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.

2 Thoughts.

  1. Interesting point about the Comedian and Kurtz. I think we can indeed see a parallel between the two as both having faced some kind of deeper truth about the horrors humans are capable of. The Comedian sees this and thinks maybe we can deal with it by approaching it as a joke. Kurtz doesn’t react this way, of course; in some ways he seems to have lost his sanity instead. And actually, the Comedian loses it too, really, in Chapter II p. 23: he realizes that what Veidt has done is not a joke, that he can’t laugh at it, that he can’t find any explanation. So he’s pretty lost at that point (and shortly afterwards he dies, like Kurtz).

    Your question about masculinity and femininity in the text is interesting. I intend to write a blog post about at least the portrayal of women in the novel, because many aspects of it bugged me quite a bit. I won’t get to it tonight, though; maybe tomorrow night!

  2. like you alluded to, I think the behaviours of the male and female heroes in Watchmen definitely ties in with their realism. Perhaps especially with the men, only people disillusioned and violent enough would end up being vigilantes in the first place. Also, I think the fact that Dr. Manhattan is so inhuman hints that a ‘real’ superhero is thus not a real human, and cannot be made realistic.

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