coercion, by definition, is the practice of forcing or persuading someone to do something they do not want. the force that is used does not have to be physical. with words alone, chara is able to force asriel into acting against his morals and instead cooperate with chara.
this analysis is in no way trying to absolve asriel of responsibility or blame for his part in the plan. after all, being an accomplice to a crime is still a criminal act. however, it is important to acknowledge the degree to which asriel consented to this plan, and the pressure he faced to go along with it.
the first protest
after chara explains their plan, asriel is quick to protest it. right off the bat, he states that he doesn’t “like this idea.” instead of giving an answer, chara deflects and says something that causes asriel to deny he is crying, which appears to be a source of shame for him.
by not acknowledging asriel’s doubts and instead calling attention to his weakness, asriel is put on the defense. the pressure to be a “big kid” seems to be of importance to asriel, and he shows this by trying not to cry. of course, not crying means not letting the plan upset him, and the best way to prove he is not upset is by agreeing to it. ultimately, asriel feels obligated to go along with this plan in order to protect his own sense of self-worth.
once asriel says chara is “right,” chara must ask if he doubts them. asriel vehemently denies this, saying he would “never doubt” chara. by calling asriel’s loyalty into question, asriel once again is put on the defensive. asriel feels the need to express that not only does he not doubt chara, but he would never doubt them. this unconditional vow means asriel is, once again, obliged to cooperate with chara.
after asriel defends himself – denying the tears and reaffirming his loyalty to chara – asriel makes a hesitant affirmative: “y… yeah!” while it’s unknown what chara said before this, it’s probable that chara made their most compelling argument: that together they should be strong enough to free all monsters. this is the most positive aspect of the mission, and one that is difficult to oppose. after all, who would be against the virtues of strength and freedom? however, it’s interesting that chara stresses this only after asriel is forced to defend himself. by putting asriel on the defense, asriel is compelled to find a reason to agree with the plan. by agreeing with these noble goals, he can prove that he is not a crybaby and not disloyal to chara.
this is when asriel takes his first active role in the plan: despite his misgivings, he gets the flowers. this implies his consenting assistance with the plan, but this consenting assistance comes from a position of emotional coercion. while this does not absolve him of blame for what would later happen, it does indicate that perhaps a greater portion of the responsibility should be placed on chara here; not only for coming up with the idea in the first place, but also for dismissing, deflecting, and rejecting asriel’s justifiable concerns and using unfair tactics to ensure he cooperated.
the second protest
after chara has been poisoned, asriel admits he is against the plan again, but he realises it is too late: chara is too far gone to save.
asriel psychs himself up to finish the plan he didn’t want to agree to.
the alternative would be to let chara die for nothing, a decision that asriel would likely struggle to live with. he once again recalls that he said he’d never doubt chara, and this vow and partnership seems to be the only thing forcing asriel to carry out the final steps of chara’s plan. chara later refers to this plan as “our plan” because asriel ultimately went along with it. this is a way to put the onus on asriel, and to distance chara from being wholly responsible.
the final protest
the final time asriel disagrees with chara leads to both of their deaths. chara endeavours to physically force asriel to kill, but he does everything in his power to resist.
asriel felt so strongly against chara’s plan to kill that when finally faced with it, he opted to be killed rather than kill. asriel’s actions speak for themselves: despite going along with chara’s plan, he could not will himself to carry it out to the point of murder, even in self-defense. (had asriel killed in self-defense, this still would have been something he was forced into: another example of manipulation.) in the end, asriel admits that resisting chara and not killing was the “right thing.”
if someone is put in a situation where they cannot say no without there being negative consequences, then their cooperation is not truly their choice. asriel disagreed with chara’s plan, even to the point of tears, but cooperated because he did not want to be ridiculed by chara or have his friendship or loyalty called into question. none of these reasons are because he actually wanted to follow chara’s plan.
based on asriel’s behaviour: the denial, tears, doubt, protests, and physical resistance, it’s clear that asriel was manipulated by chara to participate in a plan he wanted no part of. however, asriel must still be held accountable for his actions, after all, the plan could not be completed without his hand in it. that said, it’s important to acknowledge the context in which his decision to participate was made. while asriel did cooperate in the end, coercion is still not consent.