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EMPEROR: Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon! Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete.

If the Emperor just wants to ensure a fight between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader by telling Luke to "strike me down," (he knows that Vader will block Luke's swing) then why does he say the phrase in bold? You'd think that that would actually make Luke LESS likely to swing at him, which would mean there would be no fight between Luke and Vader.

Turning to the Dark Side should have nothing to do with the Emperor simply wanting Luke to swing at him and Vader to block it, thus starting fight. Right?

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    I'm guessing there was no logic, only faith in his prophecy and sheer arrogance. – Politank-Z Jul 13 '15 at 13:15
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    I'm going to go with Politank-Z here. There isn't much logic behind it, so the only reason could be stupidity(which we know isn't true) or arrogance. He has every reason in the world to be arrogant...I mean has he ever been wrong about anything? Probably feels invincible at this point. – Demarini Jul 13 '15 at 13:26
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    @Etheur The Emperor doesn't actually mean for Luke to "strike him down," he just wants Luke to Force pull his light saber and swing at him because he knows that Vader will block it. His ultimate goal was to get Luke to figh Vader, so what does "your journey towards the dark side will be complete," have to do with the Emperor wanting Luke to swing at him? Saying that should actually put off Luke. – Christopher Henderson Jul 13 '15 at 15:09
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    @Christopher Henderson If the Emperor can get Luke to take a swing at him, even while telling him how evil such a thing would be, I would say that it would be proof enough to the Emperor that Luke is at least willing and able to accept the Dark Side to get things done. – Etheur Jul 13 '15 at 15:14
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    'Greed with Etheur. He's not trying to trick Luke into swinging at him, he's trying to make Luke CHOOSE to kill him, with full knowledge of the consequences. If he just wanted to start a fight he could just attack then and there. Besides, it's not like the Emperor is a character about subtlety! – DavidS Jul 13 '15 at 15:33
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If the Emperor can get Luke to take a swing at him, even while telling him how evil such a thing would be, I would say that it would be proof enough to the Emperor that Luke is at least willing and able to accept the Dark Side to get things done.

The idea is that the Emperor doesn't want Luke to just be mad, he wants Luke to understand the consequences and to decide to use the Dark Side. As DavidS put it, "He's not trying to trick Luke into swinging at him, he's trying to make Luke CHOOSE to kill him, with full knowledge of the consequences."

  • This is a great answer, but to anyone reading this, keep posting you opinions! – Christopher Henderson Jul 13 '15 at 16:26
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The Emperor is trying to turn Luke to the Dark Side. By explicitly telling Luke this while simultaneously playing on his emotions to get him to react in anger, he's setting up a long-con. In short, his goal is to have Luke get mad, kill Vader in a rage (using the Dark Side in the process), and then feel remorse and guilt.

Keep in mind that Luke has been constantly told that there is no going back once you start down the path of the Dark Side. Ben & Yoda have both told him, in no uncertain terms, that Vader can't be saved. They've both told him that if he falters, even for a moment, he will be lost to the Dark Side for all time.

Sideous knows this is a common teaching for the Jedi, and would expect Kenobi and Yoda to teach this to their newest student.

By working Luke up with anger, and leading him into guilt and remorse, Palpatine seeks to foster negative, Dark Side emotions within Luke. It would make it much easier, in the long run, for Palpatine to mold him into a proper Sith.

  • The Emperor telling Luke that once he uses the Dark Side, he will automatically be a Sith forever, wouldn't affect even the very weakest of Jedi. Luke just has to do exactly what he did. He realized he was using the Dark Side and just snapped out of it. The Emperor's words are not like subconscious hypnotism. Did he expect Luke to be like, "Oh no! I used the Dark Side for a second! I guess I'm a Sith now even though I want to and am easily able to just throw down my light saber and say 'no,' but since the Emperor said so, that makes me evil." – Christopher Henderson Jul 13 '15 at 14:13
  • I appreciate your answer though. This seems to be a very difficult question as everyone else is just commenting, "There is no logic. The Emperor is just stupid," which is pretty annoying. My question in a nutshell: Why does the Emperor say things like, "Strike me down, and YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS THE DARK SIDE WILL BE COMPLETE," and WITH EACH PASSING MOMENT, YOU MAKE YOURSELF MORE MY SERVENT," if he actually wants him to give into his anger? Wouldn't those to phrases make Luke less likely to give into his anger? Even though I don't agree with your answer, I will up vote because you gave effort. – Christopher Henderson Jul 13 '15 at 14:20
  • Those comments aren't trying to get him to give in to his anger, IMHO, they're planting the seeds for guilt/self-hatred in the future. And within the Expanded Universe (before it was made non-canon) the Dark Side did work that way - once you used the Dark Side even once, it would constantly tempt you. – Jeff Jul 13 '15 at 15:06
  • Forget everything except for, "Strike me down with all of your hatred, and your journey towards the Dark Side will be complete." That is the most confusing line. If the Emperor simply wants Luke to swing at him so he and Vader will get into a fight, what good reason does he have to say that? If anything, that line should make Luke not want to swing at him, which is not what the Emperor wants. – Christopher Henderson Jul 13 '15 at 15:14
  • Keep in mind that they are having this pleasant discussion while watching a major fleet action - each flash of light from the battle in the distance could be a ship exploding (or a turbolaser impacting on a shield, but that's not what Luke will be seeing). They aren't sitting around on a Sunday morning drinking tea - people Luke has known for years, the only family he's had since he left Tatooine, are dying while he watches, on the command of the Emperor. Palpatine doesn't need to give Luke a reason to kill him, he's trying to make sure Luke knows killing him in hatred is evil. – Jeff Jul 13 '15 at 15:39
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This is probably a blunt answer, but it could be stated for the sake of the audience. As you somewhat said yourself, telling Luke that he's going to the dark side if he tries to strike him down doesn't help the Emperor's cause to sway Luke. It could just be undertones to help the viewers understand how critical this decision would be for Luke.

