Study Guide

Watchmen Freedom and Confinement

By Alan Moore

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Freedom and Confinement

How are we supposed to explain freedom and confinement in less than 150 words? Oh man, that’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it? Jeez, it’s getting hot in here. We’re already 30 words in, and haven’t said anything yet. We’re starting to hyperventilate now. Trapped like rats. Trapped like rats in a cage.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could show Watchmen who’s boss, and head out to the park to toss the book around like a Frisbee? It’s too nice out to stay cooped up with Alan Moore.

No way, not when Adrian Veidt has trapped the whole world in a lie, not when Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk have to change their names (and hairdos) just to live in peace. One of the questions Watchmen asks us is whether that peace, on a personal and global level, is worth the ultimate price, the price of giving up our freedom.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. Freedom vs. Security: the Ultimate Smackdown. In Watchmen,which wins in the end?
  2. We’re going old school with this one, way back to the 17th Century, when John Milton said something like the mind is its own place, and it can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.
  3. Go inside the characters’ minds. What imprisons them? What liberates them?
  4. How can the rest of us be truly free when there are innocent people like Rorschach locked away for crimes they didn’t commit? 
  5. Let’s bring it back to the Identity Theme for a sec, to the relationship between parents and kids. How are folks in Watchmen freed up by their families, and how are they trapped by them?

Chew on This

Watchmen works so well as a comic because the medium frees it up to do things that other forms can’t (TV, Movies, Novels).

Each superhero in Watchmen is freer within the confinement of their superhero costume and identity than they are as regular civilians.

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