V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in V for Vendetta, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Bigotry Theme Icon

One of the most immediately noticeable characteristics of the society in V for Vendetta is its profound bigotry. Like most Fascist societies, England under the Norsefire government celebrates the achievements of one racial group—here, Caucasians—and attacks members of nearly all other races, sending many of them to die in concentration camps and eradicating their cultural achievements. Norsefire society also directs its bigotry towards women—all the prominent authorities in the government are men, while women are shown to have few career opportunities besides prostitution and chorus line dancing.

Moore is insightful about how the ways racism and sexism are crucial components of Fascist society. As Evey points out (and the Leader later verifies), England became strong once again following nuclear war because it successfully united its people around hatred of a common enemy: all those who were not heterosexual Caucasians. Norsefire culture—its literature, its music, its art, even its religion—is founded on racial pride. Bigotry, then, is a useful political tool, which the Leader uses to keep his followers together, and to keep them loyal.

Yet Moore also shows that bigotry, in addition to being immoral, is ultimately destructive for Norsefire society. By excluding women, gays, and minorities from leadership of England, Norsefire stunts its own “talent pool.” We see this most clearly in the character of Helen Heyer—a brilliant, ruthless woman whose ambition matches that of the Leader. Instead of conspiring to control the Norsefire government herself, Helen is forced to search for ways to install her husband, the inept, foolish Conrad Heyer, in a position of power. Helen knows full well that, as a woman, she could never work in the government—she’ll always have to remain in the shadows. In the end, Helen’s plans to control Norsefire fail, because the two men with whom she’s plotting, Alistair Harper and Conrad Heyer, kill each other. In spite of her vast intelligence and influence, Helen is left utterly powerless—a victim of the bigoted society she seeks to control.

The narrow, self-defeating bigotry of Norsefire society contrasts sharply with V’s lifestyle and worldview. V immerses himself in the knowledge and art of every culture, including many that Norsefire tried to wipe out. V’s worldview is clearly informed by his self-education: he quotes from the works of hundreds of writers whom other Norsefire citizens have never heard of. Furthermore, V doesn’t condescend to Evey simply because she’s a woman. In contrast to Helen Heyer, Evey ascends to a position of direct power and influence, helped along by V’s careful guidance.

In short, bigotry may be important for building a sense of unity in a Fascist society, but in the end, it’s always self-destructive. Indeed, V and Evey’s rejection of all bigotry plays a major role in their victory over Norsefire: they defeat their enemies by cooperating, first as master and apprentice, but then as equals.

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Bigotry Quotes in V for Vendetta

Below you will find the important quotes in V for Vendetta related to the theme of Bigotry.
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 3 Quotes

They got things under control. But then they started taking people away … all the black people and the Pakistanis. White people, too. All the radicals and the men who, you know, liked other men. The homosexuals. I don’t know what they did with them all.

Related Characters: Evey Hammond (speaker), V
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

Evey describes her impressions of England during her childhood--the period when Fascists were first beginning to take over the country. As Evey makes clear, the Fascists began by arresting all "undesirable" people--mostly those who weren't white, heterosexual, and moderate in their thinking. Thus, blacks, homosexuals, Pakistanis, and radicals were arrested.

Evey doesn't know what happened to the undesirables--she doesn't yet understand that they were probably sent to camps and systematically murdered, like the Jews and other minorities during the Holocaust. Her innocence is obvious--at this early point in the graphic novel, she doesn't fully recognize how evil her own government really is. In general, Evey's attitude is typical of the people of England under Norsefire: she knows that the government arrested a lot of people, and she even seems to know that doing so was wrong--but she turns a blind eye to the real horrors of her government.

Book 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

I understand that you are unable to get on with your spouse. I hear that you argue. I am told that you shout. Violence has been mentioned.

Related Characters: V (speaker)
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

V continues to use his broadcast to criticize the English people, adopting the language of an office boss conducting a performance review. Here, he attacks the people for the state of their family lives. There are "reports" of violence and arguing between husbands and wives. Based on what Moore shows us in the graphic novel, V isn't exaggerating: in England, Norsefire promotes an overall culture of cruelty, selfishness, and misogyny. Women are beaten and oppressed by their husbands, the people who are supposed to love them most.

V's critique of "family values" in England is particularly savage since the Norsefire government prides itself on the strength and unity of its culture, centered around the virtues of a family. If the families of England are secretly in a state of chaos, then this points to the basic flaws in Norsefire itself: a culture that pretends to be strong, happy, and perfect is in reality twisted, repressive, and at odds with itself.

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?

Related Characters: V (speaker)
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

V continues his illegal broadcast, addressing the people of England. Here, he makes an important point about the dictators of history, Susan included: although dictators are usually singled out for their evil, brutality, etc., they don't ever gain power alone. As bad as someone like Hitler was, one could argue that the German electorate itself is also to blame for his action--the millions of "normal" people who voluntarily elected Hitler to rule over them, and then obeyed his orders once he was in power. In short, V recognizes that the people of England are partly to blame for their own suffering. In their fear and haste, they chose to elect a brutal Fascist to rule their country--a man whom they knew to be dangerous, but who promised to bring them order and protection.

Although V's speech might sound angry or scolding, it also has a strong undertone of respectful disappointment. V faults the English people for electing Susan, but unlike most, he fully recognizes that the English people have the capacity to be better--to rule themselves. V also recognizes that the people of England are stronger than their own government--they're afraid of Susan, but if they were to rise up together against the government, they'd be unstoppable. V's mission is twofold: on one hand, he aims to weaken the government. But his anti-Norsefire plans would be pointless unless he inspired the people to rebel against Norsefire as well.

Book 3, Chapter 2 Quotes

You know, you’re quite a successful young man, Conrad. If your success wasn’t entirely due to my efforts, I might even fancy you.

Related Characters: Helen Heyer (speaker), Mr. Conrad Heyer
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

As the graphic novel draws to a climax, we're introduced to a new, dangerous character, Helen Heyer. Helen is the wife of Conrad Heyer, an important official in the Norsefire government. Although Conrad has a reputation as a talented young man, Conrad and Helen are both aware that Helen is the "brains of the operation"--Conrad does whatever Helen tells him to do.

The passage reinforces that England under Norsefire is a sexist, chauvinistic country, in which women are afforded no opportunities for success. (Virtually the only career for women we see in the graphic novel is erotic dancing.) Because Helen is unable to run for office or hold a government job herself, she's forced to manipulate people from behind the scenes. In a general sense, Norsefire shoots itself in the foot: because of its sexism and bigotry, it squanders the talents of its own members, such as Helen Heyer.