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Character Cove / In-depth Berserk Analysis (Part 1)
« on: September 08, 2016, 06:15:35 PM »
“So long as I have my sword to fight with, I’m sure to survive. Year after year I prove it to be true. Before joining the Falcons I always survived, no matter the odds, no matter how hopeless a losing battle [...] In truth, I don’t believe that’s any way to live one’s life. I’ve been fighting in battles for as long as I can remember. The mercenary leader who raised me taught me nothing except how to wield a sword. I’ve never had anything except my sword.

I don’t want to die.

For me that is the only reason I keep fighting. There is nothing to save myself for or give myself to. I fight because I know nothing else. Once, I was willing to do just that, to commit myself to fighting, and let anyone else find the reason for me.”

Guts, Season 1, Episode 14.

Berserk is the chief argument for considering Kentaro Miura one of the best mangakas of all time. Everything from its themes, its awe-inspiring art and its gripping characters is a master class in the art of storytelling. I have been a fan of Berserk since the anime came out back in the 90s and have considered it one of the best told tales of all time ever since. The purpose of this analysis is at once an attempt to explore its many rich characters and themes, and a tribute to a work of art that remains deeply compelling, rousing, heart-wrenching and relevant to the human condition despite being an on-going work since 1989.

The focal point of Miura’s epic tale is The Black Swordsman, Guts. A cursed ex-mercenary forever doomed to an endless battle against demonic monsters, he is one of the greatest examples of a Byronic hero. Complex and conflicted, as sympathetic as he is inspiring, Guts is the fulcrum on which virtually all the main themes and motifs of Berserk are balanced on. What struck me, while writing this analysis, was how I did not need to separately talk about Guts as a character because everything theme, every motif, every idea central to the story had to pass through him. In the end, dissecting Berserk as a whole becomes a deep character study of its main character.

Guts: At First Glance

One of Miura’s greatest accomplishments as a visual storyteller is how he makes Guts so nuanced and magnetic through design alone, and how we get a sense of the major themes and motifs of Berserk simply through Guts’ appearance alone.

Naturally, the immediate thing that grabs our attention is Guts’ enormous sword, the Dragon Slayer. Bigger than the man himself, the blade represents Guts’ titanic strength and skill in wielding it. Yet its size also speaks of an immense burden that Guts carries, which is a major theme in Berserk. The fact that the sword is too large for there to be a sheath adds a sense of exposure, of vulnerability as it is susceptible to rust, cracks, the elements and other harmful effects—an idea that is touched upon in Volume 17 when the blacksmith Godo compares Guts himself to a sword without a sheath, always at the risk of being broken.

The closed eye with his rugged-yet-boyish face exudes a sense of vulnerability, another theme in Berserk. The fact that he can see out of his non-dominant eye, so to speak, adds to this. The closed eye also conveys a sense of the un-seen, a secret or mystery that only he is aware of. Like the Norse God, Odin, it speaks of secret knowledge or power that is at once dangerous yet alluring. More importantly, like Spike Speigel’s prosthetic eye which he said could only see the past, we get a sense that Guts is stuck in a moment in time, a constant reminder of a trauma or injustice that he must relive every day but which also propels him onwards—obviously the Eclipse. His being blind in one eye also serves as a symbolic blindness: perhaps there is something that he failed to see, an unconscious flaw in his character or choices, which continues to cause him pain.

Another sense of mystery comes from his cape which more often than not he swaddles himself in. The cape serves as a triple metaphor: mystery as that which is concealed, vulnerability in the tattered fabric of his cape, and lastly as a shroud that serves as a reminder of the perils of his journey—and perhaps, his eventual fate in the manga.

Like the gigantic sword, Guts’ armor symbolizes immense dangers and the burdens he carries. Yet again it also suggests a sense of vulnerability, especially an emotional one. As Godo explains in Volume 17, hatred is the place where a man goes when he can’t look sorrow in the eye. It is a line that hits particularly close to home when it comes to Guts. Aside from Griffith, Guts is the most armored character in the cast. This is all the more glaring in the New Party where he is the only armor-clad warrior. To this end, the armor is an extension of Guts’ burdens as well as his growing vulnerability. This idea is bolstered by the fact that as the story progresses, Guts’ armor begins to cover more and more of him, with a basic armor at the start of the series where he’s operating with relatively little in terms of burden; then a heavier, more plated armor when he sets out to find and protect Casca; and lastly, the Berserker armor which covers him completely. Interesting enough, the thicker his armor gets, the more his health and general well-being plummets, culminating with his pronounced weight loss and heavily-scarred body underneath the Berserker armor.

