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My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.
There aren’t many characters whose names start with “Y.” In fact, I could only come up with two: Yoda and Yorick. And though I’ve been known to throw out the quote, “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio,” I don’t think being a skull in a soliloquy qualifies as a great character.
Luckily, I actually like Yoda and think he’s a legitimately great character. Full disclosure: I used to read Star Wars books when I was a teenager, but I don’t remember if Yoda was in them. So my saying that he’s a great character is based on the movies.
In science fiction and fantasy, there’s almost always a wise old sage to teach the main character how to be whatever they are. As a sage, Yoda is an unexpected one (at least I assume I was surprised the first time I saw the movie… it was a long time ago). Luke doesn’t even know who he is when they first meet because Yoda engages in silly and annoying antics to see what Luke is like.
When Yoda does get serious though, he’s quite good at what he does. He’s able to use and manipulate the force, showing Luke that it can be done. While I’m a fan of the original trilogy and have little use for I, II, and III, the lightsaber scene with Yoda against Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones is one of the best scenes in all the movies.
All these qualities: the ability to play dumb when it suits, throwing out lessons, being able to mop the floor with an opponent, are all qualities of good sages. One other quality that I think happens often (though not always) is the mentor reluctantly taking on the apprentice. Yoda just wasn’t sure of Luke in the beginning, and told Obi Wan that.
Even though he is pretty standard, Yoda is still one of my favorite mentors. Maybe it’s because of his small stature. I’m short, and everyone always underestimates me too. It just goes to show that size doesn’t really matter for much.