The following is a discussion of V for Vendetta
that I had with the highly intelligent Mark Treuthardt back in October and November of 2000. Though Mark and I disagreed on many points of interpretations regarding Vendetta
, I found what he had to say extremely compelling and intelligent. His arguments were well-written and very thorough, and I am happy to present to you our entire conversation, edited only for spelling and punctuation. My most humble thanks to Mark for sharing and discussing his thoughts with me.
To differentiate Mark's comments from mine,
I have put Mark's comments in blue and mine
in black. Due to the length of our discussion,
I have broken things down by subject. You can
either read the whole discussion in order, or
click on the links below to read a specific
section. Also, all pages referred to in this
conversation correspond to the page-numbering
of the trade paperback edition of V for Vendetta.
V isn't exactly very clear when he explains
the concepts of freedom, anarchy and the reasons
for his actions to the ever-confused Evey Hammond.
Oh, I wouldn't say that. I found his concepts
and ideas spelled out quite simply. Give me some time to find all the
quotes, but I'll point them out. But if you've read those quotes and find
them unclear, please let me know; I'd be curious to know why you feel
that way. As for Evey, while I admit the girl went through the wringer,
she seems quite assured of herself at the
end. I don't know if you meant to imply it this way, but you made it seem
like she never had a clue through the entire novel.
As for V's motives for what he did for, and to, her: I think it's clear
that he did what he felt needed to be done to prepare her as his successor.
I suppose it's me really. I hate it when people talk in riddles and expect
you to work out for yourself what they are talking about. What is wrong
with just putting it in plain English? I suppose that it is because whenever
I try this method of talking nobody seems to understand what an earth
I am on about! The same is with V and his explanations: he delivers at
lot of hints and tips but takes a long time to get to the point (if at
all). Evey herself sums it up best on page 223: "I just want to turn the
page upside down and read the answers."
Look to Chapters 1-3, 5, 9, and 11 of Book 3 for V's philosophy. I've
used quotes from one of those sections about once a day for the last 8
years or so! And I understand your desire to "read the answers", I'm always
interested in knowing what the magician's trick is. But as a writer, I
have to say I've learned the value of letting the reader figure it out
on their own. Exposition can be very tiresome, not to mention preachy,
so sometimes it's best to let the reader come to the conclusions on their
own, and trust you, as the writer, have put enough clues there for them
to figure it out.
Even at this stage she is still confused, but I admit she does pull herself
together and is quite prepared when she takes up the mantle of V at the
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From your Guy Fawkes section:
"There seems to be a bit of a debate regarding whether people are celebrating Guy's failure, or what a good idea he and his conspirators had. Apparently, David Lloyd was one of those people who thought the latter."
I don't agree with this. The grand majority of British people celebrate the FAILURE of Fawkes' attempt to blow up Parliament. Although King James I was a tyrant, the success of the plot would have meant the end of Parliament and even the end of democracy in Britain. 40 forty later, Parliament itself overthrew King Charles I and thus brought about a constitutional monarchy and democracy (or as near to democracy as you could get in those days given the fact that only about 10% of the population had the vote!) Few people seem to realize that the English Civil War was effectively the British version of the French and American Revolutions.
Personally I think that Lloyd was being flippant when he said that we should "celebrate [Fawkes'] attempt to blow up Parliament", as is indicated in Moore's remark that "Dave was obviously a lot less sane than I hitherto believed him to be".
You make a valid point regarding England's view of the Gunpower
Plot. Funny thing--I very rarely have talked to
a Brit (who wasn't a fan of V for Vendetta)
that knew about Guy Fawkes at all! (Though these
were friends-of-a-friend situation so I think
my questions may have gotten lost in the translation.)
However, I think there is room to debate whether people think Guy may have had the right idea. Alan himself admits, though Lloyd may be "less sane" that it was still "the best idea I'd ever heard of in my entire life." Furthermore, several fan sites I have been to about Guy Fawkes Day (which were linked to on my website though the links all appear broken or lost; I must update that) gave me the impression that, whether they felt Guy and his co-conspirators were wrong in their actions, they still felt sympathetic to his ideals.
