Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Perspective, Tragedy, and the Value of Connection

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a monster of
a story. A sprawling narrative that is more akin to one huge story told in different timelines
rather than four separate ones, it’s a work that is fixated on themes of branching paths,
perspectivism in war, hierarchy, utilitarianism, class politics, the nature of history, contrasting
motivations, moving on from tragedy, fighting for love and more. It is filled to the brim
with these ideas, yet it doesn’t ever feel burdened by this sheer quantity because it
knows when and where to tackle these concepts. It knows when to be fantastical and when to
be political; it knows when to show the benefits and nuances of tearing apart a pathologically
flawed world order and starting anew, yet it also knows when to show the long-reaching,
and very sad ramifications of that. The story has excellent prioritization, a beautifully
fleshed out political landscape of a setting with rich lore, and an incredibly nuanced
cast with substantial backstories and motivations that fit the story’s intent to a T, providing
connections and emotional threads everywhere to tie it all together into something that’s
engaging on more than just an intellectual level. It’s these connections and perspectives
that give the big narrative moments such weight; you can only appreciate the deep tragedy of
Dimitri’s death in Edelgard’s route if you fully know his story through playing his
route. In opposing paths, you can only truly lament Edelgard’s fall, or her dark climb
to a true monster by seeing the cute, silly, vulnerable and idealistic young girl that
is shown to the player in her story. And.. you can only see why Claude is so resonant
by getting to know the man underneath the carefree mask and the charming smile. Rhea
is probably the least nuanced main player in the story, but playing through her route
expands the mythos and helps you understand where she is coming from, even though she
may be too entranched in heartbreak, vengeful bloodlust and subsequent zealotry to understand
that she’s gone too far for most of the narrative. Even the backdrop for the current
political dynamics between the Church, the history books, common knowledge and the other
factions dwells on this theme. The conflict between Nemesis and the progenitor God Sothis,
and later, Rhea, is a very simple story about a greedy thief that’s sensationalized to
either tell a tale about mankind’s powerlust and dark ego to promote the Church’s teachings,
or believed by Edelgard to be a complete lie from the Church in order for the Empire to
promote a further demonization of Seiros. It’s all about viewpoints; the vast majority
of students and teachers are capable of playing on any side, for any cause, and their loyalties
are not decided by their blood or former allegiances, but rather – who they have grown to connect
with as human beings, and who they have close relationships with. And that is the crux of
Fire Emblem: Three Houses as a story. There is no truly happy ending here; not only
because of this game’s ideas about war being awful for all sides despite being necessary
in certain cases, but because there is only one Byleth. Byleth is, by all accounts and
despite their shall we say minimalistic characterization, a thoroughly good person. A thoughtful leader,
a shoulder to cry on, and most of all, an example to those around them. This is made
clear innumerable times through the casts allusions about how much their lives were
changed by Byleth and how much they value them. And the story uses this fact and runs
with it as a primary theme by integrating it with the branching routes – not just through
what happens positively with the routes that the player chooses, but through what happens
negatively to those that the player does not side with. Rhea is a fascinating look into the views
of a one-minded, crazed individual with a psychology warped by grief and rage. However,
she is also arguably the most important character in the setting, so to understand her motives
and how she has impacted Fodlan, we need to establish some backstory for context for both
her, and the rest of this video. If you are already aware of this information, you can
go to the timestamp on screen to skip it. As I mentioned in the beginning, credit goes
to Fire Emblem wiki, which I used for fact-checking the information for this section. Deep into
the story, it is revealed that Rhea is the offspring, one of the original children, of
the Progenitor God of Fodlan named Sothis, and that her true identity is actually Seiros
herself – the actual Saint whose teachings she promotes during the timespan of the story.
In the ancient past, Sothis arrived in Fodlan and gave birth to her offspring – including
both Rhea and the four Saints that you learn about within the story, two of whom are characters
you grow to know quite well in Seteth and Flayn. Sothis formed a further race of people named
the Nabateans, and established her children and them in the land of Fodlan, where they
co-existed with the native race called the Agarthans. The two races worked peacefully
for a time, but eventually, as technology advanced and confidence and hubris grew, the
Agarthans decided to rebel and turn against their god, starting a war. Sothis and the
others pushed them back, and peace returned to Fodlan as the Agarthans were forced underground.
These remaining Agarthans became a group of schemers entitled The Ones Who Slither in
the Dark. But the battles caused Sothis to fall into a deep sleep in order to recover.
