus it, and he cannot stand against you. Rage is your weapon. Strike now! Strike! Kill him!”
When Anakin kills Dooku, he has a moment of clarity. For one moment, the young Jedi stands over the corpse of a powerful Sith. One that easily beat him once before, and even defeated Obi-Wan and stood up to Master Yoda. Dooku was an extremely powerful Sith, and Anakin just defeated him with ease. Anakin’s power in the Force has grown and is beginning to surpass his teachers. He is becoming all-powerful, which is something he has always wanted.
Anakin could have chosen the Jedi way and spared Dooku, but instead he chose to kill him. The Jedi show mercy, compassion, and restraint. He cared not for his Master pleading with him to spare Dooku, he heard nothing but his own rage in that moment, and his mind was at ease when he channeled it. In Return of the Sith you can almost see relief in Anakin during this moment. He is pleased with his ability to harness his internal rage.
The young Skywalker is in a frail state, fighting the growing darkness and anger inside of him. He is conflicted with his Jedi teachings. His final step towards the dark side is when he kills Mace Windu. Windu was a Jedi who could harness the Light and the Dark Side of the Force. He didn’t believe in second chances.
When he had the opportunity to kill Palpatine (when member of the Jedi Council go to arrest the Senator), Anakin says that he needs Palpatine alive. Windu says, “Why?” It was here where Anakin decided to disarm the Jedi Master by cutting his lightsaber hand off, allowing Palpatine to use Force lightning to finish off Windu.
Anakin needed Palpatine to save Padmé. Palpatine led the Jedi Knight to believe that the Sith can prevent death. She was going to die, and he needed to save her. Skywalker was willing to do anything to save her, even if that meant giving in to the enemy that he trained most of his life to combat.
Skywalker became Palpatine’s Sith Apprentice because he saw that he had one choice. It was saving Padmé or the Jedi Order. It was him against them, because he wouldn’t let Padmé die. Yoda told Anakin, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” Anakin couldn’t let her go. His attachment solidified his embrace of the Dark Side.
Yoda knew the struggle going on in Anakin’s head, and tried to mold the Jedi and keep him from the Dark. One of his quotes sums up Anakin’s path completely:
If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you, it will.
This is why Anakin couldn’t turn back once he began to give in to the Dark Side. He was stuck in a state of self-hatred. He thought that he killed Padmé, the one person he was trying to save, and he alienated himself from every friend he ever had. The Fallen Jedi must forgive himself before he can redeem himself. He stays in the Dark Side, because he lets regret, hatred, self-hate, murder, and rage consume him.