Analyzing Evil: Arthur Fleck, The Joker

hello everyone and welcome to the sixth

episode of analyzing evil

before we get into the video i'd like to

make a brief disclaimer regarding a few

things i haven't made clear in my

previous videos

first i'd like to warn anyone that's

unaware that the videos i make do

contain a heavy amount of spoilers for

the content that i review within them

and the content that i do review can be

graphic at times

and is not suitable for all ages second

i'd like to state that i do not have a

degree in psychology and any

observations i make in these videos are

purely my own opinion

i've always been interested in going

further into a character's background to

explore the finer details of who they


and hopefully give my viewers a deeper

understanding of these characters

through the information i gather

i'm also hoping to open up a healthy

discussion about these characters down

in the comments section

so feel free to leave your thoughts

ideas arguments

or anything really below i try to do the

best i can

but sometimes i'm sure i miss things and

a different perspective can help

identify things i may see differently

and help myself and others in

understanding and learning about these


now with that out of the way let's begin

in this video we'll be exploring arthur

fleck as portrayed by joaquin phoenix

the titular character from the movie the

joker this film in itself could be seen

as a character study

on dc's joker at least this particular

version of him that they've created

and it does a great job of providing an

expansive origin story for this

iteration of the character

but as with any film there's always more

to look into and the little details in

this film that make him into the man he

ultimately transforms into

are fascinating this character can be

seen as two people

arthur fleck and the joker he transforms


the mental burdens that arthur carries

are many and to get to the joker we

first need to break down each component

of arthur's psyche

and examine the tragic circumstances

that have caused arthur's mind

to develop the way it has let's start

with his laughing condition

the pseudobullbar effect or pba

arthur's laughing fits are far from the

good experience we usually associate

laughter to be

you can see when he laughs it seems to

cause him a certain amount of pain

the unnatural way he smiles when he's

laughing and the way he holds his throat

and doubles over when he's trying to

contain it

indicates that these fits in their more

severe cases are painful experiences for


this can be seen throughout the film

whenever he's in a moment of distress

such as when he's on the bus with the

child and reprimanded by the kid's


or on the train with the men when he's

put under stress when watching them

torment the woman nearby

stress seems to be the biggest factor in

triggering these bouts of laughter

whenever he finds himself in a situation

of discomfort his laughter becomes

unbearable and uncontrollable

this laughter is a constant source of

pain and ridicule for arthur

and may play a large part in shaping

another big obstacle in his life

his depression in the scene with his

counselor in the beginning of the film

we get a glimpse of his journal which

seems to be a sporadic mess of jumbled


but we're made to focus on one line in

particular where he writes

i hope my death makes more sense than my


here he also explains to his counselor

that he felt better when he was in the


then we're shown a brief flashback of

him banging his head on the door

of an observation room this flashback

seems to show that in the chaos

madness and tragedy that is his life

being confined to a world of bland

cold stability is a welcoming and

comforting thing for arthur

this is actually a common thing for

people with depression to experience

a deep-seated need for a place of

comfort a place you can escape to when

you feel the weight of the world

weighing down upon you

later in the film after he has his

confrontation with thomas wayne

we see him pulling out the shelves in

his fridge and confining himself inside

much like when he was confined to the

observation room at the hospital

further reinforcing the fact that he

feels a certain amount of comfort when

he's able to hide from the world

in such a place arthur doesn't want to

feel this way though

and he is not above trying to receive

help for his issues

he states to his counselor that he just

wants to feel better and he takes a

hefty amount of medication to attempt to

stabilize his mental health

we can see that arthur's struggle with

his ill feelings and how to handle them

shape almost every facet of his waking


the fact that he constantly feels as if

he's supposed to hide his issues and

fake his happiness for the sake of


furthers his depressive feelings as he

hides behind a fabricated joy

he states to the clerk at the hospital

later in the film that it's just so hard

to be happy all the time

there's even a point in the film where

he states that he can't remember ever

being happy

showing that he's been struggling with

his emotions and his need to hide them

for possibly his entire life

we can see his attempts at appearing

happy in several different areas in his


