Existential Nihilism In Alan Moore's Watchmen

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Alan Moore’s Watchmen deals with agnostic characters. There is The Comedian, who is an existential nihilist. Furthermore, there is Ozymandias, who is an active nihilist. Lastly, there is Dr. Manhattan, who is a cosmic nihilist. This graphic novel evidently depicts different variants of nihilism. Existential nihilism is the belief that life is without meaning, purpose or value. The Comedian’s radical actions and irrational ways of thinking make him an existential nihilist. The Comedian is a vigilante, costumed hero, but as we look into his past it is easy to see that he is anything but heroic. As a costumed ‘hero’ he interacted with the worst of humanity and found it overwhelming. In first meeting of the Crimebusters the group are discussing…show more content…
Furthermore, they believe that if the Earth was destroyed and all life on it eradicated, the universe could not tell. Dr. Manhattan’s narcissistic and pretentious qualities make him a cosmic nihilist. Dr. Manhattan is the odd one out of any group of humans. Once physicist, he died in a horrible accident only to reappear as an omnipotent blue being. He can see his own past and future as if they were occurring in the present, and yet occasionally changes his mind, somewhat resembling what God does in the New Testament. His superiority and god-like abilities makes him see humans of no significant value. To him, humans are simply uninteresting. He could simply point at them and disassemble them. This would horrify most people, but to him it’s just a trivial arrangement of particles. While the nihilism of The Comedian and Ozymandias were motivated by the dissonance of human cruelty, Dr. Manhattan’s nihilism is motivated by something more philosophical. Dr. Manhattan’s nihilism arises from his newfound omnipotence and the changed perspective this brings. Dr. Manhattan watches people grow older, wars being fought and lives being destroyed. Without the ability to die or age, Dr. Manhattan cannot fathom why humans, despite their short time on Earth and their fragility, have an inclination to destroy each other. As he states with regards to humans’ warlike nature: “they claim their labours are to build a heaven, yet their heaven is populated with horrors”. Living through such experiences, he becomes exhausted of the human condition and its insoluble contradictions. He leaves to live on Mars at first and by the end of Watchmen he leaves the galaxy, wishing to leave humans to their own business. His nihilism reflects an existential angst which is felt by a human who has transcended humanity and no longer needs to fear death. Dr. Manhattan deals with this through stoic reflection, indulging

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