First of all some quotations (They say quite a lot about my attitude towards the whole subject) ^^
"Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him."
~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky ~
Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins."
~ Native American Proverb ~
"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."
~ Martin Luther King Jr. ~
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
~ Jesus ~
"When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings.
Then you will forget your anger."
~ Epictetus ~
"Fear is the original sin. Almost all of the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that someone is afraid of something."
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery - The Blue Castle ~
"For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst? Verily, when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters."
~ Khalil Gibran - The Prophet ~
"No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks"
"Monster: "I am malicious because I am miserable. ... If any being felt emotions of benevolence towards me, I should return them a hundred and a hundred fold.""
~ Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley ~
"The people who are hardest to love are usually the ones who need it the most."
~ ? ~
"What soul is truly made of ice, when all are created from fire? We are all born with hearts. Some are bigger than others, some have grown small and trampled upon, some are buried deep under emotions long dead and gone, but the heart is there, always."
~ "Down like Rain" Silmarillion Fanfic ~
"We all have to wear masks sometimes. There are faces we can't let them see." "Let who see?" "That's the riddle, isn't it? Who is the only person who can never see behind a mask?" "The person who can't see behind a mask is the person wearing it." "That's right, and that means, no matter what you may see behind a mask, you must never assume that the person wearing it will see the same. Be mindful. Take nothing for granted. But don't stop looking. Don't ever stop looking."
~ "Father's Heart" - Star Wars Fanfic ~
"I find " pure evil" to be "mostly silly" [
.] I want to experience real villains, not transparent ones. I want villains who are driven by the pain that produced them. Villains who behave in a logical and consistent fashion. I want villains who have a goal beyond the evil, potentially even an honourable and noble goal, but who find themselves doing terrible things to achieve it. [
.] that allows me to identify with a tragically flawed villain, one whom I pity, care about, or even cry for. A villain who breaks my heart with every self destructive step."
~ Article - "The Villain In Me" by Corvus ~
"The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men. It is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds and there are bad deeds. Men are just men--it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good or evil. The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone - the noblest of man alive or the most wicked - has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life within the lotus-folds of its passion. The truth is that we are all, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving toward God."
~ Gregory Roberts ~
"The First thing to understand about the universe is that no condition is "good" or "bad." It just is. So stop making value judgments. The second thing to know is that all conditions are temporary. Nothing stays the same, nothing remains static. Which way a thing changes depends on you."
"I do not love "good" more than I love "bad." Hitler went to heaven. When you understand this, you will understand God."
~ Neale Donald Walsh ~
"Evil is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it."
~ Shakti Gawain ~
"We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection."
~ Dalai Lama ~
"No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road. Turn back!"
~ Turkish Proverb ~
"Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation."
~ Henry Ward Beecher ~
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."
~ Jimi Hendrix ~
.And he taught me that you can change how you live your life." (about Naruto)
"Loneliness is the world's worst kind of pain."
~ Gaara ~
"People live their lives bound by what they accept as correct and true. That's how they define 'reality'. But what does it mean to be 'correct' or 'true'? Merely vague concepts... their 'reality' may be a mirage. Can we consider them to simply be living in their own world, shaped by their beliefs?"
~ Itachi ~
Part I: Madara
Please note that the things I'm going to talk about here are not meant to trivialize or excuse the crimes he committed, they are still dreadful. But it is meant to sensibilize others for the fact that the person we are dealing with is a human being and not a monster after all. And that that human being had a terribly painful life that contributed a lot to his current personality and the choices he made.
So, enough said, here we go:
As you might have noticed, I have a deep fascination for villains - antagonists, that is. (I like that word better) However my take on these characters is quite different from the way most people see them.
In the majority of cases villains are portrayed and seen as utterly dark and evil entities that usually show no or little development in their character, being stuck in their twisted ways forever. To my mind this polarized view of the world and mankind does the true nature of humanity scarcely any justice, which is much, much more complex.
I think, characters in fiction are supposed to serve as some sort of mirror image of the real world and "real" human beings and are thus to be perceived and treated as such.
Another thing is that fiction acts as a broker of ethical values and serves some sort of didactic purpose. In regard to this it is quite obvious how unfavourable a story based on such oversimplified "black and white good and evil" portrayals can be.
What message does this convey? What is the lesson the recipient learns from that?
Basically to judge without even looking at the circumstances of that supposedly "evil" person or - even worse - to condemn him/her, since most stories end with the hero's triumph over and the eagerly anticipated final destruction of the "evil" opponent (who was, of course, evil till his end)
Great! No wonder lots of people nowadays behave in such an obnoxious and ignorant fashion if that's one of the main sources they can learn from for their life, or model themselves after
And what about the possibilities of redemption, of compassion, or even that the villain is granted a happier future, turning back to the light!?
