This is a continuation of the Code Geass analysis. In the first part, we talked about Suzaku’s true nature. This time we’ll talk about the Mask of an Emperor. What is that mask, that everyone is referring to throughout the series as if it’s some main line of the story?
To understand what is a mask, we’ll address the Emperor’s speech:
“All men… are not created equal! Both in birth and the upbringing, in cheer scope of abilities every human is inherently different! Yes, this is why people discriminate against one another. Which is why there is struggle, competition, and the unfaltering march of progress. Inequality is not wrong. Equality is!– Charles Zi Britannia
…We will fight on! We shall struggle, compete, blender and dominate! And in the end, the future shall be ours. All Hail Britannia!”
(a short scrap from the Emperor’s speech)
And already we see a mismatch. Emperor’s full speech lasts 2,5 minutes. Why is this speech lasts so long? The main topic of this scene is Charles’ son funerals (Clovis Li Britannia). So Charles gives a speech about his country’s ideology. And Lelouch stands there, confused and angered because he wishes to kill the Emperor.
So why then would we see this speech as a whole? It seemed like a usual political event, he read from the paper the ideology of his country. But this speech is actually very important. There are key moments in it that will reveal Charles’s true mindset.
For example, the Emperor says: “All man are not created equal!”. So it looks like he simply quotes Nietzsche with minimal changes. And this is the moment the viewer is sure that the Emperor is pushing propaganda. However if we truly wish to completely establish the fact that Emperor Charles is simply busy with nazism and racism, we have to answer one very interesting question: “Why Emperor throws his very own son, a pureblooded Britannian out into the wild, meanwhile also takes a Japanese guy to serve him? A kid who hasn’t a drop of Britannian blood.”
We have a fictional government with a clear favorable attitude towards Britannians among other nations whom they refer to as “numbers”. Why the Emperor does that weird move?
To clarify that fact, we have to look into those two scenes.
A young prince barges into the palace and makes a scene in there. He can be understood: a mother was shot in front of his eyes, his sister has gone blind and crippled. And all of that fell unto his shoulders. And he ended up without advice, without mentorship and support.
And for that support, he comes to the Emperor with a cry for help. However, in return, he’s being exiled into Japan as a political hostage. So he wasn’t just somehow punished, or just transferred away to another country. No. He was stripped off all of the titles, all the rights, remade into a commoner. Why?
But we also have other stories. We’ve got Jeremiah Gottwald and Villetta Nu. Two people who also have gone rouge: both betrayed the Fatherland. But for some reason, it was said about them that due to their pure blood they won’t be fully punished. So they weren’t shot down for the treason as it’s happening in the military, they weren’t even fired from it. They were only lowered in ranks. But for some reason, this privileged system for purebloods couldn’t be applied to Lelouch. Why?
And this happens because of the “Mask”, that we’re researching right now. And right now many of you can say: “Yeah, yeah, I know everything about the Mask, Lelouch took the mask of Zero…”
But we won’t touch Zero’s mask in this analysis at all.
Our heroes constantly refer to the Mask, especially in the second season when they’ve gone older. They say: “to hold the mask”, “don’t drop the mask”, “to wear mask properly”, etc.
“I’m impressed. You didn’t drop your mask in front of Nannally.”C.C.
“A man who has not mastered the use of the mask can never prevail.”Schnitzel El Britannia
To completely understand the meaning of that mask, we’ll look into the British series “The Crown”, to the moment of the crowning of Elisabeth the queen. At this moment Elisabeth finds out that her predecessors take a new name at the moment of the crowning. She asks why? Is it an old tradition, or some cultural moment or simply a meaningless rule? And Elisabeth decides to stay by her own name and crowns as Queen Elisabeth. And this is the moment her grandmother explains why the kings and queens of the past would take a new name:
“Dearest Lilibeth. I know how you loved your papa, my son. But you must put those sentiments to one side now. For duty calls. I have seen three great monarchies brought down through their failure to separate personal indulgences from duty. You must not allow yourself to make similar mistakes. And while you mourn your father, you must also mourn someone else. Elisabeth Mountbatten. For she is now being replaced by another person. Elisabeth Regina. The two Elisabeths will frequently be in conflict with one another. The fact is, the crown must win. Must always win.”
Elisabeth finds out that from now on and until the end of her days she will be in constant conflict. Between her personality, as a woman, as a daughter, as a wife and a mother. She will have her obligations, her feelings, her emotions, her human rights. And she will also want to be human, to feel those emotions: naturally like all humans have to. However! To the detriment of all those desires, needs, and obligations she’ll have to be a good queen.
And her grandmother says: “Elisabeth the Queen should always win”.
And here’s the core of the mask. The kings and queens of the past gave a new name to the mask, not to themselves when being crowned. And this mask should have won always, until the end of their days. The keyword is “always”. It shouldn’t have fallen not once. It means that the real man behind the mask shouldn’t be seen even once.
Once again, this isn’t a talk about Zero and Lelouch standing behind it. No. We speak about a public image that should’ve been held all the time.
So what Lelouch has done? What was so unforgivable in his actions? Because he broke this main rule of the mask. That all who wear it have no right to be normal people, have feelings or human rights. They are fully giving themselves to the mask. And when Lelouch revealed his true face, his real worries, and has done it publicly; he was cut off from his status. That act instantly made him unsuitable for it.
In contrary to Jeremiah and Villetta. Who has betrayed the Fatherland, but either did it under the influence of Geass or because of some blackmail… no one was able to get it fully straight back then. But they didn’t lose their masks. At least Villetta wasn’t caught red-handed.
We also see the Emperor taking a Japanese traitor, Suzaku, to serve him. And while his traitorship pushed him to betray Japan, he perfectly wore a mask of a loyal Britannian and didn’t lose it. But after he established as a loyal Britannian, his betraying processes started to push him in other directions and he dropped that mask. So why Suzaku was marked as a traitor by the Emperor and the whole palace? Not because he chose another side and betrayed.
Jeremiah betrayed. Villetta betrayed too. But everyone talks to them over and over, they are given the second, the third chance to make a career. However, Suzaku’s political career meets its end. No one wants to deal with him. Because he dropped the mask and revealed himself. It became clear to everyone that a real Suzaku is just a traitor. Everyone was able to see that.
And this is how we see that there is a lesson. A lesson from the Emperor’s speech and actions, that Lelouch now has to learn. Actually he had to learn it from the moment of his exile. In reality, the Emperor’s beliefs are not based on Britannian’s superiority over the “numbers”. As all of his subjects thought while listening to his speech. With his actions, Charles always underlines the superiority of a man who is capable of wearing a mask.
To be continued…