Harribel’s and Starrk’s deaths explained
In Bleach the top hollows signify various aspects of death. Starrk stands for Loneliness, and Harribel stands for Pointless Sacrifice. But Starrk and Harribel, though on the wrong side, are morally immaculate characters. These two top hollows led to death by Aizen, deserve mourning and redemption, if only through philosophical explanation of their tragic deaths.
Las Noches, the barren world of hollows, displays a desperate race for survival where everyone feeds on the weak to grow stronger, only to fall themselves prey to someone even stronger. Harribel, (herself probably hollowfied by a personal history of unbearable loss of life) refuses to grow stronger by sacrificing others. The morally pointless mass ‘sacrifice’ in Las Noches led to “a sea of blood covered in ash, this hell we call world”.
Aizen promises Harribel a world “without pointless moral sacrifice”. But he is able to betray her and then still claim this should have been no surprise by exploiting an ambiguity: sometimes Aizen deviously substitutes himself and his project for all moral purpose and moral meaningfulness.
Once Aizen’s world stands for the only purpose capable of morally justifying anything, including Hallibel’s existence, then, if at some point she does not prove useful for the achievement of this moral purpose, he may wipe her out of existence without moral loss. She thus dies in vain by Aizen’s hand, with the mock consolation that she was exempted from an instrumentally (and ‘morally’ in Aizen’s sense) pointless sacrifice.
One may ask how a person incarnating solitude can have a permanent companion on his side. Lilynette is a congenial little girl, beautiful and understanding – hell, she is literally part of his soul, what more can one wish? Or is that the problem, since Lilinette was indeed born out of Starrk loneliness, who split his soul in two?
Not really, as the relationship between Kyoraku and his Katen Kyokotsu demostrate. Both Lillynette and Katen Kyokotsu are manifestatons of the spirit of their masters, possessing separate centers of consciousness. But Kyoraku appreciates the relationship with his female comrade, and, by defeating Starrk, shows the latter that he was not alone to begin with: his loneliness was a failure of soul, not of situation.
Was then Starrk’s loneliness a failure of will? Not necessarily. After splitting in two it seemed that each part of this essentially sick soul was expecting from the other to make it feel less lonely. What should have been two lively companions became two mirrors, infinitely reflecting one another’s loneliness in a bottomless pit of melancholy. This is the time Aizen shows up with his proposition. Starrk may have been beyond salvation, (his self defeating attitude in his battle with Kyoraku is a sign he thought that way) but then his mistake was to believe in Aizen’s deceit, that had he followed him, he would no longer feel lonely.