Note: In the meantime I’ve written a newer article that more concisely describes what the Beast of Darkness is, more independent from concepts such as Idea of Evil or the Godhand, and closer to actual world building presented to us. However, this article still holds up well in the face of new insights.
The short answer is, the Beast of Darkness is like a link to the Idea of Evil (assuming it’s still canon), laying inside of Guts’ subconsciousness. It is both part of him and part of the Idea of Evil. That also means Guts giving into it or not is still in his might and also his responsibility. Now let’s take a look why I came to this conclusion.
The Beast of Darkness’ connection to the Idea of Evil
First, let’s first examine what the God Hand and the Idea of Evil are.
If the removed chapter is anything to go by, the Idea of Evil is humanity’s collective consciousness, mostly consisting of negative emotions humanity is experiencing as a whole. Note how the Idea of Evil only points out the ocean of negative thoughts and feelings (Huh, where is the ocean with the “good thoughts”? I feel like the existence of a “good” counterpart isn’t ruled out by this)
The term “collective consciousness” the Idea of Evil is using here actually has more resemblance to Carl Jung’s “collective unconsciousness”. From a philosophical/kabbalistic perspective, humanity is connected through collective consciousness, but lacks the awareness of this connection. In my opinion, both of these concepts are similar to the Idea of Evil (being humanity’s collective consciousness) in Berserk.
It is a self-made god, which appears to imply that this god can be changed if certain requirements (so far unknown to us) are met.
But it’s not only this! “I am this world, the darkness, that dwells in every human heart”. What else is the darkness dwelling inside of a human’s heart? Yeah. Guts’ Beast of Darkness. It really really can’t get more obvious than this.
This is what we know from the removed chapter, but that information still may be outdated or change in detail as Miura completes Berserk.
But – it is by far not the only thing we can figure out about the origins and rules the Beast of Darkness abides.
Speaking of Miura still changing his mind about the Idea of Evil: What happened in Miura’s head when he decided to get rid of it? I do believe the Beast of Darkness is already a concept that was developed from the concept of the Idea of Evil. If that’s true, Miura has already changed his idea of the Idea of Evil. And because Miura had in mind to introduce the Beast of Darkness instead it was removed (as early as volume 13 – remember, the beast was revealed to exist in volume 16). Surely it must be why these two concepts are extremely familiar, too.
The Beast of Darkness and the Interstice
As far as I am concerned, that makes the Beast of Darkness associated with the Idea of Evil (which is the collective consciousness of humanity, consisting mostly of evil thoughts) and part of Guts’ consciousness (because collective consciousness affects its individuals, too) at the same time.
However, why is it that Guts is the only one who appears to have a thing like the Beast of Darkness?
I do not believe that the Beast of Darkness is directly a consequence of mental illness, because if that was really true, it would be somehow implied that other mentally fucked up characters (such as early Farnese, Gambino or the King of Midland) have something similar to the Beast of Darkness – which they obviously do not.
Though admittedly, the thought processes a Beast of Darkness invokes on its “host” do have similarities to thought processes of mentally ill people.
You could argue the mentioned characters don’t have their own Beast of Darkness because they aren’t the main character – which would be fair, but also kinda lame and lazy writing, in my opinion (especially if you can build upon this idea instead). Knowing Miura, I doubt he would settle for this.
I think the answer to this question lays more in the fact that Guts is the only sane person to be branded and exist on the interstice.
I will elaborate this, but first we must take a look at what the interstice actually is:
As Skull Knight puts it in volume 13, the interstice is the boundary between the mortal world and that of the dead.
Further he states it is “a world invisible to eyes of the flesh. You must stand in the interval between two worlds that, while mutually significant, do not make contact with each other.”
In other words, it’s a layer between the astral and physical world. Schierke notes in volume 24 (as she is watching Guts slay trolls at enoch village) that on the interstice, mind affects matter to a greater extent and contemplates how Guts may gain part of his sheer superhuman strength (presumably both physical and mental) from there.
So that doesn’t seem it’s unlikely for Guts’ inner darkness (that is also part of the Idea of Evil through collective consciousness) to express itself through the Beast of Darkness. The fact Guts exists on the interstice enables the Beast of Darkness to take form in his mind stronger than anyone else. It is why it is taking the form it has.
This, by the way, is also why Guts didn’t possess the Beast of Darkness – in form of its own visualization as wolf- or dog-like creature – during the Golden Age.
Guts’ malice manifesting through THe Beast of Darkness
We get to see this happening in the following instances:
- After the fight with Rosine, the spirits in volume 16 tried to get the worst out of Guts by bringing malicious train of thoughts to his attention (they did this to Farny too and made her sit on Guts’ Dragon Slayer)
- Guts’ thoughts get really dark during volume 17 when he returned to Godo’s hut to check on Casca. There, he contemplates Godo’s words about revenge. As he is recalling the Eclipse and having a flashback, his thoughts steer into something like “if I can’t run from hellfire, I’ll get consumed by it” – he pauses for a moment in shock, looking behind to the Beast of Darkness (which is depicted as quite large!), then proceeds his train of thought as usual. Interesting! It’s as if he refuses to listen to his “damaged self”.