Guts’ heavily scarred face and body evoke our sympathy and speak of his great sacrifices in battle. His prosthetic arm, though a potent equalizer in combat, is a handicap that evokes our sympathy. In literature amputations imply trauma, pain, loss and even betrayal or a great injustice. Think of Captain Ahab who viewed his lost leg as the single greatest injustice that he had to avenge at all costs. Guts and Ahab parallel each other in this regard: they charge headlong against insurmountable odds, illicit a sense of respect and fear, are an embodiment of human will whilst their antagonists embody nature, god and the implacable tides of Fate. Interestingly, like the whale, Griffith’s color scheme is also white and like the whale, Griffith (particularly as Femto) operates outside of the realm of morality and logic. Griffith in his mind is no more guilty for the Eclipse than Moby Dick was for chewing off Ahab’s leg.

Much has been said of Guts’ bestial appearance, particularly his pointed ears and pronounced canines. They instill a sense of rabid carnality. These are of course portents of the Beast of Darkness that resides in his psyche, constantly goading him into give in to his hatred and become what the title of the series implies: a berserker. But when paired with his jagged hair, his ears and canine make him look more weathered, like a stray animal in neglect. When it is revealed how Guts was raised by Gambino like some unwanted mutt and how Guts chased after him his whole life like a stray dog, we again must sympathize with Guts. The scar on the bridge of his nose also plays into this idea of him being some kind of a stray dog. As such, one has to acknowledge the numerous canid motif when it comes to Guts: the Beast of Darkness is designed as a black dog; his Berserker Armor’s helm is shaped like wolf’s head; Guts spends his life as a dog-of-war; he’s compared to or flat out called a dog by Casca, Gambino and others; his lone wolf persona; and as previously stated even his pointed ears and longer canines. Lastly Guts is extremely loyal and protective, even at the cost of his own well-being when coupled with his bestial appearance is akin to a guard dog.

As the Black Swordsman, his color scheme is also important. The color black has been employed to convey or explore a great number of themes in literature. The obvious connotation is “death” of which there is no shortage in Guts’ life. Danger, harm, grief, foreboding omens, evil—these are all ideas often symbolized through the color black. Guts after all has been marked with the Brand of Sacrifice, a curse that seals his fate as an offering to demons who hunger for his flesh and shadow him until the very last drop of his blood has been consumed. Like Kenshiro from Fist of the Northstar and his ominous presence as “where ever Hokuto arrives, chaos follows,” Guts too is a harbinger of death and destruction. Guts has warned people as early as Volume 1 not to associate with him if they want to live, going on to explain to Jill that if she follows him her life will be “nothing but a battlefield.” In that respect, his color scheme is highly appropriate.

That said, the color black is also associated with strength, mystery, elegance, and most importantly it is used to give an impression of depth. Out of this, I’ve already spoken about the sense of mystery the surrounds Guts. Strength, of course, is integral to Guts’ characterization. His strength of character and his resolve are arguably his most defining traits.

Elegance might not be the first word one uses to describe Guts. Yet there is a kind of raw beauty in the sheer brutality of his fighting style. As the great Rocky Marciano once said, “why waltz with a guy for 15 rounds when you can finish him off in one?” But Guts’ elegance isn’t limited to just his swordsmanship. There is a moment in Volume 17 where Farnese watches Guts catching his breath after an entire night of slaughtering demonic creatures. The scene is of particular gravity because Farnese loathes Guts as a heretic at this point, yet can’t help be moved at the sight of Guts panting like a wild animal under the morning sky. This moment encapsulates the kind of primal elegance that Guts possesses not unlike the tiger in William Blake’s famous poem, “The Tyger.” Guts’ elegance is in his animal vitality, his ferocity, the desperation of his struggle and the lack of reason or logic in his suffering. If anything, it is this carnal aesthetic that draws many of the female characters in the manga to him, from Farnese (who arguably began to fall in love with him at this point) to even the Godhand, Slan. Even Griffith can be said to be drawn to Guts because of their diametrically opposed natures: Griffith represents angelic beauty, restrain, intellect and logic while Guts’ embodies ruggedness, a feral nature, intuition and instincts.

