05 July 2010

Watching Watchmen!

In Alan Moore's The Watchmen, Moore presents the reader with two drastically different characters who have one strikingly similar trait. Ozymandias is a handsome, rich, public, and powerful man. Rorschach is an ugly, poor, private, and almost worthless man. Despite all of these contrasts, they share a common philosophy: they believe that the ends justify the means. This is a major theme of the story, and through it Moore causes the reader the ask themselves the question - do the ends justify the means?

Ozymandias was the first of all the super heroes to go public, two years before heroes were required to unmask themselves by law. Rorschach never went public, choosing to live as an outlaw rather than give up his identity. Ozymandias is considered by many to be the most handsome man in the world, while Rorschach is an ugly man who does not even bathe on a regular basis.Ozymandias runs an international conglomerate, while Rorschach does not have enough money to pay his rent. These differences present the reader with two extremely different characters, their only similarities being their staunch belief that the ends justify the means.

Throughout the Watchmen the reader is presented with many different characters. The characters of Rorschach and Ozymandias have a manichaean relationship. The line between good and evil has been blurred with these two characters: it is unclear to the reader which of the two is good, and which is evil. One is rich, liberal, and handsome. The other is poor, conservative, and ugly. However, despite all of their differences, these characters share a common philosophy: they believe the ends justifies the means. Which to me is a perfect example of the behavior of human nature is a sense!

Regardless, Watchmen still holds up really well on it’s own, and I’d encourage you to read it. Alan Moore is just about as smart as writers come (comic-book or otherwise), and it’s a great entry point into his work. I suppose it might help going in if you have a passing familiarity with the tropes of silver-age superhero comics, but you don’t have to know who any of the characters are beforehand or anything like that (they were all created specifically for the comic, and have not re-appeared elsewhere). Plus, the whole story pretty much begins in media res and then explains the details as it goes, so you’ll be playing a little bit of narrative catch-up either way– it’s just part of how the story’s written.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Josh, you've posted a nice little write up of Watchmen as a whole, but I really wanted you to focus on just the segments from "Under the Hood" :-/