I have attended many Bonfire Nights and I admit that as far as most people are concerned it is just a good excuse to light a bonfire, burn the Guy and watch the fireworks. To those whom I have talked seriously about the matter, however, the consensus seems to be that what Fawkes was trying to do was evil and that he and his fellow conspirators got everything they deserved. They were not just out to kill the King, but also hundreds of innocent people. If the plan had succeeded Britain would have been a very different society, and not necessarily a better one. We might not even enjoy the rights and freedom that we take for granted these days.
There is a debate about Fawkes' character. What he was going to do was wrong, but on the other hand there is no denying that he was a brave man in his own way. He had been a soldier in the Spanish army (although English he called himself Guido Fawkes) so he was quite use to death and destruction.
For more on the matter of Fawkes, see Fawkes.txt which is also attached to this e-mail.
I think that this is what Moore meant: he would take an unsympathetic character like Guy Fawkes, set him in a society akin to Nazi Germany and see what came out of it. Where Fawkes fails, V succeeds!
I've never been to a Bonfire Night celebration, but it will be something I get to do before I die. So I'll take your word about it. It's been a while since I did any research on the matter--my Vendetta shrine is three years old, and the Guy Fawkes section hasn't really been altered since that time!--but I remember the one or two personal pages I went to gave me a more "radical" approach to viewing Guy Fawkes than the more traditional view you're talking about. But obviously you've had more experience celebrating the holiday than I, so I'll certainly take your word on it.
But I think we'll have to agree to disagree on what Moore and Lloyd meant to imply by having their protagonist dress like Guy Fawkes. Even if your interpretation (about putting Guy in a Nazi-llike society) is right, that still seems to me like Moore and Lloyd are deliberately saying that, in another light, Guy Fawkes would have been a hero, which to me indicates that Guy's idea of a revolution (even a bloody one) isn't necessarily a bad idea
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From your "V versus Rorscharch" section:
V's "actions are deliberate: he knew killing Derek Almond would eventually culminate in Rose's assassination of Susan - or he knew enough to keep tabs on her and point her in that direction."
I don't think so. It is not indicated anywhere in the book that V is keeping tabs on Rose, in fact he shows no interest in her at all. V seems more interested in actual roses and the Heyers (see below). His killing of Derek Almond appears to be a matter of chance: V is with Delia Surridge when Dominic warns Almond of the connection between her and Codename V (see pages 73 to 74). V has thus no way of knowing that Almond is on his way to confront him, let along that his gun is not loaded.
Again, very good points. But you overlooked the one vital clue that lead me to my assertion: Page 221 of the trade, where V shoes Evey his "will" (as in testament, last request, and his own desires), they enter the rose garden. Evey asks if there is a rose for Susan, to which V replies: "Oh no, not here. For him, I've cultivated a most special rose."
What other rose shows up in the book if not Rose Almond?
True. The scene on page 221 also made me think of Rose Almond. There is one problem though:
When V meddles in the lives of friend or foe, either close-up or at a distance, there is always an indication of his involvement: he takes credit for the destruction of Parliament (page 14) and those of the Eye and the Ear (pages 184 to 187). We see him dealing with Prothero, Bishop Lilliman and Surridge, and we soon know that it is he who is maltreating Evey (pages 148 to 166). The fact that he is the only one who can use the security cameras and that we see him watching Helen Heyer and Ally Harper together (page 228), indicates that the video Conrad receives (pages 239 and 241) is from him.
The murder of Almond and the statement on page 221 are the only clues that V is manipulating Rose and they are rather weak ones at that. If V was pointing Rose towards killing Susan I think that Moore and Lloyd would have dropped better hints than those.
Again, we'll have to agree to disagree on this. It seems to me that the scene we're discussing is a pretty strong hint. As for Prothero, Lilliman, and Surridge, remember that they were special cases as they all directly contributed to what happened to V during his stay at Larkhill. Their deaths were a much more personal vendetta than the ideological one he waged against Susan and his ideology. Like Finch said at the end of book one: "the three he'd been saving until last" (84). These were very special people. He never directly contacted Conrad; the video was mailed. And yet that too affected Helen and Creedy. Likewise, V never had direct contact with Susan, although we know he accessed Fate which led to Susan's mental decline. Likewise, though V never met Rose personally, he did kill both her husband and "lover"; and if he could keep up with the video surveillance, then he must have known she was with Dascombe.
