The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

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Art Spiegelman is the author and artist of Maus. The complete Maus is composed of Maus I and Maus II. Maus I was published in 1986, Maus II was published in 1991. The protagonists for this book are Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust and Art Spiegelman, Vladek’s cartoonist son. Volume I for the most part takes place in Poland, with Vladek describing his experience during Hitler’s rule to Art. Volume II is mainly on how the cartoonist Art struggles to make the book he has been working on of his parent’s journey during the Holocaust come together. In the following I will explain in more depth the setting, characters, and the art of this extraordinary book.
The setting of Maus I began in Vladek’s home. Artie visits his old grumpy father every once in a while, just to listen to the stories his dad tells him about the time during the war. The setting switches from the past to the present quite often. Vladek starts off by telling Artie how he met and eventually married his mother, Anja, to how they ended up in Auschwitz. The stories in between were about the struggles Artie’s parents endured during the war. The setting of Maus II switches from being in the Bungalows, a cabin to being at Rego Park to ending in Florida. Throughout Maus II Vladek becomes very ill, he has to be hospitalized several times, and to be worse Mala his current wife leaves him and takes all his money with her. Mala eventually comes back with Vladek once he becomes extremely ill. Vladek continues to tell Artie how he got out of Auschwitz, how he got saved by the Americans, and how he eventually got reunited with Anja.
The main characters for the Complete Maus are Vladek Spiegelman, Art Spiegelman, Anja Spiegelman, and Mala. As I mentioned before Vladek Spiegelman was a holocaust survivor. After the holocaust he became a grumpy stingy man. He said he was stingy because of all he went through, he didn’t want to waste anything, and everything to him was very valuable. Art Spiegelman is the son of Vladek. He is a cartoonist, trying to get as much information about the holocaust from his father to do a graphic novel. While he tries to get information Vladek and Art have many arguments, as father and son they don’t have a good relationship.

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Anja Spiegelman was Vladeck’s first wife and Art’s mother. She too went through the holocaust and survived. However, she did not manage to do well after it was all over, she eventually committed suicide. Anja left no note or explanation to why she committed this act. Mala is Vladeck’s second wife. She has had to endure with the ghost of Anja. Vladek always says she is no good, that Anja was better. I believe this is why Mala ran away because she got tired of Vladek always putting her down.
Art Spiegelman drew a cartoonish-realistic drawing. What gave it the cartoonish feel was that he drew a person’s head with an animal head on it. For example, he drew the Jews as mice, Nazis as cats, Polish as pigs, and Americans as dogs. Spiegelman drew in this way to represent the nationalities and races. By doing so the Jews (mice) appeared as something inhumane, the Nazis were the cats catching their prey (Jews) and the Americans (dogs) who saved the mice (Jews). Spiegelman drew this graphic novel in black and white to represent the darkness the Holocaust was. There was no ray of hope during this time, so the proper scheme was black and white.
Art Spiegelman did an incredible job at writing and illustrating Maus, from the way he drew each character to where the setting was is impeccable. The setting, characters, and art and color contribute to the impact the book has made on the audience. However, the characters I believe were the key to the success and purpose the author had. Without the characters there would be neither setting nor art because the characters lead the setting and the characters then transform into art. Each and every character were uniquely made and brought to life by Spiegelman. Through the characters is where the story begins.

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