Depth is of particular significance when it comes to Guts. It is his depth that truly make him such complex, multi-facetted and unforgettable a character. In a genre where so many protagonists are one-dimensional, angst-ridden bundles of cliché, Guts is a truly fleshed out character that deserves a PhD level-thesis to fully explore him. It is this very depth as a character that inspired me to dedicate this essay to the Black Swordsman and to Miura’s magnum opus in general.

Character Cove / Corkus Analysis: The Poor, Bitter Bastard
« on: August 29, 2016, 05:40:45 AM »
My take on one of my favorite characters from the series. Highly underappreciated.

“If wanting was enough to make something happen then we’d all be kings. Listen! A real man has a responsibility to face up to reality, recognize his limitations and to make compromises. But you’re just too damn weak to admit that you’ve already exceeded your station and you look to the horizon, praying for what would never be because you’re just a coward!” Corkus, Season 1, Episode 19

Corkus operated mainly as a foil to Guts. Both were defeated by Griffith before joining him, were fiercely loyal to the Falcons and were, on the surface at least, ornery men. Other than this, Corkus and Guts were worlds apart. He was the selfish, materialistic counterpart to Guts’ selfless man who aches for meaning. Corkus’ cowardice also acted as a foil to Guts’ immense will-power and courage.

More importantly, Corkus’ view of Griffith was absolute: Griffith is the untouchable, the epitome of a kind of god given talent and fortune. While all members of the Falcons shared this view, Corkus is second only to Casca when it comes to worshipping Griffith. For him, even considering being an equal to Griffith was ludicrous and so being enveloped in Griffith’s dream was a prestige enough. Like all members of the Falcons, he defined himself through his association with Griffith and was content in riding his coattails to the top.

Yet, the tragic fact is Corkus was once a leader of thieves who abandoned his own dreams to join the Falcons. By following Griffith, Corkus sought to achieve grandeur and wealth but at the cost of doing so on his own. That is, he was attaining his dreams vicariously through Griffith and settling for scraps instead of the lion’s share he would have earned had he the resolve to truly chase his dreams. That was his compromise: give up on his real dream for a sure-fire chance to have a portion of it.

As such, Corkus is the best example of the Bonfire of Dreams mentality that virtually members of the Band of Falcons had. They all lacked either the strength of character (Corkus) or ambition (Jude) or vision (Casca) or charisma (Pippin) or self-determination (pre-departure Guts) to achieve their own dreams and so latched on to someone who embodied all the missing qualities that they perceived to be holding them back. Corkus’ tragic flaw was that, much like Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, he was a leader who settled for being a follower. In contrast, Guts starts off as a follower who becomes, if not a leader, then at least his own man. He was willing to step off Griffith’s coattails and carve out his own path. This was the main point of contention between the two men as far as character arcs go.

This is best captured in the scene prior to Guts leaving the Falcons. Corkus lambasted Guts about impossible dreams and having the audacity to leave Griffith’s side. In particular he talks about realizing one’s limitations and compromising. When Guts asked if he ever even had a dream of his own, Corkus was visibly shaken. After all, it was a cruel reminder to a man who had settled for scraps instead of the lion’s share. His highly vitriolic goodbye speech to Guts was a repeat of his earlier point: Guts is not special like Griffith. Witnessing Griffith’s defeat only moments later must have made it all the more bitter because Guts proved that a) Griffith was very much flesh and blood, and b) maybe Corkus’ dreams were attainable after all had he not quit on them to join Griffith.

It is important to notice that Corkus’ attitude towards Guts following Griffith’s defeat and the fall of the Falcons is passive aggressive instead of overt hostility like before. The only time we see him interacting with Guts is when insists a little too much that Griffith’s fall was not because of him. It seems like a desperate attempt at denying reality and one wonders if he convinced anyone, least of all himself. For Corkus’ dreams to come tumbling down on account of a man he considered nothing special was a terribly bitter pill to swallow. As Casca so viciously laments to Guts, “you destroyed everything!”

