V and his Acts against Susan’s Regime
28/05/2012 in Brno
In this essays I would like to make some comments on Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta. Primarily I want to analyze V’s act against totalitarian regime and react to them from the moral aspect. Is V hero or criminal? Is he brave fighter for justice or just murderer? Let’s see.
Before I start to analyze V’s acts, I would like to make a comment on Susan’s government. After we read the graphic novel we can say that it’s evil totalitarian government which is using fear to control people. But let’s look on the situation before it came to power. There used to be a nuclear war and Britain was in total chaos and anarchy. As Evey said, there was no government. There was no food, no cures, lot of gangs fought each other. No one was safe! It seemed to me like typical example of Locke’s natural state. And in this situation the Norsefire came to power. Yes, it eliminated everyone who was somehow different and limited almost every civil liberty but it also guaranteed safety. I don’t want to justify them, I am just saying that the situation could have been worse without them. But it’s hard to tell because we, readers, don’t know what have exactly happened in Moore’s world. Given these circumstances, I am just wondering why V wants to reestablish anarchy...
We can divide V’s violent acts into two categories. In the first one he is leading his own vendetta against employees of Larkhill, where he was imprisoned. It’s hard to justify these murders because it’s just revenge. Yeah, he also wants to eliminate everyone who can know his real identity but that’s no excuse. V wants justice for them and because the system is unable to convict them he acts on his own. It’s understandable, but he overreacted when he had killed absolutely everyone. If he murdered for example just the officers we could argue about the moral plane but it is unjustifiable. In the second category are acts which he leads against the Susan’s regime in order to bring it down – he is usually killing people or blowing up buildings. Some murders fall into both categories (like when drove Prothero insane – he worked as the Voice of Faith and also had been an officer in Larkhill) but in this essay we will categorize them as the acts of the first category because I think that revenge was a main motive. In this essay I would like judge all the acts from the second category. Are they morally justifiable or not? I will try to answer this question with my subjective opinion.
Let’s start with the opening scene where Evey tries to act like a prostitute and is stopped by the fingermen. According to the Law H they can do whatever they want with her and they decided to rape her and kill her. From our point of view the law is absurd – if prostitution is prohibited, they should just arrest her, so V’s attack seems legitimate. But there is also the first problem – he kills some fingermen. Why? Yeah, they act like animals but they act according the law (no matter how stupid the law is). So in my point of view the murder was unnecessary, he could have just hurt them or beat them. Afterward he rescues Evey he blows up the House of Parliament. I see this attack as a symbolic gesture – V wants to point out that the laws are bad (and we as readers are in favor of this action because we just saw the Law H) and it is first step to awake public from lethargy. That’s why I think that he used fireworks after the explosion. Because he blew up the building at night, I assume that it was empty and no one was purposely killed. The destruction of the Old Bailey is exactly the same case – again he tells the public that according to him justice no longer serves its purpose and is corrupted. I classify these two explosions as morally justifiable – if he needed to get attention both from the people and Susan, there was not better opportunity.
The third act is the murder of Derek Almond in the doctor Surridge’s house. Like in the previous case when he killed fingermen V acts just like a common killer. Almond is pointing a gun on V but when he wants to fire, we can see that he has forgotten to load it when he was cleaning his pistol, so he is practically defenseless. I think that V could just stun him or beat him – he was not in grave danger. We can just speculate if Almond deserved it but this act seemed to me absolutely pointless. It’s naive to think that his replacement would be someone more righteous because under Susan’s reign it’s impossible. For me this act is foul murder, nothing more.
First act in second chapter of the graphic novel is scene where V breaks into a TV station to deliver his message to the British nation. Since there is no freedom of speech and television is (except bars and clubs) the only form of entertainment, this action is logical. He could not do this before he blew up the two buildings because no one would believe him (thanks to the propaganda). The performance is also good – he wraps the bomb around himself so people will obey him (it’s more elegant then pointing a gun on them). However there are also unnecessary victims. When he leaves an elevator, he stabs and probably kills some employees (probably guards). “Why?” I ask again. Why not just knock them unconscious? Before he leaves, he dresses Dascomb like him. It’s really cruel because he sentenced him to death. After he killed Almond, it’s obvious that police will immediately fire. And it seems that Dascomb is not a killer, he is just running propaganda. To sum it up – the purpose of the act is good and justifiable but the deaths are making him look like the murderer. V’s next action is a hack of the Destiny computer to mess with Susan. He is using his weakness to weak him and the whole system. Susan lost ability to think rationally and it also paralyzed the whole regime. It’s nice parallel that the leader who does not tolerate weak people is pathetically in love with machine. I think this is one of the V’s best moves. His attack is surprising, for long time it remains undetected and also has fatal consequences for the system. And he did this without harming anyone!
In the third chapter of the book is V preparing himself for a final act. Firstly he destroys The Eye and The Ear. This act is totally necessary in order to let the people know that they are no longer watched. If he just sent the message that he had hacked it, people would have no certainty to believe him. But when they see both monitoring building crumbling down, they realize that they are finally free. It’s nicely seen in the scene where a girl sprays V on the wall. However this act, unlike two other destructions, had several victims because both The Eye and The Ear worked 24/7. In my opinion in this case the victims were inevitable – this act was for greater good and absolutely necessary for awakening the crowd. When people start rioting it’s interesting that there is no army or police force and that Creedy is required to hire gangsters. It seems like the regime stands and falls just with the Adam Susan. In the final act is V ready to die. He said his message to mister Finch and accomplished his goal. Maybe he was old, maybe he wanted to atone for his murders, and maybe he thought that there is no place for him in the new society. In the final explosion he destroys the Downing Street, the last political symbol remaining (if there is no monarch). All the three branches of government (the legislative – House of Parliament, the executive – Downing Street and the judicial – Old Bailey) are down and the stage for an anarchy is ready.
It seems to me that the story is kind of in the loop. Susan came to power thanks to the anarchy and chaos and it also ends with the anarchy. As we can see at the crowd scenes, there is just looting and rioting – no protests for democracy or freedom, just chaos where no one can be sure what will happen. As we can see at the ending scene a lot of people are now homeless and live in constant fear from the future. In this case I am assuming that there were no homeless before otherwise Susan would kill them. In the old regime they had certainty but no freedom, now it is the exact opposite situation. It is once again the Locke’s state of nature. Do people have learned something or the new and even worse dictator will arise? We can just speculate.
As we just saw from several examples V is not 100% positive hero. He is a man who seeks revenge and anarchy and is capable of everything to achieve his goals. In basics, his acts are morally justifiable but there are unnecessary murders of the innocent which could have been avoided if he wanted to. Maybe he felt it too and after he had achieved his goal he wanted to die because he was also a sinner and thanks to Larkhill a monster of the Susan’s regime. He managed to replace fascism with anarchy but I am not sure that he actually helped people because it led to a form of natural state.
Moore, Alan and Lloy, David. 2005. V jako Vendeta. Brno: BBart.