Originally Posted by BatLobsterRises
You know what, that's a valid interpretation. But I think it's arguable that your interpretation (that everything was okay all along) has some conjecture to it as well. But both of ours are coherent interpretations, depending on how you read into certain lines throughout the movie.
I think it's a bit of both ultimately. I agree with what you're saying about him wanting to survive and fight first, with a potentially secondary death fantasy in there. That's how I view it. It's not something he's really conscious about, I certainly wouldn't call him suicidal by any means. But I feel that on some level it's there because I believe Alfred does understand Bruce better than anyone, even himself. And in TDKR, that is the thing that is making him weaker, it's the thing he must overcome. Even if it's the faintest little thought in the back of his mind, he needs to be fully committed to living if he wants to come out on top in the fight of his life. He needs that extra push.
I think it is a bit of both. Alfred saying Bruce is seeking death really is just Alfred's interpretation (he's been wrong before), but emotionally, he has a point. Bruce has been seeking an end to his pain since the beginning, and with his life in shambles and the true saving of Gotham seemingly out of reach with Batman no longer needed to fight crime, and his energy plan failing, he really does have nothing to live for by the time Bane rises. This is different than having a death wish in Bruce's eyes, but to Alfred, this is equal to what Bruce is looking for - an end. He really has lost hope.
I would say that he starts to regain hope a bit in those around him like Blake and Selina, and seeks to reinspire hope to the people by facing bane, but imo, he's kind of hoping to be a martyr at this point, while not actually expecting to be, if that makes sense. He doesn't expect to lose, but in a way he kind of hopes he does. They purposefully don't have Bruce say this explicitly, but imo (and this is
my interpretation), you can just see it in Bruce's eyes when he wakes up and asks why Bane didn't just kill him and get it over with. He expected to die, and he's made his peace with it. It's not until Bane tells him his full plan for Gotham and starts seeing it in effect that he regains that will to fight for his life and city. Much like an addict who gives in to his addiction full on knowing the dier consequences. Alfred doesn't mention the idea meaninglessly, and it's an idea that Bruce might never have even consciously considered, but all of his actions definitely point in that direction.