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2 Darth Vader
4 Other Facts
At the beginning of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Palpatine is simply the senator from Naboo. It is possible (indeed, it is highly likely) that Palpatine and the Sith Lord Darth Sidious are the same person, as they bear a suspicious resemblance to each other, and seem to have the same goals. The Naboo conflict had the benifit of making Palpatine Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. However, this will not be confirmed until the release of Star Wars: Episode III in 2005.
Sidious, with the help of his apprentice, Count Dooku, used the threat of the rising Seperatist movement to incite the Senate to provide Palpatine with dictatorial emergency powers and create the Clone Army of the Republic. Palpatine, also using the war to his advantage, proclaims himself Emperer of the Galactic Empire.
Palpatine seduces young Anakin Skywalker to the dark side of the Force, and the former Jedi became known as Darth Vader, servent of the Emperer and the second most powerful man in the galaxy, feared by all.
Lord Vader also became the second richest man in the galaxy. He hated the poisonous diplomatic struggles he was forced to engage in because of his position, but was no less skilled in the subject then the Emperer himself. He had a son named Luke Skywalker who, as time moved on, became a serious threat to the Empire.
Luke Skywalker trained for a time under Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. When Vader killed Kenobi, the boy continued to train under Yoda. But Luke walked into a trap on Bespin, where he was forced to dual with Vader. Vader won, taking Luke's hand and revealing the awful truth to the Jedi hopeful: Vader was his father. Luke through himself off Cloud City to escape the Dark Lord of the Sith, and was rescued by his sister Leia.
Lord Vader continued to search for his son, but was unsuccessful in capturing him again. But in the end, it was Luke himself who surrendered to Imperial forces during the Battle of Endor. Emperer Palpatine and Darth Vader tried hard to seduce Luke to the dark side, as Vader himself had been. But they failed, and Palpatine began killing Luke with dark-side lightning. Before he could succeed, Vader through him down a shaft, killing him. The second Death Star explode only minutes later.
Like many personalities in the Star Wars universe, Palpatine's character was clearly inspired by certain historical figures. Parallels to Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler can all be found in the Galactic Emperor's words and actions (in many ways he is an amalgamation of the two Caesars -- Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus -- and Lucius Cornelius Sulla). In writing the original drafts of the Star Wars films,in the mid-seventies, George Lucas has said he was influenced by then-US President Richard Nixon.
In many ways, Palpatine is an archetypical villain, who, like Iago in Shakespeare's Othello, does not appear to have any understandable motivation. He relies on deception and manipulation to control and corrupt individuals throughout the films, and as a result is a classically diabolical character. As Emperor, he appears to be a frail, weak old man, but is actually quite supernaturally powerful. Palpatine may be viewed as the quintessential wolf in sheep's clothing.
Palpatine's full name (assuming he has any names other than "Palpatine" alone) has never been revealed. The usage "Emperor Palpatine" suggests that Palpatine is in fact his only name. Nevertheless, the original version of his character in Lucas's early scripts was named "Cos Dashit" and many Star Wars Fan fiction writers have quite incorrectly adopted the name "Cos Palpatine" in their stories and web pages -- so much so that it has become fanon.