Of course this would demand a great shift in most people's point of view, sometimes even a whole reconsideration of one's idea of man, leaving behind old, obsolete beliefs.
A great start would be to contemplate about what human nature actually is and what makes a person turn to the perilous path of darkness and hate, hurting their fellow men.
Personally, I believe that the true nature of humanity, or all creatures, is one of pure goodness and innocence, building the foundation of what we really are, although the experiences people go through during their lives, especially the painful ones, lead us to forget that, sometimes even to the point that it's barely recognizable, hardly shining through the layers manifold we surrounded us with to prevent us from being hurt again, or to feel that hurt anymore, slowly forgetting ourselves.
No truly happy person does ever feel the urge to harm someone, so we can assume that the most "vicious"/"evil" person is consequently the most unhappy one.
Another point of criticism is that those people or characters are commonly described as "evil incarnate", which is, based on what I explained beforehand, utter nonsense and just another example of that biased view of the world.
"Evil" itself is abstract, as well is "good". A deed can be considered as such, but never a person, since we all have shares of both in us think of the Yin and Yang symbol of ancient Chinese lore and that also means that a villain, although the majority of his deeds is of destructive nature will never be "evil" as a whole being. Think about it, it really makes a difference!
Furthermore there is always the possibility to change one's life, no matter how deep one is into the darkness. A "too late" doesn't exist!
So why not forget about all this stupid labelling that just constrains the recipient's ability to develop compassion it's useless anyways.
So much about the foreword - now let's move on to the actual subject of this (already quite long) post.
To understand Madara's personality I think it's important to take a close look at his past and the experiences that influenced and gave distinction to his character, that build the basis for his current behavioural pattern and made him become the man he is nowadays.
The most prominent experience that appears as a recurrent theme throughout his whole life is the one of rejection. Actually it's something that dates even further back than his birth, since one special event laid the foundation for many a sad fate, including his, and became some sort of karmic drama concerning the Uchiha clan.
What I'm talking about is the old tale of the clan's ancestor, the "elder brother", who was passed over by his father, the Rikudou Sage, in favour of his younger sibling (they remind me somehow a lot of the biblical figures of Cain and Abel). It's the tragedy of a rejected child that shaped Madara's destiny.
But also his own life had started in anything but harmony. Born at a time of constant war, he experienced the harshness of life already at the tender age of his early childhood.
I consider it very likely that his father was a stern and bitter man, who rarely showed any emotion and affection, as it is often the case when it comes to war veterans, and treated his children in a very cold manner, rewarding them only for their achievements, success and displays of power, rather than loving them for their mere existence. In addition to that he probably showed little tolerance for any weakness on their part.
Now you might ask: "And what about his mother?" Well, I suppose that she died early, maybe of illness, since proper medical treatment was hardly existent and accessible in these days, especially in a war-torn country.
Is there a greater pain for a child than being rejected by a person that gave him life bereft of the warmth it so terribly needs!?
Apparently this was a trauma he never really recovered from and that gave the initial spark for his obsession of being recognized. He unconsciously remained in this state of mind perpetually, still a heartbroken child yearning for acknowledgement or, basically, for love.
I don't know if you've heard of it, but once there was an experiment where scientists wanted to study the reaction of infants who were denied human warmth and affection. Most of these poor creatures died, showing in a drastic fashion the indispensability of that basic human need.
As you might imagine, growing up under these circumstances was hardly bearable, not taken into account the terrible impact the experience of war had on him.
"War is hell!" is what he himself said and what describes it quite accurately.
It's one of the most extreme conditions people can find themselves in, witnessing innumerous cruelties, having to bear the losses of the ones close to them and this again and again and again, without cease. War is the epitome of Darwin's Law, it's the pure struggle for life, where only the ones survive that have the most skills and power. ("It was a time when strength meant everything!") It's a situation where you have no choice, but only one option: If you want to survive, you have to sacrifice your humanity and become a beast yourself, a murderous weapon, and to prevent you from becoming insane, you have to lock away your emotions completely, developing a heart of steel.
It might not be a situation that lasts forever and physical wounds may heal, but the invisible injuries of those who have undergone such an experience are deep, poisonous and everlasting, scarring them forever.
