V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta

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The Leader / Adam Susan Character Analysis

Adam Susan, usually known by his title, the Leader, is the dictator of England. His Norsefire regime ascended to power following a brutal, mysterious war that destroyed much of the planet. As Leader, Susan immediately began a series of programs whose goals were to “purify” the people of England, rounding up and murdering all homosexuals, Jews, blacks, Leftists, and Pakistanis. He used the specter of war to justify his harsh measures. As he settled into his role as the Leader, Susan became immensely lonely, recognizing that he was hated and feared by his subjects. Susan then turned to the Fate Computer, the advanced computer system that Norsefire used to survey London and predict crime and the weather. His love for Fate says a great deal about his character: he’s an egomaniac and a misanthrope who believes only in the existence of himself and of “God”—which he believes to be the Fate Computer itself. Susan despises all “talk of freedom,” another reason why he worships the cold determinism of Fate. In the end, Susan’s love for Fate—cleverly manipulated by V—drives him insane, and he’s assassinated shortly afterwards.

The Leader / Adam Susan Quotes in V for Vendetta

The V for Vendetta quotes below are all either spoken by The Leader / Adam Susan or refer to The Leader / Adam Susan . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vertigo edition of V for Vendetta published in 2005.
Book 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

They eradicated some cultures more thoroughly than they did others. No Tamla and no Trojan. No Billie Holliday or Black Uhuru. Just his master’s voice every hour on the hour.

Related Characters: V (speaker), The Leader / Adam Susan , Lewis Prothero
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

V has taken Evey back to his secret lair, where he shows her his vast collection of old paintings, sculptures, books, and records. V explains that he's made a point of collecting cultural artifacts that Adam Susan's Norsefire government tried to destroy in previous decades. Susan sought to eliminate all "rival cultures"--anything that could compete with the dogma that the English are the greatest nation and the greatest race on the planet. Consequently, Norsefire destroyed the art and music of great African American artists like Billie Holliday.

V's explanation of Norsefire's crimes is one of the first signs of the extreme, racist nature of England in the future. Frightened for its own survival, English politicians rally their people around the hatred of "foreigners" and "aliens" of any kind--thus, black people, homosexuals, etc. are bullied, imprisoned, and often murdered for their supposed crimes. Susan's methods of control are typical of Fascist governments--like Hitler, he uses hatred and racism to unite his people against a common enemy.

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Book 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

I believe in strength. I believe in unity. And if that strength, that unity of purpose demands a unity of thought, word, and deed then so be it. I will not hear talk of freedom. I will not hear talk of individual liberty. They are luxuries. I do not believe in luxuries.

Related Characters: The Leader / Adam Susan (speaker)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

Adam Susan, the dictator of the Norsefire Party of England, rehearses a speech in his head. In the speech, Susan rejects the notion of freedom as obsolete and useless. The only goal of government, Susan insists, is order. He sees himself as a strong, stern master--someone who has to "break some eggs" in order to "make an omelette." Of course, Susan is glossing over the barbaric nature of his actions as dictator of England--he believes he was justified in censoring free speech, murdering thousands of "undesirables," and killing his political opponents.

Susan's speech is interesting in that it stresses the futility of luxury, and that he is very straightforward about his Fascist goals. Susan may be evil, but he's not a hypocrite. As we see throughout the graphic novel, Susan lives a lonely, monastic life--he's never shown eating a big feast, relaxing in a beautiful mansion, or enjoying material pleasure of any kind. True enough, Susan doesn't care about enjoying the luxuries of his power--a true tyrant, his only source of pleasure is controlling the English people.

Book 1, Chapter 11 Quotes

You see, there are two possible motives here. Not one. The first motive is revenge. He escapes from Larkhill and vows to get even with his tormentors. The Parliament bombing and the other stuff is just a smokescreen. The whole exercise was an elaborate, chilling vendetta. That’s the explanation that I find the most reassuring, funnily enough. Because that means he’s finished now. That means it’s over. The second motive is more sinister. Like I said, everyone who could have identified him is now dead. What if he’s just been clearing ground? What if he’s been planning something else?

Related Characters: Mr. Eric Finch (speaker), V , The Leader / Adam Susan
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

Eric Finch, the head of detective work in the Norsefire government, tries to understand why V, known to be a masked vigilante, is murdering former Norsefire party members who worked at Larkhill Prison (where V himself was probably kept and tortured) years ago. Finch isn't sure if V is killing these people because he's angry with them and wants revenge, or because he's preparing for something else and trying to eliminate people who have valuable information about him—or both.