And as she was sleeping inside the Holy tomb, an Agarthan bandit named Nemesis snuck in,
stole her body and used it to empower himself and his ten elites with her crest, along with
creating the Heroes relics as weapons. It is insinuated that Those Who Slither in the
dark manipulated Nemesis to do so. With this power, the Agarthans destroyed the race of
Nabatea, and the few survivors – Rhea, Seteth and Flayn among them, searched far and wide
to put together an army to counterattack. Eventually they did, and Rhea was able to
kill Nemesis and defeat Agartha, as we see in the opening cutscene of the game. But those
who slither in the dark remained, scheming and plotting for eventual revenge, and the
likes of Thales, Solon and Kronya are a few of the eventual figureheads. Rhea created the Adrestian Empire prior to
the battle with Nemesis, and after Nemesis’ death and Agartha’s defeat, Rhea’s Church
of Seiros became the central political power of the setting, which allowed her to dictate
society. The church rewrote the history books to make the actual events seem more sympathetic
for them, and hid the truth of the nature of crests and heroes relics in order to perpetuate
their dogma. Whereas the truth is that a substantial amount of crests were stolen from the gods,
Rhea rewrites history to make it seem like every single one is a holy blessing from the
gods, likely to enforce the notion that the gods cannot be trifled with and control everything. As such, over time, this forms a dysfunctional
society, where people are valued for having crests and nobility in this setting is decided
by whether or not they have them, as they do tend to descend through the ages by blood.
People are valued for their bloodline instead of their merit, and those without crests are
shunned in society, finding it extremely difficult to rise up in the world through hard work
and talent. Essentially, a huge class divide is created, valuing those who have crests
over those who do not, and this leads to a world in which experiments are conducted on
children in order to implant crests. This is a practice that kills many, tears apart
families, and ruins lives, and along with the top-heavy focus on nobility, it is this
sort of dysfunction Edelgard uses as the fuel for her fire to reform the world. But more
on that later. Meanwhile, while society was slowly breaking
itself due to the focus on crests that Rhea and the Church perpetuated, Rhea’s focus
was elsewhere. In secret, fuelled by hate and grief, she was attempting to resurrect
her mother through implanting Sothis’ crest stone into artificial bodies as her own form
of experimentation. She failed to created a vessel for Sothis 12 times, and the 12th
person, a woman, fell in love with Jeralt, who was captain of the Knights of Seiros at
the time. The two had a child, Byleth, but the baby was born without a heartbeat. The
mother asked Rhea to transplant Byleth with her Crest, and Rhea complied. The baby was
revived, but the mother died, and Jeralt, who grew suspicious, started a fire and faked
Byleth’s death, and subsequently left the Monastery to start a mercenary group and live
his life with his child. The reason that Byleth has dreams of Sothis and is able to talk with
her throughout the story is that Byleth is the first successful vessel capable of housing
Sothis, and Rhea is aware of this and hopeful that it means she will be able to revive her
mother’s soul in Byleth’s body, which is what she attempts to do in chapter 11.
Unfortunately for her, this proves to not be possible, and this realization coincides
with Edelgard’s betrayal, which sends her off the deep end and leads to varying end
results depending on the route the player is on. As a side note, despite Rhea being the primary
torchbearer for the Church of Seiros, The majority of the Seiros route after the timeskip
doesn’t actually have Rhea in it, as she is missing for most of it, and instead Byleth
finds themselves leading the Church with Seteth and Flayn, both of whom cannot even begin
to fathom how and why Edelgard desires to overthrow the Church and change their methods
(before the battle for chapter 14). And I think that is very deliberate and significant
– those who have not been negatively impacted by nobility and crests naturally cannot see
things from the viewpoint of those treated as lesser, of those lower down in the food
chain. As such, there’s a blind spot that Edelgard sees that these people do not. Again,
perspective. However, with regards to this, it’s also shown that people do not REMAIN
blind if they are shown the way. Rhea’s outward personality is kind, graceful
and benevolent for the first half of the story, and given the way that some of her followers
adore her, she is very clearly capable of a sincere kindness. She’s nostalgic and
haunted by some past tragedy, which we’ll find is a common theme in the game. She’s
constantly seeming to look through the current situations into happy times of the past, or
a desirable future. Knowing her backstory, this is extremely sad and understandable given
that she had nearly all that she loved ripped away from her, and this does substantiate
her motivations. – but she very clearly adheres to a philosophy of nearly oppressive fanaticism
with regards to the Church and is extremely harsh to those who disagree or oppose it,
even slightly. After Edelgard’s actions in chapter 11, she loses it and unleashes
her pent up rage and grief. This is true in any route, but especially in Edelgard’s,
where Byleth sides with the Empire too. Because Byleth doing this strikes more deeply than
ever as a pure betrayal to her; the one person with the potential to revive her mother slips
