Since the change in the character of Eren in Season 4, some viewers have been quick to call Eren”the “villain” of the series.
The words “evil” and “bad” are used to describe Eren. This obliterates Eren his motives and the reasoning for his actions.
Attack on Titan is known for its play with perspectives. What, then, did we go wrong when “labeling” Eren?
Did he want to protect the people with who he had a connection over other people something that was a crime?
Let us explore the reasons Eren is a perfect illustration of why terms like “evil” or “good” are not solely ascribed to villains or heroes.
NOTE: This article shares a few similarities with this article about the reasons what led to Eren decided to continue in the wake of the protests. This article is more focused on his personal life We suggest that you read both of them to understand the motives of Eren!
What is “evil”?
First, it is essential to comprehend what it means to be evil. On the Internet, it’s defined as being morally wrong or wicked. A wicked person is one who commits immoral or cruel things solely to hurt others.
Hillel Steiner in his writings has said that the difference between a crime and an act of evil is the additional sensation of “perpetrator’s pleasure” and the desire of the individual to inflict an injury or hurt to satisfy their own pleasure. In addition, it is another factor called the “Consistency Thesis”.
Daniel Haybron states that evil people possess property like an inability to empathize or the desire to act morally right.
However, one of main Steiner’s theories has its critics. One of them is that one could be guilty of “evil” acts without deriving any satisfaction from the act.
It is possible to see that someone is “evil”, and trying to define the characteristics that make someone evil requires some perspective.
Read more about the theories of evil here.
It is important to consider perspective
The concept of perspective is like a double-edged sword. It allows you to take a look at things from a variety of angles, it also removes the capacity to categorize someone or anything, as bad or beneficial (maybe in the direction of good).
How does this relate to Eren?
Eren has a persona whose reputation is polarized. While the public views him as a devil in full force, willing to destroy everything Paradis believes that he is to be a hero due to his act of fighting the world.
Similar to that, Reiner was considered a villain in the eyes of many viewers. However, we can see how Marley warriors were given an elite status.
This is a good example of this Attack on Titan preaches the dangers of perspective. It can make the heroes, villains.
The story emphasizes that certain characters were forced other than to follow the roads given to their characters. On that note, we’ll look at how Eren might become “evil” (or not).
Was Eren “evil”? Are they villains?
According to me, Eren is not an evil person or villain.
Eren’s reluctance to take part in the activities that are carried out by his fellow members of the Survey Corps cannot be termed as evil.
The idea of defining Eren with a single adjective or defining him as”hero” or “villain” does not make sense. Even so that, his actions were met with criticism from his fans, too.
Let’s look at the reasons Eren did what he was able to do, and how this argument gives us a different perspective on whether Eren really was “evil”.
What was the reason Eren intend to take over the entire world? Does this mean that Eren bad?
His decision to fight the corps and trigger the noise was due to the powers Eren was given by his father.
It was a straightforward situation of protecting his family and friends against the other people on the globe. One of the most popular quotes is, “A hero would sacrifice you to save the world, while a villain would sacrifice the world to save you.”
But when you take the situation of Eren into account, why would a young boy choose to murder the one person he’s got to save from strangers who are looking down on his race and at him?
Marleyans and the Eldians are caught in a vicious cycle for decades. Thus, Eren’s plan to destroy titans as well as everyone who isn’t from Paradis was nothing more than an easy reaction to the unsuccessful attempt Marley attempted to take advantage of Paradis.
A criminal is someone who goes over and beyond to inflict harm on his own people as well as commit crimes against humanity just for the desire of pleasure.
Although this shouldn’t be used as a justification for the genocide it puts things in perspective.
Who is the person who initiated this?
Eren was burdened, and the conflict turned personal
Eren was involved in a war that had been ongoing for two millennia. He was determined to destroy titans but his position was unique because Eren was a smart titan, a valuable asset to Paradis.
With the idea of having one of them on his side, it seemed logical to put all their hopes on the young boy.
Then, Eren had to bear the weight of being a giant shifter who had a terrible history. It wasn’t until the revelation of Shiganshina that he realized how important this fight was to Eren.
He realized that his strength was stronger than anticipated and that his Titan might have a talent that was unique to him.
The death of the younger daughter to watching restorationists transform into titans- the exact titans he pledged to eliminate and eliminate, is nothing short than awe.
The memories he experienced when he shook Historia’s hand let us know that it was not surprising that he was over the edge.
The years passed by and Eren did not want to reveal to anyone what he had seen and decided to separate himself from everyone.
Eren probably believed that this was a personal battle because he had seen his father suffer so much. He thought that his burdens were better being his than being shared with others.
What is a 19-year-old teenager able to do?
Paradis was stuck in limbo with no way to help their skin.
The thought of waiting for the entire world to come after their home was an idea Eren would not have the courage to think about.
Therefore, a rogue approach and slaying Liberio was the option Eren chose to do.
The shift in the relationships:
Eren sitting on the other side of the fence without his family is a heartbreaking sight we’ve all wished not to be able to see. Everyone has been able to escape death together, as well as have a few moments of peace.
As we’ve mentioned their harsh behavior was a result of “tough love” to put it simply. He didn’t want to let his closest friends get dirty.
Eren was aware in the beginning that he could only be stopped by certain death. This is why Eren allowed his fellows to continue to end his life. He knew this could not only kill titans but would also enable him to remorse for his actions.
Here are some examples which were used to define Eren to be “evil”, but in another light:
Eren’s last interaction With Mikasa and Armin
Absolutely among the more devastating scenes of the film, Eren chides both Mikasa and Armin for being be taken captive in the hands of the Yeagerists.