Furthermore, even if V had known thought Fate that Almond was on his way to confront him at Delia's, Fate would have to be a really powerful computer to tell him that the gun was not loaded. I still stand by my view that the killing of Almond was on the spur of the moment.
I think we're also going to have to agree to disagree, but I again have to point this out: "there's no coincidence, only the illusion of coincidence." :)
When V tells Evey that he has "cultivated a most special rose", he then leads her to the train which he intends to use to blow up Downing Street.
True, but check page 222, when they enter the train. It's filled with lillies, not roses. So I don't think V was referring to the train when he talks about the "special rose".
In the real world, Downing Street is the centre of government in Britain, the HQ of the Prime Minister and other important ministers and civil servants. We can assume that in the V-world it is Susan's headquarters too. On page 258, Evey-V tells the people "Downing Street will be destroyed, the Head reduced to ruins."
V has already destroyed every other part of the Body, Harper kills the Finger in the form of Creedy (see page 243), Finch's departure from London and Dominic's capture by Evey-V pretty well means the end of the Nose (see pages 252 and 259). The destruction of the Head (page 262) is merely the last part.
I agree with what you say, but again, I don't think V specifically meant to kill Susan with this blast. By the time the train left, V was dead, as well as Susan. But the power structure still existed. The destruction of The Head meant the final destruction of the controlling fascist system in total. As V says on page 222: "Thus destroyers topple empires; make a canvas of clean rubble where creators can then build a better world. Rubble, once achieved, makes further ruins' irrelevant." The train reduced the Head to rubble, the final killing blow to the Norsefire empire. This is a different, more symbolic act, separate from killing Susan specifically.
Rose is really the stereotype of the battered housewife. She cannot live with her husband, but she cannot live without him either. Instead she is alone, unskilled, left with mounting debts and the advances of Roger Dascombe (see pages 101, 104 and 106). She reluctantly takes up the job of dancer at the Kitty Kat Keller nightclub where is she is also sexually assaulted by the manager (see pages 176 and 178). There is nothing more galling for a woman, who used to mix with people in high places (see pages 45-46), now reduced to showing off as a dancer in a nightclub (see page 205) or giving in to the sexual advances of other men. The mounting humiliations lead her to put the whole blame on Adam Susan who does not seem to even recognize her when they meet at the parade, which is why Rose finally cracks and kills him (see page 234)!
Which would not have happened had V not killed Derek, or Roger Dascome. So if not for V's actions, Rose would never have taken the path you describe. Did V, could he, have planned all this from a seemingly random encounter? You mention this quote yourself: "there is no coincidence, only the illusion of coincidence." It may be V boasting, as you say, but how much of a boast is it when it's true?
Like I say above, V probably had other plans for Susan.
On page 235, Rose has simply precipitated what V intended to do himself, but he must get satisfaction from the fact that a Rose has been involved in the final act of vengeance.
Well, I think we'll keep agreeing to disagree with this one. :) But, aside from the train car, if you can show me where else V intended on killing Susan personally, I'd be interested because I honestly don't see it. But, like both our views, it could simply be a matter of interpretation.
More to the point is the way in which V deals with the triangle involving Conrad Heyer, his wife Helen and her lover Ali Harper (page 228, where he watches Helen and Harper plotting in bed together). He knows that if Helen manages to make her hen-pecked husband Leader this could upset his own plans for plunging Britain into anarchy. This is why he sends Conrad the video of Helen and Harper (see pages 239 and 241). This leads to Conrad's murder of Harper during which he is fatally injured with Harper's shaving blade, and Helen's fury when she finds that all her plans have been ruined (see pages 253 to 256)!
I would consider this example proof of V's ability to manipulate, although admittedly, it hard to say if V purposely caused the situation. But on the flip side, had not V killed everyone to clear the way for Conrad's ascension, would Helen have been in a position to manipulate?
Also, look to the very fact that V has controlled the computer Fate for years! As Dominic says: "He's had access to Fate since the beginning." (209) This begs the question: when was the beginning? Was it Nov 5, 1997 when he first alerted himself to Norsefire, or all those years before, killing everyone who could have identified him? Seeing how long V has been at work, it is reasonable to think, given how successful he was, that he was able to plan out everything in detail.