starting with his relationship with his

mother his mother refers to him by the

nickname happy

and he explains a few times in the film

that his mother told him that he was put

on this earth to spread joy and


in a scene where he's writing new

material in his living room

he writes down the worst part about

having a mental illness

is people expect you to behave as if you


arthur resents being forced to fit in

with the general public

and resents the fact that he's looked at

as a freak if he can't manage to put on

a facade of normalcy to appease those

around him

we can see a bit of this resentment made

physical when he's attempting to contain

his emotions

each time arthur is trying to keep his

composure he does one of two things

first if it's a situation of a less

confrontational nature

and he's trying to stuff down his

emotions you can see his legs begin to

shake until he can't contain himself


and is able to release his pent-up


the second is a tendency to go numb when

stuck in a confrontational situation

such as when he's being reprimanded by

his boss for losing their customers sign

here we see him fall into his own mind

and at a point it seems he doesn't hear

the rest of the conversation

all the while keeping a smile on his

face as he's being berated

and then going out into the alley and

releasing his anger on some piles of


this anger that he keeps hidden beneath

the surface is another key component to

arthur's eventual transition into the


other than a brief bout we see when he's

chasing the kids who stole his sign

this scene with the trash is the first

time we see arthur's anger boil over

but his difficulties with anger are seen

many times throughout the film

often being a result of the tragedy that

he finds himself in

perhaps indicating that arthur himself

is not an angry person by nature

but rather contains a great amount of

pent-up anger within him

and lashes out in response to the

difficult situations he finds himself in

it's in these key moments of great

distress that his anger blossoms and

usually results in him enacting violence

on the people who have wronged him one

little detail that's never really

talked about in the film but can be seen

if you take a look at arthur's writing

is that arthur is either poorly educated

or has a learning disability

writing in a very poor hand and

frequently misspelling words in his


this possible learning disability could

have had an abnormal effect on his

psyche as a whole

and while it might not be a direct cause

of any of his issues it certainly may

have had an effect in sharpening the

edges of some of his conditions

and of his world views to help himself

deal with the storm of negative emotions

inside him

arthur has managed to invent his own

coping skills within his own mind

and that's the ability to fabricate

different events and relationships with

people to provide himself comfort

we first see this when he imagines

himself on murray's show and places


as a discovered guest in the crowd one

that murray compliments and showers with


we can see here that arthur views murray

not only as an idol

but as an imagined father figure a

detail which becomes important later in

the film

the other way he uses this coping skill

is with his imagined relationship with


in reality the way he mimes the gunshot

to his own head after the elevator scene

and the way he stalks her for an entire

day is very concerning

creepy and awkward behavior but he

manages to turn the stalking that he did

into the beginnings of his imagined

relationship with sophie

this relationship and his murder of the

three men on the subway

are the catalysts that start sending him

down the path to become the joker

the fabricated relationship in

particular is the essential tool he uses

to bolster his newfound confidence and

happiness he acquires from his murder of

those three men

from the time he invents their

relationship until it comes crashing

down after the discovery of his abusive

childhood and adoption

arthur imagines sophie being in a

supportive role in his life

that he uses to reinforce and bolster

his own self-esteem

and to improve his overall mental

well-being we see this in several scenes

scenes where he imagines himself

bursting into her apartment and making

love to her after the murders

imagines her watching in the crowd of

the comedy club and supporting him when

he's on stage

and imagines her reinforcing his elation

at the anonymous attention he's getting

from the murders he's committed

calling the clown vigilante they see in

a headline a hero

now something that arthur seems to do

only when he's happy

is dance we first see this when he

displays his first bit of confidence

after receiving the gun from randall

he dances in his living room and seems

to be playing at the thought of shooting

someone in a club

after he murders those men on the subway

arthur finds himself in a public

bathroom where he begins to dance once


this time in a somber ballet routine a

show he seems to put on when he truly

feels himself

and feels true happiness something that

seems to trigger his happiness more than

anything else

is death and the murders he commits

along with the discovery that murder is

