The thought did surface for myself when writing my earlier post, that having defeated Vader Luke is now free to challenge the Emperor so you wouldn’t have thought it a logical choice to instead through away his lightsaber in defiance. The fact he does do this though speaks subliminally that he knows he is no match for the Emperor and simply accepts his fate. It could be he had already felt how strong the Emperor was, as it’s already well established by then that force users can detect how strong another person is in the force.
Overall I think the main intention was simply for Luke to find himself again after defeating Vader when he realises their main goal is to turn him. He then decides he’s not going to kill or continue to fight his father and he’s not going to turn to the dark side. So defiantly he basically says the Emp has failed and to either kill him now or let him go as he’s not going to play their game full stop. It’s definitely an interesting scene to debate.
Really good point about the force sensing, that didn’t occur to me, but it makes sense.
He realizes that fighting isn’t the way. If it costs him his life, so be it, but he’s trusting the Force now and not himself. That’s the “leveling up”.
Like many elements of ROTJ, it’s murky and not perfect and not everyone will agree, but that’s my take:
He either tosses it because he’s just ‘moved past it’ so to speak, or he’s just being stupid. 😉
I think this is a great addition to the idea of sensing the emperor’s power that val mentioned. I think Luke definitely believes in the “will of the force” like how he jumps, potentially to his death, in cloud city.
Overall it seems to be the throwing of the saber is purely symbolic, because up until this point, if I recall correctly the only jedi specific tool Luke uses as a weapon is his saber. Its his way and the directors way of showing he will no longer partake in being egged on by the emperor, and refuses to fight, because he knows its the only way the emperor can take control of him.
Honestly though, I can’t imagine why Luke would ever have the mindset to permanently throw away his saber. Its symbolic of his journey in learning the force. Its the only thing that ties him to the jedi teachings outside of his own mind.
He may or may not have his saber in TLJ but as an old master I think light sabers are irrelevant. I wish they wouldn’t have been relied on so much in the PT especially yoda and palps. Really waters down their characters.
(just remembered luke used force choke on the guards at jabba’s, so that might kinda negate my point)