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.
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State ThemeTracker
Fatherhood, Mentorship, and the State Quotes in V for Vendetta
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.
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.
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.
Strength through purity. Purity through faith.
“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.”