the fact that i see so many people saying that Kylo Ren fell to the dark side “for funsies”, that he he fell for absolutely no reason, absolutely pisses me off and strikes me as incredibly ignorant, especially when one takes into consideration how many people defend Anakin Skywalker on the basis of him being manipulated and his past as a slave whilst simultaneously dismissing Kylo Ren as falling “because he felt like it”, as if Kylo Ren wasn’t manipulated from the time he was a very small child, as if these two characters weren’t created to contrast each other in a very devastating way.
the thing is that what makes Anakin tragic was that this was a man with a million chances given to him; a million choices laid out before him. Anakin Skywalker was a man who was manipulated, yes, who had a tragic past, but he was an adult who could have done anything, could have become anything. Anakin Skywalker had the love and the support of the people around him (Padme, Obi-Wan, etc) and he still made the wrong choice when he could have done literally anything else (even if he himself felt that it was the only way out). that’s the tragedy.
but Kylo Ren? he never had a chance. Kylo Ren did not voluntarily go over to the dark side. this is a man who has never known choice. in the movie we hear from Leia herself that ever since Kylo Ren/Ben was young she (and presumably Luke) had been aware of Snoke, aware of him manipulating Ben from the shadows from an age possibly as young as five years old. maybe younger. he did not fall to the dark side for “shits and giggles.” this is a child who, from a young age, had to contend with being one of the most powerful Force users in living memory, who likely would have been all too aware that his parents were afraid of him (Force-users can sense emotions) as soon as he started displaying his powers. that his father had written him off as having “too much Vader in him”.
i’m not saying his family didn’t love him, it’s obvious that they do,
but they still failed him. Leia and Han had to work on rebuilding the
government systems (the side-effects of war don’t just vanish when the
snake’s head is lopped off). Luke had a whole academy of children to
train. they still share the blame for what happened. they were aware of the threat (hell, it’s why Leia and Han sent Ben to be trained by Luke). they were adults. he was a child. but they were afraid, and as a result Ben likely had no real support network, only the voice that had been whispering to him ever since he could remember. the voice all the adults in his life were aware of but failed to do anything about. it’s highly likely this man, who has had almost thirty years of brutal indoctrination rammed into his skull from the time he was a young boy, non-stop, has no real conception of free-will, self-worth, or agency. on the whole, he does not know how to make his own decisions, and the ones he does make are made purely on the basis of pleasing someone else–that someone being Snoke, his manipulator. even when he disagrees with something (Kylo Ren was canonically against the use of Starkiller Base, as far as i know) he is incapable of saying no. he knows he’ll be punished. as far as we can infer (and given what we do know from Leia and how young Jedi generally begin their training) he was never given the opportunity to form a personality outside of Snoke and what Snoke wanted. he does not know what choice is; he does not know the luxury of it. this boy, this man, literally had no chance from the moment Snoke sunk his claws into Ben’s mind as a child. so no, he didn’t fall “just ‘cause”; he didn’t fall “for shits and giggles”.
the tragedy of Kylo Ren isn’t that he made the wrong choice. it’s that he was never given a choice to begin with.