V for Vendetta is a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. It reflects an imaginary future of the United Kingdom after the Second World War, namely, the established dictatorial regime. This essay aims to reveal the meaning of V who came to overthrow the existing order and show people the truth.
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In a deceptive struggle for peace, order, and security in the country, Adam Sutler, an antagonist of the novel acting as a Supreme Chancellor, has concentrated immeasurable power in his hands. The government declared a curfew, and all the media came under strict censorship. To prevent attacks, Sattler has settled in an underground bunker along with his closest ministers and began to communicate through video.
Through the novel, it becomes evident that it is the government that poisoned rivers and initiated a series of acts of terrorism. At first, ordinary Britons rejoiced this regime hoping for a better life yet, suddenly, they discovered that with the acquisition of the so-called order they had lost much of their freedom. A freedom fighter known as V starts a guerrilla war against the regime in an attempt to return people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of choice. In this war, he interacts with a young woman whom he snatched from the clutches of the secret police.
To interpret the novel appropriately, it is essential to reflect on the main characters. The protagonist of the novel is V, a man in a raincoat having a sword. His face is non-identifiable under the constantly smiling mask of Guy Fawkes – a man who tried to blow up Parliament building four centuries ago on November, 5. It should be noted that the above action was directed against the King who carried out a series of reprisals against Catholics.
Thus, the 5th of November becomes the leitmotif of the novel: “Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason, and plot” (Moore and Lloyd 14). V occupies the state TV channel and appeals to the British people claiming that the country lives under the rule of a tyrant. V persuasively calls people to action: “if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me” (Moore and Lloyd 27).
To do this, he invites citizens to come to Parliament Square and join his protest. This shows that V is not a banal Superman as he has his vision of the struggle for a new justice acting against the enemies by using their violent methods. On the one hand, V for Vendetta is the story of revenge of the former prisoner against his oppressors. On the other hand, it is the history of the overthrow of the dictatorial regime.
However, V for Vendetta is also the story of Evey, a young woman whose parents were arrested and, perhaps, killed by police because of their active protests. Undergoing severe imprisonment conditions created by V, she realizes that terrorism does not solve anything and that the mask of V is just a mask but, moreover, a symbol that gives people hope and faith injustice. Finally, Evey understands that “people should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people” (Moore and Lloyd 261). The two explosions did not kill anyone and are accompanied by fireworks and smiling masks. At that, terrorism is not justified by authors, yet it sounds as a reminder that sooner or later it is likely to destroy unjust government and order.
It becomes clear through the reading that the novel depicts future England with a totalitarian state while the rest of the world lies in ruins after a nuclear war. It is essential to emphasize the fact that Zeitgeist is a very important component of this story. The country can sleep soundly as the order and peace are ensured by ubiquitous cameras of “big brother”, the speakers, announcing the curfew, and public security guard.
In New England, there is no place for others and freethinkers. Frightened and beaten, Old England has come to dictatorial regime founding salvation and delicate balance, but the years passed, and violence has become a kind of norm of which nobody thinks it could be otherwise. At that moment, when a critical point was reached, several explosions have thundered across London accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. In response, Sutler tries to hold his power claiming that “I want this country to realize that we stand on the edge of oblivion” (Moore and Lloyd 208). Nevertheless, the culmination is coming, and nothing could prevent retribution.
The plot initially seems to be pretty trivial – in fact, many writers have already discussed the theme of a man against the system. However, it acquires new conflicts and contradictions. As a result, the reader observes the struggle between light and darkness in the human soul and the confrontation of the hero’s own “I” in an attempt to find an answer to the question of whether the end justifies the means. Crushed by the system yet free, V dies.
At that, the reader observes the evolution of two characters. The first one is Evey who undergone a crucial social experiment. The second one is Inspector Finch possessing amazing dramatic power. While investigating the explosion of the Palace of Justice and murder committed by a terrorist-anarchist, the ardent Party member Finch concludes the criminal essence of the government and allows Evey to activate bomb train directing it towards Parliament. The train starts from Victoria Station, and V for Vendetta turns to be V for Victory.
Faceless V who decides to take revenge on the government for the long-term oppression of the nation preaches anarchy in its purest form – life without power and abuse. His performance in the role of the mysterious terrorist looks impressive as V is a metaphorical incarnation of revolutionary ideas of the discontented society struggling against “cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression” (Moore and Lloyd 28).