almost second nature to him

giving him a certain freedom to release

his feelings and unleash them onto those

that have caused them wrongs

now coupled with his delusions about

sophie these first murders can be seen

as a positive thing for arthur

taking away some of his insecurities and

edging him towards a better state of


but as we all know these are not

positive things and are only a veil of

false mental security that will serve to

help replace arthur

and bring out the joker these are the

components of arthur's psyche that are

the most fragile

and had they been left alone and arthur

simply kept working at hahas

and lived out a mundane life perhaps his

transformation into the joker would

never have occurred

but unfortunately more and more tragedy

seems to find arthur

shortly after the confrontation with his

mother about thomas wayne

his mother has a stroke leaving the only

person close to him in his life

now lying in a hospital bed in a coma

then in the hospital room with his


his imagined father figure murray

presents a clip of his stand-up routine

on his show

and proceeds to make fun of him and

expose his shortcomings to the world

further injuring his already fragile


he then goes on to find out that his

mother was either lying

or delusional about her relationship

with thomas wayne and that thomas wayne

is not his father

and his mother isn't even his mother

when he finds out that he was adopted

in three terrible strokes arthur

completely loses all notions of any


his adoption papers even stating that he

was abandoned

indicating that it wouldn't even be

possible for him to find his birth


no longer does he have a mother a

hoped-for father and thomas wayne or an

imaginative father figure in murray

coupled with the revelation that his

relationship with sophie was entirely


this renders arthur utterly alone and

without a soul in the world who

genuinely cares for him

those few others we do see give any

semblance of care for arthur during the


namely the clerk at the hospital and his

former co-worker gary aren't anywhere

near the sort of relationship he could

have had with his parents

though arthur seems to have a general

disdain for the world and people around


he does show a certain amount of

kindness to those who treat him well

in the case of gary and a willingness to

open up to anyone who shows him even a

little shred of kindness

such as with the clerk in the hospital

being totally alone might have been

enough to send arthur down a dark path

but what really sends him over the edge

is the revelation of his childhood abuse

his mother's mental health issues and

his adoption

arthur has had an identity crisis his

whole life not really knowing who he is

and trying to make sense of his life and

fit into the world

these revelations reveal that all along

he really didn't have an identity to

begin with

initially he's arthur fleck a man with

many issues who strives to become a

stand-up comedian while taking the time

to take care of his sick mother

then that identity is challenged when

he's led to believe that he may be the

son of thomas wayne

that notion is quickly shattered by

thomas's denial and then by his adoption


not only is he not the son of thomas

wayne but he isn't even a flick

or arthur or anybody for that matter his


who up until now had been one of the

only good and consistent things in his


is revealed to be a mentally unstable

liar who is likely the cause of all the

terrible conditions that he's developed

in his lifetime

this person who was up until now a force

for good in his life

actually stood by while he was abused

and perhaps even abused him herself

he was beaten and underfed left to

starve tied to a radiator

and all the while was expected to put on

a happy face his mother even going so

far as to say he was always happy

in her interrogation this abuse can

obviously tie into a multitude of

arthur's problems

but one small detail we receive earlier

in the film directly links his laughing

condition to his abuse

in his mother's file it showed that he

suffered head trauma

on the card he gives people to make them

aware of his condition it says that his

condition can appear in people who have

brain injuries

what in the beginning appears to be a

relatively insignificant detail

is revealed to be the link to arthur's

pba and the abuse he received

not only this but all of arthur's other

issues can now be traced back to their

roots at the neglect he received when he

was a child

building more and more as he's grown

older due to the terrible circumstances

he finds himself in

the irony in this is that had he been

his mother's natural-born son

we might think that his issues came from

his genetics but in reality his issues

are still derived from his mother

though in an abusive and circumstantial

way rather than a genetic one

interestingly enough this type of

childhood abuse and head trauma has also

been linked to the development of serial

killers in real world studies

in almost every background for serial

killers their childhoods had either a

heavy amount of abuse

head trauma a documented abuse towards


or a combination of all three arthur

could be seen as more of a spree killer

but the lines between serial killer and