Eren shouts hateful words at Mikasa and tells him that he does not like her. Furious, Armin lashes out at Eren and the two become involved in a fight.
Although it might appear like Eren was ending all contact with his childhood pals, however, there was a deeper reason behind the move.
Disturbed by the idea of engaging his pals in a plot that could lead to their death and a desperate Eren decided that ending his life with a negative note could be enough to keep them from his presence.
Eren attacks Hange
Eren screaming at Hange was possibly the point that people were able to stop in their tracks and began to see Eren as the “hero”.
Like most shounen main characters, Eren had an idealistic dream. The dream was broken when Eren realized that there was a human being beyond his walls.
The sudden loss of “hero-like” characters such as morality and optimism led to Eren being described as the complete opposite, an evil person.
At this time, Eren had seen what was to happen when he was kissing Historia’s hand just four years earlier. Eren was able to slip into his father’s memory to watch the events of Eren and Zeke through the years play out.
In chapter 139 Eren did not have a desire to die but wanted to stay with Mikasa and the others. However, bound by his vision of the future, Eren had no choice to continue.
The aversion he felt towards Hange probably came from a sense of anger. He was searching for a solution that could maybe help him stay in a bloody direction.
Zeke Yeager: Eren’s character foil
Zeke was the perfect foil for Eren’s philosophies. Both represented two perspectives of morality. Zeke’s plan was to murder his own family for the sake of his country, Eren wanted to only save the island, and then take out everyone else.
Zeke’s character highlights the best qualities of Eren. It is a clear indication of how Eren takes pride in the right of his life to exist. Zeke’s ideology was about dying to ensure that peace could be achieved not only for the rest of the world but for your own family.
Eren was willing to be brutally beaten and bled over for as long as he could see oppression of his own people come to an end.
Another difference between the two is the way Zeke was adamant about the complete elimination of all Eldians and Eren only wanted the Paradis-Eldians to be able to endure.
Eren had nothing to do with the race of their people, and particularly with his own people living on this island. His people had been slighted despite having been all peaceful for over 100 years.
In addition, Zeke’s concept and, ultimately, the elimination of Paradis is thought to be justifiable from the viewpoint of the world because they are adamant about their old prejudices.
In the same way, Eren committing genocide would appear to be a sensible alternative for the majority of the people living on the island who don’t want to be killed for the people who have ostracized them.
As Armin stated in chapter 139 of his book, the conflict could never be over. Both brothers were doing exactly the same thing but at different levels.
In the same way, Paradis vs the World is in the same vein. The story itself showed two aspects on the exact same coin. What people did not have, was compassion.
This being said,
Genocide must not be tolerated. This story does not in any way supports the notion of killing all the people of the world.
In the same way, it does raise the issue of whether or not it is appropriate to sacrifice oneself to those who view themselves as unclean.
Attack on Titan is a realistic look at the ways in which the lines between what is “good” and what is “bad” get blurred during a conflict like this.
Eren certainly acted against morality in involving innocents. In a way did Marleyans not take the same approach?
Marley had utilized the Eldian heritage to portray even the current generation as wicked. Marley believed that the killing of innocents on Paradis was a justification.
So, objectively critiquing Eren is similar to criticizing objectively Marley.
The thing Eren did was quite extreme. Based on his position, it was hard to imagine that Eren could think of another idea. Eren believed in the freedoms and freedom of his people in particular.
As we saw in Chapter 139.5, in spite of everything, the war did not come to a stop and Paradis was smashed. Could this be due to the Rumbling?
In the near future, Paradis would’ve been finished. Eren has managed to hold off the final stages of Paradis by giving it the time to rebuild itself (for destruction, unfortunately).
Eren himself realizes the fact that what he was doing wasn’t correct. However, he claims that he’d do it the same way again, even it was the case that Ymir did not have a role in this.
To protect the people he loved, Eren had no choice other than to murder more of the innocent. Eren was fed up with watching his own people killed for some global cause. This was nothing more than the young man doing his best to protect his family members.
The importance of shadowing
There’s enough foreshadowing in the very first season to demonstrate how dark the end of the story will be. After being pushed to the edge by Annie in the struggle in Stohess, Eren mumbles how we could destroy the entire world.
The conversation that takes place with Armin and Jean occurs following the events. In this scene, Isayama presents a question that will be addressed in the closing chapter.
Jean asks if becoming an animal and denying your humanity would be the sole method to prevail. Armin remains firm in his belief that this is the only option.
Jean is wondering if Eren becoming the monster that kills titans all over the world would be an achievement for humanity. (Praises for Isayama Please!) It turns out that Jean was right.
The disappearance of titans did not convince the world to surrender their weapons. The old war went running for years even after the demise of the entire cast.
In the end, it wouldn’t be right to put Eren and his deeds in narrow words that strip away our ability to view things from a 360-degree perspective.
Eren’s actions came from a desire to save his family members even though it came at the expense of the entire world as well as his personal life.
Thus, calling Eren “evil” or a “villain” or “evil” puts Eren into the category of people who act as obstacles for an individual who is aiming to accomplish an objective. Eren’s actions, actually let him do what he wanted to do.
The sad ending of the story appeared inevitable. If one is of a certain opinion about Eren’s actions or not, it’s easy to agree on the fact that Eren was a brave man.
Which do you believe?
Do you think Eren really evil and vile?
Or is there something more about Eren than just the obvious?