away and denies her all that she had been pursuing, and she cannot mentally deal with
the strain. Essentially, in Edelgard’s route, she loses herself in vengeful bloodlust, becoming
a true monster with no way back, torching cities and killing many innocents just to
channel her fury. However.. while she initially gets unhinged in all of the routes, if you
side with Rhea, things are different. She is able to reflect on her wrongdoings, and
she becomes remorseful for all that she has done to the people of Fodlan and to Byleth
especially. Especially so if she is able to survive until the end of the game, she makes
peace with the loss of her mother, realizes that she is unfit to rule due to her past
misdeeds and dishonesty, realizes how terrible she has been and wonders if she deserves to
live, and eventually.. she seeks her own future and happiness, not redeemed, but changed for
the better. Because someone was able to be there for her and support her. Because of
Byleth. The likes of Cyril, Catherine and Seteth are all there to support her, especially
Seteth, but Byleth comprehends her on a deeper level and helps her come to understand herself
and make peace to an extent far greater than anyone else. And in the end, that light is
what she needed to change. And this is a common theme throughout the game. Claude von Riegan is, by way of his mother’s
father, the heir to the throne of the Leicester Alliance’s House Riegan. Not only this,
but as is revealed in the second half of Golden Deer, he is also the crown prince of the Eastern
region of Almyra. However, as much as this may seem to be a boon, it was not without
its drawbacks for Claude. Being born as eventual royalty for two kingdoms meant that he was
never truly accepted fully as one or the other, and this caused tribalism and discrimination
to rear its ugly head. He was abused and bullied because of his Fodlan heritage when he lived
in Almyra, and then ostracized for his Almyran blood when he moved to Fodlan. As a result,
Claude was forced to become adaptable and shrewd. Being treated as an outsider by both
sides, he devised schemes at an early age that would help him avoid and survive the
rough treatment he received, which explains why he grew up with such a strong and developed
tactical prowess. But aside from that, just as how it is with the other three major characters
in the game, these experiences formed who Claude became. It is stated right in the beginning that Claude’s easy smile is
striking. But that that smile doesn’t reach his eyes. And I think that’s a perfect description
of Claude. He is charismatic and easy to like most of the time, but because of his harsh
treatment, he is somewhat cynical. I find him to be surprisingly sympathetic because
of how he’s put up such defences. He finds it hard to trust others and he finds it difficult
to ever be truly happy, because he knows that the world he currently inhabits is one that
is fundamentally flawed – not just for the systematic reasons we’ll get into in the
later sections of this video, but simply because there is such little compassion and true equality
on a broad scale. To be clear, Claude DOES believe in people and he does think that they
are capable of equality and acceptance, but he know that it will never happen if nothing
is changed, and he is just disillusioned with the current world order. He hates everything
about it, and his realizations of the world caused him to despise ignorance and become
determined to learn the secrets of this setting in order to turn the world on its head, into
one where everyone can accept each other. What this translates to in the story is a
man who is exceedingly astute and sharp, probably the character who is most aware of the nuances
and little details of the way the world is set up. As shown in his supports with many
of the characters, he is aware that the Church covers a ton of stuff up, and he wants to
discover these things. Not just because of curiosity as he tries to let others believe,
but because he wants to better a flawed society. The Golden Deer route is without doubt the
one that fleshes out the main plot and setting the most, and that’s primarily because of
Claude’s quest to understand the world. As opposed to the laser sharp character focus
in the Blue Lions and the ideological themes that are the crux of the Seiros and Black
Eagles routes, Claude’s influence helps discover the truth of all things. Because
he needs to know that truth to put it to good use. He may joke around a lot, he may be lazy and
he may be mischievous, but he has the ability to gain the unwavering trust of those around
him. He just has this aura of a man with everyone’s best interests at heart. Characters throughout
the game of all houses note that he’s the hardest working noble they’ve ever seen,
yet he is always able to take things in stride, and this sort of thing is what makes him endearing.
Claude says that life is fleeting and we should take advantage of the innocent times while
we’re here, and it explains his carefree demeanour, always poking fun and trying to
have a good time. It’s not just because he’s a lazy layabout who shirks responsibilities;
it’s because he understands the fleeting nature of life with regards to happy times
amidst the possibility of war better than nearly anyone else, and tries his best to
let the happy times linger. As someone who is of a similar mind as Edelgard,
as someone who criticizes the crest system, His outlook is one of appropriate neutrality,
in almost all aspects. He believes in gods, but doesn’t believe in leaning on gods.
He believes in appreciating nature and science and alternate perspectives. But most of all,
believes in self-agency and carving out a purpose from one’s own agency and conviction.