On Page 199, Helen states that Conrad's success was "entirely due to [her] efforts". I think that this implies that she has been planning his (and hence her) rise to power for some time. For her, V's killing of many of her husband's potential rivals means that now is the time to act. All that is left is to get rid of Creedy, which she does by obtaining Harper's help ([pages 204 and 243).
I agree, Helen has probably been scheming for some time to move Conrad into positions of power. But I think, as V laid the foundations of his plan, he saw this, and used Helen to his advantage as much as Helen used things to hers. So while he may not have directly influenced her actions all the while, he certainly kept tabs on her enough so that he could use it to his advantage when he needed it.
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From your "V versus Rorschach" section:
"Unlike Rorschach, V is in complete control. "There is no coincidence, only the illusion of coincidence," he tells Delia. V knows." (see page 74)
Personally, I think that V is simply boasting!
I stand by my comments made above. However, I think there are two levels this quote works on. The first level is whether or not you believe this is true in Life. Is it destiny, or freewill? In that respect, you can certainly argue this cannot be a blanket statement.
But in respect to the story, I think you can. Again, if you look at everything that happens in this story, it all it set in motion by, and works to the advantage of, V. Not one monkey wrench is thrown into his plan. He knew Finch would kill him, he knew Evey would succeed him. Not once does he show any hint of uncertainty. So while you could argue he was as much a victim of chance--"it could have gone the other way"--the fact remains is that it all played out the way he wanted it to. And I find that too glaring a fact of the story to chalk up to chance.
I still think that V is taken by surprise when he encounters Almond at Delia Surridge's house. He could not have known at that stage that Finch and Dominic had made the Larkhill connection. It stands to reason that V intended to kill Almond at some stage, but as with Rose's killing of Susan, and Helen's schemes to make her husband Leader, things were somewhat precipitated by events. (I don't think that you and I will ever agree on this, but like I state in the e-mail: "great books… encourage debates and the voicing of opinions.")
I admit, the scene with Derek does beg the question: how could V have known the gun wasn't loaded. I also agree, if he hadn't killed Derek then, he would have done so at another time. And I agree that we'll probably politely keep disagreeing on this point. But, like you said, it's a testament ot the story that we can have such spirited debates about it. :)
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From your "V versus Rorschach" section:
"Unlike Rorschach, the mask he wears does not change (Granted, he wears a different mask when interrogating Prothero, but this is probably the result of the "initial clumsiness" Moore mentions in his introduction rather than anything else)."
Actually, I think that the changing of the mask at this stage was intended.
V's meeting with Prothero is more of a confrontation than an interrogation, as he forces the broadcaster to relive their shared past (see pages 31-34)! During this confrontation he is dressed in the typical clothes of an entertainer at a British holiday camp. The mask with the bent nose is the face of Mr Punch, the puppet from the Punch and Judy shows which are essential for any holiday camp or seaside resort (at least they were once upon a time).
Seen from different angles the Punch mask can be both amusing and sinister, as are both V and Punch themselves. This is the effect he is trying to convey on both Prothero and the reader (shades of the Comedian from Watchmen here).
Thus Moore and Lloyd changed the mask deliberately. It is not due to "initial clumsiness".
Prothero obviously enjoyed torturing and slaughtering ethnic minorities, which is why V displays as much contempt for his doll collection (the only thing Prothero cares about).
V loves metaphors: he treats Larkhill concentration camp as a holiday camp; much in the same way that his TV broadcast treats the history of man as that of a discredited employee (see pages 112 to 118); or the way he compares his relationship with justice, Adam Susan and Fate as a series of ill-fated love affairs (page 201).
You make some fantastic points here, and I have to say I agree with most of them. However, I think I should clarify something I apparently did not make clear in my original text:
When I used the phrase "initial clumsiness" (which was deliberately lifted from Moore's introduction, so the viewpoint is not solely mine), I meant it in the following terms: that Moore and Lloyd set up situations, dialogue, plot, when they didn't fully realize exactly what they were doing. In any story, the creator(s) inevitably gain a better grasp of their characters and intentions as the plot advances. A perfect example of this is to watch a long running TV series. Compare later episodes to the initial ones, where they were still getting a sense of character. It is my assertion this same thing happened with Moore and Lloyd.
