The Philosophy and Contradictions of King Bradley (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)


Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood’s Fuhrer King Bradley otherwise known as the homunculus wrath is a Goddamn badass due to his character arc being full of legendary moments and epic fights He is easily one of the most distinct and recognizable characters in the series yet There is quite a bit more to bradley than destroying tanks and sword fighting with his mouth It’s been said that he isn’t a great personification of the deadly sin that he was named after and while I do agree that he isn’t as appropriate a representation of his namesake as some other Homunculi He is much less of the classic temperamental anger that may have been expected and much more of a man depicting a cold unrelenting fury Dictated by his hatred of humanity and his idea of how people should live their lives Yet a steadfast and unyielding as he is when approaching life Bradley is a man of contradiction despite yearning deep down for some fundamentally human elements in his life he abhors mankind for several reasons pertaining to his ideals and Despite going through life following a path that had been laid out for him from the start Bradley’s Philosophy is one predicated on self-Reliance wrath’s characterization presents itself in three layers The first is the one that we become accustomed to through glimpses of him during the first act of this series the whimsical Almost kindly older man this surface-level characterization contradicts his true name being pretty pleasant and genial on a shallow level But this is very clearly a mask and a facade created out of necessity in order to deceive and manipulate Through his role as Fuhrer to further his goal and for this reason There is very little need to try and extract anything meaningful from this beneath this first layer is the Bradley that we see for the majority of this story and the One with whom all of those big fights and moments are attributed to the agent of destruction The second layer is a man completely fixated on his role purpose and ideology a man who strives for progress using whatever means Some would refer to this as Bradley’s true self the persona that best reflects who he is and it’s hard to argue with that However while it is not a facade like the first one it does hide certain aspects of him the third and final layer is comprised of the deepest essence of Bradley his sentimentality his subconscious longing and his ironically human side and While the occasions where this buried side of him shines through our few and far between and he hardly lets anyone see this These occasions are so significant in piecing together just who this man is Now with those layers of characterization established We have a framework for how Bradley Functions with the world and his background and history lend a little bit of insight as to how he became this way King Bradley is a homunculus with the Philosopher’s stone inside him But the process he went through in becoming a homunculus was far different than any of his brothers or sisters Rather than being created as an artificial life-form Bradley was injected with the stones power while he was human he was born and mercilessly trained for one purpose to become father’s wrath and the fuhrer of Amestris a tool for Fathers grand plan He was in a pretty large group of candidates for this but he was the only one able to show adequate strength to accept the stones wrathful myriad of souls without dying and Thus he was chosen Bradley has told mustang that he isn’t sure if the soul he has is his original one Or maybe as it was just the most powerful wrathful soul, and he doesn’t question this too much But it is one of the few little signs of his third layer rearing its head It seems a bit uncharacteristic for a man as forceful as Bradley to ponder such human and existentialist questions But as we find out by the story’s end these thoughts are completely fitting for who he is He has always been an embodiment of unyielding anger Even if his outward demeanour sometimes seems to offer alternate explanations to occasions where this wrath is visible One such occasion was during hughes’s funeral where he was literally shaking in rage Mustang mistook this as a sign of Bradley grieving But it is revealed later on that the fuhrer was actually enraged at Alicia’s cries for her father being furious at her voice Punctuating what was supposed to be silence. He uses his wrath as his outlet It is what fuels him to fight and destroy and the destruction He dishes out is his own singular language a way of communicating just how agonizingly frustrating he finds humans, to be Why in his fights is Bradley unsurpassed in terms of how far he is willing to go to achieve victory? in my opinion, It’s not because he really believes in or desires his end goal. All that much It’s because no words can properly communicate the fury he feels at times King Bradley is a man of action Having been chosen as wrath through sheer strength and will Bradley values independence He has a true respect for those that rely only on themselves to strive forward towards their ambitions because he can relate and knows how difficult and admirable this is as Such he has a huge amount of disdain for the concept of a God he is very anti religion Chastising the Ishvalans for over alliance on deism and scorning Scar for his beliefs yet I don’t think that he despises the idea of God’s existence as much as what this idea has led to When people scream out to him that the hammer of God will strike him down, he finds it pathetic because they can’t find the will to strike him down on their own and This attitude that he so hates is a byproduct of religion So I don’t quite think that Bradley hates the fundamental idea of religion or God He hates that these ideas tend to regress mankind and make them meek and unwilling to act for themselves if God exists He provided humans with the ability to act so it is their obligation to act if he doesn’t exist that should change nothing if You are capable of something yourself Then don’t rely on others to carry you create your own future using your own power Or so Bradley things you will suffer the hammer of God. God you say now This is intriguing how much longer do you think your God plans to wait before unleashing his fury? just How many thousands of lives must I take before he decides to strike me down open your eyes God is nothing more than a construct created by man to inspire fear and promote order If you wish to see me struck down for all these atrocities use your own hands to do so not God’s Bradley claims that everything that a human is born into is meaningless race socioeconomic status sex, whatever They’re all social constructs that don’t truly bind people to a certain type of life unless they allow themselves to be bound what matters in life is not what you were born into but what you do with yourself in spite of circumstance in the end there is no one to rely on and no excuses to be had and Only through true independent strength in the face of high Stakes can one live a worthwhile life This is a philosophy that he built up all throughout his life and one that he strongly adheres to until the end Don’t rely on God other people fate or Karma to deliver your desires to you Grasp power with your own two hands and better yourself He strongly disagrees with Ling’s views on Kingship which consists of the belief that those in power should serve for the people Instead Bradley believes that living for others should not be a concern for a true King Those citizens are pathetic and gain nothing of value from a king who bends over backwards for them He finds the idea of altruistic sacrifice to be abhorrent and an insult