Rhea may have called him a heretic, but Claude doesn’t really think that the Church’s
way of thinking is the only way, or even that there is any set right way. He thinks that
people should be free to believe in whatever they want, not just what they’re told to
do. Yet, even still, despite his unorthodox thinking
and his disillusionment with Seiros’ teachings, Claude indulges himself by daring to believe
that there is some entity out there capable of miracles. It’s the idealist in him – no
matter how cynical he may think at times and no matter how obvious it is to him that the
world is broken, he can’t help but believe in fate and divine coincidence, to a certain
extent. And that’s where Byleth comes in. To
UNIFY THE ALLIANCE, then Fodlan, and then bring ideals of true equality and perspective
to all in the world. To have everyone understand one another, see their viewpoints and struggles,
and be fair and empathetic to one another. That is not only Claude’s selfless dream,
but AN ENCAPSULATION OF THE MAIN THEME OF THE GAME. To properly and holistically look
at the story and thematics of Fire Emblem Three Houses, one must be able to integrate
all perspectives into their evaluation. To see the struggles of Rhea, to be empathetic
to Edelgard, and to understand Dimitri. Just as it is in the story of the game, it is in
Fodlan, and Byleth is what makes this dream achievable. In alternate routes, where Byleth does not
side with Claude, it is made clear that Claude’s goal is to reach his dreams outside Fodlan.
To see new horizons and explore the world and himself, and to use that experience to
create peace. It is a bit of characteristic adaptability that is totally different from
Rhea, Dimitri and Edelgard, all of whom are tunnel-visioned to a certain extent. He doesn’t
necessarily have to die in these routes, but either way and even if he does, he maintains
his open-mindedness until the end to help others. He maintains a facade of neutrality
amidst internal strife in the Alliance, and sets things up as well as they can be for
his people. Despite his scheming and underhanded nature, when it comes down to it, He is arguably
the most morally “good” leader in the story; even putting aside his ultimate goal
of peace and equality, he’s always trying to settle disputes peacefully, and even in
the worst cases, thinking of which outcomes are best for those depending on him. Even
if those outcomes result in his death, since it is made clear that regardless of whether
the player decides to kill Claude or not in the Black Eagles route, he had made arrangements
that benefitted the Alliance either way. His goal is peace and prosperity, and his
nature allows him to go some distance towards achieving it no matter which route is taken,
with it being strongly insinuated that he takes hold of Almyra’s throne eventually
no matter what as long as he survives. However, only with the presence of his Teach is he
able to do everything that he sets out to do. Having someone as a partner who shares
his values and it able to make those dreams a reality is something that Claude deeply
appreciates. Byleth’s guidance is invaluable, and they help Claude to discover all of the
secrets that he was curious about. They give him his miracle by bringing forth a nation
bereft of corruption by cutting out the rot, and by leading this new unified Fodlan into
the future, with Claude leading Almyra. These are pretty mechanical reasons for Claude’s
dream being realized, but this sort of systematic substance is what Claude needed to make it
all a reality. As I said, he finds it hard to properly trust others because of what he’s
been exposed to. He often hides his true intentions. But Byleth makes trust easy, and Byleth helps
to turn that smile into one that fully reaches his eyes. Claude can’t imagine making his
dreams come true without Byleth, and though the innocent and joyous childhood that he
deserved was taken from him, Byleth helps Claude to believe in and carry out the whims
of that idealistic young boy. All of the primary characters in the story
are shown at their worst and best in the different routes, with Byleth being the common denominator
that allows them to see the light. But it’s different with Claude. His ability to see
truths and his calm and rational mindset help him to never lose himself in war, regardless
of whether he wins or loses, and regardless of whether or not Byleth sides with him. But
what Byleth DOES help him with is achieving his goal. While he either dies or searches
for new horizons upon being exiled in other routes, in Golden Deer, Claude realizes his
life’s dream thanks to Byleth. Open-minded, accepting, empathetic, and willing
to look at other perspectives to appreciate things, Claude is a personification and advocate
of the types of themes that Three Houses presents, and the routes apart from Golden Deer help
to make this even clearer. Edelgard von Hresvelg is heir to the Adrestian
Empire and the fourth daughter of Emperor Ionius the ninth, and in three of the four
routes, she is a primary antagonist of the story. She is one of eleven children born
