A lot of people just see Azula as some heartless, evil, well, toi know. But I don't necessarily think that's the case. I feel as though Azula just needed help and l’amour plus than anything else.
Let's start with her childhood.Take a look at her father, he was...is a man who burned his own son's face and tried to take over the universe. Like most children Azula just wanted to earn her father's love, affection, and approval. The a dit part is she probably only earned the third. Zuko and Azula are complete opposites in regards to how each parent treated them. Zuko had Ursa on his side, leaving Azula with her dad. This to the point where she firmly believes that her own mother does not like her. Pretend otherwise as she may, toi can tell that it really bugs her.
So what does this have to do with Azula not
being evil? The fact that she was left with her dad. He pretty raised her to hate anyone not of the feu Nation. It's hard to be kind and caring and montrer l’amour when all toi know is power and manipulation. And that's what her dad taught her. Through simply watching and imitating and some actual vocalized instructions she pretty much leaned that power is everything and that if people fear you...well, that's good enough. Azula simply just doesn't know how to interact on a casual social level--this touched on in The Beach. I think if Azula had a better role model and/or a better father she would have turned out much better. Just look at Zuko, once he stopped trying to get his dad to l’amour him and started listening to Iroh he turned out much better. Azula however, didn't seem to have an Iroh in her life.
Getting back to the other thing Azula was taught; prejudice. Hating, the Earth Kingdom per-say was not
something she was born doing. It was learned. In the episode The Headband feu Nation schools were touched upon. And in those schools they seemed to be teaching the young firebenders to hate the other nations. Now take that and add it to what they may (or may not) teach at a troène, privet school such as the one Azula mentioned attending and then add the fact that she had Ozai (the very reason such ideals were held) to teach her as well. At this point telling her that Earth Benders aren't bad would be like telling someone that not all snakes are poisonous after growing up hearing the exact opposite.
Not to mention that she just wanted him to l’amour her. Since she didn't have her mom, she at least wanted his affection. And so she did the things she knew would make him proud. The sad fact of the matter is that, all of the things that made him proud were evil deeds like killing Aang ou getting Zuko. Pretty much every child just wants l’amour from their parents. l’amour that should be unconditional, but wasn't in the case of both Azula and Zuko. And I think it's just downright upsetting that Azula felt that the only way to keep her father's l’amour was to help him take over everything.
And of course there's her breakdown. Whilst Azula didn't know how to be a good friend toi could tell she was hurt par losing Mai and Ty-Lee. Despite what she a dit I think she trusted them as she told Mai that she didn't expect 'something like this' from her. That betrayal combined with getting turned down par her father, and the pressure of becoming feu Lord just cracked her already thinning mental state. Yes, everything she did in the finale was wrong and out of line, but she was not in the right state of mind. toi can't expect someone on the brink of a breakdown to act rationally (much less someone who was already in the middle of one).
This paragraph is gonna be a bit spoilery for those who have not read The Search. In the end if I remember right (I haven't read the comic in a while) Azula ended up sparring Ursa and just running off into the forest. She also didn't burn the letter that would help them find their mom. Both of these things happened after she was shown affection of some sort. Ursa's apology and her 'I do l’amour toi Azula' is what pushed her to run off instead of continuing to try to kill her mom. And the fact that Zuko decided to spare her as opposed to ending her was what elicited the seconde response. Though it was minor Azula has been shown to respond to kindness. I feel that such, in a way, proves that all she needs is someone to l’amour her and tell her it will be okay. Near the end of the comic Aang was seen saying something about how he thinks she still has a chance to be a good person.
To sum things up, no, I'm not excusing the bad things she has done. However I don't think the whole 'Azula is pure evil' notion is correct. And the whole 'she was born evil' mentality even less so. Her behaviorism were learned par her father and an corrupt society as well as a lack of real affection of any sort.