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Transcript of Watchmen: Themes
Nicholas Roach HEROISM This book is about people who are called heroes.
People that saw the need for heroes to stand up and protect their city, through crime fighting costumes and alter egos.
But what is a HERO?
The Watchmen are all ‘heroes’ in name, but when their motivations and methods are analyzed, a different truth comes to light.
Several characters have cruel and possibly ‘evil’ methods to bringing down the bad guys. The Comedian was a ‘hero’, but he was also a man who thought nothing of shooting down a woman he got pregnant in order to avoid responsibility. Is he still a hero? Dr. Manhattan, the only character that can be considered a ‘superhero’ is actually the worst example of this. He is not doing ‘good’ for the sake of doing good, and only bothers to help humanity for the sake of a woman. He knows the difference between bad and good, but does not bother with them, and has no real morals. Is he a hero?
Rorschach fought the evil in human society, through his rather violent means, but he did it for the betterment of the world, without selfish thoughts. He fought crime for the sake of cleaning the world. But he also killed and injured many people in his quest, without regard for the laws that society had created. Is he a hero? Do the ends justify the means? Is it heroic to kill people if it will save many more?
Watchmen brings to light that there aren’t really any real ‘heroes’ that can fit the standard definition, and that people are really just human after all. But also that humans can be heroes too, even with their flaws. What is a Hero? MEGALOMANIA Many of the characters of Watchmen suffer from Megalomania, the god complex. They have ideas of grander; while each comes from a different place they are all affected by it.
Dr. Manhattan is the most unearthly of the Watchmen. He truly is an all-powerful god, but places himself above simple humans and has a hard time connecting with anyone.
Rorschach, Ozy and The Comedian have similar complexes. They both believe to be greater than the average person. They think that they know more and are doing what they deem to be a service to society. The disorder isolates these characters. They can no longer associate themselves with society and instead end up alone.
Being disconnected from the average person fuels their pursuit. Some believe they can help because they are better. Others know they are better and don’t care.
Watchmen shows how Megalomania negatively affects these characters. They go mad, each believes that they are the controller, with the power to save or destroy the world. Inn the end they are powerless, and alone. FANTASY VS REALITY The world begins with a sense of fantasy for the super hero crowd back in the 50’s and 60’s. Reality begins to sink in as the imperfections of man becomes apparent in each other and finally slaps them in the face when the Keene Act is set in place.
Rorschach’s theory of a conspiracy begins as just a fantasy of a delusional homicidal maniac. As time goes on, it is revealed that it was not a fantasy, but a grim truth. Dr. Malcolm Long, Rorschach’s therapist, begins in the fantasy that the world is not as corrupt as Rorschach leads it to be. He then changes to realize it is, and feels almost an obligation much like Rorschach.
Dan Dreiberg’s, a.k.a. Nite Owl’s, character has to make a decision dealing with the struggle of reality vs. fantasy. He has to decide whether or not being Nite Owl was just a childish fantasy like being one of the Knights of the Round Table or if it’s necessary for society. There is a constant reflection of the story with the reading of the fictional story about pirates. This gives a direct connection of fantasy and reality to the reader.
The “heroes” are living in the fantasy that heroism is saving everyone and doing whatever’s morally right. They are hit with the reality (not willingly) that lives need to be sacrificed to save millions. The reality of being a hero, making the decisions no one else can. HEROES