Did they purposely want V to change his mask? Yes. And I'd bet the reasons you assert are probably in line with what they were intending. But I also think, had this scene come up later in the story, when Moore and Lloyd had a much firmer grasp of their characters, they would have written it differently, and would not have had him change masks.
Of course, there's no way to prove this, so I think we can agree to disagree on this one. Again, you certainly make a convincing argument why it was necessary for V to use the Punch-n-Judy mask.
By this stage of the game, I think that Moore and Lloyd had things pretty well in hand. Like I said, V loves metaphors and he believes that Prothero treated Larkhill as a holiday camp where he could torture and slaughter people to his heart's content; much like we slaughter enemies on computer games like Doom or Quake. V destroys the dolls with as much contempt as Prothero destroyed people (see page 34).
As for the "initial clumsiness", in the early parts of V For Vendetta, V displays a great love for culture: the Shadow Gallery is full of posters of films and theatre, music and books (pages 18 to 19). By the second half, though, there is less emphasis on this and more on politics and philosophy. In his first appearance (see pages 11-12), V is quoting from Shakespeare, something he never seems to repeat. All his other quotes seem to be from anarchic philosophy. I think that this switch from culture to politics is the "initial clumsiness" that Moore was on about.
I quote from Moore's introduction: "V for Vendetta represents my first attempt at a continuing series, begun at the outset of my career. For this reason, amongst others [emphasis mine], there are things that ring oddly in earlier episodes when judged in the light of the strip's later development."
I think we're choosing different points in which to put the time frame of the "initial clumsiness" In my mind, I think it extends through the first half of Book One. You seem to indicate, and correct me if I'm wrong, that by the fourth chapter, "Vaudeville", Moore and Lloyd had everything under control. I disagree with that, as it seems to me that the melodrama present in those episodes are notched at a much higher level than in later episodes. Also, the direct physical attacks by V on Prother during the train ride, and that Moore and Lloyd show how V attacked Lilliman's men, are a bit out of character for them seeing how they handled action sequences later in the story.
Perhaps if we can come to a consensus as to where to put the cut-off, we might reach a conclusion. But somehow I think the only ones truly qualified to answer the question definitively would be Moore and Lloyd themselves.
As for Shakespeare, I agree we could put that in the "initial clumsiness" column as V doesn't really quote anything else at such length for the rest of the story. But don't forget that in "Behind the Painted Smile" Moore talks about that scene specifically: "There was the way in which a lengthy Shakespeare quote that was arrived at by opening a copy of The Collected Works at random seem to fit, exactly line for line, with the sequence of actions that I had planned for V in his first skirmish with the forces of order" (273).
Also, on page 157, Evey is tortured by a guard and we get a glimpse of the guard's face. The dummy on wheels that Evey later finds (see page 163) could not have plunged her head into the bowl of water, so this guard must be V in disguise, probably wearing another mask or extensive make-up.
One last comment, and this is more of a nit-pick then anything, so do with this as thou wilt: Regarding V masquerading as the guard and interrogator. I agree, it must be V who is playing these roles, and he obviously must have removed his mask. But we never see him, do we? It's all shadows, or the mannequin. During those times, he was not V. Whenever we see V, aside from the Prothero interrogation, he wears the mask. So I think the prison/torture sequence is a different set of circumstances from the Prothero interrogation, although it leads to its own set of interpretations.
On page 157, frame 3, we get a close-up of the guard just after he has pushed Evey's head into the bowl of water. Two frames and just a few seconds later, he again plunges Evey's head in the bowl. On page 159 we again see his face as he pulls her head out.
Ooh, look at that. On page 157, panel 3, the guard is not touching Evey. His face is "off camera" when she is dunked. But you are right about 159. Good eye! Hmmm.... Well, let me think on this one more. I don't want to say "it doesn't count, regardless" because I honestly did think you never saw the guards face while he physically touched Evey. But I do think that you can still make the case that it is not V. With the Vaudeville scene, he is talking with Evey, and we see the change in outfits. There is no doubt that it is V, despite the mask change. However, when you first read the story, did you think the guard was V in disguise, or did you really believe that evey was captured and being tortured by Norsefire? If you can honestly say the former, I must shake your hand because you'd be a helluva lot smarter than me; but if it's the latter, then I'll still maintain that, though it's physically the-person-who-is-V who's doing it, psychologically, and in outward appearance, it is not V.
