Breaking Bad - A character development analysis

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Esben Visti Jensen
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
The main focus of this project is to investigate the development of the characters of the TV-series Breaking Bad. This immensely successful series is revolving around a charismatic character, called Walter White, whose diagnosis of terminal lung cancer led to a series of decisions, which initiated his descent into moral decay. His initial endeavours to secure the well-being of his family for years to come end up having disastrous consequences for himself and the people closest to him.
To give a comprehensive understanding of narrative structure, genre, ethical theory and character analysis, a number of non-fictional texts have been used. These texts were used to provide a theoretical basis for the analysis part of the project in which these theories were applied to specific sequences of Breaking Bad in order to understand the characters and their development.
Over the course of the five seasons of the series, Walter is gradually transformed from the protagonist of Breaking Bad and into an antagonist. This is happening through a struggle within his personae between himself and his alter-ego, named Heisenberg. As Walter turns more susceptible to disregard moral values, Heisenberg becomes increasingly powerful until the point at which Walter can be regarded as an antagonist.
The narrative structure is used to provide the viewer with information as well as symbolic meanings, whereas Breaking Bad has been inspired by the western genre as well as the tragedy in regards to shaping the characters and the narrative. Traits of the western are apparent through values in characters such as Hank and Walter and traits of the tragedy are apparent through the tragic fate of Walter as well as the dramatic narrative that continuously enforces emotional outlets from the viewer in addition to an ending the leaves the viewer relieved rather than in distress.
The character of Jesse Pinkman serves as a contrast to Walter White despite both of them being categorised as anti-heroes. These two characters develop into different directions in terms of empathic improvement; Jesse grows more sympathetic as the series progresses whereas Walter’s level of empathy is decreasing.
LanguageEnglish
Publication date30 May 2014
Number of pages61
ID: 198305878