Being one of the most significant works directed by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight demonstrates numerous significant references to the Bible. Biblical images and deep moral concerns unite the film with both the Old and New Testaments. Among the most influential and effective scenes of the film, a hospital scene is especially important to analyze. Due to the depth of ethical dilemmas presented in the scene and vividness of both the Dark Knight and Joker’s image, this scene can be compared to the concept of chaos and loss of paradise depicted in the third Chapter of Genesis.
Genesis is crucial for understanding the film as based on the Christian outlook. Since the Joker can transform own image several times, he pretends to be a nurse while Harvey Dent is his patient. The image of the nurse helps the Joker tempt Harvey into a criminal life. It occurs to be possible, because people used to consider nurses those, who help and save human life. They are more likely to be perceived as the angels, and the Joker is aware of this fact. He is so cunning and smart that pretends to be a nurse and uses this angelic image for his evil actions. This follows the image of the serpent presented in Genesis. The Bible shows the serpent as “more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord od had made” (Genesis 3:1). His cunning mind makes him pretend to be good to tempt both Adam and Eve to eat from the tree in the middle of Eden.
The Joker in the clip is similar to the serpent in the Bible. A lot of symbols are used by Nolan to illustrate the Joker as the Satan figure. For instance, the Joker is dressed in white clothes used by the nurses. White color is deeply symbolic, because, according to the Bible, Satan is able to transform himself into an angel of light. White nurse uniform has made the Joker look like the angel of light, and that confirms his Satan nature based on the biblical symbolism. Another important feature that refers the Joker to the serpent depicted in Genesis is his disgusting appearance. Similar to all serpents, the Joker is in a constant motion, his tongue licks the lips and darts out of the mouth. He is affected and strives to convey his passionate message to Harvey.
Like the serpent from Genesis, the Joker uses his tongue to persuade Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Tongue appears to be the most dangerous part of the serpent’s body, and it is the same for the Joker. In Genesis, the serpent says that “you will not certainly die” (Genesis 3:4). First, he strives to show that there is nothing to worry about, because the forbidden fruit is not dangerous to the humans. The same situation is illustrated in the clip, when the Joker tells Harvey “the truth is the schemers put you where you are” (“The Dark Knight – Hospital Scene” 1:47). The serpent strives to persuade Eve that they will do nothing wrong eating the fruit, because the Lord is guilty not to allow them to do so.
The serpent makes the emphasis that “for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). The Joker uses the same approach, manipulating Harvey’s confidence and trust. He strives to persuade Harvey he is not guilty of what has been done earlier, and that both of them are aimed at doing alike. The serpent and the Joker want to bring mess to what the Lord has created. For example, the Joker plans to use “a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets” (2:00) to the city, and that unites him with the biblical image of Satan as chaos. The serpent makes Eve eat the forbidden fruit and give it to Adam, and that causes the Fall of Man and painful exile from paradise.
The important symbols that unite the Joker and the serpent with Satan is fire and chaos. The Joker is associated and characterized through the fire. By the end of the scene, he blows the hospital, making several explosions, and walkes away from it. Fire is a well-known symbol used to characterize Satan and the hell. Fire always brings mess, crucial disorder, and absolute chaos. Chaos opposes the creative order, initiated by the Lord, so that it makes Satan the true antagonist within the biblical plot. Genesis explains “their ancestor was cursed by God for having tricked the woman into eating the forbidden fruit” (Knight and Levine 65). Both the Joker and the serpent strive to bring chaos to the divine order. The Fall of Man is the greatest achievement that Satan gets at the biblical times. As for the Joker, he is happy to bring chaos to Harvey’s native city Gotham, burning it and killing people, who live there.
I agree with the second meaning in the students’ discussion. It states that the Joker’s actions can be considered a kind of rebellion against the divine order. To my mind, it is true, because both the serpent and the Joker strive to provide the humans with the alternative reality. Their opposition to the Lord is the rebellion, because they see themselves able to create own world with the new rules. There is no sense to discuss whether this world is good or bad, because we are limited to our moral and cultural code, but the truth is that the image of Satan is presented as complex and controversial in both the Bible and The Dark Knight.