Author Topic: Is anyone in Berserk accountable for their actions?  (Read 1504 times)

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Offline denzio97

Is anyone in Berserk accountable for their actions?
« on: November 04, 2016, 07:44:27 PM »
In Episode 83, the Idea of Evil tells Griffith: "... by creating influencing the lower levels of human consciousness and merging blood with blood, I created the lineage that would give birth to the man you are. To pave the way for the times you would be born in, I manipulated history and created an appropriate context for you. All the encounters you have had so far were a part of the destiny that led you here." Many obscure things for us readers are made clearer as we learn of this mighty entity that has been secretly manipulating the major events in Berserk, but in a way that raises questions we had not yet thought of. How deep is the Idea's influence over the individual mind? What important decisions of the main characters were directly influenced by it? Take, for instance, Guts decision to leave the Hawks – I understood his reasons, but it did seem a bit out of proportion as a response to Griffith's speech about friendship and the value of a man's dream, particularly because Griffith's actions betrayed his own words: he clearly thought of Guts as a friend and perhaps even an equal, having endangered his own life for him a great many times, frequently sought his counsel, cared for his judgment etc. Guts should know this, but he still resolved to retire despite his friends' pleas and Griffith's desperate attempt to stop him. So yeah, I think the Idea of Evil influenced his decision, as it had probably influenced Griffith's feelings toward Guts and the former's self-destructive way of coping with loss. This influence matters because Guts blames himself for what happened to the Band of the Hawk, but if his actions were subconsciously ordained by a force he was unaware of, then he has no guilt whatsoever. Hell, even the Skull Knight, whose power and knowledge of causality are second only to the God Hand, was manipulated into merging the astral plane with the real world.

(Nice to meet you all, by the way. I have never posted here, but I always read the excellent stuff you guys write when I have the time. )

Offline Walter

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Re: Is anyone in Berserk accountable for their actions?
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2016, 09:13:51 PM »
It's not fatalism as passed down by an all-knowing entity. Causality works differently from what most people understand as "destiny." In Berserk, humans make choices, though the conditions for their decisions are influenced by causality. They are manipulated to be in a position that benefits the purposes they are meant to serve, but "god" doesn't force humans to follow the path it lays.
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Offline The Warrior-Prophet

Re: Is anyone in Berserk accountable for their actions?
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2016, 11:09:58 PM »
It's probably the most interesting contradiction that exists at the heart of Berserk. Determinism is usually predicated upon the lack of meaningfulness that exists in reality. Viewing everything in terms of mechanism, divorcing ontology from the mysticism of the past. Causality  would probably be more about mathematics and physics than the flashy prescriptions of a quorum of Demon-Kings.  Fatalism on the other hand requires meaningfulness, an intentionality that underwrites existence which is barreling towards some ordained telos.

The God Hand will talk about both 'causality' and 'destiny' in the same breath. I don't think they are quite mutually exclusive philosophical position, but the text doesn't really engage with that dissonance—in my opinion, others may have a different reading than myself of course.

Offline Sancho

Re: Is anyone in Berserk accountable for their actions?
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2016, 11:48:10 PM »
Flora said to Schierke in vol 24 that God bestow fate upon us, but it is humans who choose it, and this was confirmed since vol 3 when the Count didn't sacrifice his daughter. By doing so he proved that it's not impossible to oppose the IoE's will and humans actually have a final choice.

Griffith had his choice too, he had to choose between his dream of conquest and his humanity, and in my reading he didn't showed any sign of inner conflict in making that choice, not nearly as the Count at least. In my opinion Griffith was the same since the beginning, he would have sacrificed everyone instantly if that had made him obtain what he wanted. You could argue that after a year of endless tortures he could have been bitter toward Guts, the man that destroyed his dream (in Griffith's opinion), but that doesn't justify the sacrifice of every other member of the Band of the falcon, they all trusted him and showed endless loyalty toward him. He is accountable for what he has done, because it's clear he never really gave a shit about them, excluding Guts.

The IoE clearly planned all of this to heavily influece his decision, but it has been remarked at least 2 times in the series that the choice lies ultimately with who has to make the sacrifice.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2016, 08:42:10 PM by Sancho »

Offline Lithrael

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Re: Is anyone in Berserk accountable for their actions?
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2016, 04:01:56 PM »
Yeah, the machinations here are more like laying a trail of syrup that ants will follow it, than digging a canal that water will flow down it.  The ants don't HAVE to follow a trail of syrup, they just probably will.  The water has to obey physics. 

Now, that does assume there's some qualitative difference between the physics of water flowing and the physics of neurons, the question of free will etc, but for storytelling purposes the difference is there.  At the very least the ant's behaviour is by current technology only statistically predictable where the water's behaviour is completely predictable. 

Offline Skeleton

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Re: Is anyone in Berserk accountable for their actions?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2016, 03:25:05 AM »
So yeah, I think the Idea of Evil influenced his decision, as it had probably influenced Griffith's feelings toward Guts and the former's self-destructive way of coping with loss. This influence matters because Guts blames himself for what happened to the Band of the Hawk, but if his actions were subconsciously ordained by a force he was unaware of, then he has no guilt whatsoever. Hell, even the Skull Knight, whose power and knowledge of causality are second only to the God Hand, was manipulated into merging the astral plane with the real world.

The IoE doesn't work directly like that, but yes, Guts' reaction to Griffith's speech was designed/influenced by the Idea. He couldn't have done anything different than what he did.

As far as guilt goes, let me ask you this question: When you do something bad do you feel guilty? Technically speaking, choice is an illusion, but it still feels like crap when we make (what we see as) mistakes, eh?

Offline denzio97

Re: Is anyone in Berserk accountable for their actions?
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2016, 06:55:46 PM »
Griffith had his choice too, he had to choose between his dream of conquest and his humanity, and in my reading he didn't showed any sign of inner conflict in making that choice, not nearly as the Count at least. In my opinion Griffith was the same since the beginning, he would have sacrificed everyone instantly if that had made him obtain what he wanted. You could argue that after a year of endless tortures he could have been bitter toward Guts, the man that destroyed his dream (in Griffith's opinion), but that doesn't justify the sacrifice of every other member of the Band of the falcon, they all trusted him and showed endless loyalty toward him. He is accountable for what he has done, because it's clear he never really gave a shit about them, excluding Guts.

I literally just commented in a Youtube video: "I don't think Femto is Griffith's "new form" – it's his true self. Like Lycaon in the Greek myth, Griffith has always been Femto, and his "rebirth" was just the inside and the outside finally becoming one–his shreds of human conscience finally succumbing to the inhuman ambition that defined him." I think Griffith had a choice, but things are a bit different in his case: unlike anyone else, he had learned of the IoE's influence on himself and his tragic fate, and still did as it bid. He's much more accountable than Guts.