SUPPOSING that Griffith did nothing wrong — what then?
Is not every philosophical query subject to intense debate and perspective, as opposed to the dogmatic ideologies of “Thou shalt” formed by the traditions of past “truth” seekers? Reinforced, of course, by the power structures of the political and social elite, whom wish to subjugate the free exercise of thought via strict punishment and/or ostracization, forcing the majority to acquiesce to a slave morality. But these “slaves” — sheep, if you will — are passive, meek creatures whom simply wish to get by, rather than transcend their fears to transform themselves into a creature of higher worth. A “worth” that is worth remembering. Only when one embraces an uncomfortable disposition among the masses, does he become capable of owning himself. A reward that is beyond monetary value. A reward that must be earned through a rigorous process of self-affirmation, courage, and perseverance. But to achieve — nay, master — such things, one must oblige themselves to a process of metamorphosis, in which they constantly push their boundaries in the pursuit of their own personal meaning.
Enter: The Spirit of a Camel.
Guts is a man of poor circumstance. The lack of a biological mother and father in his life, fuels him to seek attention from an abrasive mercenary known as Gambino. A man who displays no concern for the welfare of the young lad, and even exploits him as a form of retribution for the loss of his wife, Shizu. Guts, nevertheless, clings to the sordid Gambino as surrogate father, filling a void that he deems must be filled; regardless of the character of the individual who occupies that pivotal role. Despite this inequitable partnership, Guts ameliorates his sword technique (partly due to Gambino’s influence) and overall strength to impress the detached master, and, hopefully, receive his praise. Yet Gambino displays no pleasure in Guts’ accomplishments — in fact, he loathes him. And as the jealous rage proliferates inside of him, Gambino takes drastic measures to eliminate the young “apprentice.”
Guts, fortunately, dodges the sword guided by malice, but ends up alone and without a clear path forward. By demanding the maximum out of himself, however, Guts jumps through various hoops to test his abilities and earn capital to sustain himself. But being a beast of burden has its limitations, namely: being trapped in a metaphorical penitentiary of societal norms/rules of which he does not question, let alone press upon. This subservient mindset allows a capable “master” to maneuver him as he pleases, without fear of negative repercussions.
The Eminent Lion (Hawk) Emerges.
Via winning his services in combat, Griffith (Lion/Hawk) attains another load bearer (a particularly strong Camel) to deploy as he see’s fit — as if he were playing a game of chess. While resistant at first, Guts learns to appreciate the battle strategies and wisdom of the young Lion. His support is not as ardent as the other members of the Band of the Hawk; however, Guts admires Griffith’s passionate determination in realizing his ultimate goal. A goal that Griffith dares to dream, unlike any other. Because he values the freedom to sculpt his own destiny with his own hands, rather than being moved via invisible strings by the will of the “puppeteer” (i.e. the Monarchy). While others place faith in him, Griffith pursues — relentlessly! — his goals. An eternal yearning that necessitates a myriad of personal sacrifices, for the end justifies the means. Perhaps Griffith wanders too far from decency to be considered “worth it” — but would any venture be “worth it” if one feared the associated dangers or the scrutiny of more “rationale” people?
Dreams involve risks. And “Thou shalt” NOT take unnecessary risks, says the Dragons (the various generals), as they advise the king to forgo the capture of Doldrey.
“I will” defeat the Purple Rhino Knights. “I will” capture Doldrey despite the 1:6 odds. “I will” ascend to new heights. And, “I will” create my own reality.
After the decisive battle, Griffith and his comrades receive all the adulation one could hope for. The war was over. The Band of the Hawk were heroes. And Griffith was one step closer to realizing his dream.—Yet, despite all this, Guts’ mind was in a state of tumult. With Griffith’s philosophical musings regarding friendship still ringing in his head, Guts felt unsatisfied with his “tragic” disposition. The weight of Griffith’s dream weighed on him long enough, to the point of feeling imprisoned by it. As such, the newly born lion (Guts) seeks liberation by rejecting the genteel life of the autocracy that Griffith created for him through subtle manipulation, in exchange for a self-defined existence. For a life with boundaries, forced expectations, and strict social norms is no indication of a “good” life, but an echo of what others purport as ideal. A safe life is thusly abandoned. But what else is there? A Dionysian affirmation of life, but of course! For a placid existence in avoidance of the “horrors of night” is no life at all.
Having caught wind of his intentions, Griffith aims to terminate Guts’ new journey by reinforcing his power (NOT strength) over him. The resulting confrontation is more significant than a competition of sword-play. It is the realization that Griffith is no longer standing on a “staircase” above Guts, but, rather, they are on EQUAL footing. While Guts took the next step in his evolution, Griffith has stagnated. What made the young prodigy special, was achieved by another. Truly Devastating. Grief-stricken, Griffith accelerates his plans to a point of no return. In opposition to his Apollonian demeanor, Griffith rolls the dice for a chance at ultimate glory. But, alas, it does not come to pass. As he descends into the abyss of the Midland “Hell” (a necessary precursor for events to come).
The dream is extinguished. Even when Griffith returns to the Band of the Hawk, it’s quite clear that a different life is in order. In fact, after hearing a conversation by Guts and Casca — one in which Casca pities Griffith, and implores Guts to fulfill his own dream — Griffith trembles in ways he has never trembled before. He is afraid. But the will of the lion gleams brightly inside of him. Reminding him that the dream is not finished. And before Griffith’s vision fades, the last stage of the metamorphosis reveals itself: a child. A carefree, self-propelling creature that is in a constant state of play and perpetual creation.
The acceptance of the last form, however, requires an acknowledgment of his past sins. If Griffith succumbs to the remorse of his past ill-deeds, then he will become paralyzed with sorrow, and unable to construct the crimson bridge to the kingdom. But the goal is within reach. And all it takes is a sacred “YES.”
“I submit.” — Griffith
The Übermensch is born and the eclipse is commenced. Comrade after comrade fall to the hideous barrage of monsters. Limbs are torn. Skin is slashed. Organs are eaten. And all hell is unleashed upon the remnants of the Band of the Hawk. Guts, despite the impossible odds, harnesses all his rage to vanquish the gruesome foes. One by one, they fall. Yet in the process, his humanity becomes less apparent. Unfortunately, this leads to a climatic event in which he goes completely berserk, to the point that his future self is much less a human, and more of a monster.
“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
So, the question remains: did Griffith do anything wrong? Insofar that any human is capable of wrong-doing, the question requires necessary context. Griffith did not conscript his brothers-in-arms, they volunteered on their own accord (except for Guts, who lost fair and square). Griffith sacrificed his comrades for his dream, but were they oblivious to the dangers warfare? Regardless of the way they perished, death is always around the corner in a campaign of bloodshed, anyone that deludes themselves into thinking otherwise is neglecting reality. And did you see a ring on Casca’s finger?
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” — Friedrich Nietzsche