to life itself This is likely why he displays such a respect for exceptional fighters He has either directly or indirectly shown respect and admiration for the power of people like Mustang, Lan Fan, Fu, and Scar because he sees how much dedication and Self-Sacrifice it must have taken for them to hone their skills and he infers that this must have come from true inner strength But on the other hand he completely disregards those that he determines as weak Thinking of them as stepping stones for those who actually want to make something of themselves It’s a very classically shonen villain mindset a very darwinistic one yet It’s given a bit of a twist because it is used in the context of a setting where religion is more prevalent and more importantly One where mankind constantly finds a way to surprise Bradley He hates when people have no conviction in their ideals he scorns Scar for turning against the teachings of Ishvala and while one may just chalk that up to his disdain for the ramifications of religion I think that what he hates most of all is the inconsistency Scar spent a significant portion of his life Opposing the concept of alchemy, yet he eventually accepted it It’s a change of mind that Bradley cannot understand and thus cannot have respect for because he is Uncompromising and deliberate with absolutely everything he does Because it is impressive actions in the past and his incredibly strong homunculus body Bradley has quite a bit of pride in being a superior Life-Form which is appropriate given his homunculus moniker in the original full metal alchemist however He does have a grudging respect for mankind and their infuriating unpredictability and survivability But apparently there are those like you who can learn, who can change That’s one more reason why I can’t stand you humans It infuriates me when I can’t predict how you’ll behave Bradley can’t help, but admire the tenacity of the species But additionally he finds a sort of morbid fascination in humans he hates them yet by my estimations He seems to kind of enjoy the variability that they add to an existence that has been otherwise Foretold and gone according to plan every step of the way and this point about Bradley’s disillusionment with a pre-planned life is very Important because of how it applies to his wife He explains to hawkeye that he feels a great amount of pride in being married to his wife Because it was the only choice that he ever made of his own volition, and he greatly values this freedom of choice no matter how small it may be This is again a little glimpse into his third layer the underlying sentimentality that Bradley doesn’t usually show the world He carries on with his duties, and he doesn’t really seem to think that the things he’s doing are right But he just doesn’t care about whether they’re right or not Bradley is fulfilling a role in the way that he sees fit and morals have no place He doesn’t seem to actively take much issue with being used as a pawn yet at the same time It’s clear that he strongly values choice He has lived a life completely lacking in freedom except for one thing his wife And so he’d used her as a representation of his freedom to choose even if he was just limited to one choice Whether his love for her is an extension desire for a small amount of freedom or an actual romantic love is Unclear but what is clear is that he retains at least some semblance of his original humanity through this small desire for a choice and he truly cherishes this This is why Bradley considers his life to have been one worth living he died satisfied Not because of his role as an all-Powerful homunculus, but because of what humanity added to his life humanity gave him a chance to fight with his all against Fierce opponents humanity gave him some fun and entertainment, and most of all humanity gave him choice I lived my life by forever following the man that had been sent for me, thanks to the idiosyncrasies of humanity it was at least a life worth living for and maybe even a life worth dying for As a man that has played down the idea of religion time and time again Bradley Finds humor in the Act that contributed to his death as He’s about to land a fatal blow on Scar the solar eclipse which is commonly known to be a sign of God Plays a huge role in his defeat Bradley completely dismissed all of the people that told him that the hammer of God would strike him down And then that very thing happened He admits that it may be the universe trying to prove something to him if that sort of thing is possible Now there’s always a chance that this could be coincidence, but given all of this context. I think the symbolic irony speaks for itself Purrr King Bradley dies with a smile on his face and this smile can be interpreted as a simple Satisfaction in how his life played out, but I think that there are alternate explanations for it Maybe he was again reminded of how persistent humans were Perhaps in being defeated by Scar he felt that his Darwinistic philosophy was proved to be correct and found pride in that after all the stronger person won, and that is fair or Maybe he viewed this death as his ideals being proven wrong And he found some solace in the fact that the world wasn’t as cruel and cutthroat as he believed it to be Perhaps his human side carried greater weight than it outwardly seemed, and he was secretly glad that the homunculi were on the losing side There are many ways to view this smile cynical or idealistic Positive or negative however to its credit it remains open-ended and interpretive After Bradley dies he was declared a martyr and a hero of the military despite the exact opposite being true We have an interesting twist on the equivalent exchange rule here despite his terrible action than all of the death and suffering that he caused Bradley has given honor, and almost universally acclaimed as a hero It’s one of the instances in the series that allegorically goes against the principles of equivalent exchange or rather the concept of equivalent exchange on a personal and Individual level if not a universal one if we’re talking retributive justice Bradley deserved far more Misery and far worse than what he got but he dies relatively happy with how his life played out and although he probably doesn’t care he gets off as an innocent man There’s a great amount of irony in his death a man who was so against religion was defeated due to what could be Interpreted as an act of God and the man representing such war in conflict ended up being a symbol of peace after death is there more to Bradley than he would have others think does he hate humans purely for their weakness and inconsistency or does he also hate them because he sees tiny parts of himself within them and identifies with their weaknesses For a man who prides himself on independence and strength that can’t be an easy thing to come to grips with if true But I believe that what bothers bradley most is that within humans. He sees a freedom and beauty that he longs for but cannot fully achieve however in an appropriate contradiction in his death he reflected on the way he carried out his philosophy with pride and the way he experienced small, but substantial bits of humanity to break the mundanity of a pawns life, and he deemed it all to be worth it As always I’d like to thank my wonderful patrons for their contributions this month I hope you enjoyed the video and if you did there are a bunch of ways to support me all of which I’m sure you’re aware of Let me know what you thought of king Bradley in the comments below as I always love to see and take part in discussions But other than that, that’s all I’ve got for now. I appreciate you watching the video and stay tuned for more

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