So I still maintain it is a different set of circumstances, but as I said above, it's a nitpick, so feel free to roll your eyes at my theory and think me foolish. :)
Of course, there is your argument that the guard is V, but he is not being V. Just to confuse things a little further, this is V grooming Evey: he is putting her through the experience that he is endured so that she will better understand him and his motives when she takes over his mantle. From her imprisonment (page 148), to the reading of Valerie's letter (154 to 160) to her exposure to the elements (page 172), Evey goes through what the man in room five also experienced.
Yes, it's in this spirit that I am thinking that "V-is-not-V" during those scenes. Again, do with this interpretation as thou wilt.
On another note, this scene is intertwined with flashbacks of Valerie Page's life. Her face is always hidden by her hair, the same as V's is hidden by the mask. It is not until page 175 that we actually get to see her face, on the walls of the room in which V leads Evey. On one occasion this led me to believe that Valerie was in fact V himself, as if Moore and Lloyd felt that they owed it to the reader to give some explanation about their hero! Lesbians have been known to dress and act like men and there is also the fact that Evey (a girl) becomes V (a man) at the end. This would also explain V's love for the movies and the theatre, but after re-reading the story I decided that the woman in room four (Valerie) and the man in room five (V) were different people!
Valerie's face appears in the story before pg 175. At the end of Book One, page 85, V is in a movie theater. Valerie's face appears then. Of course, we didn't know that at the time. I think the reason we don't see her face during the scene where her letter is read is because, as Evey was reading the letter and didn't know what Valerie looked like, Moore and Lloyd wanted to give us the same impression. I personally wouldn't single out Lesbians as cross-dressers; the cast of Le Cage aux Faux might picket my house! And I have it on good authority several heterosexual men enjoy movies and the theater, but I think they're just living a life of denial, personally. :)
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From your "V versus Rorschach" section:
"Where Rorschach uses brute strength which ultimately fails him, ... V relies on others... cunning, on Fate, which he controls."
Actually, V uses his abilities to kill the Fingermen when he rescues Evey (see page 13), kidnaps Prothero (see page 21), kills Lilliman and his guards (see pages 52 to 62) and Delia Surridge (see page 75). As Finch himself points out during his report to Susan: "he's just been clearing the ground" (see page 85).
True, V does use brute strength. But these are specific circumstances. His broad plan is all a mental game of ideology and manipulation. Unlike Rorschach who always believes in actions over anything else. Rorschach is useless outside of a physical confrontation. V, on the other hand, seems almost invincible when he uses means other than brawn.
You actually show the same thing by using the quote on page 85. V uses physical action to clear the ground. But is that not, then, part of his plan? And once the ground is cleared (ie, killing all those who could identify him), would you say the rest of the plan is a physical one, or an ideological/mental one?
A bit of both really. After all V shows a lot of physical and mental cruelty in his treatment of Evey when he makes her believe that she is in a prison camp. He also uses knives against the guards when breaking into the TV studio (pages 107 to 110), not to mention the bombs he sets off with fatal consequences, disabling both the Eye and the Ear (pages 184 to 186). It is only after that that V refrains from any other acts of violence being committed by himself. Instead he allows nature to take its course by leaving the people to vent their feelings through riots and disorder. V himself seems quite content with just showing Evey around the Shadow Gallery, instructing her on the nature of anarchy and awaiting Finch's arrival.
The bombs V sets certainly counts as acts of violence, but I think there in a different category from where V physically and personally kills someone. But the bottom line, for me, is that V does much more than beat people up to win, and that is directly opposite how Rorschach handles his situations.
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From your "V versus Rorschach" section:
"Vendetta is a positive story. V is a positive figure who refuses to let the darkness swallow him, who in fact refuses to let the darkness swallow anyone."
