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Thane

Claude's goals

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Hello chaps.

Spoilers for all of Three Houses.

Something that I have thought more and more of in recent days is Claude's role in the story of Three Houses. I've read some analyses and arguments for why he's so well-written, but I have personally yet to be convinced. To me, Claude feels like several good ideas put together that weren't fleshed out enough and left him incomplete as a character. 

In the academy phase, it's made clear that Claude is secretive and a big unknown. No one knows where he came from or what he wants, but it is pointed out that it was very convenient that Duke Riegan's original successor, Claude's uncle, passed away early which paved the way for Claude to be proclaimed the Leicester Alliance heir in 1179. Byleth's first impression of Claude is that "his smile doesn't reach his eyes", and throughout the entire first phase, Claude studies mysteries in the library, listens in on meetings between Rhea, Seteth, and Byleth, and there is a never-ending reference to his schemes.

Like everyone in Three Houses, Claude has his own agenda. The problem is that that agenda does not seem to properly correlate with how they portray Claude in the first half of the game. Claude, while seemingly not nefarious, seems like someone who doesn't mind playing dirty in order to achieve this goals. However, once the war arc comes along, there seems to be a huge tone shift in regards to Claude's character that is not related to something like character growth, but more like plot threads were scrapped. Claude is still interested in having questions answered, but it's never explained how exactly that coincides with his goals. 

So what are his goals? To open up Fódlan's borders. According to Claude, Fódlan is completely shut off from the rest of the world and that's just no good. 

The dissonance here to me is rather striking. What does this have to do with wanting power and figuring out Church secrets? 

The dissonance doesn't just come from Claude's character but also the worldbuilding up until that point. We saw plenty of different people in Garreg Mach, and while Shamir and Cyril are not trusted by everyone, they are free to live their lives however they want and they're there with the blessing of Rhea, whom Claude wants removed. Not to mention that Fódlan has seemingly been the defenders against hostile foreign powers multiple times in recent times. There was a war between Adrestia and Brigid and Dagda, but even more important than that, you yourself stop the Almyrans from invading Fódlan in Hilda's paralogue. The fact that Claude does not mention this comes across as intellectual dishonesty, and it should be the first thing people mention when he brings up his grand plan.

I should make a few things clear: I am fully aware of Claude's past and how it might make him want to open Fódlan up, and I have read analyses about Claude's distance to other people. I also believe that an outsider's perspective on what's really a war between the Empire and Faerghus *could* work, but I don't think this works. Like I mentioned at the start, these ideas feel half-baked in the scope of the main story - I mean, blink and you'll miss that Claude's father is the king of Almyra.

There is one final problem I would like to mention, and that is Almyra. For all the good stuff in the worldbuilding of Three Houses, we lack an emotional connection to Almyra, which is why Claude's goals, even if you think what I have brought up is of little consequence, ring a little hollow. We see a grand total of three Almyran characters in Three Houses, with Claude himself being the only one who actually gets any kind of screen time or development. It's hard to care about a nation when we only have Claude's words to go by, especially after Hilda's paralogue. Even if Claude desired power and to oust Rhea so that he could unite the continent by force before Edelgard beat him to the punch, there would still be a major emotional disconnect due to this fact.

What do you chaps think?

Edited by Thane

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He's digging into the church because he wants to know how and why Fodlan got so closed off in the first place. And given how the church is the big moral authority in Fodlan but a virtual unknown elsewhere, there's a good chance they're behind it, meaningfully or not.

I think that's part of why he hands off rule of Fodlan to you after VW ends. Even though as Leicester's heir apparent, he is by all means rightful ruler of Fodlan (Edelgard's death means Imperial lords and the parts of Faerghus they control would likely join him, and with Dimitri dead no one's left to rule the rest of Faerghus), he knows that his rule would have heavy opposition from racists (not trying to make this political, but look at the sizable portion of old white people who freaked out when Obama was elected). He decides he's better off handing Fodlan to someone he trusts and can work alongside (even in CF he still seems to think quite highly of you), then later, knowing Slither is still out there, can swoop in and save the day when Fodlan needs them most. Then even his detractors would have to admit he's a good guy, and then he can make a formal alliance with Fodlan.