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By saying "strike me down with all your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete" he is providing Luke with a choice. He doesn't want Luke to simply use the Dark Side. This would allow Luke the chance to rationalize his use of anger and possibly overcome it. He did so on Dagobah as well.

What the Emperor is doing here is giving Luke clear directions, ORDERS. Luke has the choice to follow them or not. The anger he feels knowing those explosions are rebels dying and that Han and Leia may be in trouble swells within him. What better way to cement Luke's fall to the dark side than to clearly tell him that the actions he would love to do would take him down the path to the dark side....and he still do them. In the EU, Jedi rarely fall to the Dark Side through accident. It is a known and acknowledged choice to succumb to emotion. Palpatine adds intensity to it by taking the choice Luke knows he must make and delivering it as an order.

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Let's look at a specific part of the statement: "...and your journey towards the dark side will be complete." He is playing the mind-game, insinuating that Luke already started down that path. Vader - who turned out to be Luke's daddy - is right there; Anakin Skywalker, turned to the dark side. The Emperor didn't just keep Vader hanging around there for no reason; it adds strength to his insinuation... "Look at your dad, he went all-in on the dark side. Even got himself a dark emo outfit and all. And now, you're here with him... you're angry... and your weak-assed mentors - acting like they were your betters - even told you that you'd risk slipping into the dark side if you got this far. They even tried to hide the truth about your daddy being all dark because they were desperate in their fear (and fear is another step that "leads to the dark side") for having you get all curious about him and learning that you're actually destined to go dark. So, come on, let's take that last step of this dark journey into darkness, give in to your emo-side and come at me, brah, and complete that which you were destined to do..."

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I think it's safe to say that Luke was indeed angry at that point and his overly aggressive attack on Vader later in the scene proves it. He just learned that the Emperor knew the whole plan to bring down the Death Star's shields before it ever got started. So, the better part of the rebel fleet is in danger of being wiped out and, more personally, his friends (and the only family he has left anywhere) are most likely going to be killed on Endor. (He had no way of knowing about the Ewok attack allowing the Rebels a chance of success). So, he's in an incredibly stressful, dangerous situation and is worried for his friends, family and the Rebel Alliance as a whole. Add to that that Luke has to be worried that he'll make the same mistakes his father did. I don't think you can avoid that fear with a family legacy like his.

So Luke is angry, and he's probably worried about how angry he is knowing what that can lead to. Then you have the Emperor who is just over there rubbing salt in the wound. "Oh...look at how mad you are. You'd better be careful...that can lead to the dark side. Did I mention your friends are going to die and your entire cause is lost. Doesn't that make you mad?"

The Emperor is basically just trolling Luke at this point and just taunting Luke with the very things he's already angry about/scared of.

  • You're answering the question that I wasn't really asking. I edited the question to illustrate my main point. Everyone seems to be missing my main question. – Christopher Henderson Jul 13 '15 at 15:30
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Isn't that all the more reason for Luke to NOT swing at him?

Logically yes. But the Emperor doesn't want Luke to think logically. The Emperor wants Luke to be ruled by his emotions. And almost as importantly, the Emperor wants Luke to choose his emotions over his intellect. If Luke merely struck at the Emperor, Luke could rationalize his attack with a logical reason. To complete his transformation, he must submit willingly. He must attack against logic.

Another issue here is that being denied emotional release by logic is itself maddening. It just makes him more angry. If Luke were to stop and think things through logically, he would see the same thing you do. He should purge himself of dark emotions before attacking. The Jedi have historically done that by denying themselves any emotions. But the Emperor knows that if he breaks that logical control, it will be easier the next time. He doesn't want to beat Luke. The Emperor wants to convert Luke to the dark side and the Sith.

It's also worth noting that Darth Vader does not break free logically, as a Jedi would. Vader embraces his love for his children. That's still an emotion, albeit not one typically associated with the dark side.

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