I would not quite say that this is the most positive of stories that I have ever read, especially at the end with a country in turmoil and Finch walking off into the darkness (instead of the sunset (see page 265))! Evey states that she will not "lead" but "help" the people rebuild their lives. Quite frankly I don't know if people can do without some form of authority whether it is democratic or dictatorial.
As we have seen in the Philippines in 1986, and more recently in Rumania and Serbia, the people can rise to overthrow tyrants, but they have to replace these tyrants with alternative regimes. Whether or not they have succeeded in bringing about a more acceptable society is a matter of opinion.
Evey seems to know that getting the people to form an acceptable system of government is going to be difficult. That is why I believe she kidnaps Dominic, who, when he is told that he is the senior authority (see page 257), has literally become the most powerful man in the country, albeit for just a few minutes. The question now is if Evey will be able to brainwash Dominic as effectively as V brainwashed her!
I think this is also a difference in opinion that cannot be "proven" either way. I view V for Vendetta as an uplifting story. It is about the ability to go through the most horrible of circumstances, and not only survive it, but become better. The ability to believe in your ideals, and your identity, even with the whole world against you. I think such values are paramount to a healthy, content, and rewarding life. I try to live up to those examples every day. When I am feeling disillusioned or hurt, I always turn to Valerie's letter to remind me and inspire me.
Now, whether or not people can live in an anarchy is a totally different train of thought. Your examples certainly make a case that it isn't possible. And I agree: I think in practice, anarchy cannot work. People do look for leadership, they are too possessive, and selfish, and lazy.
Interesting that you consider Evey "brainwashed." There's certainly merit to that point, as V shows his regard to what others think (as I said in my "essay", when Evey asks who gave V the right to decide what's "good enough" (170), V avoids the answer, and I think that is an important point.) But the implication of the term brainwashed means that a person is turned against their will to an ideology or viewpoint they would not make. And, as the term usually has negative connotations, I think it also implies that the ideology one is brainwashed to, must be a wrong one. So, out of curiosity: do you agree with V and his ideology?
No, I am afraid I don't, which is presumably why I regard his treatment of Evey as brainwashing!
As I have pointed out, I believe that people need some form of authority whether it is dictatorial or democratic. Left to themselves the whole population cannot be trusted to do the right thing all the time: for every V who is trying to improve society, there is a Helen Heyer, Peter Creedy or Ally Harper who are out for their own ends!
Yep, definitely think we'll agree to disagree on this one! :) As I said before, I believe anarchy to be the ideal system in which the world can live, but I also know it's wholly impractical; as you pointed out, there's too many personality types that crave power.
And as I said above, while V completely avoids the issue of whether he had the right, or even a right, to treat Evey as he did, I do agree with V's philosophy (if not his treatment of Evey) and so I can't quite bring myself to consider Evey's transformation as "brainwashing." Once again, such is the stuff that makes horse races....
I am not aware of Alan Moore's personal political views, but I think that one of his strengths as a writer is that he has managed to produce two books with heroes (or anti-heroes) from both sides of the political spectrum. V is a member of the extreme-left, an anarchist, while Rorschach and the other Watchmen are more right-wing in their views: when, on page 17 of episode 1 of Watchmen, Rorschach says that he and the Comedian can be called Nazis because they never exploited their images, the look on Adrian Veidt's face seems to suggest that he would call them Nazis whether they did or not!
OK, part of me REALLY wants to break out Watchmen and check the scene you're referring to, but it's getting late and I think if you and I were to get into a Watchmen discussion, we'd die of old age before hitting every topic we'd want to! (Perhaps once we finish this discussion.) But I agree with you, it is a testament to Moore's skill as a writer that he can be so versatile. And I'm not up on Moore's political views either, but from the little I've read, I think it's safe to say he's not exactly a conservative. :)
Let's face it, the detectives Dominic and Finch are the only really decent ones of the whole sorry bunch, which is probably why Moore and Lloyd allow them to survive the chaos, though as changed men. Susan tells Finch: "the fact that you are still alive is a mark of my respect for you and your craft" (see page 30); and Dominic turns his back on Creedy when he suggests they join forces to replace Susan (see page 202).
