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Watchmen | Symbols


Christ Figures

Author Alan Moore includes several Biblical allusions, or references, in Watchmen, but none are as blatant as the religious imagery in Chapter 12. The first instance is when Adrian Veidt celebrates the success of his plan to unite opposing governments against a common enemy. He raises his arms in celebration against a backdrop of a painting of Alexander the Great. From the position of Adrian's arms, it looks as if the staff and the sword in the painting are piercing his fists. His "crucifixion" is symbolic of the sacrifice he made to ensure world peace. Unlike Jesus, he didn't sacrifice himself, but he did have the fate of the world in mind when he doomed millions of New Yorkers to death. He is a Christ figure in the sense that his purpose was to save others, and he made an enormous sacrifice to do it.

Dr. Manhattan is also portrayed as a Christ figure in Chapter 12. He literally walks across water after coming across Laurie Juspeczyk and Dan Dreiberg lying by Adrian's indoor pool. He is depicted as both a savior and a danger throughout the book, and his light steps across the watery surface confirm there is nothing human about him. He also exhibits Christ-like benevolence and forgiveness in the preceding panels. He is not angry when he sees Laurie and Dan spooning on a bearskin rug. He instead looks moderately touched and pleased by the tableau in front of him. No longer jealous that Laurie has moved on from their relationship, he seems happy that she's happy. That, too, is a lot to ask of a mere human.

Dr. Manhattan's Clothing

Dr. Manhattan wasn't always a big naked blue guy. In the early 1960s he wore pants and a black tank top during his off-hours and a black skintight body suit with a blue belt when he represented the government. Though he was no longer human, he still felt human modesty, even in his own home. That changes as the years pass. Though he's required to wear formal attire for government functions, his crime-fighting costume becomes skimpier. At the 1966 meeting of the Crimebusters, his full-body jumpsuit has been cut down to a leotard. By the time he's in Vietnam, he's wearing the equivalent of a swimsuit, which becomes progressively skimpier over time. He no longer wears a robe at home with Laurie, and when he returns to Earth following New York's destruction, he's completely naked. His nakedness symbolizes his loss of human identity and connection with humanity.

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