- When Guts choked Casca during his winter journey in volume 23, he was under the influence of spirits. But he was to his senses when he forced himself on her later, after she assaulted him. This was entirely on him. In a moment of weakness he gave in to his own darkest desires to harm the person he loved. He absolutely regretted it and detested himself for doing it. An analysis of why the Beast of Darkness wants to harm Casca so badly can be read on my tumblr.
- Every time Guts is using the Berserker Armor. Through the armor, the Beast of Darkness was given a way to manifest materially into the physical realm (before, it solely “materialized” in Guts’ mind, if that makes sense). Also, the moment Guts acquired the armor, his psychotic persona from Black Swordsman/Lost Children times started “separating” from his normal self: We only get to see his psychotic persona when the armor possesses him during the sea god fight.
- Guts has his nightmare on Roderick’s ship during their journey to Elfhelm, where the Beast of Darkness contemplates how it is being submissive for now, waiting for Guts’ companions grow even more precious to him, because then it is all the more to lose for him. Guts abruptly wakes up in shock, not remembering the nightmare. This instance strongly suggests that the Beast of Darkness resides in Guts’ subconsciousness.
In fact, if you look at scenes where Guts is possessed by the Berserker Armor, the wording of what is being said seems to be on a very subconscious level as well, such as on this page, where Guts is fighting the Od of the armor:
- Guts still gets a flashback on the Sea Horse after the Sea God Fight, however, the Beast of Darkness is much smaller there, compared to when he had his flashback in Godo’s cave. In comparison to the latter instance, he also does not have any negative thoughts in particular (remember, they separated!), except for being reminded that Griffith exists maybe.
In all instances we see they are in part influenced by evil spirits and in part by Guts himself – his dark thoughts/Beast of Darkness included. This shows that it is indeed true the Beast of Darkness is associated with the Idea of Evil (which is human collective consciousness) and part of Guts’ (sub-)consciousness at the same time.
That also means Guts is still responsible for his own actions. Just because you are having dark thoughts because of the hardships you’ve been through doesn’t mean you have to succumb to it. This is so fucking important! I don’t think Miura depicts this entire subject in the way he does for no reason. This is intentional.
In fact we do see that Guts is taking responsibility for himself e.g. by letting Farnese, Serpico and Isidro join him after he forced himself on Casca and trying to keep control over himself after he got the Berserker Armor.
As a consequence, Guts is not only fighting himself but also the negative emotions stored in the collective consciousness of humanity as represented by the Idea of Evil and the God Hand.
Thus, the Beast of Darkness is more a “link” or “chain” to the Idea of Evil. this link manifested into the physical world because Guts exists on the interstice, where mind affects matter more strongly. This also explains why Guts is the only human being with a Beast of Darkness.
Farnese – a counter-example
Further up I mentioned Farnese somewhere – early Farnese in my opinion was a suitable candidate to get her own Beast of Darkness, given she made similar experiences to Guts:
- a lost child growing up in a big mansion yearning for her parent’s love (Guts was always starved of Gambino’s praise)
- had her “edgy phase” by being abusive towards Serpico, later burning witches (Guts had his edgy phase during the Black Swordsman Arc/Lost children)
- unhealthy coping mechanisms galore: like masturbating to burning people or generally setting things on fire (Guts enjoys throwing himself into danger and almost dying as way to express his anger or frustration, has a tendency to run away instead of confronting himself with feelings he cannot deal with)
- when taken hostage by Guts she was possessed by evil spirits who tempted her, trying to make her do something she regrets, like sitting on his dragon slayer (The same happened to Guts right after the fight with Rosine: the spirits attempted to pull him closer to insanity and eventually, making a sacrifice)
- witnessed manslaughter caused by astral beings in the cave of heretics and lost all of her unit during the rebirth ceremony (Guts lost the Hawks during the eclipse)
…just to name a few similarities. These are plenty of evil thoughts you can have from experiences like this. But because Farnese is not branded, she did not develop her own Beast of Darkness.
So Guts having his Beast of Darkness because he is branded and existing on the interstice is a possibility.
What all of this means for the future
If this is true, the Beast of Darkness will vanish as soon as the curse of the brand is lifted, because that is when Guts goes back to the physical layer of the world and thus the connection to the astral world (and Idea of Evil) is dissolved – hypothetically spoken.
If this is true, Casca will also get her own “Beast of Darkness” or something that is similar to it. Her getting her own Berserker Armor is also a possibility here, with Farnese swearing to blow her darkness away during episode 354, and effectively taking on the role of the witch (like with Guts and Schierke).
More hints for this development:
- the Moonlight Boy departed to see his mother in episode 358 (does he too wish to save her from her inner darkness and save her in a similar fashion as he saved Guts from the Berserker Armor?)
- Morda will likely accompany Guts and his party – they need a free Mage to cast the protection spell after all
Something’s being set up right in front of our eyes!
If we spin this thought further, Casca may be put in a very similar situation to Guts: namely to hurt or even accidentally kill those she loves and appreciates, or even harm and consume herself in order to protect them. If this is true, this should give us some interesting dynamics between Guts and Casca, especially considering Guts has already been (and is still going) through this.