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Cool insights, I certainly never thought of those things.

I think the main problem here is that having the entire game take place in Gareg Mach Monastery when the characters aren't on a mission seriously inhibits the game's ability to properly develop a plot thread about globalization. Even if there are characters who represent other nationalities in the home base, many of those characters have worldviews colored to some extent by the amount of time they've spent in the Fodland. The only real exceptions to this is Claude and Petra, but even Petra is difficult to pin down due to her attitude changing completely based on whether she's supporting the professor or Edelgard. I absolutely feel the solution to this problem would be to include some scenarios that let you talk to the lay people of foreign countries to see how they truly feel, but I also have difficulty imagining what sort of scenarios of that ilk could realistically fit in a story centered around conflicts within Fodland, on top of the established hostilities other countries feel towards the continent which inhibit diplomacy anyways.

Edited by PeaceRibbon

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Claude seems like the kind of guy who hears "no you can't because I said so", and takes it as a challenge.

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2 hours ago, Thane said:

To me, Claude feels like several good ideas put together that weren't fleshed out enough and left him incomplete as a character. 

I agree. It's why Verdant Wind is my least favorite of the four three routes. Because of Claude. And I LOVE Claude's design and general basis of character. Sassy, aloof, with a heart of gold? Perfect.

But he's so disjointed and incomplete and more than not a side accessory in everyone's story. His arc got answers cause he was the only lord curious enough to ask questions (unlike both Edelgard who wanted to cling to her false truths and Dimitri who despite all evidence to the contrary, wanted to keep things the way they were), and I sorta like this dichotomy of him (the foreigner) being the only one to truly uncover the truths about everything and dive deeper because he doesn't have the biases of Fodlan in his head.

In this sense, I think his story had the biggest capability to be SO much, but I agree they just didn't quite put the pieces together for all the reasons you stated. 

In my opinion, I wish Claude's route had been split into two routes (and just get rid of Silver Snow entirely), and make one where he actually joins Edelgard and the two unite against Rhea and Dimitri and another route where he actually joins Dimitri and Rhea and unites against Edelgard. I think Claude is one of those characters who could have legitimately joined either side based on the Professor, and it seemed so odd that he remained a full third party, when I feel like he could have made a difference in both.

Especially in Dimitri's route, it would have made sense for him to join instead of not doing anything (and in turn inspire some curiosity and thinking to Dimitri's single-minded goals). And in Edelgard's route (if we didn't kill Hilda, *cries*) it would have been nice to have him join us at the voice of both reason and maybe to temper some of of Edelgard's more egregious tendencies. 

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2 minutes ago, Kiran_ said:

I agree. It's why Verdant Wind is my least favorite of the four three routes. Because of Claude. And I LOVE Claude's design and general basis of character. Sassy, aloof, with a heart of gold? Perfect.

But he's so disjointed and incomplete and more than not a side accessory in everyone's story. His arc got answers cause he was the only lord curious enough to ask questions (unlike both Edelgard who wanted to cling to her false truths and Dimitri who despite all evidence to the contrary, wanted to keep things the way they were), and I sorta like this dichotomy of him (the foreigner) being the only one to truly uncover the truths about everything and dive deeper because he doesn't have the biases of Fodlan in his head.

In this sense, I think his story had the biggest capability to be SO much, but I agree they just didn't quite put the pieces together for all the reasons you stated. 

In my opinion, I wish Claude's route had been split into two routes (and just get rid of Silver Snow entirely), and make one where he actually joins Edelgard and the two unite against Rhea and Dimitri and another route where he actually joins Dimitri and Rhea and unites against Edelgard. I think Claude is one of those characters who could have legitimately joined either side based on the Professor, and it seemed so odd that he remained a full third party, when I feel like he could have made a difference in both.