As for Dominic and Finch being the "only really decent" ones: what criteria are you using? I can see them being the sort of "sympathetic everyman" writers often include. Much like Hawethorne was in comparison to Proctor in The Crucible, they are the one's who actively change. But Doesn't Evey change? And does not Evey also swear off killing? (pgs 64 and 260: "I'll help them build. Help them create where Ill not help them kill.") Do you think Evey is not sympathetic? That she's not "decent"? Why exclude her when I think you can make a strong case that she and Finch go through an equally radical change. (Afterall, does not Finch leave the prison his life had become, just as Evey does?)
"Dominic and Finch are the only really decent ones of the whole sorry bunch": By that I was talking about the people hunting for Codename V or taking advantage of his actions to carry out their own bids for power. Susan is a fascist dictator, Almond is a wife-beater, Conrad Heyer is a weak-minded dolt, while Helen is an ambitious bitch. Harper is a thug and Creedy a yob.
Ah, thanks for clearing it up. I think this is a case of "you say po-TAY-toe and I say po-TAH-toe"; we're both saying the same thing, but in different terms.
Dominic and Finch are the only ones in high places who seem to have some decency in them. As I pointed out there are good reasons for this statement: At the bottom of page 30 Finch makes it clear that he does not fully approve of Susan's methods of government or of propaganda. Susan retorts by telling him that it is not the first time he has made such a statement. Finch can count himself lucky that he did not end up in a camp himself! On page 211, Finch wonders if he would have joined the Party if he had known of the policy of ethnic cleansing. Like V, he loathes the society Britain has become, but unlike V he has become a part of it because he does not believe that anarchy is the solution: any form of authority is better than no authority at all. Finch follows Susan because he sees him as the only man who can keep some form of law and order. Susan keeps Finch as head of the Nose because he needs him to track down Codename V. Neither man like each other, but they cannot do without one another either.
As for Dominic, he turns his back on Creedy, who is a Susan-in-waiting (page 202) and shows his opinion for the man by reading V's poem out loud. The look on Creedy's face in the seventh frame says it all! Also on page 258, frame 4, it is Dominic who stops a police marksman from shooting V down. There could be several reasons for this: he is afraid shooting V there and then could start a riot (not shooting him seems to start one anyway); he wants to hear what V has to say for himself (know thy enemy); or he has actually started to sympathize with V and his aims (which is why V (or Evey) rescues him and takes him to the Shadow Gallery).
Dominic certainly is different, and all these examples prove it, also lending support to why he is saved by Evey/V at the end of the story. However, I think you're looking at the panel on 258 incorrectly. That doesn't look like a gun to me. Compared to the way Lloyd draws the guns on the previous page (257, panels 2,3, and 6), the panel on 258, what the guard is holding seems far to long to be a rifle. Plus, the way the guard is holding it does not give me the impression that he's trying to aim it at V, as neither hand is holding the trigger.
Then again, as there's no indication anywhere else that one of the soldiers is holding something over than a gun, you could very well be right. The coloring makes it difficult to know for sure; I was always under the impression this was some sort of flagpole that Dominic was either leaning on or moving out of the way. Plus, while Domic certainly was not the type to play the power games that Creedy liked, he never gave me the impression that he was pro-V, certainly not enough to want to stop someone from killing him, especially when he's spent the last year of his life trying to hunt V down and capture him!
Just to prove that I am not trying to put you down, I will end this very stimulating and interesting debate by saying that I do consider Evey a sympathetic character and that you have helped clear a up a matter over which I have been rather confused:
On pages 176 to 177, V tells Evey that she simply has to pluck a rose, but Evey tells me him to let it grow. I'd always assumed that Evey was supposed to pluck a rose in Gordon's memory and by not doing so, she turned her back on her lover and moved on to other matters.
Since you rose (ha, ha) the matter of Evey and killing ("The age of killers is no more" (see page 260)), I've rethought that scene: V was telling Evey that if she gave him the rose, he would then avenge Gordon and kill Harper himself! Evey doesn't pick the rose probably thinking that Harper would get his just deserts another way, which he does (see page 254). It never really occurred to me that the roses were also V's calling cards for his victims.
Yes, I think this is the "correct" interpretation of that scene. Also look to page 221 where Evey references the Ray Bradbury story; this should also put the scene on page 177 in its proper context.
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