In V For Vendetta, Alan Moore and David Lloyd throw their readers into the story of an underground protagonists quest to bring down a not-so-distant future dystopia created by an all-seeing British government. As far as plot is concerned, Vendetta is nothing out of the ordinary. Typical elements include an oppressive communist government, a much sought after young female, a protagonist with almost super human powers, chase scenes and even promiscuous sex.
But while all these normally glorified events are all portrayed in literature, and entertainment in general, the audience is left with a sick or uncomfortable feeling about the scenes afterwards in V for Vendetta. The explosions are drawn in muted colors, the sex frames are barley visible in the shadows in between frames of awkward conversation, and even the deaths of the villains occur out of frame. The fact is, V For Vendetta entirely breaks the mold by taking typically glorified and glamorized events and leaving them purposely bleak.
These passages leave the reader with feelings of hopelessness and despair, but there is an even deeper purpose. What the authors are showing is that clean-cut revolutions don’t work, and if the people really want to change their government the only way to do it through anarchy. The gritty images along the way are gruesome, but in the end, if the government is really to be overthrown, V’s actions are entirely necessary. One way that Moore and Lloyd show their point about anarchy based revolution is through explosives.
Explosions are common in V For Vendetta, as the codenamed V uses bombs to destroy, prove points, and disable the government as he sees fit. When V escapes captivity at the Larkhill Resettlement Camp, he uses materials he gathered over the months to blow down his cell wall. But it wasn’t just any ordinary explosives; as put in Dr. Seurridge’s diary, “The ammonia. The grease solvent and all the other stuff. He’d been making things with them. Mustard gas… and napalm” (83). Graphic images of people choking on mustard gas and engulfed in flames leave horrible images in the mind of the readers.
V did not use dazzling maneuvers or stunning stealth to escape the camp, like some hero or protagonist might do. Instead, V destroyed everything in sight, and watched, as everyone around him died painful deaths. This bleak imagery makes the audience question whether V really is a protagonist. A typical graphic novel hero has a splendor around him; either a flawless or magnificent image of perfection about him. V on the other hand, causes more damage then the government, the so proudly denounces, ever did. By making his escape seen lack glamour or glory, Moore and Lloyd force the reader to question how much of a protagonist V really is.
But V sees it another way. If he had simply escaped in the dead of night, he would not have left such a profound impression on those who had wronged him in the concentration camp. As Dr. Seurridge says when to V when he comes to kill her, “I’m relieved. Oh god, all these years. All this waiting… I always knew you’d come back. When I saw you that night… You were standing against the flames. You turned and looked strait at me. I knew then that one day you’d come looking for me, that you’d find me… what we did at Larkhill, that terrible knowledge, it’s been with for so long. That I could do things like that” (73).
These events show that V’s motivation. When it comes to the revolution against the government, he wants to ingrain images in the peoples mind that they will never forget. V’s Problem with previous revolutions against the government is that the people eventually make the same mistake of putting bad leaders in charge again. If V’s gruesome revolution can create a lasting in the peoples mind, he will be able actually overthrow the government, once and for all. At one point, codename V comes right out and tells the people that the old way of doing things hasn’t worked in society.
When V takes over the TV station that broadcasts to the whole country, he delivers a very somber message. He states, “The management is very bad. We’ve had a string of embezzlers, frauds, liars and lunatics making a string of catastrophic decisions. This is plain fact. But who elected them? It was you! You appointed these people! You gave them the power to make your decisions for you! …Anyone can make this mistake once… To go on making the same lethal errors century after century seems to me nothing short of deliberate” (116-117). V lays out the truth when he tells them about the failure of their past.
He doesn’t give a glorious patriotic speech, with flags in the background or ramble about the importance of freedom. Instead he does just the opposite. With grim images of Hitler, riots, and nuclear explosions in the background, V is advocating for a completely different kind of revolution. He shows how history keeps repeating itself as the people keep making their same mistakes. Although revolutions are prominent throughout history, they happen so often and lead to eventual failure. They happen so often, in-fact, that revolting seems like more part of the cycle, then actually stopping anything.
That is why V is arguing that instead of just wiping the slate clean, the slate should be replaced entirely. Through these grisly images and non-glorified images, V is able to prove his point about a new kind of revolution; a revolution based on anarchy. The truth, V would go so far to make a point about the revolution he believes in that he would even die for it. When he finally meets Mr. Finch in the abandoned subway station, V doesn’t kill him right away. Instead he stares him down, then very slowly reaches for his knives, and before he can make a move, Finch whips out his gun and shoots him.
V had plenty of time to stop him, especially with his fast reflexes, but instead he grabs Finches gun after being shot. V lets him shoot him, and when he doesn’t fall over dead he leans over to Finch and says, “There, did you think you could kill me? There’s no flesh or blood within this cloak to kill. There’s only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof” (236). The last point about V’s anarchy based revolution is that it truly is anarchy. If V were the leader of the revolting, then it would not really be anarchy. V later stumbles down the stairs and dies in a puddle of his own blood.
This is not the glorious death of a hero; V didn’t bring down the whole government agency singlehandedly or sacrifice his life so someone else could live. He died painfully and grittily, just so he could get his message across. V truly just stood for the idea of the revolution, and it was up to the people to take action. This was his last point to Evey and Mr. Finch, and he was willing to die for it. Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s graphic novel V for Vendetta is truly bleak. Graphic images, violence, and down right anarchy leave the readers feeling uneasy, and V’s radical actions make them question even his sanity.
But there is a point to all of the madness. What Moore and Lloyd portraying is a character that stands for a new kind of uprising, one that consist of completely wiping out all forms of government, and build a new better one from scratch. V’s actions may seem over the top, and unnecessarily gruesome, but if he didn’t, no one would remember them. V has a greater purpose then to lead the revolution, he is to stand for and spread the word of anarchy. V for Vendetta may be a gritty tale, but it’s necessary to prove that and anarchy based revolution is the only solution.