Especially in Dimitri's route, it would have made sense for him to join instead of not doing anything (and in turn inspire some curiosity and thinking to Dimitri's single-minded goals). And in Edelgard's route (if we didn't kill Hilda, *cries*) it would have been nice to have him join us at the voice of both reason and maybe to temper some of of Edelgard's more egregious tendencies. 

That could've been cool. You're right' he really is kind of stuck in the middle of the war, and it could've been cool to see Leicester tip the balance of the war towards wherever you decide to put them (instead of a single person being the deciding factor). He does to some extent agree with Edelgard's ideals, but not her methods, so both paths would make sense for him to take.

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I actually think Claude is incredibly well written. 

5 hours ago, Thane said:

Something that I have thought more and more of in recent days is Claude's role in the story of Three Houses. I've read some analyses and arguments for why he's so well-written, but I have personally yet to be convinced. To me, Claude feels like several good ideas put together that weren't fleshed out enough and left him incomplete as a character. 

I did read your entire post, but I'm only quoting this because it's a pretty good summary of what you said. I'm not disputing any of the points you're making about him not thinking his plans through, or that a lot of the things he doesn't seem to be entirely disconnected from his goal. However, as a character, he is very believable and realistic. Without getting too into real world politics, there is one party who generally believes boarders are bad, excluding people based on race is bad, and that religion generally gets in the way of social progress. Also, relatively harmless schemes in the pursuit of those goals tends to be looked at as a positive. Particularly if used to avoid violence, which if I'm remembering correctly was the case for every one of Claude's "schemes."

I'm using very sweeping statements here, but I'm trying pretty hard not to derail this entire thread. That said, Claude is the picture perfect example of what people who share those beliefs want their leaders to act like. So in that way, he's written perfectly.  

Honestly, if you had a character who was totally logical and never took any actions that contradicted their end goals, that to me would be less believable and realistic than someone like Claude. How many people do you know personally, or even in history books, who 100% of the time only do things that are aimed towards their ultimate goal and do nothing to shoot themselves in the foot along the way? If any exist at all, they're the exceptions to the human race.

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Every House Leader has a deep secret they're trying to keep hidden, but Claude's is just...he's not from here. And I'm not sure how his lineage is kept so secretive or how high stakes the secret ultimately is. Only Lorenz is seen questioning Claude's lineage, but I don't know if such questioning is because it's really not common knowledge among nobles or if Lorenz is just prodding Claude for any weakness due to being his immediate political rival. Does anybody else in the Alliance care whether Claude is the legitimate heir? They follow him just because he bears the crest. Any maniac showing up with that crest could take over the Alliance it seems, but thankfully the guy that did was Claude. The Slitherers have really dropped the ball, methinks. Zombie Reigan is sitting in their basement but they never thought to create their own heir of him. That could have been an interesting Claude-centric conflict.

If the goal of Claude was to make a likeable and relatable protagonist, they succeeded. But if the goal was to make a protagonist with character development and a keen attachment to the core conflicts in Fodlan, they failed. Especially since Claude isn't the only one who sees the nobility for what it is. Most Fire Emblem protagonists lean towards the likable paragon archetype so I can't blame them for sticking with what works. But really Claude feels like a scrapped draft of an Avatar character. An outsider that gets by on Chosen One status and is exactly open minded enough to tear down the walls of Fodlan due to being raised a commoner.

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2 hours ago, Glennstavos said:

Every House Leader has a deep secret they're trying to keep hidden, but Claude's is just...he's not from here. And I'm not sure how his lineage is kept so secretive or how high stakes the secret ultimately is. Only Lorenz is seen questioning Claude's lineage, but I don't know if such questioning is because it's really not common knowledge among nobles or if Lorenz is just prodding Claude for any weakness due to being his immediate political rival. Does anybody else in the Alliance care whether Claude is the legitimate heir?

It could just be his trust issues making it seem like a bigger deal than it actually would be, and/or just not wanting to deal with it.

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3 hours ago, Glennstavos said:

Any maniac showing up with that crest could take over the Alliance it seems

That's a really unfair take, to be honest. Claude is but a likely successor before the timeskip(and he is that because his grandfather, someone whose authority the Alliance values, recognized him as such), and Lorenz being the only playable character to raise objections makes sense when neither Hilda nor Lysithea care about the state of the Alliance at that point, same for Marianne. And the last three Deer don't have a political agenda at all.

