Walter White’s Criminal Justification: A Dramatistical Analysis


This Dramatistical analysis will analyze the hit series from AMC’s Breaking Bad. More specifically it will look at the actions of the main character Walter White and what his justifications imply about the show and criminal behaviour.

Walter White is a middle aged chemistry teacher who is “Down-on-His-Luck,” this being the first of many “Devil Words” that paint a sympathetic picture for the viewers to cat upon him. Walter’s teacher salary can hardly foot the bill for his family that includes a physically disabled son with a mountain of medical bills and an incoming baby girl. Walter decides that he will have to come up with the money some how, and he finds out that not only does he have the know-how but also the tools to cook nearly perfect crystal meth. He is pushed to a point where he has to decide between following the law and providing for his family. When Walter White starts selling methamphetamine under the pseudonym  Heisenberg he breaks moral and governmental laws. Jesse Pinkman is a user, and coincidentally , one of White’s old students. They become partners. Jesse and Walter use supplies they stole from the high school and, armed with Walter’s knowledge of chemistry and Jesse’s street smarts,  they start producing crystal meth out of an R.V. Mobile Home in the New Mexico Desert. Very early on in the show Walter discovers that he has cancer which will bring a whole new level of financial burden to his family. More seriously it will take away his   ability to provide for his family as a father should. Pairing the financial troubles of his pending death and a new born baby is what ultimately leads Walter to become Heisenberg and is his main justification for his actions.

As we have learned every rule breaking action or behaviour requires an absolution of guilt after the fact.(Sellnow 53) There is no concept of mortification. Walter White does not believe what he is doing is wrong. He does not accept that he has made a mistake, nor does he ask for anyone’s forgiveness. Walter believes that he needs to provide for his family for the rest of their lives by any means necessary. This is an act of transcendence showing that the paternal instinct to protect and provide for his family . transcend the importance of following the law. As you can see Walters justifications are packed with God Words that help enable him to believe what he is doing is right. He shifts blame off of himself and to “The Cancer” and his pending death which results in victimage. And when victimage is used as we have learned from the book, (sellnow 55) Walter must exist as a Tragic Hero or a Comic Fool. Although his story screams Tragic Hero it must be noted that he does not get caught and therefore did not have to pay any consequences for his action labeling him as a comic fool.

This T.V. show is  rife with moral and contextual implications of family ties and how much you can go through for your spouse for the sake of this dramatistical analysis I will only focus on Walter Whites actions. The fact that he does not get caught begs the invisible man question, What would you do if you knew you could get away with it? This show is geared towards a young adult male audience and the show makes it very easy to lose sight of the fact that Walter is doing this for his family. The” Do whatever it takes to get money” culture that is strong throughout the age group of the viewers is exemplified by Walters partner Jesse Pinkman. Jesse’s actions create a level of promotion for illegal behaviour that can be dangerous for the viewership. The show also desensitizes the viewers to things like smoking meth, killing, and drug dealing which could lead to very negative outcomes in society.


One thought on “Walter White’s Criminal Justification: A Dramatistical Analysis

  1. Breaking Bad is one show that everyone seems to have a different view on. The perspective you took was very intriguing and kept me reading. Focusing just on Walter White was a wise decision because you were able to give good evidence for every point you made. The most successful point you made was that Walter White is not a tragic hero he is a comic fool. This is your strongest point because you were able to relate the idea of Walter being a comic fool throughout your blog. Personally I have only watched a few episodes of the she show and I would have labelled him as a tragic hero, therefore it was interesting to see another perspective that had good evidence behind it such as “not paying for his consequences”. Another reason your blog is engaging is the fact that it makes the readers think about whether they believe Walter is doing the right thing or not. While doing this you were able to give your own opinion which definitely strengthened the piece.

    Your weakest argument would be that the show has the potential to have negative or dangerous outcomes on the viewers. As I believe this is a possibility I don’t think it is something that can be argued within a few sentences. Along with this the argument didn’t exactly link in with the rest of your arguments you presented earlier in the blog. But if you were to do a further analysis on the topic your point that the show “desensitizes the viewers…leading to negative outcomes in society” is definitely a good argument to bring up if you can find further evidence to prove it. To improve your blog as it is I would use the conclusion paragraph just for connecting the arguments you have already stated and then relate back to your thesis. This way the readers will finish with a good understanding and overall summary of what you were arguing.

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