to the Emperor, yet she is the only one who is currently able to live anything close to
a meaningful life. This is because despite her Father’s status as Emperor, he was totally
powerless to prevent his children being experimented on for Crest implantation. As such, Edelgard
and her siblings were incessantly tortured as children in attempts to have them imbued
with the quote unquote blessings of the gods, leading to every single one of them either
dying or losing their sanity – all of them except for Edelgard, who received a second
crest in addition to the minor one she was born with, turning her hair white. It was
a hellish thing for her to experience, and it tainted her forever and possibly shortened
her lifespan to boot, though this is a bit of speculation on my part. In addition, she
and her mother were essentially kidnapped by her uncle and taken to Faerghus during
the insurrection of the seven, which led to her meeting Dimitri. Her father was stripped
of the power he had during the insurrection and she returned to the Empire three years
later, without her mother and with her philosophy fully formed. Put simply, these events formed her ideals
– the caste system in Fodlan is so deeply entrenched and so prominent that the literal
Emperor could not protect his children from being tortured to further the evil and greedy
ambitions of the aristocracy. And due to her personal attachment to this situation, she
could have very much made this a personal crusade for revenge similar to the way Rhea
went about things – but to Edelgard’s credit, she doesn’t do this at all and regardless
of whether or not one agrees with her, her motives are not founded in personal bias and
they do have a grander goal in mind. The current social order destroys lives, kills children,
drives people insane, disregards those deemed as unworthy for arbitrary reasons and does
not value merit. And so she resolved to destroy it. To tear this world apart, root to stem,
and start anew. She sees herself as someone equipped to do this, and as such, she sees
this as her responsibility. And despite her kind and sensitive heart, she resolves to
accomplish this goal no matter what. If she can overthrow the Church, remove the concept
of nobility and destroy the Crest focus, it will be worth it. Regardless of what she has
to do. And these aren’t just words or a fleeting
fancy of hers. As the Flame Emperor, she reluctantly teams with those who slither in the dark in
order to disrupt the Church from the shadows, since the two share a common enemy. She enrolls
as a student at the monastery and becomes friends with so many, fully knowing that she
may have to cross swords with, and possibly kill a great deal of these good people. It
devastates her and it is a huge burden to bear, but she knows that it has to be done.
And that is the reasoning for her actions within the story. To her, the ends justify
the means at any cost, in total contrast to Dimitri, as we’ll see later. With this extreme consequentialist mindset,
Edelgard does not have a blind spot as the Church does with regards to her actions. It’s
not like she isn’t aware that she is causing mass bloodshed, and she alludes to it many
times. But she emotionally detached herself from these situations and has been mentally
preparing herself to do so for ages, so she is equipped to do what she needs to do. It
just so happens that she is unaware of the EXTENT of the pain she wreaks upon those like
Dimitri. Or perhaps she is totally aware of this, and must push herself onwards anyway. But in the Black Eagles Empire Route, there
is something that keeps her whole that isn’t present in the other ones. A significant aspect of Edelgard is that she
isn’t heartless. While cutthroat and cold if she needs to be, she isn’t a bad person
by any means. She gives all of her fellow Black Eagles members a chance to flee or join
her rather than die fighting against her, and she makes it very clear that she is not
forcing anyone to join. She isn’t trying to make anyone’s decision for them – not
even Byleth, who she values the most. And if Byleth doesn’t choose to join with
the Empire, she makes it abundantly clear upon her defeat that this was the one thing
she desired more than almost anything. The one thing that could’ve saved her. However, if Byleth does side with her, it
makes all the difference. It’s important to note that Edelgard mentions multiple times
in her route that Byleth is what’s keeping her grounded, honest and sane. Hubert is a
terrific, pragmatic and brutal ally for her to have, but he is just not suited to be someone
to go to as emotional support. As much as he loves Edelgard, he is not able to understand
how to support her in an empathetic fashion. But with Byleth, the situation is far different
– because they can be that strong human connection that she needs. By being someone she can lean
on, someone who reminds her that she’s human, and someone that morally grounds her and shows
her that she can still be a silly young woman at times, Byleth reveals the best of Edelgard.
