V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta

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Guy Fawkes Mask Symbol Analysis

Guy Fawkes Mask Symbol Icon

Arguably the most important symbol in V for Vendetta—and certainly the most recognizable—is the Guy Fawkes mask that V wears. In modern society in general, this mask has become a symbol of anarchism, revolution, and civil disobedience—for example, demonstrators in Egypt and at Occupy Wall Street in New York City wore the iconic mask to show their disapproval of the government. (Interestingly, Moore only identifies the mask as a “Guy Fawkes” mask a handful of times.) Within the graphic novel, the mask is a powerful symbol: it communicates the wearer’s allegiance to the spirit of Guy Fawkes—the man who tried and failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the 16th century (see Background Info)—and his opposition to the Norsefire government that controls England. One important element of the mask’s power as a symbol is its anonymity: anyone can wear the mask and embody the spirit of rebellion. We see this first-hand in the graphic novel, as in the final chapters, Evey Hammond dons V’s mask and “becomes” V. In the end, then, the Guy Fawkes mask represents symbols at their most powerful: they can transform individual, flawed people into something more powerful and create movements.

Guy Fawkes Mask Quotes in V for Vendetta

The V for Vendetta quotes below all refer to the symbol of Guy Fawkes Mask. 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 3, Chapter 7 Quotes

“Did you think to kill me? There’s no flesh or blood within this cloak to kill. There’s only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof.”

Related Characters: V (speaker), Mr. Eric Finch
Related Symbols: Guy Fawkes Mask, “V” symbol
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:

In this important scene, Eric Finch tracks down V and shoots him. V (secretly bleeding to death) tells Finch that nobody can kill him, because he's an idea, not a man.

V's statement isn't literally true, of course, but it's very powerful (and one of the most famous quotes from the work). V is a human being, but he's also much more. By wearing a cloak and a Guy Fawkes mask, V aims to erase his own personality and become a symbol. As a symbol, something without the flaws and complexities of a real human, V can inspire millions of other people with just his ideas, courage, and image.

Sure enough, a few chapters later, "V" is dead, but Evey has taken V's cloak and mask, effectively becoming the "new V." Ultimately, V isn't a person--it's a role, which can be played by many different people.

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Book 3, Chapter 9 Quotes

Because you were so big, V, and what if you’re just nobody? Or even if you’re someone, you’ll be smaller, because of all the people that you could have been, but weren’t.

Related Characters: Evey Hammond (speaker), V
Related Symbols: Guy Fawkes Mask, “V” symbol
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Evey--witnessing V's death--makes the difficult decision to keep V's face and identity concealed. Instead of removing his mask, she keeps the mask on.

Evey is still curious about V's true identity, but ultimately, she recognizes that V's individual identity is less important than the "idea" of V--in other words, the idea of a powerful, resourceful opponent of the Norsefire government, someone who's immune to pain and danger. In short, Evey recognizes that V is more powerful as an idea, capable of inspiring other people, than he is as an ordinary man (or woman).

Evey's decision to keep V's mask on also reflects the fact that she's free of her desire to be controlled and to have a father-figure. Evey has craved a strong, masculine presence in her life, but now, she has no further need for such a presence. Evey has learned how to take care of herself--she doesn't even need V anymore. By the same token, Evey has no more need for Adam Susan's government--by donning V's spare mask, she resumes V's mission to destroy the government forever.

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Guy Fawkes Mask Symbol Timeline in V for Vendetta

The timeline below shows where the symbol Guy Fawkes Mask appears in V for Vendetta. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 1: The Villain
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...second puts on gloves, a long, black cloak, a set of daggers, and a strange mask. The mask shows a pale man’s smiling face. Meanwhile the voice continues to describe news... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
As the woman tries to protest, the second figure, dressed in his cloak and mask, walks toward the fingermen. He quotes from the first act of Macbeth, calling the fingermen... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...captured some footage of the terrorist responsible for the plot—however, because he is wearing a mask, it’s impossible to identify him. The second man, Mr. Brian Etheridge, speaking for “The Ear,”... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4: Vaudeville
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
The narrative cuts to “Scotland Yard, later.” V, wearing his usual cloak and mask, skillfully maneuvers his way past a security guard. When the security guard catches a glimpse... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9: Violence
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
...she is. We see that the figure is V, dressed in his usual cloak and mask. The woman buries her head in her hands and whispers, “Thank God.” (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 10: Venom
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
...asks to see V’s face one more time before her death. V obliges, removing his mask. Delia stares at V’s face (which we don’t see), unafraid, and whispers, “It’s beautiful.” With... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 1: The Vanishing
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...her great surprise, however, “V” falls apart: V has gone, replacing himself with a dummy, mask, and tape recorder. Evey is standing alone in the middle of the street. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 5: The Vacation
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
...When they inspect the body, however, they find that “V” is actually Dascombe, wearing V’s mask and cloak—V has switched places with Dascombe to make his escape. (full context)
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...him anymore. We see that Evey is reading the paper, which has the headline, “ Guy Fawkes Video Error.” (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 12: The Verdict
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
...Gallery. V is standing in the center of the room, wearing his usual cloak and mask. He says, “Welcome home.” (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 14: Vignettes
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
...Shadow Gallery, V sits at the piano. Evey walks into the room and kisses V’s mask. She thanks him for setting her free. V tells Evey that he didn’t do anything—she... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 1: Vox Populi
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Vendettas, Revenge, and the Personal Theme Icon
...a Paki.” As this conversation goes on, we shift to a view of V’s smiling mask. V notes that the “silent majority” is easily destroyed—all it takes is one loud noise.... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 9: The Vigil
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...the people to build a new world. He adds that Evey must never remove his mask. He tells Evey that the Victoria Line is blocked between Whitehall and St. James, and... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...dead. Evey finally comes to V’s dressing room, where she finds another copy of V’s mask. She remembers V’s advice: anarchy is both a force of destruction and one of creation. (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...where she finds V’s body, still lying on the ground. She contemplates pulling off V’s mask, and finding a completely normal face beneath. She also imagines pulling off the mask and... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...the mirror, her mouth curls into a broad smile: exactly like the smile on V’s mask. (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 10: The Volcano
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...station and climbs back to the surface. After a few moments, she takes off her mask: it is Evey. Evey watches a large explosion in the distance: Downing Street is no... (full context)
Freedom and Anarchy Theme Icon
The Power of Symbols Theme Icon
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon
...that the task ahead of her is phenomenally difficult, but crucial. She puts on her mask and returns to the Shadow Gallery. There she finds the young man from the riot,... (full context)