Walter White`s Character Analysis
Breaking Bad is an American drama series produced by Vince Gilligan. It is set and filmed in Mexico. Breaking Bad was the highest rated series of all time and hence entered the Guinness Book of Records. It has received numerous awards and is regarded as one of the greatest television series. The title of the movie means `raising hell`, `defying authority`, or `breaking the law’. Vince Gilligan, in an interview with The New York Times said that the larger moral lesson of this series is that actions have consequences. The characters in the movie have control of the choices they make, good or bad. The purpose of this essay is to critically analyze the character of Walter White in the series Breaking Bad. The key focuses will be on his evolution from a Chemistry schoolteacher and a family man to a ruthless criminal and murderer.
Breaking Bad tells the story of Walter White, a high school Chemistry teacher who collaborates with his former student, Jesse Pinkman, to produce and sell crystallized methamphetamine (Gilligan). Walter`s family consists of his wife, Skyler, and children Walter Jr and Holly. Other characters featured in the series are Skyler`s sister Marie, her husband Hank, lawyer Saul Goodman and drug kingpin Gus Fring. Bryan Cranston plays Walters’s role in the movie. The title of this series is best used to describe Walters’s transformation. He gradually evolves from a simple Chemistry teacher to a drug kingpin as he attempts to provide for his family. At the end of the series, Walter is left with a lot of money and no one to give. The dream he had of a stable and comfortable future for his family was completely shattered.
Walter is a high school Chemistry teacher teaching students who are disrespectful and not interested in learning. The job is paying poorly and has to take up another job at a local car wash to supplement his income. This second job is very humiliating, as he has to clean cars for his students at Albuquerque. Walter and his wife Skyler have a son and are expecting a second child. Walter Jr, Walter`s first born son has cerebral palsy. The second born, Holly, is born at the end of season two. Walter is diagnosed with a terminal lung cancer and sees the need to secure his family’s financial future before he dies.
Walter, with his Chemistry knowledge, figures out how to make the best and purest meth and hence gain recognition. This is something he never had as a Chemistry teacher. With his scientific knowledge and dedication, Walt produces pure and quality meth. He later gives his product a distinctive blue color. This makes the product to dominate the market as its users and dealers like it. The meth makes him very rich so fast that it attracts the attention of his brother in law Hank, who works for the Drug Enforcement Administration. As Walt’s status in the drug world escalates, he becomes a dangerous criminal motivated by greed, power and vanity and has to come up with ways to cover his tracts. He battles anyone who comes his way. He ascends to power in a world of drugs and crime, from a simple family man to a drug baron known as Heisenberg.
With his education, Walter becomes a cofounder of Gray Matter Technologies, a multi billion dollar company. For reasons not well explained in the series, Walt left the company and sold his share to Elliot for 5,000 dollars. The other two cofounders of the company, Elliott Schwartz and Gretchen later married and made a fortune thanks to Walter’s research. Walter felt that the fruits of his labor had been stolen from him and blames Elliot and Gretchen for his lot in life. This is even though he was the one who decided to leave the company.
Walter is intimidating. This comes out clearly in season one when he nearly destroyed Tuco`s office with an explosive crystal of mercury (Tuco is also a drug kingpin). This is because Tuco had stolen Jesse`s meth, beat him up and refused to pay for the meth. Jesse is Walters’s salesperson in the meth business. Walter had paid Tuco a visit in his office to demand for a compensation for the meth he had stolen and Jesses pain. Tuco is impressed by Walter`s aggressiveness and they form a lucrative partnership.
Walter also becomes a bloody murderer. He is responsible for the deaths of meth distributors Krazy-8 Molina and Emilio Koyama. He mixes some Chemicals in the RV that suffocates Emilio and Krazy-8 in an alleged self-defense. However, Krazy-8 survives the suffocation while Emilio dies. Later, Walter strangles Krazy-8 to death using a bicycle lock after imprisoning him for sometime at Jesse’s house. In a scene in season four, Walter attempts to kill Gus at his home, but is interrupted by a phone call from Tyrus. Tyrus is an enforcer who is hired by Walter to keep watch on Gus. Walter later approaches Mike, Gus` enforcer and asks him for help in killing Gus, which he declines.
Walter and Jesse attempt to kill Gus again by installing a remote controlled pipe bomb in his car but it proves unsuccessful. After two unsuccessful attempts to kill Gus, Hector helped Walter to execute a murder plan on Gus. They rig a pipe bomb on Hectors wheelchair that is triggered with a bell ring. When Gus visits Hector, he is killed in a blast together with Hector and Tyrus. After Gus death, Walter kills two of Gus henchmen in order to free Jesse who is kidnapped by Gus` men to cook meth. Walter’s world is surrounded by bloodshed. In season two, Cambo Ortega, one of Jesse’s dealers is shot dead during a deal. Tuco is also shot to death during a gunfight with Hank, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
Walter has turned into an insensitive person. He watches as Jane dies after she chocks on her own vomit. Jane is Jesse’s girlfriend who is a drug addict like him. Donald, Jane’s father who is an air traffic controller makes a mistake on his job that causes two commercial planes to crash into each other. This is due to his despair over Jane’s death, something that Walter could have prevented (Bowman).
Walter loses connection with his family and especially his wife. His constant lies, dishonesty and coldness towards his wife strain their marriage. Walter misses the birth of his second born Holly as he is busy striking a deal with Gus Fring, a powerful drug baron. In season two, Walter undergoes a risky surgery in an attempt to cure his cancer that turns out to be successful. Skyler discovers the extent of Walter’s lies when he makes incriminating statements while under the influence of anesthesia. This makes Skyler to leave him and even has sexual affairs with her boss Ted Beneke.
Walter is portrayed as conniving in the series breaking bad. In season two, when Jesse’s dealer Badger is arrested, he colludes with lawyer Saul Goodman and hires a career criminal to pose as Heisenberg and be arrested for a fee. In season three, Hank plans to conduct a search on the RV where Walter and Jesse made meth. Walter arranges with Saul’s secretary to call Hank pretending to be a police officer and tell him that his wife was involved in a car accident. This would prompt Hank to leave and hence no search would be conducted. Walter is also involved in money laundering. With Saul’s help, Walter`s former boss sells the car wash to him to launder his drug money
The transformation of Walter White is very clear. He evolves from a simple teacher to a drug kingpin all in the name of providing for his family. However, as the series nears its end, Walter admits to his wife Skyler that his main motivation to the meth business was his own self-interest. He is involved in criminal activities like money laundering, murder, dishonesty and conniving. He becomes a different man who is insensitive, lonely, aggressive and abusive. His hands are stained with blood as he killed all the people who stood in his way. He gains fame and lots of money as he dreamed of. Nevertheless, he has nowhere to take the money. At the end, he dies and hence loses the money and the family he wanted to give a comfortable life.
Bowman, Donna. Breaking Bad: ‘No Mas’. 21 March 2010. 25 March 2015 <http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/breaking-bad-no-mas-39388>.
Breaking bad season 1-6. Dir. Vince Gilligan. 2009.
Nino X, Vikram. ‘The evolution of Walter White.’ YouTube. 15 December 2013. Web. 25 March 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h-iAZBtNrs