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Maus By Art Spiegelman Essay

1953 words - 8 pages

Why are comics not appreciated as much as the dry narratives of novels in the literary world? A comic is composed of symbols to express concepts shared by all people in their own social environment, and provide more tools than conventional art to truly show artistic intention.
Comics exist to expose the ethnic representations that seek to control the development of collective perceptions, memories and emotions and especially fear by investigating the techniques through which this control is maintained. Maus I is a true account of a Holocaust survivor, Vladek Spiegelman, and his experiences as a young Jew during the horrors leading up to the confinement in Auschwitz. Maus II is about Vladek recounting his own history to his son Art Spiegelman and the complicated relationship. As the reader delves into the relationship of the two within the story, including those from history books, the reader begins to realize what these relationships did to shape the ideology of a group of people as a whole. People most often would think that the use of comic-images would soften the realizations and accounts of events of Holocaust, but in reality the animated visuals greatly amplify them. In both Maus I and Maus II, the comic panels of drawn images of memories, which are much more horrifying and true to life, than the real photographs of that time in the Holocaust show that comic books have advantages in many aspects.
First, the use of animals in the comic humanizes the tragedy much more than using real humans. Maus recounts the history of Auschwitz through highly detailed drawings and comic panels of animals depicted as humans. The main characters of Maus, Vladek and Frederick struggle everyday to be considered or treated a human. The characters’ daily struggles show just how humans can be treated like animals, denied the right to an education and haunted by what others have done to them. Spiegelman uses mice, cats, pigs and other animals to portray the victims and events in the Holocaust. He uses real features of human beings such as hands, feet and emotions to give the animals the full potential to relate to. Maus reveals that the characters portrayed as mice are being seen in sharper relief as human concerns in the world of mice. Spiegelman decided on interesting but possibly offensive use of different animals to use. The first type of animal which appears in this comic is the mouse (MausI:5). The form of mice is used to represent the Jewish people during the Holocaust and as of now too. The Polish police were involved in the arrest of innocent Jewish mice (27). The Polish people were pigs and Germans were represented as cats. The Germans’ appearance as cats began to make sense in the way how cats chase, hunt and kill mice (33). This comic book was translated into an easily readable format to educate the history of the Holocaust to the younger generations.
Second, the choice of a comic format serves as a vital aspect in the reader’s understanding of the...

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