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Essay about Art Spiegelman's Maus - Prisoner on the Hell Planet - A Case History

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Art Spiegleman's comic book within the comic book Maus is titled "Prisoner on the Hell Planet: A Case History." This text within a text describes, in horrific detail through pictures, Artie's failed effort to get through the painful loss of his mother due to suicide. This text also in a way, represents a part of Artie's mind where he expresses his feelings of loneliness, doubt, fear, anger, and blame through the form of a dark, gloomy, depressing cartoon.

In the first frame on page 100 nest to the title "Prisoner on the Hell Planet: A Case History," including this picture of Artie and his mother at Trojan Lake in 1958 (ten years before his mother killed herself). Adding this picture of Artie and his mother brings a more personal touch to reader as they continue reading the comic strip. This strip is not just some cartoon Artie drew up, it's an abstract memory that he has of his mother's suicide. The next two frames in the strip portray Artie explaining that his mother killed herself, left no note, and how Artie's father found her dead in the bathtub. Seeing how Artie created his own character transmits to the reader how dark and tragic the impact this event has had on both himself and his father. They both have extremely dark eyes and faces, and are seriously thin; his father looks as if he is a skeleton in clothes. Seeing his father drawn this way illustrates the harsh life he lived.

As the strip continues to illustrate how Artie discovers his mother's suicide, subsequence of the next three frames of the strip give the reader a hint of what Artie's past and present lifestyles may have been like. The third frame of the strip Artie states "I was living with my parents, as I agreed to do on my release fro...


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...s own wounded self, unaware of the unconscious connection to the depression of his mother and the unconscious recognition with the danger of his father. This text within a text is another chapter in Art Spiegleman's life that ends in tragedy from the death of a loved one and a piece of him. Artie's emphasis in this section of Maus is illustrated through the creation of a gloomy illusion when he outlined the four pages of the comic in black and illustrated the characters in a darker, more realistic manner from the mice and cats throughout the rest of the book. The purpose of this text within a text was to inform the reader that there was more to Art's story than what his father had to say. The death of Art's mother had a horrific impact on his father and himself, and this small cartoon was a way for Art to tell the story while coping with his memory of the incident.


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