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.
Bigotry Quotes in V for Vendetta
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.
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.
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.