Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

English BA



First Advisor

Jameela Lares, Ph.D.

Advisor Department



Masks can be found throughout popular culture, and their roots trace back through history. Whether on the screen, the page of a comic book, the stage, or in the halls of a Comic-Con, masked faces are intriguing. Among the numerous masked faces that populate our imagination, few are as iconic and instantly recognizable as Darth Vader from Star Wars. Despite his popularity, most of the research devoted to masked characters has been interested in why heroes such as Batman wear masks. There is little research on why a tragic hero turned villain does so, since the connotation of masks seems to be inherently negative. Thus, many have concluded that Vader wears a mask because he is a villain. In this thesis, I challenge this one-sided notion of masks and explore the nuance of masks through the character of Darth Vader. In the first chapter, I analyze the meaning of the mask in terms of storytelling – what it means to Vader, to those who know who lies behind the mask, and to those who do not. In the second chapter, I look at how the work done to bring a masked character like Darth Vader to life influences our perception of masks and adds to their meaning.