Leia: the heroine’s journey through hairstyles
Posted by contentgrrl on December 7, 2007
I’m going to show a lot of grrly geekiness here. My family just watched the old Empire Strikes Back again the other night. And it occurs to me that this trilogy is not just about the transformation of Luke Skywalker as a hero. It’s about Leia Organa, his sister.
Sure, with Luke’s story arc, you see elements of the Hero’s Journey. I’ll pull from Joseph Campbell as well as Tarot Journey of the Hero here. There’s the calls to adventure (Leia’s “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” and Obi-wan’s “You must go to the Dagobah system and find Yoda to begin your training.” and “I am your father.”), meeting allies (the droids, Ben & Han, Leia, Yoda), the perilous rescues (Leia on the Death Star, and again in Cloud City, and Daddy Anakin on the new Death Star), the catharsis/toppling of the tower (Death Star, Cloud City, Death Star again).
But with Leia, it’s not so much a coming of age story. It’s a heroine’s journey. Is it coming into matriarchy? I dunno. But I do notice her hairstyles. At first, her style is very regal yet severe: a very straight part down the middle, and huge “cinnamon buns” over her ears. She’s very alone, very closed, and very uptight. OK, that serves her well during capture and torture, right? Once she’s in the position to reward her rescuers, the braids cascade. And when she’s getting a rebel outpost ready to evacuate icy Hoth, her braids are a crown. But did you notice? Nobody among the rebels salutes her, or anyone else for that matter; it’s like, as my husband chimed in, “We’re all equals here, and we’ve all got our jobs to do.” And she becomes more receptive to Han, until she can’t let him freeze without him knowing that she loves him. And then SHE works to rescue HIM, taking down Jabba the Hut just about by herself in a long braid, a gold bikini, and a chain. When they’re all celebrating with ewoks after the last Death Star explodes, Leia’s hair is completely down, with a new hope dawning that she and Han are on their way to a true union beyond limiting dualities, and generations to come who are strong in the Force.
I do wish George Lucas would get on with the final trilogy (it looks like Episode 7 is the Hidden Circle, and here’s the plot). As soon as he can find a screenwriter who can do dialogue well. He’s got the special effects down, and the music, but I’d love for him to finish with a script that’s truly worthy of the epic.
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