One can argue that Corkus’ downward spiral into insanity during the Eclipse began on the night Guts defeated Griffith. After all, no one took the fall of the Falcons worse than Corkus. The image of Griffith as special was shattered and along with it Corkus’ remorse over his own failed dreams. He had spent the last few years of his life placing his ambition on the backburner on the premise that he could attain a measure of it through Griffith. But even the hope of even that ended once Griffith returned as an utterly broken man—a revelation the crushes Corkus more than any other member of the Falcons. While many view the Eclipse as the event that shattered Corkus’ sanity, in truth, it was simply the last straw for his mind.

Yet, one wonders how Corkus truly felt about Guts. Though he remained outwardly hostile to him, Corkus showed marked concern of his brother-in-arms on several occasions. During the latter’s nail-biting duel with Boscogne, Corkus was visibly worried when Guts’ sword broke. When Guts eventually does slay his foe, Corkus is the first person to express relief. Later in Volume 11, as Guts was getting absolutely brutalized by Wyald in battle, Corkus again is vocal about his concern for his brother-in-arms. One could even argue that his overly belligerent farewell to Guts was him masking his own feelings of abandonment at the loss of a comrade. Guts, too, clearly considers him a valuable member of the Falcons, with Corkus being one of the people he calls out for during the Eclipse. The fact that Corkus got to spout all his hateful gibberish without getting his jaw broken is also a testament to this fact.

Which brings me to my next point: why did Guts tolerate so much of the latter’s vitriol? I have already discussed how the rowdy soldier was akin to a drunken uncle to Guts, an unpleasant relative but a relative nonetheless. Yet, his caustic, hostile and often inebriated nature is also reminiscent of Gambino. Gambino too was frequently hostile to Guts, held conflicted feelings towards the boy, was often seen drinking or hung-over and also seemed to have dedicated his whole life to monetary gain. Both men were also driven insane with grief towards the end of their lives, laughing bitterly at the “joke” that their lives had become. But most importantly, Guts was held responsible for the ruination of both men: Gambino viewed him as the bad omen that destroyed everything he had wrought while Corkus (at least privately) blamed Guts for the Falcons’ fall from grace. In that regard, Guts patience with Corkus may very well be akin to his patience and forgiveness that he showered upon Gambino despite the man’s glaring flaws.

For what it’s worth, Farnese’s bumbling greedy brother, Magnifico, succeeds Corkus in the New Party, displaying a similar comedic sense of grandeur and prestige that the late mercenary tried so hard to cultivate.

P.S. let the storm begin...

Character Cove / Farnese Analysis: The Wild Card
« on: August 26, 2016, 05:22:31 PM »
Dear Berserk fans, I've been writing a 50-page analysis of Guts for the past few days. While writing it, I've been analyzing other characters as well (esp Casca and Griffith) but the more I read Berserk and analyze it the more I can't help feel how integral to the story Farnese really is. Below is an excerpt from my analysis of Farnese. Please share your thoughts and I'd appreciate any and all feedback :)

Farnese is the true wild card of the group and one of the most fascinating characters in Berserk. Pre-Albion Farnese was a foil to Guts in her religious zeal, her deference to God and her upper-class snobbery. Her sadism and pyromaniac tendency also seem to be a transmogrification of Guts, who whilst a violent man, is by no means a sadist. Both are abandoned, neglected children who keep indulge in one form of sublimation to keep their inner demons and insecurities in-check. Farnese gains a measure of acceptance by using the prosecution of pagans to satisfy her sadism and pyromaniac tendencies while Guts indulges his innate desire for violence through the more socially acceptable art of warfare. Her innate desire for violence and finding solace in it also mirrors Guts’ battle against the Beast of Darkness; both struggling mightily to hold onto what little is left of their humanity. A crucial difference is that without her faith, Farnese appears to have little purpose or drive in life, relying on the authority of God—a stark contract to Guts who carves through life on his own strength and conviction. That is, Farnese externalises her strength while Guts internalizes it, a dynamic best captured when in the heart of battle against a deluge of demonic spirits Farnese attempts to pray only for Guts to shout at her to use her arms for action instead of meaningless gestures. Seeing Guts stand alone against a sea of monsters is what inspires her to follow him, his self-reliance and courage inspiring her.

