V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta

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Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Analysis

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.
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Theme Icon

Throughout V for Vendetta, Evey struggles with her conflicted feelings for her father—feelings that have enormous ramifications for her relationship with V and with the Norsefire state. Evey’s father, whom she adored, was arrested by the Norsefire government for his socialist leanings when Evey was a child. It’s likely, Evey acknowledges, that her father was then taken to a concentration camp and murdered.

Because Evey lost her father at a young age, she searches desperately for father figures to replace him. One such father figure is Gordon, the middle-aged gangster who takes Evey under his wing. Another important father figure for Evey is V himself—the wise, strong man who saves her life and provides her with shelter. Evey’s father figures make her feel loved and protected, filling the “gap” in her family life. Moore even suggests that Evey has something of an “Electra complex”—a psychological term developed by Freud to describe a woman’s suppressed sexual desire for her own father. Evey sleeps with Gordon and kisses V, and at one point, she dreams about sleeping with V, then Gordon, and finally, her own father.

Because Evey has no father, Moore implies, she turns to volatile father figures who protect her, but also leave her in a state of perpetual immaturity—weak and frightened. Arguably the most important such father figure for Evey is the Norsefire state itself. Moore shows how the Leader’s Fascist government rose to power by appealing to England after the devastations of nuclear war. As V suggests, the people of England accepted the Norsefire regime because they craved a stern, fatherly presence in their lives. (The philosopher Hannah Arendt hypothesized that all modern Totalitarian states rose to power by appealing to people’s innate desire for a father figure.) Thus, Evey’s struggle to overcome her Electra complex parallels the English nation’s struggle to overcome its cowardly, childish acceptance of Fascism.

Paradoxically, Evey learns to overcome her desire for a father figure by turning to another father figure: V. V allows Evey to participate in his plots against Norsefire officials, and teaches her about explosives, weaponry, and various other anarchist tactics. At first, these lessons encourage the idea of V as a father figure—and so Evey kisses V’s mask. However, after V kidnaps and tortures Evey, Evey comes to hate her teacher. This is exactly what V wants: in the end, Evey accepts that V’s torture served a useful purpose (it made her immune to government coercion), but she also ceases to desire a father figure in her life. Instead, Evey learns to take care of herself, gaining new wisdom and maturity in the process.

Ultimately, V teaches Evey how to live without a “father”—whether it’s a father figure, or a tyrannical Norsefire state. At the end of V for Vendetta, Evey has taken on V’s role for herself, wearing his mask and robe and tutoring a young student in V’s home. Evey is no longer the child/student: she’s become the teacher/parent. She has overcome her Electra complex by becoming her own father, and playing the role of a father for another person. It’s no coincidence that Evey’s ascension to V’s role coincides with the destruction of the “Head” of the Norsefire regime. She’s finally overcome her desire to be “ruled” by a Fascist state, a father, or a teacher.

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Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Quotes in V for Vendetta

Below you will find the important quotes in V for Vendetta related to the theme of Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State.
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.


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Book 1, Chapter 10 Quotes

They were ordinary people, and they were prepared to torture a stranger to death, just because they were told to by someone in authority. Some of them said they’d even enjoyed it. I think I enjoyed what I did at the time. People are stupid and evil.

Related Characters: Delia Surridge (speaker)
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Delia Surridge, a former employee of the Norsefire government, contemplates the infamous Milgram experiment (though she doesn't mention it by name). In the 1970s, a psychologist told a series of volunteers to administer painful shocks to a test subject, supposedly in order to conduct a learning exercise. The vast majority of the volunteers agreed to administer the shocks, even though they knew full-well that they were probably hurting innocent people. In reality, no shocks were ever given--the experiment was designed to study obedience to authority. Surprisingly, Milgram concluded that the vast majority of human beings will commit atrocious crimes, provided that someone who seems like a leader orders them.

Delia is especially disturbed by the Milgram experiment because she herself was an obedient servant of the Norsefire government for many years--she helped experiment on innocent people in concentration camps. Her experiences have lead her to hate herself, and to hate human beings in general. In many ways, V's goal is to rouse the "common man" from his Milgram-esque obedience to authority, inspiring him to question the Fascists who order him to commit human rights abuses.

Book 2, Chapter 1 Quotes

“Perhaps you don’t sort of fancy women. But, like, there’s nothing wrong with that. Or perhaps…”
“Or perhaps I’m your father?”

Related Characters: V (speaker), Evey Hammond (speaker)
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, V reveals that he can see through some of Evey's sexual issues—she's attracted to father-figures. Evey's father was arrested for his radical leftist politics when Evey was a small child, so she grew up without his presence.

Though V's statement is metaphorical, it's important to note that Moore never denies the possibility that V could be Evey's real father—indeed, we're told that "the man in room five" was tortured so frequently that he's lost all memory of who he used to be. In short, it's entirely possible that V is Evey's father, even if he doesn't remember the truth.

Either way, we should note that Evey consistently wants a father figure, and confuses this desire with her sexual desires. She's young and unsure of her place in the world—therefore, she craves a strong, fatherly authority to tell her what to do. Evey's desire for a father figure parallels England's desire for a strong, authoritative government, like Norsefire. Over the course of the graphic novel, V will liberate England from its desire for a government, and by the same token, he'll free Evey from her desire for a father figure.