It's important to note the frightened tone of Finch's quote. He's afraid of and even awed by V's actions, and this is exactly what V wants: he wants to strike fear and uncertainty into the hearts of his enemies. And yet Finch's questions are valid--we're not any more sure of why V is doing what he's doing than we are. There's a fine line between V's personal vendetta and his broader commitment to ideals like freedom and justice. By wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and concealing his own identity, V can effectively enact two vendettas at the same time: he can satisfy his own personal desire for revenge while also fighting for his beliefs.

Book 3, Prologue Quotes

Uncaring fate? It is said there is no question that can be formulated that you cannot answer. Tell me this, then: Am I loved?

Related Characters: The Leader / Adam Susan (speaker)
Related Symbols: Voice of Fate
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Adam Susan, the dictator of England, tries to communicate with the Fate Computer, the futuristic device that allows him to predict the weather, the economy, and other important aspects of the world. Susan--a control freak through and through--adores the Fate Computer because its control of reality is absolute: it predicts something, and then the prediction comes true, like clockwork.

Susan's unusual behavior in this scene is an early sign that he--and the government he leads--is cracking. In the past, Susan has seemed comfortable with his role as the dictator of the country. Now, we begin to see the truth: Susan is almost as miserable as the people he leads. (In the graphic novel, he's usually shown in dark, gloomy spaces that convey his sadness and loneliness.) Although Susan controls millions of people, there's not a single person who can love him as an individual. One could even say that Susan chooses to become a dictator because he's incapable of normal human love--his desire for control and power is Susan's approximation of interpersonal love.

In all, the passage makes the provocative that Susan, the "prison guard," is almost as much of a prisoner as his frightened, obedient subjects--he lives a miserable, lonely life.

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The Leader / Adam Susan Character Timeline in V for Vendetta

The timeline below shows where the character The Leader / Adam Susan appears in V for Vendetta. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 1: The Villain
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...between a shadowy authority figure and a panel of experts. The authority figure, addressed as “Leader,” asks each of the men what they can tell him about the explosion of the... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Leader next asks Mr. Finch to speak for “The Nose.” Finch explains that the terrorist used... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
After turning off his video feed, the Leader turns to Mr. Derek Almond, who is standing next to him. He furiously tells Almond... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 2: The Voice
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Bigotry Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
...habit for a man. He adds, wryly, that Prothero must be extremely “sensitive”—as is the Leader. Almond calls Dascombe a degenerate and walks out. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3: Victims
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
It is November 7, 1997, and Mr. Finch has gone to visit the Leader. Finch explains to the Leader that “V,” as he’s been called, is a psychopath, capable... (full context)
Book 3, Prologue
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
At the Head, the Leader stands before the Fate Computer, enraptured. He praises Fate as the ultimate force in the... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
At the Head, the Leader receives an urgent message: the broadcasting headquarters at Jordan Tower have been blown up along... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 1: Vox Populi
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
...next three days. Gleefully, the girl spray-paints the word “bollocks” onto the ground, chanting “Bollocks Mr. Susan , bollocks Fate.” On the wall, she spray-paints the same “V” symbol that V makes. (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Bigotry Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
The Leader sits in his room, contemplating how to control London without the help of the Voice... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 3: Various Valentines
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
...his trademark “V” symbol. V notes, ironically, that it’s taken a long time for the Leader to build up his “pretty empire.” Now, with a simple push, V will be able... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
As the chapter begins, Dominic bursts into the Leader’s office. Without any introductions, Dominic explains that he knows how V has been orchestrating his... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 6: Vectors
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Bigotry Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...her feet. As she reads through a binder of government information, Helen explains that the Leader is scheduled to appear before the public to restore confidence in the government. This is... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Bigotry Theme Icon
As Conrad continues rubbing his wife’s feet, he mentions that when Creedy is the Leader, he’ll have a difficult time running the country. Helen whacks Conrad in the face with... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Bigotry Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...carefully maneuvered Conrad, her husband, to the point where he can assume power after the Leader is deposed. We see that V is watching Helen and Harper talk, using his own... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Bigotry Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
At the Head, the Leader sits in his chair, silent and seemingly grieving. A guard enters the room and tells... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 10: The Volcano
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...that the rioters follow the “Symbol of V.” He reminds Dominic that symbols are all-important—the Leader made a crucial mistake in forgetting this fact. (full context)