Women in Watchmen

The characters in Watchmen are all psychologically interesting and complex. The Comedian, Rorschach,and Jon all have a complicated and tragic past. The book starts with the death of The Comedian. At the end of the first chapter Laurie says there doesn’t seem to be “many laughs around these days” and Dan replies “The Comedian’s dead”. I wonder if this signifies that things are getting worse and more serious, as the Doom’s Day Clock starts ticking. The Comedian is described by Jon as “deliberately amoral”. Jon says “as I come to understand Vietnam and what it implies about the human condition, I also realize that few humans will permit themselves such an understanding…Blake’s different. He understands perfectly..and he doesn’t care”. From this, what parallels can we draw between Edward Blake and Kurtz from Heart of Darkness? It’s said that Blake understood the truth about the twentieth century and made a joke out of it. In Vietnam we catch a glimpse of his hopelessness. He even kills a pregnant woman who was his former lover. He is ruthless, yet this is supposedly how he reflected and made a parody of his times. Before he dies, we and Moloch witness his breakdown…
Rorschach is another character that is introduced in the very beginning. He has a double identity which we don’t find out until later. He first appears as the guy holding up the sign “the end is nigh” and as Rorschach in his journal. When he gets arrested, we delve into his past, the horrors he has seen. “Once a man has seen, he can never turn his back on it.” From Rorschach, we learn that life is dark and full of trouble. Even his psychologist becomes troubled. He thinks to himself: “in the end, it is simply a picture of empty meaningless blackness. We are alone. There is nothing else.” What does this suggest about our present reality and the way we perceive things?
I noticed that a lot of the male protagonists are portrayed as tough, stoic and destructive. What about the female characters? Sally, one of the crimefighters, is tough but also embraces her sexuality at the same time. Laurie is probably the most relatable and human character in my opinion. She is strong, independent and she also cares about the world and its people. The characters in The Watchmen are definitely portrayed with a realism even though some of them have superhuman characteristics like Dr. Manhattan. I wonder what you all think about Moore’s portrayal of his male and female characters in Watchmen and what this says about humanity.

Ibo Word of the Day: iyi-uwa

Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is a novel in which the author writes about his own people to us. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Things Fall Apart and learning about the stories, customs and people of Nigeria. I found it interesting, as mentioned in lecture, that by the end of the novel the narrative voice suddenly transitions to that of the District Commissioner, who is an outsider and does not understand the Africans. Thus, in the story told from his perspective, Okonkwo becomes “this man who had killed a messenger and hanged himself” where all of Okonkwo’s accomplishments as a great wrestler, warrior and successful farmer and the shame and hardship he’s gone through with seven years of exile would be wiped out, same with the fascinating tribal ceremonies, stories and beliefs. Thankfully Achebe has already written about these things or we’d miss out on so much if we were to read the white man’s story. I find this satirical, tragic yet true, that Okonkwo’s life should be reduced to a “reasonable paragraph” by the white man’s ignorance. Through this last bit of the novel, I can also see Achebe’s underlying intention in bringing out African voices. Fanon would be pleased with this.
Another thing I found fascinating was the gender roles. Okonkwo constantly wishes that Ezinma had been a boy because she has the “spirit”. This reminds me of Eliot’s Mr. Tulliver who sees the cleverness in Maggie being bad for her because she’s a girl. Okonkwo also becomes extremely ashamed of his eldest son Nwoye whom he thought was not manly enough and because he betrays his people. I see this with Tom in Mill on the Floss, though he can be masculine and firm and he does not betray his family, his intelligence was shallow and could not match Maggie. One thing that I’m slightly puzzled about was the night when Ezinma got carried by Chielo the priestess all the way to the cave. At the time Ekwefi and Okonkwo made such a fuss about it, being worried about Ezinma, but we never find out what happened in the cave. Maybe what happens in the cave is not known because the spirit of Agbala does not allow it to be told.

Eliot and Human Nature

After the lecture, it seemed clear to me that The Mill on the Floss is very much a social commentary on the everyday lives of English people in the 1830’s. Eliot portrays all her characters with an astute realism; she seems to understand human nature and the social and political conditions of the time so well that her book reads quite intelligently and perhaps even didactically. At times, Eliot’s humour reminded me of Dickens. When describing Tom’s painful experiences with education, she writes it is “as if he had been plied with cheese in order to remedy a gastric weakness which prevented him from digesting it [the classics and geometry]” (139-140). Descriptions such as this show Eliot to be a clever woman. Throughout Eliot’s novel, I found that all characters are portrayed with such depth that they really seem like living, breathing people, such as Mr. Tulliver with his profound love for Maggie and similarly his sister Mrs. Moss as well as his stubbornness and perplexity to the changing times. I find it impressive that none of the characters are ‘flat’ or uninteresting in any way. Mrs Tulliver, although is apparently not as smart as her husband, still has her own philosophy to life, such as that she cares about Tom being fed well and being washed, which is important, and she foresees Maggie being “drownded” one day which comes to be true. One of the things that I find interesting in the novel, is the theme of education. While Maggie seems to represent the bookish type of education, Tom on the other hand, embodies the practical kind. Is it any good for a person suited for the hands-on, practical type of education to be opened (if not forced) to learn from books–Latin, the classics, mathematics and abstract thinking? What about the other way around? What does this say about adaptability, survival and common sense?

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