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20091201-11 Watchmen, Chapters 1-3 (Group 5)

Page history last edited by Meaghan Kilpatrick 10 years, 8 months ago

Summary

     In today's class, we discussed the first six chapters of Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Although Watchmen is a comic book, it is very complex in its literary style; it refuses to hand us the story on a silver platter. To start our class discussion we labeled "Heroes" as people who protect, inspire hope, have a moral code, etc. An example of a "Perfect Hero" is Superman. In Watchmen, Nite Owl 1 seems to set the perfect example of a hero; he even looks the part. He has good intentions and retires when appropriate.

     We also discussed the anti-heroes of the story. This is a character who is placed in the protagonist's role, but lacks the characteristics of a hero that we previously defined. The Comedian is an anti-hero, perhaps even villainous, as he is sometimes the protaganist but is selfish in many ways. He does things that seem evil, such as killing the pregnant woman and attempting rape. Other anti-heroes of the story are Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan; Rorschach is out for the greater good, and has his own moral code, but goes about fighting crime in a brutal and ruthless way that many may think immoral.  He believes that existence really has no meaning, save what one's mind naturally imposes, and that there is no absolute morality.  Dr. Manhattan seems completely disconnected from the feelings and emotions of those living in the world around him.

     We also discussed the evolution of the American Hero. We determined that after WWII people were no longer able to relate to a "perfect" hero. Glamorous grime has transitioned into brutality and moral complexity. Total good and total evil just don't exist in today's world.

 

Word count: 280

 

Passages

"Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face." - Chapter 1; Page 1

 

This passage can be used as a visual for this story.  With the visual art behind it, it could bring to question what is the "true face" of the city. It could be the blood on the street, the smiley face, the blood and the smiley face, or it could be the smiley face in the sense that it was the Comedian's and he could be the face of the city. This seemingly simple opening scene already brings these complex questions into the story.

 

"Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose." Chapter 6; Page 26

 

This exert is of Rorschach speaking to the psychologist. While looking at the ink blotches in the doctors office, he explains his view on the morality in society and claims that we make our own choices for morality and that to have order in the world, you must impose it yourself.

 

Terms

Anti-heroes

  • this is usually the person that plays the role of the protagonists, but lacks the typical heroic characteristics
  • selfish
  • amoral
  • post-modern

Hero

  • protective
  • brings hope
  • gives justice
  • sets an example
  • breaks the rules
  • has morals 

Utilitarian

  • someone that believes in the greater good for the greater amount of people
  • will sacrifice a few murderers or rapists, for example, for the safety of everyone else 

Dramatic Irony

  •     the audience knows something the character doesn't
  •     Rorshach believes he is the only Crimebuster without a personality disorder, when he is cleary seriously psycho

Metis

  •    Cunning and trickery
  •    Rorshach often uses trickery to defeat opponents, such as when he is in the prison cell and goads the men into a fight on his terms

 

 

Comments (1)

Brian Croxall said

at 12:26 pm on Dec 7, 2009


I'm glad to see that this set of notes involved contributions from more group members than the last one. Overall, you've done a good job of condensing down our very wide-ranging discussion of the text into a 300-word summary. You provide a very clear definition of what an anti-hero is and give us plenty of examples, and you contrast it with the previous generation of heroes which is embodied in Nite Owl I. I would have liked to see you use your final 20 words to point out that Moore and Gibbons are showing us that this old version of the hero is no longer viable in our moment and that this is a postmodern approach to comics/superheroes. I would have also liked to see you mention something about realism in the notes somewhere--perhaps in connection with your first passage. We didn't talk much about that at the moment, but it is an important point for the text: how it shows the real-world consequences of masked adventurers. If you could have crammed still more into those 20 words, it would have been nice to see you comment on how Moore and Gibbons help us sympathize with an anti-hero like Rorschach (showing us his point of view, his backstory, etc.). In discussing your second passage, you could have connected Rorschach's view of the world to the concept of an anti-hero. A typical hero is one that *has* a moral code that is connected to an outside source/authority (just think about Rama in the Ramayana). Rorschach declares here quite plainly that he can only refer to himself for his morals. And we know that that will be a dicey situation.

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