I wonder how old Madara was when he was first sent to the battlefield, as in times of war it was (and unfortunately still is) a common thing to make use of children once they are deemed useful, and he was known very early for his exceptional power. If these occurrences are already horrendous for even long-serving warriors, only try to imagine what it means for a young boy, barely a man, to witness this hell and not only once, but for the most part of his life. ("Back then my life was nothing but one long battle!")
Does it surprise then that he developed such a nihilistic attitude, loosing his faith in good, or that he became so eager for more power, especially since it was the only thing that determined his worth, the only thing he was recognized for!?
Complicated was also the relationship with his brother Izuna, who was, on the one hand his only person to relate to and with whom he shared a bond of deep affection, but on the other hand his rival in the quest for power and acknowledgement. Taken that into account, Madara's feelings towards his brother possibly were of quite divided and ambiguous nature, although I'm certain his love for him was stronger than his fear.
Not till the time his sight started to deteriorate and result in blindness, his mental stability finally began to derail. I mean, he was in prospects of loosing everything he thought he was worth for, including everything he hoped for, namely the key to acknowledgement. Regardless if his brother consented to it or not, the act of taking Izuna's eyes was one of pure despair and I suppose that in the very moment he possibly wasn't even fully aware of the consequences, only eager to ease his pain.
Don't assume that people wouldn't hurt a loved one, when their greater values are endangered, but it's not because they intend and wish for it. ("What man would willingly hurt his own little brother?")
Itachi, for example, also sacrificed almost every person dear to him, including his honour, for his values and we surely can't say that he didn't love them, he simply saw no other way.
Madara must have had deep regrets for having done this to his brother, although he apparently tried to sanctify it before himself maybe to lessen the burden. ("Forgive me!")
There was some strange behaviour of his, when he was referring to this special incident with Izuna, where he tightly grasped his sleeve for an instant. Considering that he normally is a man with remarkable self-control makes this little gesture really exceptional, indicating that he was under a great deal of emotional stress at that moment, and I am inclined to believe that it was because of regret, as aforementioned.
BTW, in order to get the Sharingan, one has to FEEL the loss of the important person, meaning that he can hardly be an indifferent and heartless man.
During his time as their leader, the Uchiha clan served as some kind of projection screen for his values and desires. Their acknowledgement sort of became his own and their well-being his greatest concern. I really think he was genuine when he said he was worried about them and their future and was really trying to protect them. He strongly felt his duty as their leader and gave all he got. He wanted to do the best for them after all at least from his perspective.
Of course there still was his desire for more power, but that was certainly not his only motive. I think it was both. One possibility doesn't exclude the other, does it!?
How hurt he must have been when they turned their backs on him, accused him of having bad intentions and finally betrayed him by supporting Hashirama who became Hokage instead of him. Rejected again and not only once but twice by entire Konoha who didn't vote him but also his own people, which was even worse. Again someone is left empty-handed and another takes it all, once the two brothers and now their descendants. Almost the same situation like centuries before
. and history repeats itself.
Now that he's lost everything that has ever meant something to him his brother, his clan and a great share of his power and being all alone, bitterness and despair must have finally gotten the better of him and life must have been hell for him these days, knowing he's hit rock bottom. It was the experience of this pain that lead him to that "faustian" pact with revenge and darkness, seemingly unaware that this would bear even more misery and become a vicious circle leading him even deeper and deeper into the dark. Chained and blinded by it he is unable to see the light anymore, abandoning hope and the belief in a better future entirely. ("There is no hope. Hope is nothing more than resignation
. That is what is not real.") It was more than a mere human can bear, so who can blame him for his choices
In regard to this we can see his "Moon's Eye plan" and what he means to achieve from a completely new perspective.
At first there is the seemingly more obvious part: A bitter man, whose experiences led him to loose all hope (as I already said before) and develop a somewhat cynic and dark outlook on life and the future and who therefore decided to take matters into his own hands, apparently not believing it to be possible without his intervention. But what does he want? And what is his motivation? Lust for power!? The world at his oyster!?
At first it might look like this, but if we dare to see beneath the surface we come to realize that the mere desire for power or world domination has less relevance than it actually looks like on first glance. In truth it is the desperate try of a man to finally establish peace, since that is what he truly aims and wishes for. ("A world without ill will and strife.")
After a long life of constant fighting and war his heart yearns for putting an end to all that suffering and the need is so strong that he even would use war itself as a means to get to that desired end, but only because he sees no other way than this.
And yet, there still are another two aspects of his longing for peace, that root even deeper than the mere deliverance from pain.
The answer to the first one can be found in the past again, but in the far past of his ancestry.
By achieving peace his way, he would have proven the Rikudo Sage's decision to be wrong and coevally have proven himself (and all of his kind) to be worthy in the Sage's eyes.