This has consequences for sure, but I'd definitely disagree that things don't make sense in general. We are given reason to think his aptitude is what kept him on top, since the turmoil in the alliance is showcased a number of times. He was given an opportunity to prove himself before his grandfather passed, and did with flying colors, basically. Even though we're admittedly not shown enough of it, we do know that it's what happens.

I wish I could dig into this thread, not sure if I'll ever find the motivation, though...

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39 minutes ago, Cysx said:

 Claude is but a likely successor before the timeskip(and he is that because his grandfather, someone whose authority the Alliance values, recognized him as such),

I literally cannot remember any mention of Claude's grandfather. What is he known for? Is he alive during the events of the game? Was there any resistance to an Almyran being named his heir?

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Uh, his grandfather summons him to attend a round table conference in his stead in-game, and Claude references him when Hilda asserts that he's likely to get Failnaught soon (saying his grandfather is old but healthy and he's not sure if that's true). He's the successor mostly because he's the last one left and House Riegan isn't eager to give up their place on the totem pole yet. They likely kept his heritage under wraps because it would put their hold on power in further jeopardy, too.

As for the game not showing how being Claude being a snoop aligns with his goals, well, it doesn't... but it's kind of obvious why a foreigner may be interested in learning about the land he seeks dominion of? As for the group not bringing up Fodlan's numerous past conflicts when he finally tells them his grand plan much later, I'm not sure how familiar most of the Alliance young adult population is with those conflicts outside of the Almyran invasions. And he would naturally be an instrumental part in preventing those.

 

Edited by Crysta

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8 hours ago, Glennstavos said:

I literally cannot remember any mention of Claude's grandfather. What is he known for? Is he alive during the events of the game? Was there any resistance to an Almyran being named his heir?

That's a weird thing to miss... he's mentioned a bunch of times, and Claude informs you of his passing post timeskip. I don't think we're told that much about him otherwise though, to be fair... not that I remember, anyway. Some tidbits here and there, like most side characters in this game. And yes, as said in my post, he is alive pre-timeskip.

The alliance didn't know Claude was Almyran. And their hatred for Almyrans is precisely why it's a secret, most likely. It's often forgotten(gotta read through that library, unlock those Cyril/Hilda supports... yeah many people missed all that), but that conflict is the Alliance's primary concern(and has been for a while) until Edelgard's uprising.

Edited by Cysx

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7 hours ago, Cysx said:

That's a weird thing to miss... he's mentioned a bunch of times, and Claude informs you of his passing post timeskip. I don't think we're told that much about him otherwise though, to be fair... not that I remember, anyway. Some tidbits here and there, like most side characters in this game. And yes, as said in my post, he is alive pre-timeskip.

Yeah well it was six months and three full playthroughs ago. I remember Claude talking about his mom and dad because he had something to say about them. 

Quote

The alliance didn't know Claude was Almyran.

Baffling. Is racial profiling not a thing in Fodlan? It's a pretty white place. People immediately notice Cyril is Almyran, and Dedue is from Duscur. I imagine they learn that with their eyes and not by striking up a friendly conversation. Interestingly, Cyril doesn't know Claude is Almyran in their support, but not defining people by race is pretty much Cyril's defining character trait. The Duscurans in Dedue's paralogue immediately see where Dedue is from just by looking.

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46 minutes ago, Glennstavos said:

Yeah well it was six months and three full playthroughs ago.

Puts us on equal footing, then. Which is why in terms of details I can't be too much help until I go through the entire thing + supports once more, which is, well, probably not happening very soon?

46 minutes ago, Glennstavos said:

Baffling. Is racial profiling not a thing in Fodlan? It's a pretty white place. People immediately notice Cyril is Almyran, and Dedue is from Duscur. I imagine they learn that with their eyes and not by striking up a friendly conversation. Interestingly, Cyril doesn't know Claude is Almyran in their support, but not defining people by race is pretty much Cyril's defining character trait. The Duscurans in Dedue's paralogue immediately see where Dedue is from just by looking.