It’s this light that Byleth represents that prevents Edelgard from sinking into darkness
and pure tyranny, as alluded to by Edelgard herself, as shown in her brutality in the
other routes, and as displayed by her relative restraint in her route comparatively. Edelgard’s
initial motives are good and even admirable; she sees the tragedy and dysfunction that
results from the focus on crests and nobility – one that leads to eugenics and child experimentation,
the tearing apart of families and a reductive class divide. And she wants to form a world
where this darkness no longer lingers, where equality can be achieved and where people
are judged by their individual merits. She never once deludes herself into thinking that
she’ll be a hero – but whether she succeeds in the Black Eagles route or fails in the
others, and whether she tries to carry out these goals with uncontrollable and dysfunctional
autocracy as shown in the Blue Lions, or a morally gray sort of consequentialism with
true results is very dependent on whether or not she can find that one person to connect
with and confide in, and that in itself is quite a profound, happy, and sad concept. Dimitri is, above all, a deeply caring, kind
and compassionate man – and that is a big reason for why he becomes so warped by the
events of the story. As the crown prince of Faerghus, Dimitri spent most of his childhood
living in the Kingdom. And at a young age, he became fast friends with a girl who had
travelled to Faerghus after being forcibly taken from her home in the Empire by her uncle
– that young girl being Edelgard, of course. Without knowing that she was actually his
stepsister, Dimitri grew somewhat enraptured with Edelgard by all accounts – the two spent
tons of time together and there are plenty of insinuations that he grew some romantic
feelings for her as a kid. She left three years later to return to the Empire, and Dimitri
gave her a dagger as a parting gift, hoping that it would help her to carve out a future
for herself. Unfortunately for him, the years after her departure were nowhere near as happy. In the year of 1176, two years after Edelgard
left, the nobility and royalty in Faerghus were completely and totally slaughtered in
what became the first half of the Tragedy of Duscur. Dimitri’s father, King Lambert,
and his and Edelgard’s mother, Patricia, Glenn, who was Felix’s son, and many others,
were all supposedly killed. Dimitri ended up being the lone survivor and witnessed the
entire thing – the death, the suffering, the dying cries from his loved ones. Afterwards,
the tragedy was blamed on Duscur, and while there may have been people from Duscur involved,
Dimitri never believed that they were SOLELY responsible, and thought that they were being
blamed to cover up something more underhanded. And it turns out that he was right. It is
revealed through the Blue Lions route that the Tragedy was a plan hatched by Edegard’s
Uncle, Volkhard, who is also revealed to be Thales. Conspiring with Patricia, Arundel,
and Those Who Slither in the Dark, the tragedy occurred in order to throw Faerghus into chaos,
which furthered the goals of both those who Slither and Arundel, who was benefitted by
this because it helped his ally Cornelia to gain influence within the Kingdom. However,
this was all covered up and blamed on troublesome individuals such as Ashe’s brother Christophe,
and the largely innocent people of Duscur, and those people were subjected to a massacre
in retaliation. During the slaughter of Duscur, Dimitri was able to save Dedue, and the latter
pledged his life to Dimitri for his kindness, for saving him from that hell, and this all
forms the foundation for several character relationships and character arcs that occur
in the story. Now, obviously, the Tragedy of Duscur deeply
disturbed Dimitri and changed him forever. From that point on, he began harbouring a
deep hatred for the nameless ones responsible, and a deeply rooted penchant for bloodshed
and violence began to fester within him. Occasionally, he began to hear voices from those who perished
in the tragedy. He began to get headaches that reminded him of the ordeal. In one of
their support conversations, Felix describes how horrified he was to witness Dimitri in
the heat of battle, killing countless and seeming to deeply enjoy it – something that
made the former label him as “the wild boar.” Though Dimitri is able to live a somewhat
normal life after the tragedy, and though he seems to be mostly untroubled outwardly,
these worrisome things are ever-present. He cannot properly enjoy life – he even admits
to Flayn that he has not been able to taste anything since the event. Clearly, He was
never really able to forget, nor would he allow himself to do so. And his goal in the
story, initially, at least, is very simple: It is his duty as the sole survivor. But his
ideals are a bit more multidimensional than that. Due to his situation, Dimitri is prone
to bouts of guilt and self-loathing for having been left alive, and this leads to him despising
the idea of hierarchy and nobility being superior. He simply wants to be addressed as an equal
by his comrades – he wants to be close friends with people like Dedue and Ashe, who would
normally be considered inferior due to class politics. It’s just a little bit of characterization,
but it plays into the idea of him being burdened by his past and hating himself, not wanting
to place himself on a pedestal as punishment for surviving when his loved ones did not.
And it also ingeniously foreshadows the person he would become through him really seeming
to believe that at the heart of it, everyone is the same. Like many in the game, Dimitri
also thinks the crest system is ridiculous in terms of the ways in which it places importance
on children, and the unsavoury things that it leads to.. but in contrast, he also sees
potential problems in a crest-less world that Edelgard never brings up. And he has one of
the most informed positions on the issues, one of appropriate balance. Yet despite this amount of balance and thoughtfulness,
I’m hesitant to believe that Dimitri had thought out his systematic plans for the world
as much as Edelgard did, and I doubt that he has a true vision aside from his desire
for equality, but this is much more of a difference in characterization than it is a writing mistake.
