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Tyrone Schiff

Kelly Williams

English 125

12 April 2006

Finding a Bat-Man

The quest for a treasure that is seemingly impossible to find can drive those in

search of it mad. The different paths and experiences through which one goes will

ultimately lead to success or failure. Regardless, when the treasure is tangible, it is far

easier to gauge progress, but consider a treasure that cannot be grasped but only realized.

In the movie, Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne is the heir to a multi-billion dollar fortune,

Wayne Enterprises. At the onset of the film, Wayne is in a prisoner’s camp in the midst of

nowhere and nothingness. How he came to be there is a mystery, but what is clear is that

he does not belong with these criminals. Wayne is then approached by a man who offers

him a path for his life and with little hesitation Wayne accepts his offer and follows the

man’s orders. Bruce Wayne appears to be a very confused person. He was exposed to the

horrid murder of both his mother and father as a small child and quite noticeably is

rebelling from society due to the looks of his current location. Bruce Wayne is in search

of his own identity, but is hindered from attaining this due to his class standing and forces

in his life that skew his image of his true identity.

The search for Bruce Wayne’s identity is affected by the type of lifestyle that he

was born into. Wayne is undoubtedly a free spirit. He is not the type who is willing to

follow the crowd and go unnoticed. However, Bruce Wayne comes from a long line of

wealthy people; the mansion he lives in had housed six generations of Wayne’s prior to
him. Bruce’s life was practically mapped out before he was even born, and this creates a

lot of tension between himself and his own reality. When Alfred, the housekeeper for the

Wayne’s, asks Bruce why he was not going back to Princeton, Bruce’s reply was, “I like

it fine. They just don't feel the same way.” This reveals that Bruce Wayne attends

Princeton, which is a very high class Ivy League school. A school like Princeton would

have a lot of kids who are in the upper class attending it, but for some reason, Bruce

Wayne indicates that he does not connect with them. This puts Bruce Wayne’s character

into perspective. Though he is surrounded by the upper class and is treated as a member

of the upper class, he does not consider himself apart of this group. These implications to

one’s identity are catastrophic. Bruce Wayne must feel lonely and confused because of his

inability to see how he fits in with the class he is surrounded by. All this loneliness and

confusion only leads to rebelling, which also counteracts his realization of his own

identity.

Bruce Wayne is in such deep search for an identity and purpose that he is often

led astray from what he truly wants to become. While in prison a man named Ducard

finds Wayne and proposes that he join his group as a means of finding purpose in his life,

“But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, […]

then you become something else entirely.” This charade of fighting crime and bringing

justice is very appealing to Bruce Wayne. Bruce follows the man, goes through all the

rigorous training to become a member of the League of Shadows, but then rebels from

this group as well. This is a step in the right direction for Bruce’s realization of his own

identity though. He has come to terms with the fact that he wants to devote himself to
fighting injustice but on his own conditions. However, believing in someone else’s ideals

only worked in leading him away from his true identity.

Furthermore, Bruce Wayne’s realization of his own identity is masked by the

anger that he has for the murderer of his parents. Bruce Wayne goes to the hearing of the

convicted murderer that was locked up many years ago and goes with the intention of

shooting the murderer of his parents. Bruce Wayne looks at this situation as a way to

fulfill his purpose in life and actualize his own identity. The fact is, once he is done

killing the murderer, he will still feel the sorrow of his parent’s death and the action will

only be short-term at best. Luckily, someone intercepted the murderer as he was leaving

the hearing and shot and killed him before Bruce was able to. This attempt to kill the

murderer of his parents directly drifts Bruce away from attaining his real identity. He was

under the assumption that by killing another person he would be fulfilled and all his

problems would go away. Surely that is not the case, but this instance accurately depicts

how Bruce Wayne’s mind was clouded, and made him stray from attaining his true

identity.

Bruce Wayne is a conflicted character who, in the context of Batman Begins, is

going through a reawakening of self and purpose. Though his life looks as though it is in

absolute shambles, one ought to recognize that an identity isn’t constructed overnight.

There are signals, markers, and choices in one’s life that will provide the catalyst for

realizing who one is or can become. Whether or not Batman is the realization of identity

that Bruce Wayne was in search for is trivial. The fact is Bruce Wayne found something

that gave him purpose and meaning, and a treasure as sweet as purpose and meaning

should never be given up.

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