The name itself is power – first part
„As he valued only power and possessed so much of it, Madara therefore disliked to waste it on unworthy causes or unchallenging opponents, claiming disgust when he was forced to.“ (Source)
When we first see Madara in chapter 559, we have very little knowledge on who he is: he is an enigma, unknown, a blank page. Yet he is feared. Interestingly he is a blank page not JUST for the reader/viewer but also for the vast majority of the characters, as they only know Madara from stories and legends (Onoki and Obito at this point in the story are – if I‘m not mistaken – the only ones who have actually met Madara when he was alive and have real stories to tell).
Few chapters later and we have the quote „the name itself is power“, which again clearly demonstrates how the characters within the story see Madara – powerful, dangerous, uncontrollable, vicious – almost a definition of evil. They are afraid of him, afraid of the mere possibility he could be alive (or revived) and as Tsunade states, this is what drew them into war.
As such the word power is automatically part of of Madara‘s character profile, as a matter of fact, it (almost) seems to be his entire characterization. Madara himself is evaluating other characters by how much power they have (or lack); when he first encounters five kage, he comments on their defense and offense. Even before he made comments on Naruto‘s rasengan barrage (in both of these examples he actually gave compliments to these characters for their abbilities). Later in the fight between him and kages we see Madara doing the same to Tsunade, however this time, he is not impressed at all, quite the opposite, he freely states his disgust on weakness and especially weak Senju. And for the rest of the manga we see the same pattern – we see him fight tailed beasts, Naruto, Sasuke, 8th gates Gai and many other characters, some of them Madara praised, others he criticized.
The point I‘m trying to make is quite obvious actually: Madara values power greatly, just as he values battle. But while I agree he most certainly values power, I firmly believe he values it because of something else. He doesn’t value power for it’s own sake. In these analyses I would like to concentrate on how Madara views power throughout his life, starting with his childhood.
Therefore in this particular post I would like to concentrate mainly on Hashirama‘s flashback, as it gives us at least a glimpse into Madara‘s psyche prior to him leaving the village.
Chapter 621 is where Hashirama‘s flashback begins. It‘s interesting to note, that the flashback begins with battle between Madara and Hashirama and ends with Hashirama‘s memory of their first meeting. Why is this interesting? It is interesting, because the chapter begins with an end → at this time in the manga we already know a little about the fight between Hashirama and Madara, we‘ve seen the statues at the Valley of the End, Obito talked about their fight, Madara himself mentoined it etc.
The chapter also starts with Madara we already know from 4th great ninja war – confident, dangerous, vicious, seemingly unstopable, godlike and arrogant even – and ends with Madara as a child and the very first thing we see is Madara...not able to do something, in this case to skip a stone across the river.
Of course, he was a kid and it‘s logical to think that he had to learn and train to be as powerful as he is at war arc, but this gives us a new perspective on his character. So far, we saw him throwing meteors on the heads of his enemies, we saw the perfect susanoo, we saw his rinnegan and how effortlessly he has beaten the five kages AND we also saw other characters (including Naruto himself) call him a god, run away from him with fear in their eyes or stare at him in disbelief and wonder outloud „is this THE Madara?”. Up untill now he seemed almost untouchable for mere mortals (both in a battle and as a person), but that has changed.
Even as a kid, Madara was already strong and very dangerous. As was stated by Butsuma Senju, he was able to defeat adult Senju on battlefield. But Madara deep down didn’t seem to think of himself as good enough (as shown, when he and Hashirama talked on the cliff), since he was unable to protect his brothers. His last brother was Izuna and Madara swore he would protect him no matter what. And with Hashirama coming up with the idea of village, Madara once again confirmed that if this village was ever to be created, he would be able to “watch over” and protect Izuna.
What does this tell us about Madara’s relationship with power? He desired power, yes, but he desired it to protect what was dearest to him – his brother Izuna. He desired it, because he felt inadequate, uncertain and scared. Also, for a child born in a warring states period, to be powerful was quite literally the only way to survive.
Both Hashirama and Madara shared a dream of better world, where children wouldn’t have to participate at wars. They both wanted to change the world. And here we see the second aspect of child-Madara’s perspective on power: only if they are powerful enough, others will listen to them and things might change. I believe this understanding of power stayed with Madara through his adulthood and elderly years as at 4th great ninja war he stated that “Power is not a will,” but that it is a “phenomenom that makes things happen”.
When their families discovered that they are unknowingly meeting with an enemy, both had the same plan – to follow and if necessary kill the other boy. But Madara and Hashirama chose to warn each other using stones for skipping. And when the lives of their younger siblings were endangered, they used the skipping stones to save them. Madara chose to throw away his dream of peace (and with it his friendship), because he saw no way of it ever becoming reality. This to me shows that Madara uses his power only if he believes it will actually be efficient. He couldn’t see any way his and Hashirama’s dream of peace could come true, so he saw it as pointless to try, despite the fact he himself dreamt of such peace.
This again shows that power is a phenomenom to Madara, a phenomenom that “makes things happen”, but it is not always enough. Hatred was too deeply rooted between the clans and peace was out of question. Ironically, his decision gave him a new power – his sharingan. He gained something because he sacrificed something else. If it reminds you of something, than you are correct: Madara said almost the exact same words in 4th great ninja war to Tobirama.
I would like to end the first part here, because this is already too long. In the second part I would like concentrate on the treaty between the clans, Madara’s decision to leave the village and perhaps also 4th great ninja war.