Dedue mentions in his support with Felix that Dimitri is the only one from the Kingdom who
sees his people, the unfairly ostracized Duscur citizens, as human and doesn’t buy into
the postured mass hysteria used to shift the target onto them. He distinctly says that
Dimitri is the reason that he doesn’t wish for death, and that is as good an encapsulation
as any of who Dimitri as at heart. He is good and kind, yet he is a tortured, blind idealist
in a world that makes it difficult for him to stem the tide of internal strife, and that’s
what makes his gradual descent into madness through the story so sad. Because he is a
truly good person, yet, simultaneously, a dualistic contradiction. He aspires to be someone who can help unfortunate
souls as much as possible, because he has suffered such misfortune. He’s very empathetic
in this way. And comparing his approach to Jeralt’s death to Edelgard’s reaction
is very telling. Both come to a similar conclusion of moving forward, but in very different ways.
While Edelgard takes the “tough love” approach and tries to spur Byleth on into
acting and moving on, Dimitri tells them that it is always worthwhile to take time to reflect
on the past and grieve. Knowing the two, it’s very clear why each of them think this way.
Both have experienced such horrors, but they approach their current lives in different
ways. And because of his huge heart and tendency to contemplate, Dimitri is more susceptible
to losing himself amidst the turmoil and tragedy. He is a huge advocate of the idea that war
is basically the worst thing ever. That romanticizing war is meaningless, that causes are insubstantial.
Again, it is easy to understand why he thinks that way, and again, he is the exact opposite
of Edelgard because he believes that getting an end result through undesirable means is
unacceptable. After witnessing such horrifying bloodshed, he cannot kill others without feeling
pain, apart from the rare times where he snaps and reverts to his wild boar persona. The
only reality of war is tragedy for him. There is no such thing as a glorious or romantic
death, and sacrifice is blasphemy. But importantly, in the Blue Lions route,
Dimitri grows a huge attachment to Byleth. This is a little sidenote that’s a precursor
to the big theme that I’m alluding to here, but more on that in a bit. As the story progresses and the party are
exposed to such violence, Dimitri becomes overcome with a dark duty, grief, and rage
at what he perceives as a terrible betrayal by Edelgard, when he finds out she’s the
Flame Emperor responsible for such heinous acts. It snaps the last threads of his sanity
and caused him to focus all of his loathing on her, with him setting off on a murderous
streak to try and kill the woman he loved. I found it interesting that the Blue Lions
route lends tons of insight into Dimitri and Edelgard’s past relationship, but the Black
Eagles is very minimal in that regard, and Edelgard basically doesn’t mention her history
with Dimitri. It indicates that Dimitri dwells on and prioritizes it far more, whereas Edelgard
has moved past it, whether it be naturally or forcefully, and strives for the future.
To carve out her own path.. ironic, given that Dimitri always wanted that for her. Post-timeskip, Dimitri is a shell. Dedue is
supposedly gone, having sacrificed himself to save his Prince, only adding to Dimitri’s
torment. Rampant, raged, a feral animal just pushing himself to keep killing out of a self-destructive
obligation. The voices are louder than ever, dictating his actions.. and he is more of
a haunted weapon for these imaginary ghosts than a person at this point. As he puts it,
he is a “walking corpse” (post-bandit chapter 13). He has taken his anti-consequentialist
ideals, twisted them and taken them to their farthest extreme; from thinking that killing
is a heinous act committed by monsters, to resigning himself to being a monster and killing
due to his dark obligation. As if somehow delivering Edelgard’s Head to their spirits
will cease his suffering. As said by a random NPC in chapter 17, Dimitri
can be seen at times comforting orphan children in and around the monastery. So the essence
of the kind man he once was is still there. But he is so far gone, and if the Kingdom
has hopes of him leading the counterattack, he needs to be brought back. And that’s
what Byleth does. As said by Rodrigue, Byleth is the one who can rein in Dimitri and stop
him from completely losing it. It is implied that without Byleth, Dimitri would completely
lose himself or kill himself trying to fulfill his impossible goal of satisfying ghosts.
And as it happens.. he does die early without Byleth. In the Church of Seiros route, where
you meet his ghost, in the Golden Deer route at Gronder Field, and in the Black Eagles
route, where the woman he once loved lays him to rest. Seeing his ghost in the Church
of Seiros route in particular reinforces this theme – he voices how lost he was, how aimless
and broken. In particular, his allusions to a vague “decision”
had me wondering if his path had lead to suicide because he just couldn’t take living in
his hell anymore. It really drives home how different things could have b een if Byleth
was there for him. Luckily, if one chooses the Blue Lions, Byleth CAN be there for him.
