“Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof. –V ” (Wachowski)
Out of all the quotes from the text and the film, this one depicts the main topic of discussion when discussing V for Vendetta. Who is V and why do we know nothing about him, but we know all that he is about? What about Evey Hammond, Gordon Dietrich, and even Lewis Prothero. They all have identities on the outside that show us what they want us to see, but throughout the story we definitely see a shift in what would be considered the “gender norms” for their society.
So who exactly is V and why is gender and identity always questioned? V’s life is not brought up within the story, but that may be the cause of Batch 5 which made him forget who he was. V was definitely very different in the sense of how he dressed, looked, and even talked. He was very theatrical. Whenever V would speak, it was like he was on a stage preforming. The long hair and tight costume, very feminine in ways. Although his outside appearance was very feminine, he was very masculine in the sense of strength and his need to be a protector. “While V is a largely androgynous figure through most of the book, on this occasion, in the face of Evey’s extreme femininity, he takes on the traditionally masculine “protector” role.” (Gender & Lit Utopi a Dystopia Wiki )
Evey in the beginning, on the other hand, was exactly what society needed her to be. Very docile and afraid of everything, Evey needed to look to something for guidance. You can say she was unsure of herself, she even stated in the movie and book that she wished she could be fearless as her parents once were. In the book, they make Evey much younger, but even so, she still is saved by V in the very beginning while out trying to use her body to make money as a working woman/prostitute. She seemed to lack confidence within herself, and was very vulnerable.
But even with the information that we have, do we in fact know V and what he represents? We see the Guy Fawkes mask, and maybe that is all we needed. “It’s not Guy Fawkes himself that V wishes to be, but what Fawkes represents: rebellion” (Shadow Galaxy ). Maybe the identity, sex, and gender of V is being protected for the purpose of not having people focused on who he is, rather than focus on the bigger picture at hand. If we had to say, do we know for sure that V is in fact a man? We hear Prothero and Lilliman both call V masculine, but he did gain superhuman strength and speed after being injected with Batch 5, so is it possible that V is in fact a woman? Being sent to Larkhill Concentration Camps means that V could have been a couple of things. People were sent to these camps for be different, so V could either be a rebel, homosexual, black, or maybe just a threat to society. He represented all of these things for the fact that he wanted to bring anarchy to the world, and destroy Norsefire. Could V in fact be Valerie? If you think about it, he was quite obsessed with who she once was, and even went to seek vengeance for her. After the fire, is it possible that Valerie couldn’t remember what she once was, and used the shrine to remember who she once was. Valerie was a homosexual woman whose lover was taken from her, and at the end, V makes a the statement,” I told you, only truth. For 20 years, I sought only this day. Nothing else existed until I saw you. Then everything changed. I fell in love with you Evey. And to think I no longer believed I could.” (Wachowski) To that, Evey makes that statement that she doesn’t want V to die, and that would make sense because Valerie no longer wanted to live or love after her lover was taken away by Norsefire.
After meeting V, Evey definitely begins to change. When we first meet her, she is a damsel in distress, and has to have V swoop in and save her from the Fingermen. She in constantly having to be reassured by V, and even when she tries to get away from him, he still ends up saving her in the end.
In V for Vendetta, V is very androgynous, and that differs him from all of the men in both the book and movie. One thing that I noticed about V is that he kills both men and women, but the way that he does it is very different. Whether the book or the movie, notice how he kills Prothero or even Lilliman the priest. These men are slain to their deaths, and V gives them no mercy. Delia Surridge, who is the woman that should have been killed mercilessly, he took it very easy on. She is the doctor that injected all of these innocent people with Batch 5, not knowing or caring the side affects that it could have had. Even once people started dying, she sat there and watched as they dug trenches and just burned the bodies of people she was responsible for killing. Even with all of that, V still killed her in her sleep by injecting her to have a painless death. I look at it as maybe he killed her this way because she is a woman or maybe because she is the only one who actually showed remorse for what was done. When it comes to women, V is almost like a protector. The women in his life I would say Evey, Valerie, and Delia, they were all, in some ways sheltered, by V.
Unlike V, the other men in V for Vendetta all seem to leave the women defenseless. They are either disrespecting the women or using them for one purpose, and that is to pleasure themselves. To start, from the book I would like to bring up the abusive, Derek Almond. Not only was he a drunk from being so stressed out by the V case, but he also hit and pulled a gun, that was not loaded, out to his wife. He threatened her, but later that night he was killed by V. “In addition to sexualizing women, the examples of gendered violence reinforce the stereotype of men as aggressive and sexually dominant. Immediately before beating Rosemary, Mr. Almond yells, “you don’t have sex with [me]…” (65). The critical point is that he throws the blow after his statement. Mr. Almond is not only domestically abusing his wife, but also justifying his actions by complaining about lack of sex.” (Rolfs) Next I would like to talk about Lilliman who happens to be a very noble priest in their society, but even so, he is taking advantage of young girls. He’s upset when he is told by one of his men that the young girl may be older, which makes us wonder how young the girls are that he’s usually raping. Just like the book, in the movie, Lilliman is very excited to see Evey, and even gets excited when he thinks she is trying to role play with him. These young girls are picked by prestigious men in Norsefire, and even when some of the men in the Eye and Ear hear him, they are not surprised, and they even begin to laugh as if it is something that is done all the time, until they hear him being killed by V. Another story that should have been picked up a little more would have to be in the movie when Gordon takes Evey into his own Shadow Gallery and shows her his own banned art collection. They hint off that Gordon is secretly gay, but as he says, after so long of wearing a mask, you begin to believe it.