Post-Albion Farnese remained in a kind of non-man’s land for some time. While some criticize this aspect of her, it makes perfect sense thematically. She appears to be in no-man’s land because she is in no-man’s land. Having given up on God and turning her life around is completely new territory for Farnese who spent a lifetime torturing and burning things that she didn’t approve of. On top of that, she is dealing with mythic creatures that she didn’t even realize existed as much as a few months ago. While all other members of the New Party have set tasks they must excel at, post-Albion Farnese spends a long time with little direction besides being around Guts and being an impromptu nanny for Casca. She finds a measure of direction in being Casca’s protector but remains lost in the shuffle for the most part. Her attempts at learning magic grant her a purpose in the New Party but she’s still not an expert like Schierke. Her main character thrust so far is how much she is trying to turn her life around in a positive direction and her role in a love triangle between herself, Guts and Casca.

That said, however, a more sinister thrust seems to be brewing because of her feelings towards Guts and how, slowly, they seem to be ebbing away at the new persona she has created for herself.

Central to Berserk is the idea that our personal demons turn us into real monsters and that the proverbial road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. Griffith’s ambitions were inherently noble but succumbing to his inner demons turned it into a grotesque, all-consuming beast. Guts, similarly, wages a heroic battle against demonic entities besetting the world but as the carnage grows, he finds himself at the crossroads of his inner demons that seek endless bloodshed i.e. the Beast of Darkness. The Beherit is, if nothing else, symbolic of our inner demons and a moment of weakness where the floodgates are opened and the last shred of our humanity is ripped away. Farnese, like Guts and Griffith, is at war against her inner demons. While her love for Guts has clearly made her a nobler, compassionate person, she harbors a visible jealousy towards Casca. When further examined, we realize that on each occasion that her jealousy manifested, Farnese unravelled on a level deeper than the previous one. Although Farnese undertakes Casca’s protection with selfless courage, her feelings towards the regressed Amazon grow more and more ambivalent the closer they get towards finding a cure.

The first time we see Post-Albion Farnese visibly bothered is when Guts and Casca cradle the Moon Child together. It is the first time she has shown negative emotions since the events of the Conviction Arc and it’s no coincidence that it’s a moment where Guts, Casca and the Moon Child form the picture perfect image of a happy family. It’s only a panel but her reaction says it all being so palpable that Serpico noticed it.
The second time, her spirit inexplicably retreats back from an astral flight after she overhears Guts explain what Casca means to him. Again, for someone who has been keeping herself under-wraps for so long she ends up losing her grip in an instant. The scene is brief but this time she is self-aware, pondering aloud over her confusion and mixed feelings.

Things take a more ominous turn from that point onwards. The third time, is after a severely wounded Guts falls into the ocean trying to save Casca from drowning. With his scars reopening and aggravated by the salt, a distraught Farnese lashes out at Casca for not even understanding how much pain Guts endures for her. Crucially, she laments how despite Casca’s enmity, Guts remains devoted to her. This is the first time Farnese is candid about her jealousy, lashing out at Casca for her indifference to Guts plight. Arguably it’s Guts’ indifference to Farnese that is the source of her pain. For a brief moment, she relapses into Pre-Albion Farnese: volatile and conflicted. Spent and in tears, Farnese calls Casca a “cunning bitch,” a curious word choice given the latter’s childlike state.

Shades of the old Farnese seep through again when Guts is healing from his battle against the Sea God. Using her nascent magical powers, Farnese begins pouring her “warmth” into Guts to soothe the wounded warrior. It’s a genuinely tender moment that is ruined when Guts notices Casca ambling about. Farnese quickly leads Casca away on the pretense that his presence agitates her. Again, it’s a curious (and cruel) choice of words, given how much Guts agonizes over Casca’s acrimony towards him. In reminding Guts of this fact, Farnese appears to germinate the idea that Casca is no longer the woman Guts once loved and what they once shared is perhaps unsalvageable—an underhanded attempt to slowly wean him off her. Cruelty and guile, again, are shades of the old Farnese.

Lastly, when Master Archmage hints that the Elf King can indeed cure Casca, Farnese can only watch dejectedly as Guts smiles for the first time in several volumes. Again, her jealousy and ambivalence towards Casca comes to the forefront where the happiness of the man she loves takes a back seat to her own feelings. Selfishness is another facet of the old Farnese.

