A Dark Knight. He is a hero, watchful guardian, a silent protector, a dark knight. Batman/Bruce

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1 Pietro DiSante Jr. 27 April 2009 Media Studies Psychoanalytic Criticism A Dark Knight He is a hero, watchful guardian, a silent protector, a dark knight. Batman/Bruce Wayne is a superhero from the DC Comics Universe. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire playboy from Gotham City. Most people think of him as a rich guy who only cares for himself, money and getting with a lot of woman. However, that is actually his mask. At

2 night, he transforms into the super hero known as Batman. Batman takes care of Gotham City by fighting crime, saving the innocent, and catching arch villains. What makes Batman such a unique superhero is that he has no super powers. He is just a normal person, like you or I. His income allows him to create different gadgets to help himself, and he also knows martial arts. What is different from the normal world is why he fights crime: to avenge the death of his parents. This paper will help try to explain and identify why Bruce Wayne feels the need to help the people of Gotham and help avenge the death of his two lost parents. It is possible for someone to consider each of them their own person or their own personality, but I am analyzing from Bruce Wayne s perspective. Sigmund Freud would have truly enjoyed psychoanalyzing The Dark Knight. Unfortunately, he is not here anymore, so I will help him with it. Psychoanalysis basically is a theory of interpretation that questions the consciousness, why people do what they do. One important part of this is the subject of desire. I feel that Bruce Wayne desires to have his parents back with him. He knows that he cannot have that, so he will do everything in his power to make sure that no one else has to feel the pain that he felt. Freud liked to take a lot out of images that involved desire. I will look at some of Batman s images now and try to interpret what they could mean. First, his suit is in all black. I believe this shows his sadness for the loss of his parents. It also shows that he is alone and misses them. A more obvious thought on it, is that he his suit is made that way to scare others. He is dressed like a Bat, many people are afraid of bats, including Wayne himself, who fell into a cave filled with bats as a little boy. He wants to spread fear into his opponents or the villains of Gotham. Batman likes

3 feeling powerful I believe. This is represented in his batmobile and the cars he drives as Bruce Wayne. The batmobile also puts fear into opponents with its massive stature. Freud says that we are driven towards pleasure in his pleasure principle. What pleasures Bruce Wayne, is knowing that the city is safe under his watch. The true pleasure he seeks, his parents, he cannot actually have. Other pleasure he seeks would be a companion. Being a billionaire by day and crime fighter at night makes it hard to create relationships. He has some close ones in his butler, Alfred and in some comics his crime fighting partner Robin, but he is mostly alone. He never can have a serious relationship with a female because he has too much responsibility. Sometimes Wayne regrets this problem. I do not believe that Wayne plays too well into the Oedipus complex, except for the fact that he wants to do what his father could not, and that is to protect people. His father failed in trying to protect his family when he and his wife were murdered in a back alley. Bruce does not want to let that happen to anyone else. Temptation occurs with Batman because he is tempted to fall into the category of his villains. How far can he go to stop someone from hurting someone else? Batman only has one rule, which is not to murder anyone. Some villains, mainly The Joker, try to push Batman to this limit. A very important part of Freud s psychoanalysis is his view on the Id, the Ego, and the Superego. The Id is the unconscious. Bruce Wayne s Id would be fighting, anger, and trying to take his pain and put it on others. He is not the turn the other cheek guy; he wants people to feel the pain that they put on other people. What is fair is fair in his mind. Freud focused a lot on sexual desires and sex overall. I just cannot seem to find a way to explain Bruce Wayne s sexual desires. It is not mentioned much at all. He occasionally

4 dates, but it is nothing more. The Ego is what is placed in reality. Bruce Wayne sees people committing crimes and he feels it is his duty to stop them and make them pay for it. He is trying to make Gotham City a safer place. The superego is the aim to be perfect in what you do. With Bruce Wayne, it deals with him wanting the world to be perfect. Wanting there to be no crime, and if there is any, he fixes it and makes it okay. If he cannot complete his goals, Wayne gets very upset and feels like he has failed. He has so much pain inside and he does not want anyone else to feel that pain. Many comics, featuring Batman, show scenes of Bruce Wayne having nightmares. Dreams are an important part of psychoanalysis and should be interpreted. Most of the dream I have seen Wayne have involve the death of his parents or someone else that is close to him. He fears losing someone else close to him, like he did with his two parents. That is why Bruce never actually lets anyone into his heart, especially a female. Unconsciously, Bruce does not let anyone into his life because of this. I do not think he realizes that he does this though. Every time he puts on the suit, it is for his lost parents and his quest to avenge them. Carl Jung focused on dreams, archetypes and collective unconscious. He believed that everyone had a universal or collective unconscious that was all the same. Archetypes are what the world is shaped by. A main archetype is called The Shadow. If anyone has a shadow, it is Bruce Wayne. Batman himself is a shadow of Wayne s pain and misery and vengeance he seeks. What is so fascinating about Bruce Wayne/Batman is that the image of Bruce Wayne (billionaire playboy, womanizer, only cares for himself) is his mask. Batman is the true person that Bruce Wayne is. The public cannot see that though. This is