However, the paramount idea of V is that a person needs to gain self-awareness to understand the main things related to the fate of the country. V’s origin is not completely clear, his face is hidden, and the silhouette resembles a ghost. Answering the question of Evey, V claims: “Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am a man in a mask” (Moore and Lloyd 148)? His speech consists of either quotes or improvised sense of the poem. Thus, V presents all the citizens and their readiness to change the government and overthrow tyranny.
In effect, V for Vendetta is not the story that proposes anarchy rule in the world. Instead, it states that despite the situation and any difficulties, people have the right to choose. When your classmates are beaten in the alley, you will have the choice to pass or do something. When the secret police come for your neighbor, you can close the door and pretend that did not see anything or say something. When you die, you will have a choice to die like a man or like a shell.
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Each of these personal choices can affect the story and the state. V for Vendetta proposes that indifference, resignation, and reluctance to think and impact a reality is what leads to anti-Utopias. According to Evey, “No one will ever forget that night, and what it meant to this country. But I will never forget the man, and what he meant to me” (Moore and Lloyd 263). Using symbolism, Moore and Lloyd point out different signs of time, details, and metaphors seamlessly linking all the threads of their stories into a single plot.
At the end of the novel, Evey confesses that “he was Edmond Dantès. And he was my father. And my mother… my brother… my friend. He was you, and me. He was all of us” (Moore and Lloyd 263). After the global epidemic which carried away millions of lives, the dictatorship of the Chancellor was established in the country, making human rights and democracy have become empty words. However, a loner who still believes in freedom can rebirth society serving as an idea and driving force for a change.
Being inspired by the idea of V for Vendetta that was discussed above, a group of unknown people started the Anonymous movement. The paramount driving force affected the establishment of this movement is a protest against existing injustice. Likewise actions of V, the hacktivist group directs its operations towards governmental structures and banks. Developing the concept of retribution that was raised in the novel, the Anonymous movement opposes the Church of Scientology as well.
The methods of struggle of both V and the Anonymous movement are revolutionary and chaotic. Thus, embodied in the views of V, they affect those of the hacktivist group and cause anarchy. As it was mentioned earlier, anarchy serves as a call to action and a way to change but not as a means to run the society. This idea is also adopted by Anonymous hackers and integrated into each of their operations serving as an incarnation of justice. Thought and action are the two aspects of effective change that is to be performed by every person to the extent they are capable of in the area of their responsibility. Likewise in the novel, everyone has the opportunity to join the movement and become a part of a great mission.
Another parallel between the Anonymous movement and V for Vendetta can be observed in the fact of wearing masks of Guy Fawkes. Since the world read the novel, this mask became a symbol of hidden criminal activity. In turn, the members of the hacktivist group tend to hide their identities in an online environment and wear Guy Fawkes masks during real-life protests. A man behind the mask cannot be identified and, therefore, be convinced of doing an illegal act. The mentioned peculiarity proves the very designation of the movement assuming that it is not individuals but a nation as a whole revolt to establish a better order through chaos. At that, it should be stressed that the creation of chaos leading to some changes is a fundamental focus of the group instead of a complete change of the government.
Nowadays the Anonymous movement is perceived by people and society in general as a symbol of rebellion that is, apparently, a continuation of an initiative created by many revolutionaries and primarily by V. What is more, this movement is associated with global protests serving as an icon of the continuous yet anonymous struggle against current societal issues related to discrimination, corruption, improper laws, and other actual events.
Rapidly responding to such issues, the Anonymous movement is likely to initiate a series of hacker attacks causing new waves of debates around them. Thus, considering this hacktivist group in the context of V for Vendetta, one can note that the latter is a peculiar example of responding to oppression. Although the Anonymous movement does not completely follow the ideas of V, it is evident that the group’s activity is largely powered by the novel of Moore and Lloyd. At that, the masked man is adopted as a symbol of hope, call to action, and a reminder that volatile specters can always pursue unfair institutions.
In conclusion, it should be emphasized that V succeeds as millions of thousands of people heard his call and came to Parliament Square. In its turn, the Anonymous movement has several successful operations and is likely to achieve more in their aspiration for justice. Even though this hacktivist group has no leader or certain purposes, it is considered as a modern powerful tool of protest.
Moore, Alan, and David Lloyd. V for Vendetta. New York: DC Comics, 2008. Print.