Itachi's Personality I have never desired a particular personality, philosophy, or motivation for Itachi. My fascination with Itachi evolved from his mystery and frustration of not having enough evidence to draw any conclusions about what kind of person he is. I have already indicated above at least a few ideas I had about him, but I felt there was more to understand and be explained. Following the revelations of the manga, I feel that Itachi?s character is more or less transparent now. Itachi is a prodigy. We knew that. He was born gifted and ambitious. He is cool, controlled, rational, solitary and autonomous. He is not merely ?independent,? managing his life alone, but truly does not require, need, or want other people. He does not need to care about anybody, and he does not need others to care for him. Itachi values Sasuke because he has the potential to activate the Mangekyou Sharingan. He values Madara because Madara can teach Itachi what he needs to aspire to the ?height? of his potential. Itachi values Akatsuki because it provides him with basic necessities while he carries out his other goals. Etc. Certainly Itachi has emotions. He also has likes and dislikes, which extends to feelings of admiration or contempt for others. He can become excited, angry, or sorrowful. He is entirely human. He could learn to care for the needs of others if he chose (i.e. the way he ?behaved? like the ideal brother for Sasuke), but he is likely to choose this only in exchange for something worth the effort rather than to fulfill an emotional need. Itachi?s Age and Mentorship A dark heart like Itachi?s is born from two sources: inner desires and outer influences. ?Satan made me do it? is never a viable excuse, even if a person has proof that the devil himself forced his or her hand. Inside all of us is the potential to do great evil for the promise of greater rewards. Indeed, selfish, evil acts often are rewarded with the prizes that were sought (i.e. money, sex, power, etc.). It takes only conviction and the ruthlessness needed to achieve such goals. That being said, it is unlikely that Itachi was born to an evil aim as great as mass murder in his search for power. Given his many mental and physical blessings, it is likely that Itachi was always ambitious and believed that he could achieve whatever he wanted, but it is also likely the direction of his ambition was shaped by outside influences. Not all ambition is evil. Itachi?s own father pushed him to succeed and impressed upon him the importance of achievement, honor, and greatness. However, Fukagu?s values were different than Itachi?s. Fugaku was proud of his son and saw him as a blessing and a great benefit to others (esp the Uchiha Clan). However, Itachi sought or was presented with an alternative destiny, a destiny that would serve him exclusively and take him farther than his father?s plan ever could. Madara Uchiha became Itachi?s mentor. It is unclear when they met, but it was certainly before the massacre. Perhaps it was during Itachi?s training with ANBU, but I would suspect that it was even sooner than this. It would take time to train Itachi to commit the deed that severed him eternally from his former life. My suspicion is that Madara encountered Itachi in the way Orochimaru encountered Kimimaro or Zabuza encountered Haku. Madara saw in Itachi amazing talent, an ambitious nature, dedicated drive, and a clear-sighted, moldable temperament. Given Itachi?s personality, it is not suggested that Itachi depended upon Madara for attention, affection, or companionship as Kimimaro or Haku are shown to. Instead they probably struck a bargain. Itachi wanted to advance and he found a teacher that could advance him, one worthy of respect and admiration, unlike his actual family whose potential was beneath his own. In exchange, Itachi would team up with Madara to destroy the Uchiha Clan and pursue a great destiny. Itachi was 13 when he murdered the Uchiha Clan. Needless to say, 13 is a very young, impressionable age. Although Itachi is intelligent and autonomous, he was barely a man (physically as well as mentally), just on the onset of puberty. Madara may have reached Itachi at a time when his system was just beginning to be flooded with testosterone (10, 11, or 12), when he was itching to compete, fight, assert dominance, explore possibilities of achievement, and creep out from the protection of his family. Other boys join competitive sports teams, or grapple with their peers in schoolyards at this age. Itachi was unchallenged and arrogant, yet driven to test himself and use his God-given talent to achieve something momentous. It would be the perfect age for Madara to approach him and groom him for murder and a massacre. The prize would be compelling for a young man of Itachi?s nature: the attainment of the Uchiha Clan?s highest honor?the Mangekyou Sharingan. In order to groom Itachi for the ?necessary? massacre, Madara Uchiha probably employed at least some degree of mental brainwashing. This is to say he probably fed Itachi?s ego considerably and reinforced every negative or apathetic thought and feeling adolescent Itachi had against his family and friends. For example, it is probably at least partially due to Madara?s influence that Itachi felt that the Uchiha Clan?s traditions were meaningless and that community values in general are responsible for the weakening the Clan and making them ?pathetic?. Itachi was probably encouraged to distrust people?s intentions (after all, his own were not trustworthy), particularly regarding Shisui, who we learn WAS asked by the Clan to tail Itachi and report back to the Clan on his movements. It wouldn?t take Madara very long to convince Itachi that he was better than everyone around him, that he had no reason to be patient with those who were inferior to him, and perhaps even impress upon him that he was hated, even by his parents, for his abilities. To a 13-year old, who is already inclined to nurse imagined injuries inflicted on them by others, this would be a very compelling argument. In other words, Madara Uchiha is the kind of person that a righteous individual would kill for fun, as Sasuke may feel like doing presently. If any of my speculations about Itachi?s life under Madara?s mentorship are true, it gives an ironic twist to Itachi?s mockery of Sasuke?s memory of the past and how his ?reality might be a mirage.? Itachi and Existentialism: A Philosophy of Life As previously stated, no one can or should be able to blame their actions on the influences of others. Regardless of whatever Madara may have said to Itachi in his youth, Itachi is ultimately responsible for his actions. By the evidence, he agrees with this, and even takes pride in it. Indeed, for all we know it was Itachi who sought out Madara and proposed the plan to murder the Uchiha Clan. Regardless of the details, Itachi takes ownership of his actions, and Sasuke (rightly) holds him accountable. Apart from Itachi?s personality and history, it is important to understand his life philosophy. Everybody lives by some sort of philosophy, even if it is unconscious survival by hand to mouth. The only way human beings make decisions is by ranking a system of values. The difference between an Existentialist and everyone else is that an Existentialist facilitates his own system. He is a master of his reality. Anyone who is unaware of what he values, or relies on another (such as a religion or societal doctrine) to dictate his morality, is a slave. What does this have to do with Existentialism? My postulation is that Itachi?s belief system is Existentialist in nature. About Existentialism As can be garnered from the name, Existentialism is concerned with the state of existence. Following studies on psychoanalysis and doubts regarding the existence of God (or any kind of absolute moral truth passed down to humanity by authority), philosophers began to question the nature of reality itself. How do we know we are who we think we are? How do we know that world is how we think it is? As such, how do we know how to behave or what to believe? The contention is that if a man is trapped within his own mind there is no possible way of knowing if anything he thinks, feels, or believes is ?true? or ?correct?. (Sound familiar?) There is no way to argue this point since human beings can?t perceive the world outside their own brains and bodies, but philosophers took it further. They questioned the very meaning of existence. How do we know we are real? How do we know that anything we think or do affects our reality? How can we be sure we are not just puppets acting out roles in a grand play orchestrated by a greater mind? In some ways, this is an extension of the conversation of whether or not human beings have free will. Are we being controlled in the things we do? How do we know we exist? In the past, this question was answered by referencing the mind. ?I think, therefore I am? was the mantra of Descartes, who believed that people could evaluate their existence by their rationale and judge it by their values or moral code. But if our very minds are unreliable, or if the reality we think we see is not reality at all, then this answer becomes meaningless. As do all of our beliefs and values.