5 a classic line from Batman Begins: Its not who I am underneath, but what I do, that defines me. Another archetype is the Anima or Animus. For Batman it would be the Anima, which is the female opposite of him that completes him. I think in his universe, Catwoman would play this role. She is represented in different ways in different comics, but in some Wayne falls in love with her. She is a criminal, a thief, and dresses up like a Cat. She also has a normal day life though as well. I believe if there was one female in the Batman universe who could complete this anima for Wayne, it would be her. The Syzygy or divine couple is another archetype. I might be going out on a limb here, but think the Syzygy of Bruce Wayne s life is his two lives: one being the billionaire playboy, the other being the selfless crime fighter at night. They are a perfect marriage and allow for the world to continue moving. The Child Archetype is where something is born or hope is given to something. For Bruce Wayne, it is when he created Batman and decided to fight crime. Batman s birth is the Child Archetype. A final Jungian archetype is The Self. The Self is realizing something and making it your life or goal and reaching it. Bruce s is when he decides to fight crime and realizes the Bat is the perfect symbol to use after falling into the bat cave once again. He realized what he needed to do. A final person s theory I will be focusing on is Lacan. He basically took all of Freud s ideas and expanded them. Freud has the Id, the Ego, and the Superego, while Lacan has the Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic. The Real is a spot in nature where language has not changed people s views on things. Bruce only felt this as a baby, after he came out his views were continually shifted in the world. It is a sense of fulfillment that is taken away once language is brought into our lives. A similar situation with Bruce

6 Wayne is when he lost his parents in the alley that one night. Something was taken from him that night and he will never be complete again. The Imaginary is what we see in ourselves. It also corresponds with that Lacan calls the mirror stage. People see what they want in themselves and compensate for the truth. Bruce sees a successful person who is doing the best he can for the citizens of Gotham by protecting them from criminals. He is also keeping his company, Wayne Enterprises, afloat and making money off of it. What he does not see is the little boy who is so heart broken, alone and frightened by the loss of his parents. This is the entire reason why he does what he does. Most villains, including Wayne himself, see this tough superhero wearing all black and looking strong, when in reality he is a boy who is still feeling so alone and missing his parents. The Symbolic is the third and final category in Lacan s theory. This is where words symbolize what symbols or other signs mean. What Batman and Bruce Wayne say are a part of how he lives his life. How he treats others and how he views the actual world make up what this means. He talks about fighting for justice and threatening those who try to hurt others and then he follows through by defeating them. He works with the police to catch criminals sometimes, he usually communicates with Commissioner Gordon on a daily basis. Unlike most people, The Dark Knight is a man of his word and follows through on what he says he will do, which shows his character. When you put the Real, Imaginary and Symbolic together, it creates how people decide to view the world and themselves in a psychodynamic way. Freud and Lacan both focused a lot on the unconscious. Dream imagery was one way the unconscious speaks to us, and Bruce Wayne dreaming about his parent s death

7 shows this to us. An example would be when Bruce Wayne took in Dick Grayson after losing both of his parents; he unconsciously did that because he saw himself in Dick Grayson. Someone who is alone, lost, confused, heartbroken, and scared after losing his parents. Dick Grayson would go on to become Bruce s best friend and partner as Robin and Knightwing. His dreams also showed a different fear he had: bats. Even before Wayne s parents deaths, he feared bats. He uses the bat now as a symbol to conquer his fear and use it as a fear on his enemies. It is an interesting defense mechanism to use the fear you have and use it against your enemies. Bruce Wayne/Batman is a very interesting character to psychoanalyze. In reality, you could psychoanalyze each of them as an individual for days, he is that interesting. How could someone devote their entire life to helping other people in a city who do not even say thank you? Many of the people in Gotham City think of Batman as a villain himself, which is a story line that can be traced very far into the past. The fear and sadness that Bruce lives with is masked at night when he dons the cape and cowl and becomes Batman. He takes all of his anger and frustration out on his opponents and while this is used a therapy for himself, he is helping people at the same time. He is selfless though and does it because he cares for others. He does not want anyone else to go through the pain he did by losing his parents as a young boy. Batman is not like your normal superheroes. He might not even be considered a superhero if you think about it. He is more of a guy who goes through extreme therapy each night, trying to avenge the death of his parents. So in many ways, he is not a hero. The final lines of The Dark Knight spoken by Commissioner Gordon say it so perfectly

8 about Batman: "Because He's not a hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight."

9 Works Cited The Dark Knight. (2008) Directed by Christopher Nolan. Copyrighted by Warner Bros. Batman Begins. (2005) Directed by Christopher Nolan. Copyrighted by Warner Bros.

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