Book 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

It’s your basic unwillingness to get on within the company. You don’t seem to want to face up to real responsibility, or to be your own boss. Lord knows, you’ve been given plenty of opportunities. We’ve offered you promotion time and time again, and each time you’ve turned us down.

Related Characters: V (speaker)
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, V makes an illegal broadcast to the people of England, in which he takes on the persona of an office boss, having a "performance review" with a fictional employee. V uses the conceit of the office to criticize the people of England for eagerly submitting to the authority of Adam Susan's Fascist government. Although they have the potential to be their own masters--i.e., to survive with a government of any kind, let alone a brutal Fascist government--they chose to elect Susan and his thugs to rule over them. V's implication is that the people of England choose to be dominated: like Evey with her father-figure, they want someone to boss them around, even though don't need such a person by any stretch of the imagination.

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 2, Chapter 9 Quotes

Strength through purity. Purity through faith.

Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote, repeated several times throughout the graphic novel, is the official motto of the Norsefire government.

The Norsefire motto uses a rhetorical device known as anadiplosis, the repetition of a word used at the end of a phrase, at the beginning of the next phrase. (Here, the repeated word is "purity.") Anadiplosis, a common rhetorical trick in the Bible and in big political speeches, is often used to create a mood of solemnity and solidity--the appropriate tone for the powerful Fascist government of England.

Specifically, the motto references the three "pillars" of English society under Norsefire. "Purity" should suggest the racism of Norsefire: blacks, Pakistanis, and homosexuals are murdered for their supposed imperfections. Strength alludes to the violent, militaristic nature of society--the same violent militarism that led so many minorities to die. Finally, the motto alludes to faith--as we see, England has become a highly religious country. While many in the country worship a Christian church, the true religion of England has become worship for Susan himself: he's regarded as a god, incapable of any imperfections.

Book 2, Chapter 13 Quotes

“You say you want to set me free and you put me in a prison.”
“You were already in a prison. You’ve been in a prison all your life.”
“Shut up! I don’t want to hear it! I wasn’t in a prison! I was happy! I was happy until you threw me out.”
“Happiness is a prison, Evey. Happiness is the most insidious prison of all.”

Related Characters: V (speaker), Evey Hammond (speaker)
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Evey discovers the truth: V has captured her, imprisoned her, tortured her, and threatened to kill her, with the goal of transforming her into someone who's unafraid of death. Evey is furious that V--someone she'd thought of as a friend--would mistreat her so horribly.

As V tries to explain his actions, he makes some important points about the nature of freedom. In V's view, most human beings believe that they're entitled to a certain measure of happiness--indeed, the highest good is to achieve happiness. The problem with such a philosophy, in V's view, is that it allows people to be manipulated. A happy citizen will readily accept injustice in his society, so long as it doesn't affect him. The people of England are "happy," which is why they look the other way when the Norsefire party murders innocent people. In all, V argues, the only way to make Evey into a moral, mature person is to cure her of her desire for happiness--in essence, her desire for life.

Book 2, Chapter 14 Quotes

“Thank you. Thank you for what you’ve done to me.”
“You did it all yourself. I simply provided the backdrop. The drama was all your own.”

Related Characters: V (speaker), Evey Hammond (speaker)
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

In this important scene, Evey--who's previously been furious with V for kidnapping and torturing her--thanks V. Evey recognizes that V hurt her into order to make her into a stronger, more confident person. Evey is no longer afraid of death. As a result, she's no longer willing to accept injustice in her society--the government can't threaten and intimidate her into submission. It might be hard for readers to accept that V did the "right" thing by torturing Evey for months. Moore doesn't editorialize--he's said many times that readers are free to disagree with V and Evey.

Whether or not one agrees with V's action, it's important to notice that V has used violence and torture to transform Evey against her will--ironically, he's forced her into freedom. (It's only much later that Evey gives her assent to the entire process.) The paradoxical nature of V's behavior tells us something about his mission as a whole: V wants to liberate the people of England, whether they want to be liberated or not. To such an end, he'll use explosives, take lives, etc.--everything he does is justified, at least in his own mind, by the "greater good" of anarchy.

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.

Book 3, Chapter 10 Quotes

I’m following my own orders now. And getting out before everything blows. Perhaps you should, too. Goodbye, Dominic. Take care, lad.

Related Characters: Mr. Eric Finch (speaker), Dominic Stone
Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the graphic novel, Eric Finch crosses paths with his old coworker, Dominic Stone. Finch, transformed by his use of LSD, tells Dominic that he's no longer working for the government. His experiences with LSD and with V have convinced him that there's no point in living a life of fear and submissiveness. Instead of cowering before the Norsefire government, Finch chooses to "follow his own orders."

The second part of Finch's advice is as interesting as the first. Finch knows that soon, the Norsefire government is going to "blow"--and he has no intention of being around when this happens. One could interpret Finch's statement to mean that he's frightened of anarchy--the mob rule that's going to break out when Norsefire disappears from England. Finch's fear of the impending mob makes us, too, wonder what will become of England--after Norsefire, will the people build a utopian, anarchist society (a society in which, somehow, there's no government)? In typical fashion, Moore doesn't answer his own questions: he leaves readers to decide what an anarchist society would look like, or if it's even possible.