Also in the book, they talk about the relationship that Adam Susan has with his computer Fate, his super-computer. This was a man that has become so dethatched from life that he thinks he has human feelings for a machine. When thinking about it, I just thought that he may be dethatched because he knows that he is doing wrong, and he can’t fall in love for all the lies he has told, but then when thought about Fate and what she really is, it made sense. This man spent all his time with with computer, and he didn’t find anything wrong with feeling this way until V hacked into Fate and made her say “I love you” to Adam Susan. I took it as he was in love with her because he knew he controlled her and could make her do what he wanted, except have a sexual and romantic relationship. He was used to having all the control and when she finally spoke back words he knew she shouldn’t say, he knew it was no longer a fantasy. He finally knew something was completely wrong. It seems as though all of the men with power in this film and text all abuse the power they have, such as the Fingermen who should be protecting the people, but wanted to rape Evey in the beginning.
Just like the men in the book who always want to seem superior and likes to emasculate the women, the ladies in V for Vendetta also conformed to a certain type and made themselves seem like fragile creatures who could not do anything without the men. At one point in the story Evey asks why V never expressed sexual interests in her since they have been around one another for so long, making me think that she is not used to a man that doesn’t just want to use her as a sexualized object. Evey alone, has two almost rapes that V has to save her from. “V violates the society’s stereotypical need for men to have sex. The society Evey grew up in had sexualized women so much so that it did not occur to her that V sees Evey as more than a body.” (Rolfs) The next woman that I want to talk about is Rose Almond, who is the wife of the now late Derek Almond. After her husband’s death, Rose, now broke and broken, she ends up in the arms of Roger Dascombe who she doesn’t even like. She was so used to being taken care of by her husband that after his death she wasn’t even able to take care of herself, so now she was using Dascombe to help her. After he ends up dying at the hands of V, she ends up having to become a showgirl to make ends meet. As did Evey in the book, the women in this story all use their bodies to be sexualized for money.
I think gender norms changed in the story towards the end for everyone. In the beginning V was very mysterious. No, we don’t know anything about V in the end, but we do begin to understand him more. In the beginning we question his sex and gender. Does he like women? Is he a woman? We don’t know anything about V because he’s so mysterious. He’s seen as a terrorist in the beginning, hard, and willing to hurt anyone. He’s a bad man, and is honestly seen as the villain who is harming their perfect society. Towards the end, everyone starts to see that V was the one who actually cared, and they realized that Norsefire was not for them at all. People in the new society began to love V and he actually began to soften. He wanted to dance with Evey, and even cried after realizing that he actually was falling in love with her as well. It is one part after Evey learns to live without fear, V asks to see Evey one last time before November 5th, and when he does he’s almost surprised she came back. As if he was not sure Evey actually cared about him. In the beginning you think V is weird, and almost too mysterious, but towards the end, you can almost see him as a human who wants affection and love, but doesn’t think he’s worthy of either of them.
Of everyone, I think Evey had the biggest change of gender norms. In the beginning Evey is a young girl not too sure of herself and she’s afraid of life. After meeting V, you can tell she wants to help, but she’s not sure if its worth it. For example, when she pepper-sprays the detective, and V brings her back to the Shadow Gallery, she panics thinking about getting in trouble. But thinking about the beginning when she was almost raped by the Fingermen, she even apologized to them, even though they were harassing her. While being imprisoned, Evey was frightened in the beginning. When they cut her hair, I think it hurt her the most because for some women, hair means femininity. She was so unhappy, and she felt herself giving up. She wouldn’t eat, and she went on day by day getting tortured, until she received the notes from Valerie. After she finds out about V’s test, she’s now fearless and can take care of herself without having to depend on V to take care of her. V sees that Evey is now fearless, and he hands the power of anarchy over to her.
Some people think that it was a bad idea that V’s identity was never revealed, and somehow the person behind the mask matters because it adds meaning and understanding to the story, but I think differently. V is not meant to represent a person who went through something, and just went on a rampage for his own personal vendetta. V represented everyone and everything that was discriminated against and I think that is why they made it so difficult for us to decipher who or what he actually is. I don’t think it took anything away from the story, if anything it added to it, by keeping us aware of the bigger picture. I think if V’s identity was revealed, it would have made the story too personal. Keeping his identity, gender, and sex hidden made it easier for everyone to be include. We couldn’t say he did this because he was black or because he was gay. We were able to look at it from all angles and say that now he did it for everyone. V represents all of us!
“There are no coincidences, only the illusion of coincidences. – V” (Wachowski)
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