Worthy of being recognized and appreciated since it was him who has fulfilled the greatest dream of his forefather. And again we can see the little heartbroken boy who spares no pains and who would do anything for the slightest bit of his father's love. This and nothing else!
The second one leads us to the prime cause of his being and that is like it's the case with every creature his innocent, angelic real self. Although hidden away deep inside of him, buried beneath all that darkness, it never ceased to exist, simply waiting for its time to rise anew - for even in the darkest of nights lies the promise of another morning.
BTW, just compare Madara's "Moon's Eye" plan to Pein's vision. You might notice that when it comes to actually carrying it out in reality the first is considerably less cruel.
It's like "living under an illusion, led and controlled by someone" vs. "fear induced peace, brought about by mass-destruction, genocide and bloodshed".
Sure, Madara also became guilty of these crimes, but they're supposed to end once he has accomplished his goal whereas this won't be the case concerning Pein's plan, where this scenario will always repeat itself open-end. Just as a little food for thought
And now? Where will all this lead to? Apparently the situation seems to be a somewhat tricky and gridlocked one. Right now we have two warring parties, both persisting in one's viewpoint, entangled in a never-ending exchange of blows, a constant sequence of violation and revenge - like a ping-pong game. If everything stays like that then both of them have trod the road to ruin and it's safe to say that one of them will have to perish and since we are dealing with a fictive story we don't even need to guess who that will be.
But is this really what this story is about? A shining hero simply killing his "oh so evil" opponent off and everything is fine? Really!? And yet - at bottom it's still the same homicide! There is nothing great and heroic about that at all. It's simply trying to defeat the opponent with exactly the same methods - in the end it changes nothing and no true peace will come from that. Such an ending is direfully unsatisfying and disappointing!
But how to change this and is a different outcome even possible?
In order to do that the chain of hatred has to be broken and this can't happen by inflicting even more pain to the person caught in it. You can't fight fire with even more fire!
If Kishimoto is truly serious about love being the way of the Senju clan and therefore the "hero", then the aforementioned scenario should hardly ever be an option.
True love doesn't fight and pay things back in the same way, it doesn't kill deliberately or want its opponent to be dead, nor does it grudge, judge or condemn. Its vision goes deeper than the average eye, penetrates all walls, masks and illusions and sees that person for what he truly is. Its compassion and forgiveness know no boundaries.
To really solve this problem they should get to the root of it. They would have to find a way to "undo" the Sage's mistake, which was the ultimate cause of all pain and hostility, after all.
And this can only be achieved with a solution that includes BOTH parties, recognizing everyone and not excluding one of them. In so doing both are indicated as equals and both are awarded their duly worth. Maybe the way to peace is found in the middle a symbiosis of love AND might.
Anyways, to make this even possible it still calls for another condition.
People like Madara, that are trapped so deep in the darkness that they're blind for any sparkle of light are in need of something/someone to free them from this state of being, since it is quite unlikely for them to do so alone. It requires some crucial experience that is strong and intense enough to be noticed by him, something that would be able to reach his heart - an "eye-opener", one could say.
Only something that is completely different from all his other experiences would be able to do that. Since he has lost all hope, he needs something to hope for. Since he has lost all belief in a better future, he needs something that gives him the prospects of a better future that he can believe in. Since he has never known what it means and feels to be truly loved, he needs the experience to love and be loved in return, someone who loves him, not for the sake of his power, but solely for himself, regardless of his deeds. (a romance would be quite fitting for that, I think, especially since this kind of feeling/love is felt and experienced very strongly and intense)
Only that would be able to mend his wounds and give him a reason to undergo a radical change. That and something he didn't know before either. Forgiveness!
Actually it's some sort of confirmation by the others that his redemption is deemed possible, that they believe he can change and grant him that chance for a new beginning.
And redemption IS possible! I mean, look at Gaara. It was also him who stated that Naruto told him that it is possible to change one's life. So why not Madara, too!?
A factor that is very important concerning these stories and characters is:
Do we, the readers concede it to him, being redeemed, that is!?
I think on the majority it's not the case unfortunately. Thinking about the reason behind the "evil" confuses most persons and it makes them feel uneasy because if the scapegoat, whom they can blame for everything, is gone, they finally have to face their own shadow and this frightens them to no end
. so why not better looking for and picking on others' flaws - it boosts the own self-esteem, doesn't it!? Therefore in most cases people end up accepting/liking the concept of a character being the representation of ultimate evil without any redeeming qualities. By embracing this way of thinking they also adopt the idea of an eternal damnation without any hope; grace given only in a strictly limited way, denied to those who obviously need it most - and that is truly sad! It's very easy to support such a thing when it affects someone else but oneself, but they fail to realize that we all do wrong sometimes and that they might need another person's forgiveness someday as well.
