Symbolism in V for Vendetta

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will examine the symbolism that is used in 'V for Vendetta,' the graphic novel by Alan Moore with illustrations by David Lloyd and Tony Weare. This is a post-apocalyptic dystopian story.

Background of V for Vendetta

What would you do if your own government became so corrupt that ordinary citizens were no longer safe? In V for Vendetta by Alan Moore with illustrations by David Lloyd and Tony Weare, the Norsefire party has risen to power following a nuclear war and has turned the United Kingdom into a police state. Regular citizens are not safe as they face extermination or concentration camps where cruel medical experiments are conducted if they disagree with the corrupt government leader, Adam Susan. V, a heroic rebel in a Guy Fawkes mask, and his apprentice, Evey Hammond, plot to take down the government and create anarchy using computer hacking and explosives as their primary tools. Let's examine some of the symbols from this graphic novel.

Guy Fawkes Mask

The Guy Fawkes Mask that V wears has become more than just a symbol in this graphic novel; it has been adopted as a symbol of protest around the world. The computer hacking group, Anonymous, adopted the mask as their symbol after being inspired by the comic.

Guy Fawkes mask
Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes was a Catholic in the early 1600s who conspired with others to assassinate King James I and other government leaders on the first day of Parliament. After his plan was thwarted, Protestants celebrated his arrest and execution. Later, Guy Fawkes Day on November 5th became part of the British Thanksgiving. V for Vendetta reinvents Guy Fawkes and presents him as a rogue hero who is a champion for human rights rather than the traitor he is remembered in history for being. The mask symbolizes V's belief that doing the right thing is not the same as following rules.


V's name is derived from the Roman numeral for five, representing the room number where he stayed when he was imprisoned in a resettlement camp and subjected to medical experiments. The character adopts the V because it represents the reason for his vendetta against the government that subjugated him. V leaves vandalism, ''a strange symbol: a V surrounded by a circle,'' which is similar to the anarchy symbol, on government propaganda to indicate his defiance.

The encircled V symbol represents anarchy.
V Symbol

The character of V is more than just a man, but a symbol of the revolution. Just before V dies in Book 3, he says to Finch, the chief of the Scotland Yard who kills him, ''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.''

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