Representation Of Irony And Survival In Mice By Art Spiegelman

In the graphic novel Maus: A survivors Tale by Art Spielgelman, the theme represented that further advances throughout the paper is irony and survival.

I selected page 13 in chapter 1 to showcase the theme, style, size and shape, etc. This page represents who Vladek was before he went into the army. He mentioned who he used to be, “I was at, that time, young, and really a nice, handsome boy.” Vladek is telling his son Artie this, because he has changed, he is different from who he was in the beginning and towards the end. This change is due to the war, Vladek is more aggressive and bitter. One could see that Vladek has changed throughout his work, by the arguments he gets with Artie.

The past vs the present represents a theme in this because his work uses narratives in the story that are of contrast to one another. The holocaust story he tells Artie and the story of Vladek with Artie provide this insight of contrast. Vladek’s story shows his experiences and how he survived, whereas Arties story discusses the importance of the past.

The themes of irony and survival are important because it shows how Vladek survived in the Holocaust, but also how different he is now. Irony is seen multiple times throughout Maus work, not just on page 13, but it advances throughout the novel. It describes how he has changed because he has faced discrimination at its extreme during war times.

One of the elements shown in this page is style. The artistic style in this page reveals the realism. The use of animals as the Nazis are represented as “cats” and Jews as “mice”. Spiegelman is portraying anti-sematic stereotype Jews to playoff as being less human. The artistic aspect of this is realistic because the animals showcase one another’s characteristics. The Germans who are the Nazi cats are being represented as predators. They are the ones who prey on the Jews (mice). Spiegelman has a way with playing off stereotypes, which are those of racial stereotypes. The artwork illustrated is black and white to showcase antiquity. This is done to point out the present and the past. It shows the suffering and sacrificing them with the enhanced dark tones. The facial expressions, such as eyebrows or mouth show the emotions. The clothing worn shows the characters, one can distinguish from, though each is not alike, because of personality.

The sizes and shapes of the fonts emphasize the works theme because it describes the realism of the artwork and expression. The sizes and shapes in Spiegelmans comic show pictures and a combination of words to express and tell the experiences his father faced in the Holocaust. In this single page he uses size and shapes to showcase who Vladek was before the war. He mentioned that “People always told me I looked just like Rudolph Valentino”. When he mentioned this, there was a picture in the background showcasing it. Spiegelman has mentioned in previous work that he believes “Comics are a narrative art form, a form that combines two other forms of expression: work and pictures.” Bubble speeches are not shown, though dialog balloons and text boxes (frame) are, to form meaning inside, which serves as a narration in a seriousness way. Whereas showing edgy ones as well. Frames are traditional in comic, Spiegelman uses the border and frames to create a separation, meaning in the Holocaust and the present. The outside frames show the present-day.

The emotional effects that the artist’s line conveys is a jagged and sketchy line that conveys an energy of uneasiness. Reason behind this uneasiness energy is because Vladek is not who he once was, he is no longer that nice boy due to the army. Vladek is the main character who has faced horrific experience throughout the novel.

The artist uses all of the above elements to advance the themes of the story by playing out what he experienced throughout the war. The style advances the themes of the story because showcases realism of the past and the present. The sizes and shapes represent expression throughout the theme of the story. Its further advances in the story while showing how the characters felt and told their parts in the story. The sketchy lines portray the unease and discomfort the characters went through and faced in the past and the present. 

09 March 2021
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