And not to mention the ones who always cry around how much they love the character, but who only think about his good looks and" oh so evil personality", "cuz evul is so super-duper kickass kewl, you know". Actually they don't want him to change and actually they can't really love him as much as they claim, since if you truly love someone you want the best for that person, you want him to be happy! And that surely won't be if he's stuck in his old ways forever, as these ways were painful and destructive to him!
So the ideal ending would be:
Madara alive, redeemed and finally happy, since I think it's what he deserves after such a miserable life!
Otherwise the story would completely have missed its purpose at least to my mind. Period!
Part II: Orochimaru
Most people indeed don't understand or don't even want to understand, since it is so easy to see everything in black and white instead of different shades of grey, or better: shares of both in everybody.
It bugs me a lot to read things like Orochimaru having some sort of native maliciousness (among lots of definitely not very flattering things others like to credit him with)
. what a crap!!!! >_<°
If one takes a closer look we can clearly tell there is a reason behind all that.
He had a lot to endure after all with his parents gone at such an early age which was, I think, the main catalyst for his behaviour, actions and everything that happened afterwards. A child devoid of motherly love and a father to look up to
. that's just horrible.
Facing great emotional pain, some search the contact of their fellow men to speak about it and getting rid of it this way; others like Orochimaru rather tend to back out and become close-mouthed. By and by they become desperate and bitter and finally lock their heart away in order to prevent it from being hurt and broken again.
It's their miserable state that carves their road, that makes them capable of committing such cruelties, that doesn't allow them to see and listen to their heart anymore.
Now to their (seemingly) lacking redeemability:
Can such a person truly be saved, can he repent, even turn into a "better" person? Can he really change?
The answer is (in semi-quotation of Mr. President Obama =3): Yes, he can!!!!
Even the worst of us can return from the depth he had thrown himself into.
No heart - may it be locked away, unseen and forgotten - is lost!
It just needs some crucial experience to free itself!
Also important is the willingness of the others to forgive him, grant him another chance and believe in him!
There is a scene in Shippuuden 91 where Naruto is sitting with Jiraiya in some sort of hotel.
Jiraiya is reflecting about Naruto's determination and his steadfast feelings of friendship concerning Sasuke and then thinks back to the time when he considered Orochimaru a friend, but gave up on his feelings and changed his attitude towards him. It just seems like he's finally admitting his own failure when stating to Naruto: "It's said that thinking about someone means that they'll come back someday, after all."
Somehow I get the impression that there is a regretful undertone when he says that.
Then again there is this strange scene with Sarutobi, where he had a short vision of Orochimaru as a child before he died with a smile on his lips.
A fellow Deviant artist assumed that Sarutobi managed to see Orochimaru's true innocent self after all, which I consider highly possible as well at least that would also explain his hesitation in killing Orochimaru when his secret was discovered
. just interpretation. ^^
Furthermore there is something Orochimaru tells Sasuke in chapter 343, page 2 (Manga): "You'll never be able to kill Itachi if you can't even kill your own emotions."
.which suggests that this was what he himself had done, since most advices come from personal experience.
Orochi even has a moment where he fails to succeed in the subject of his own advice (just for a little instant, but highly impressive =3):
When he prepares to stab his former sensei with a kunai he pauses for a moment and you see tears in his eyes
. to put it bluntly: he's crying! Something no one would have thought of him. How confusing! And instead of stabbing Sarutobi, he pierces his own hand. WTF, why that!? Did he have a wavering moment now, did he!?
Of course most people would say: "Nay, it's Orochimaru, after all. He's supposed to be evil!" But that's due to everyone's personal take on things, ne!? ^__~
When he talks with Kabuto about the upcoming destruction of Konoha and the assassination of Sarutobi, he says that he's "not sure if it's going to be fun to kill that old geezer". Hmmm
And as a last note:
In episode 113 there is a quite interesting and, rather self-explanatory remark of his (just a little excerpt of what he said):
. No one other than me, who can understand the darkness in his heart
Obviously he is referring to his painful past and current emotional state, his own suffering, showing that he isn't as cold-blooded as it seems.
The flashback scenes shown in episode 114 stress this fact.
So enough now of my ramblings. I really hope I didn't bore you, since I always get carried away when it comes to that subject.
Anyway, thanks for reading! ^__^/