Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ramses II

"Ladies and gentlemen, performing in aid of the Indian Famine Appeal, we present Adrian Veidt, the one, the only... OZYMANDIAS!" (Chapter 7, Page 14, Panel 3)

Ozymandias is the Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, the famed pharaoh of the biblical book of Exodus. Ramses was a great explorer and expander of his lands and is still one of the most revered pharaohs to rule in Egypt. Moore's decision to name his sympathetic antagonist after this pharaoh helps to characterize him-- Veidt has a great desire to rule and to expand his horizons. Like his two idols, Alexander the Great and Ramses II, Veidt has grand dreams but he must sacrifice and even kill to achieve what he feels to be success.

Link: http://www.egyptologyonline.com/ramesses_the_great.htm

Pink Triangles

Chapter 5, Page 21, Panel 8

The Pink Triangle, which is now a symbol of gay pride, comes directly from the Holocaust in Europe during the mid-20th century. All prisoners in Holocaust camps were forced to wear a colored triangle on their uniform to identify them-- gay prisoners were forced to wear a pink triangle. The inclusion of the pink triangle by Moore and Gibbons adds historical context to the novel and gives depth to the newsvendor character and the characters he interacts with. When these characters are given real personalities and depth, the reader forsm more attatchment to them. Their death at the hands of Veidt's monster feels all the more real. Knowing that Joey has a girlfriend and that the newsvendor is a friend of hers makes her something more than a nameless face killed by the squid and therefore makes her death more real and affecting.

Link: http://www.lambda.org/symbols.htm


Chapter 5, Page 7, Panel 1

Buddha is the corner-stone of a primarily-Eastern practiced religion known as Buddhism. Siddhartha Gautama is widely recognized as the Supreme Buddha and founder of Buddhism and it is his passed down oral teachings that form the rules of Buddhism. After his death, the image of Siddhartha was changed slightly and magnified. Siddhartha was raised as a prince and shielded from any knowledge of human suffering or pain. When he was about thirty, Siddhartha learned of death and eventually left his home to find enlightenment and live a simpler life. His life and teachings reached many people and he died (or simply moved onto a new stage of life, leaving his Earthly body behind) with many followers who continued to practice in the vein of his teachings. Gibbon's juxtaposition of a mellow Buddha poster with the blood from two dead children murdered by their suicidal father shows that the world in Moore's Watchmen has truly gone mad and now an image of calmness no no longer holds anything but gore.

Link: http://www.aboutbuddha.org/


"At the heigh of the McCarthy era . . . We all had to testify before the House of UnAmerican Activities Committee..." (Under the Hood, Chapter 5, Page 11)

Joseph McCarthy was a senator from Wisconsin who was a major player in the Communist witch hunt in the 40's and 50's. The House of UnAmerican Activities required anyone who was named a Communist supposrter or participant to testify to theior activies and name any co-conspirators. The fact that Moore had the Minutemen testify before the Committee shows the reader that during the McCarthy Era, no one was safe from the witch hunt, not even the heroes who were supposed to be more American and patriotic than anyone else. The testifying of the Minutemen also adds a realistic touch of context to the novel.

Link: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAmccarthyism.htm


Chapter 3, Page 1, Panel 4

In Greek mythology, Prometheus was the son of the Greek Titan Iapetus. Because Prometheus did not like Zeus, ruler of all the Gods, Prometheus stole fire and gave it to the mortals now living on Earth. When Zeus discovered that Prometheus had deceived him, he chained Prometheus to a rock and condemned him to an eternity of having his liver eaten out by a huge bird only to have the organ grow back each day to be eaten out again. Prometheus is referenced in Watchmen with The Promethean Cab Company. Gibbons and Moore reference Prometheus because he has some qualities in common with Veidt-- Prometheus takes the power of fire away from the gods and gives it to the humans, much like Veidt takes the power of uncertainty away from the universe and gives the control back to the humans. However, much like Prometheus died each day in pain and was reborn, Veidt will forever have to watch the human race rip itself apart again and again.

Link: http://messagenet.com/myths/bios/promethe.html


Chapter 2, Page 9, Panel 5

On the newspaper that the Comedian is reading, the headline reads "French Withdraw Military Commitment from NATO". NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an alliance of 26 counties from North America and Europe dedicated to upholding the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty. The treaty includes such things as a dedication to upholding peace amonst countries of the world along with other things. Gibbon's inclusion of this headline on the newpaper adds a sense of historical context to the novel. If France is pulling out of NATO, then things in Europe must be going downhill, a theme that continues throughout Watchmen.

Link: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-DB4949A4-7710FF7D/natolive/what_is_nato.htm

The Manhattan Project

"Good evening, Dr. Manhattan." (Chapter 1, Page 20, Panel 1)

The superhuman entity known as Dr. manhattan in Watchmen is a reference to the Manhattan Project of the mid-20th century. The Manhattan Project was the code name for the development of the atomic bomb right before the beginning of World War II. Since Dr. Manhattan was created within in intrinsic field lab that had to do with a lot of radiation, he is instantly associated with the atomic bomb. Moore's naming of his all-powerful being Dr. Manhattan shows that Manhattan is supposed to inspire not only security in the people of the Earth, but it needs to be shown that he is not truly human any longer and really more of a weapon than anything else. He is something detatched from humanity and whose human-given mission is only to destroy.

Link: http://inventors.about.com/od/astartinventions/a/atomic_bomb.htm

Rorschach's Mask

Chapter 1, Page 12, Panel 3-5

In Watchmen, Rorschach's inkblot mask changes according to his emotion. In panel 4, Rorschach is thinking about who could be killing the ex-superheroes or why they are being killed and there are two blots in the upper center of his mask, almost like he is furrowing his brow. When his emotions become more and more intense, his mask will change more rapidly. The authors' decision to have Rorschach's mask change with emotion lets the reader know more about Rorschach than a lot of his dialogue. Rorschach is a very cold fellow and doesn't reveal much about himself, but his mask reveals much more about his character.

Rorschach Inkblot Tests

"Rorschach?" (Chapter 1, Page 10, Panel 9)

Rorschach's name comes from the infamous Rorschach Ink Blot Test, adminstered in the mental health field. The test has to do with association. A patient is shown the ink blot and supposed to tell the adminstrator of the test what it reminds him of or what it looks like. The patients unrehearsed response is supposed to reveal significant or repressed information about the patient. The effectivity of the test is now lessened due to more advanced tools of diagnostic medicine and the different interpretations doctors see in each response. Moore and Gibbon's decision to use a Rorschach test pattern as a mask for Rorschach helps to characterize him-- he sees things in black and white when sometimes things can't be seen in black and white. Rorschach's face is always changing, but Rorschach himself has a hard time dealing with the changing times.

Link: http://deltabravo.net/custody/rorschach.php

Obsolete Models

Chapter 1, Page 9, Panel 8

On the sign outside of Hollis Mason's repair shop, a happy-go-lucky sign reads "we fix 'em! Obsolete models a specialty." This sign alludes not only to the older Minutemen, who became obsolete in 1960 when Dr. Manhattan came into existence, but also now to the "Watchmen", or the new group of now-retired costumed heroes. Gibbon's inclusion of this allusion is a point toward the fact that eventually, everyone will become obsolete as someone or something new will replace them.