And it’s important to make note of the positive impact of Dedue’s return, and more prominently,
Rodrigue’s sacrifice to wake him up and snap him out of it. As the latter says, all
of these people don’t die for Dimitri. They died for their own beliefs, and now he must
forgive himself for being alive. This just causes Dimitri to wake up just a little bit,
and opens the way for Byleth. I think it’s significant that near the beginning
of the game, Byleth gives Dimitri someone to trust and lean on who does not kill without
feeling. Early on, Dimitri says he cannot trust someone as a partner who is unfeeling
enough to be brutal consequentialist, and he really appreciates that Byleth is human
enough to feel, even in the midst of conflict. That helps Dimitri realize that he isn’t
alone, and gives him some warmth and comfort in a life that had become cold. He loses himself
partway, but the person who comforted him is able to bring him back again 5 years later.
Dedue is the best right hand man a guy can ask for, but he himself has admitted to being
a weapon with no will for Dimitri to use due to how the latter helped him. That isn’t
someone with a conscience, and Dimitri needs that human touch. Byleth provides it. And he realizes his mistake, and decides to
save the Kingdom instead of recklessly, bloodily Lusting after murdering edelgard. TO forgive
himself, pursue his own beliefs and do what he believes in, not bound to a bloody duty.
And this is thanks to those close to him – namely, Byleth, but primarily because Byleth helps
him to fully appreciate the support of everyone else. By the conclusions, Dimitri kills Edelgard, but
not because of his previous motivations. Instead, it was because he had chosen to live for his
beliefs, not for anything else. And this is the natural outcome. He will forever lament
and grieve the souls of those whose lives were tragically cut short, and he will forever
bear the burden of their screams. But with Byleth by his side, Dimitri is able to push
forward regardless. To put the past behind him and dream of the future rather than having
nightmares of times gone by. His vision now is to create a new, prosperous world where
the past bloodshed will remain a memory. Unlike Edelgard, he does not see the world as one
that needs to be torn from the roots, but one he will be able to change in his own way.
And she may have called him hopelessly idealistic and stubborn and mistaken, but that’s just
how the two have always been. A fundamental difference between the two is that Edelgard
believed that people would be strong enough to build themselves up from the ashes, and
Dimitri believed that such a world would leave them lost – each perspective indicative of
the two’s respective philosophies. The two are just incapable of understanding each other.
What’s most sad for me about this story is that, primarily due to how completely differently
Edelgard and Dimitri think, there is not a route in which the two both live and can build
a new society together in harmony. But then again, that’s sort of how the world is,
isn’t it? They were just set off on completely different paths, and Fodlan isn’t a setting
that can accommodate such boldly contrasting philosophies in such powerful people. In the
end, Each can only live if Byleth joins them. No matter which decisions are made, only one
or none of the two can have the benefit of having Byleth there to ground them and give
them focus while the other is left in ruin. It isn’t a happy thing to think about, but
then again, this is far from a happy story. Yet.. that doesn’t mean that it
is heartless. Far from it, in fact. The majority of the cast in Fire Emblem Three
Houses are individuals who have suffered some sort of tragedy or societal hurdles in their
past, and use those experiences to conceptualize war. For some, the ideals that they hold change
as they grow throughout the story. Meanwhile, others hold firm. But the common denominator
here is that theme of unbreakable bonds. Forgive me for speaking the obvious for a
second, but In the end, whoever Byleth chooses to join with essentially wins. And that IS
just a biproduct of game design, but it also means something thematically. Given these
narratives and how they play out depending on the Byleth’s path, I think the idea here
is quite a simple one. The characters whose motives, methods and ideals you side with
as a person is naturally dependent on your own personal moral compass and political leanings,
but I think what this story is trying to say that none of the characters are totally right
and none are totally wrong.. except maybe Rhea, and even then she is given some sympathetic
tinges. The key here is that those who rule are treated as right by history, and as such,
you would naturally want them to be as just as they can be for the sake of the world.
And as the game argues, that can only happen by staying true to oneself through confiding
in and connecting with others. We need people to be ourselves and stay grounded. The prevailing message here is steeped in
the essentiality of staying true to oneself, and how important connection and empathy are.
Ideals are useless on their own, and can get lost amidst the noise and blood. In a story
with such a sprawling, epic story, with such intricate political dynamics, in the end,
it is the cast’s relationships and ties, and how they can nurture one another, that
matter the most. Allow yourself to have conviction in your philosophies, but don’t lose your
identity. Don’t be afraid to lean on someone who can remind you of what you’re fighting
for. Never forget who you are; always keep your motivations pure and don’t lose sight
of why you do things in the process of doing them. The sad fact is that not everyone has the
gift of a light in their life like Byleth. Not everyone grows up happy and not everyone
is given a good hand. But with resolve, with others, and with a pure vision, things can
be achieved. War is not to be celebrated – it is to be lamented – but it is inevitable sometimes,
and it can have true meaning if done for the right reasons, especially if those reasons
are anchored in purity and heart. Many thanks for watching.

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