spree killer are often blurry

and i believe that whether or not he's

one or the other the abuse and his

issues give credit to either distinction

and either one

fits the bill for arthur now with all of

this melding together

arthur is well on his way to becoming

the joker but it's after he kills his

mother that arthur's transformation into

the joker is accelerated

his ascent into his new persona heads in

a different direction at first

being that he plans to end his life on

murray's show intending to instead end


rather than continue on to become the

joker but that very scene on murray's

show is the final moment where he's

teetering on the edge between arthur and

the joker

here we see his confidence showing full

force dancing onto the stage

kissing dr sally acting as if being on

stage is an almost effortless thing for


the murders he's committed the shedding

of his previous realities and his


and his life have bolstered this

confidence and given him the capability

to appear as he does now

however arthur's plan to kill himself is

slowly eroded

as he's confronted with the terrible

person that is murray

in the moment where he looks into his

journal we again see the line

i hope my death makes more sense than my

life and the movie seems to come full


in the beginning his life made no sense

but now he has resolved to kill himself

and finally his planned death is

beginning to make more sense than his

life ever had

here we see the plan being set in motion

as arthur admits his guilt

telling murray he has nothing to lose

nothing that can harm him anymore after

he's lived a life enveloped in pain and


bearing everything he's hidden before

the world because in a few moments he'll

be free of the ramifications of life

but this course is averted when murray

continues to berate him much in the same

way that he did when he featured

arthur's comedy bit on a previous

episode of his show

arthur has already become more and more

disgusted with the world

and is again made to feel inferior and

is ridiculed by a man he idolized as a

father figure

and his anger is continuing to rise the

more the show goes on

he goes on to state that everyone is

awful the world is awful

that nobody is civil anymore and doesn't

stop to consider what it's like

to be the other guy and that the

higher-ups in gotham like thomas wayne

expect everybody to just take it like

good little boys

it's here we see arthur's anger overflow

his mind resolving itself to the point

that he's forgotten his plan to end his

own life

and instead bringing to the forefront

his satisfaction with what he's done to

the world and the intense emotion that

he's been building over his entire life

the overwhelming feelings of hatred and

loathing for the world around him that

culminates in the shot to murray's head

laughing with perhaps the most genuine

laugh we have seen from him the entire


and taking with that bullet all that was

arthur and transforming him fully

into the joker the moment before he

kills murray where he states that murray

gets what he deserves

brings light to the core reason for the

murders he commits

giving people what they deserve he again


and looks into the camera and ends the

show by saying good night

and always remember that's life

after this arthur is arrested and in the

back of a police car he gets to witness

firsthand the chaos and destruction that

he's caused

we again see the pure joy and happiness

that he's feeling now that he's entered

into this new world he's created

when he's taken from that police car and

showcased in front of a crowd of people

his people he revels in all that he has


basking in the adoration that these

people shower him with

dancing and posing in the same way he

had before when he'd felt the first

tendrils of this utter happiness

earlier in the film the end of the film

shows arthur reflecting on the

inadvertent revenge he gets on thomas

wayne by causing his death

and leaving his son without parents

linking bruce to himself personally

and leaving him in a similar parental

situation as himself

now the murder he commits here at the

end is up for interpretation

does he kill the mental health worker

because she deserves it

as the others did or just because we may

never know

but with everything we've learned

there's a few things we do know

we know we have a severely neglected

child and adult who has gone through a

life of tragedy and trauma in a city

that is uncaring and cruel

a city where the less fortunate are left

to rot and fester in its underbelly

where this tortured soul undergoes an

evolution through violence and suffering

becoming an entirely new man that

thrives in this world of chaos and

macabre happiness he has created for


in the end arthur fleck is the joker is

undoubtedly a murderer

and a villain but his evil is a tragic

one that has been nurtured by

circumstance and abuse

transforming a poor forgotten and

mistreated soul into a vengeful and

disturbed killer

i hope you all have enjoyed this episode

and i'd love to hear what you think down

in the comments below

if you liked this video and want to see

more of my content feel free to

subscribe and give this video a like

thanks for watching and i'll be seeing