*Potential spoilers for everything involving the topic character and their game.
CW: Discussions of depression and suicide.
Name: Celes Chere
Game: Final Fantasy VI
Job: Imperial General
Major Arcana: The Hanged Man – Picking Celes’ card was so much harder than I originally thought it would be. I’d pegged her as either The High Priestess or The Empress since those are the typical female defaults, but Celes isn’t a “typical female” (whatever that means anyway). She’s a woman general, a typically masculine job, and she’s young, really young. Everything about her seems to exist as a unity of opposites to Terra, the other main female character. She’s heavenly (Celes as in “celestial”) to Terra’s “earth;” ice to Terra’s fire; and she’s a high ranking military officer to Terra’s bondage. Of course Celes is bound herself even before her arrest, which is proven by her very imprisonment . She acted on her conscious after disillusionment with the Empire and wound up sentenced to death. Her entire existence, occupation, and powers were entirely predicated on the Empire’s whims, but it isn’t until she defies Imperial orders that she understands that…and realizes that even someone completely raised and indoctrinated into a regime can still be themselves. There’s an ineffable quality to a person that can override even the deepest programming if pushed to the limit.
Celes doesn’t possess the mystery and esoteric knowledge of The High Priestess, nor is she the motherly figure of The Empress, but she was willing to sacrifice herself for a cause and accept the detriment of traitor, which is another name for The Hanged Man. The nature of the card evokes the idea of viewing the world askew, which is what Celes does, but she realizes it is her original POV that was awry. Similar to Cecil in Final Fantasy IV, she knows she can’t sit idly by and “follow orders.” Nor is it dissimilar to growing resentment and derision Sephiroth feels for his employers before the Nibelheim Incident except Celes isn’t forced to face horrors that cause (that particular type of) psychological break. There is something to be said for characters in high positions on the enemy’s payroll switching allegiances, but I’ll explore that in depth later. More like the dark knight turned paladin, Celes sacrifices herself for what she believes in thus earning her in game description of “a spirit pure as snow.”
Zodiac: Libra with a Capricorn moon – Celes sun sign of Libra is intricately tied to her Hanged Man tarot card. Both require the ability to see things from another point of view, and it is this trait that’s integral to the general’s most divisive action. Librans are all about fairness, justice, and equality plus the ability to weigh and balance these ideas in order to make a decision. If Celes didn’t align with Libra tendencies, she couldn’t have come to the conclusion that nearly cost her her life.
Also, though this is a weaker argument in my opinion, Librans are motivated by the need to experience partnerships. I’m not fond of the OTP of her and Locke, but it not only canonically exists, it’s the only canon couple in the game (granted it grew out of the trope of the Rescue Romance and they’re not all that compatible as a couple, but that’s neither here nor there). Unfortunately, I could see Celes losing herself in need to cultivate the relationship, and in this area her ideas of fairness might work against her, because she wouldn’t be practicing it with herself.
The Capricorn moon sign gives an air of practicality and pragmatism, granting the need to take action. Air and earth are weird together (I’m a Taurus with a Libra moon, and it’s an odd feeling of being staunchly for or against something, but still considering that everything is up in the air and nothing matters anyway because eventually the universe won’t exist). People with Capricorn moons might have had to step into a position of high responsibility early in life. When we first meet Celes she is 18 years old and already an Imperial General, so I think this fits. She was forced to live up to certain expectations and obviously did since not everyone ascends to the level of general. You have to be capable to attain that position, regardless of how much you might have been enhanced.
I’m surprised at how difficult it was for me to even figure out Celes’ sun sign. Since she’s one of my favorite characters, I assumed it would be pretty easy, but the signs I’d had her initially pegged at didn’t really work out. Her being a Libra might explain why I’m drawn to her since that’s my moon’s motivation.
Alignment: Lawful Good/Neutral – Because Celes’ origins lie with the Empire, I can’t in good faith call her Lawful Good when the organization she was apart of was Lawful Evil. The description of Lawful Neutral is a little bit contradictory since it says people who are “typically believe in lawful concepts…and often follow a personal code,” but the examples include ” a soldier who always follows orders,” which Celes is the exact opposite of, and “a judge or enforcer that adheres mercilessly to the letter of the law.” The personal code part is what draws me, but I think she could count as Lawful Good.
When it comes to “law,” things are extremely arbitrary. Laws are created by humans, and by breaking one set, you could be following another. Celes breaks the laws of the Empire to avoid being complicit in (more) crimes against humanity. By that measure, she was following the same laws as the Returners who are only rebels because the Empire is (was) winning the war.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type: INTJ (Introversion-Intuition-Thinking-Judging) – Eventually I’ll come across an extroverted Final Fantasy character, but most of my favorites tend to be like me. However, I was a bit on the fence with Celes, but her more reserved nature cemented it. This is not to say an extrovert would be any more reluctant than she in terms of performing an impromptu aria in front of a full opera house, but that did figure in my decision. The “big picture” aspect of intuition sold it to me for Celes. She betrays her country for the greater good, because she knows what they’re doing is wrong. She values justice and fairness otherwise she’d never have gotten herself into that situation, which makes her lean more towards thinking (T) than feeling (F), though I did consider the latter’s “base your decisions on personal values and how your actions affect others” for a good five minutes.
Finally the J just seems like the type of attitude a military officer would have. Rules and deadlines should be respected, though this doesn’t mean intolerable rules can’t be broken. Celes has her own set of rules and regulations that she’s steadfast on. She’s actually a very straightforward person, which is why I was kind of shocked that Locke suspected her even for an instant in the Magitek Research Facility. I mean…I get it. She was an imperial general and it could’ve all been an elaborate ruse, but such an operation would’ve needed even more elaborate steps for factors she never considered. How could anyone know that Locke would’ve been in South Figaro at the time, and even if they did, how would they know he’d rescue Celes unless they’d done some ridiculous reconnaissance with spies in Kollinghen who talked to or threatened the old man keeping watch over Rachel? Then these people would’ve had to conclude that Locke was obsessed with rescuing women in trouble because of this (maybe they’d had a spy in Narshe who discovered he’d saved Terra?). I mean I guess it could’ve been that way, but it wouldn’t make sense for a mega power like the Empire to gamble that someone they’d consider a lowlife thief would attempt to save someone he’d consider his enemy.
I was still up in the air about the last two letters (as I usually am, since there’s a lot of overlap…at least with me), nor does the personality type’s title really suit Celes (The Architect), but I’m happy with my explanation of why I chose what I did.
Diagnosis: Celes tries to kill herself (if you play game a particular way) after she awakens in the World of Ruin following Cid’s death. I didn’t realize it when I first played, but this is a pretty big deal. I believe it’s the first game I ever played that had a character attempt suicide. As someone who has depression and must admit to certain times of suicide ideation, I understood why the former general chose to throw herself off a cliff into the sea after the person who not only kept her alive, but was essentially her surrogate father succumbs.
Celes went from being part of something huge, a major cog in the Imperial wheel, to being utterly alone. In that loneliness and destitution, she does something far too many of us have contemplated (and succeeded in), and her inability to complete the most final of tasks could be seen as yet another failure. Despair is not an affliction of the weak. For someone like Celes to be brought down to that point takes a great deal of loss, but there are things that will break the strongest.
What do you think of my assessments of this character? Do you agree? Disagree? Would you pick another Major Arcana, astrological sign, alignment, MBTI, and/or diagnosis? Let’s discuss in the comments and let me know whom you want me to do next!