To be fair it's common knowledge that Cyril is Almyran, afaik people don't necessarily guess it, but I have to agree there may be a bit of an inconsistency here considering people from Duscur merely have a darker tone of skin and it's enough for others to know... and Almyrans are merely a shade lighter. With that being said, perhaps people just didn't even humor the possibility that the nephew of their former leader would have Almyran origins, despite his appearance. I don't believe his mother's whereabouts are common knowledge at all, and without that information... well what are the odds?

Probably should have made Claude a bit lighter still to avoid that problem(he's a metis after all), guess they wanted their racial variety cake and secret origin eating session of it too.
... at the same time, lack of racial diversity is something FE is often criticized for, so...

Edited by Cysx

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Judith is proof that olive-skinned Fodlanders do exist in the Alliance and I recall the wiki even incorrectly listing her as Claude's mom lol. Outside of being commoners, Cyril was a war orphan and Dedue was involved in the Tragedy of Duscur, so it's a little more difficult to keep a lid on their origins, I think.

 

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Golden Deer is definitely the oddest of the three. The game's plot of the Church and its crests could have quite easily written out the existence of the Alliance and Almyra, keeping the focus on the Empire threatening change by force and the Kingdom rising up in defense. I'd say all three paths and main lords could use polishing to some degree, but the Golden Deer gang is probably the one that could have seen the biggest overhaul to integrate into the story better. Either cut out Almyra and make Claude's story actually take place in Fodlan, or bring Almyra more into the plot to fully explore Claude's backstory and motives.

We learn a lot about Fodlan in Verdant Winds, but it is unnecessary if there is literally a path where you side with the Church directly. Although I'd wonder whether it would have just been better to have such lore revelations in Crimson and Azure, since there is really no legitimate reason to leave them out other than to encourage more playthroughs.

As an aside, I'll always remain a little disappointed that the theories of Claude's schemes being deadly didn't pan out. It would have been infinitely more interesting than mole people being behind all the bad stuff happening. It also would have made him fit in more with the other two sociopath house leaders; him being a rational, temperate individual ironically just makes him and his path stick out more despite being a good thing lol.

Edited by Holder of the Heel

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However, as a character, he is very believable and realistic. Without getting too into real world politics, 

Claude is very much reliant on other people to progress his own story.

He has some interesting ideas, but as charasmatic as he is, hes never going to do anything by himself.  Hes going to try, but he isnt taken seriously pre-skip by more or less anyone, his own house is super iffy about his ability to lead, and he does things that make Byleth go "uh... wtf is this guy on about this time". The only way he manages to end up with any amount of authority is because Edelgard started a civil war and he was the de facto leader of the "nobody cares about you enough to make sure they murder you first" faction.

 

Post skip, he's in a bad way.  The alliance is pretty tattered, most of them are either aligning with Edelgard or Dimitri either publicly or in private, he's reliant on Byleth in every route to help him accomplish basic tasks, in Judith to talk what little sense he has into him, and he only ends up capable of surviving (not even beating, at this point) Edelgard because surprise, I'm from Almyra and have ties to a famous military leader who is totally okay with tossing his troops into the "we didnt really exist yet" third position of the fodlan civil war.  It's a Claude gamble that either works or ends up being the most disastrous Claude'ing ever.  Like "I just got our recently war-torn fodlan and almyra into a continent spanning war, in which most of the people who entrusted me with power will be fighting on the opposite side, and also theres no guarantee I'm not going to accidentally be shot a few dozen times on accident by my new team should I survive until that war starts" disasterous.

 

And as bad as that is, without Edelgard kicking things off, Claude is, at best, the leader his own people rebel against within a few years of him Claude'ing it up in the Alliance. Theres several families who jump at the chance to do that the second they realize they can without the rest of the Alliance really caring all that much.  He is a fantastic supporting character, but needs to be regularly saved from himself.

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