Essay Topic 1
Why does V never reveal his true identity? What purposes does this secrecy serve?
Essay Topic 2
Describe how Evey has matured throughout the story. Be sure to discuss specific events that changed Evey's outlook.
Essay Topic 3
Describe how and why Mr. Finch's attitude toward V changes throughout the story, citing examples from the story.
Essay Topic 4
Describe what happens to V at Larkhill. What is the purpose of Larkhill? Who works there? How does this experience drive V's actions later on?
Essay Topic 5
Why is it so easy for the fascists to seize control of the government? What factors make the people embrace their policies (at least at first)?
Essay Topic 6
Do you think that V's methods are the best way to bring down the government? Do the ends justify the means, or is V a terrorist himself?
Essay Topic 7
Describe the bishop. How does his...
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Since the text contains many radical political themes, one of the dominant strands that encompass many of them is the conflict between the state and individual. It reflects the suppression of individuality by a tyrannical fascist government called “Norsefire”. This connotes the notion of a “panoptican structure” introduced by Michel Foucault (1975) which is a structure in which individuality is suppressed through discipline and surveillance to ensure obedience and control. The manner in which the citizens are controlled through surveillance in the text and the elimination of ‘undesirables’ depict the different ways in which the government as an authoritative body exercises absolute power to discipline the people and keep them under control. The idea of surveillance as a disciplinary tool is resonant throughout the film as all the discussions and conversations that take place even in private spaces such as the house are monitored by agents of the government. One of Norsefire’s intelligence departments ‘The Finger’ and the government’s computer system ‘Fate’ are recurring symbolic tools of surveillance and discipline in the text used to monitor the citizens. Through this, the state instils fear into individuals for discipline and control and this ironic situation is pointed out by the masked hero V who opines that “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people”. Furthermore, the punishments given out for deviants or ‘undesirables’ in resettlement camps unveiled as the story progresses show the process of suppressing individual autonomy. The medical experiments carried out in these camps of which V is a victim also shows a certain parallel to the Nazi concentration camps and their fascist rule during the Second World War.
Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. In A. Sheridan (Trans.), New York: Vintage Books (Original work published 1975).
Both personal and collective memory act as a powerful tool of invoking change and social consciousness in various individuals. For example, it is V’s personal memories in the camp that evoke vengeance and propel him to create change in Norsefire and free the citizens. He as a victim of the atrocities in the camps is one who is left with nothing but memories on which he survives for a purpose. Similarly, the letter containing Valerie’s experiences in the camp also arouses a level of social responsibility by subduing the fear instilled through powerful Norsefire in Evey. Furthermore, the prominent line, “Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gun powder, treason and plot” which is in reference to one of the landmark rebellions of England’s history evokes a sense of collective memory in the text which prompts many of the characters such as Evey and even Finch to change sides and support V’s rebellion. However, at the same time the importance of not allowing memory to constrict an individual is also depicted as V advices Evey that, “The past can’t hurt you anymore, not unless you let it”. It reflects the importance of not allowing memories of punishment and discipline instilled by Norsefire to create fear in individuals and control their actions. Hence, memory both collective and personal works in different levels in the text to contribute to the notion of change through rebellion.
V for Vendetta can be seen as a text that celebrates and promotes freedom of the individual especially in terms freedom of choice and ideologies. V as a political symbol represents this freedom and his masked vigilant like appearance and persona that stands out throughout the text in contrast to the lifestyles of ordinary citizens can be considered a creation to highlight the importance of individuality. Moreover, he reveals the importance of freeing individuals from “mind- forg’d manacles” (Blake,1794), which is any brainwashing done by Norsefire in terms of ideas or perceptions in order to achieve true emancipation as echoed by the line towards the end directed to the citizens to choose “Lives of your own or a return to chains”. It shows the importance of refusing to subject the self to totalitarianism in order to break away from oppression. It also depicts the power of individual freedom when it is accumulated in all individuals through their success in collectively infiltrating and toppling Norsefire. His propaganda of creating “The Land of Do-As-You-Please” in which individual freedom strives also shows the importance placed on the individual in the text.