This brings me back to her calling Casca a “cunning bitch.” If we consider the hand Farnese has been dealt by Fate, “cunning bitch” is perhaps apt. For one, Casca unwittingly holds Guts in the palm of her hand where the warrior would lay down his life for her without a second thought, much to Farnese’s chagrin. Yet, Casca is also utterly dependent on her, earning her sympathy and pity. To make things worse, Casca’s protection was entrusted to Farnese by none other than Guts himself. It’s an emotional dead-end for Farnese: she hates Casca which makes her feel guilty, which makes her hate herself which in turn makes her hate Casca even more.

Why this is relevant is because Farnese’s jealousy of Casca mirrors Casca’s jealousy of Guts during the Golden Age. Farnese worships Guts in much the same way Casca worshipped Griffith. She too views him as an ideal, a man who saved her and gave her a new lease on life. Her life earned a purpose through the act of following him to his destination. Above all, both Casca and Farnese love(d) a man who didn’t reciprocate their feelings and was with another woman instead. This in turn made them bitter as the purpose of their life seemed to diminish right before their eyes. Casca was lucky enough to find Guts always there by her side in the confusion but Farnese is utterly alone.

There is more though.

We have to remember that Griffith and Casca’s roles reversed following his being crippled. Where once he had been quite literally her knight in shining armor, he now needed her to save him and look after him. Where once his hand could make protect her, he was now an invalid whom she had to look after. Where Casca worshipped him once, she now pitied him. Where she once would’ve died for him without a second thought, she now ached over whether to stay with him or leave with Guts—that she stayed out of pity didn’t help matters. Above all, for the first time ever, Griffith viewed her as a woman he could spend a (painfully ordinary) life with. Much like Casca, who found the purpose of her life diminishing before her very eyes, Griffith too needed someone by his side in the confusion. But he was alone. And the rest is bloody history.

Farnese is reminiscent of Griffith in numerous other ways. She is an extremely beautiful and charming but harbors a malicious, vindictive side. Her blonde hair, blue eyes, her rapier-like sword and ornate silver armor is also reminiscent of Griffith. Even her armor’s color scheme is the same as Griffith at times i.e. silver, white and purple. Coincidentally, the first time she crosses paths with Guts, she is also able to take him down with a single sword strike—although in her case it is sheer dumb luck (and a timely interference from Serpico). In fact, her sociopathic tendencies match Griffith by being prone to cruelty, manipulation, violence and selfishness. She even mirrors his penchant for self-harm, repeatedly flogging herself or asking Guts to cleave her with his sword, puns intended. Her first encounter with Serpico is very similar to Griffith’s first encounter with Guts, down to the line “you belong to me now.” She routinely tortured Serpico and even drank his blood much the same way Griffith “fed” on Guts and the Falcons. She and Serpico being siblings also mirrors Griffith and Guts relationship as that of brothers-in-arms and very close friends. That there have been hints of romantic love between Farnese and Serpico also serves as a parallel to the homoeroticism between Griffith and Guts.

With all the above in mind, it is highly likely that just as Griffith unravelled in the end, Guts-Casca-Farnese may be a retread of the Griffith-Guts-Casca dynamic. Farnese’s good intentions may very well pave the way to hell and what started out as benign emotions end up becoming a storm of demons. One need only remember how in Chapter 185 when Farnese was little she burnt a bird alive. Why? As she says herself, “this bird had not grown to love me.” If we compare her words to those of Griffith’s prior to his second fight with Guts i.e. “if he will not be mine then his life is forfeit” then their already numerous parallels become all the more foreboding.

Farnese’s parallels to Casca are also fascinating since she too was once a woman at the helm of soldiers. In fact both are women warriors from opposite ends of the social (and racial) strata. While Farnese was a noblewoman who was essentially handed the command over a squadron of rich boy soldiers, Casca was an Arab/African/Indian peasant girl who joined a very blue-color band of mercenaries and climbed her way up the ranks based on her own merit. They also seem jettisoned once taken away from their position of authority with Casca reduced to an infantile mental state and Farnese lacking any particular goal in sight besides Guts.

There most important parallel, however, is when it comes to the idea of “faith”. Like Casca, Farnese harbors an unflinching, unquestioning loyalty to God, taking no prisoners in her faith and willing to go to any and all lengths for said idea. In the end, the ideas they worshipped so devoutly turn out to be monstrous, damning them to a life path that is as precarious as it is uncertain i.e. Farnese in her new role with the New Party and Casca in her ruined mental state.


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