V for Vendetta: Literary Work?


V’s Guy Fawkes Mask has become a common sight at real life protests.

Previously, we have had an opinion piece on the subject of Graphic Novels as literary canon. A prime example referred to was V for Vendetta. How is this the case, though? What makes this work so relevant?

V for Vendetta (Moore and Lloyd, 1982) is a post-apocalyptic story set in the United Kingdom, which charts the attempt of masked vigilante ‘V’ and his protégé ‘Evey’ to take down the fascist political party ‘Norsefire’, which has turned the country into a totalitarian state. Using this theme, it questions the morality of both personal and political freedom, positing what happens when the freedom of a government clashes with the freedom of the people it rules, very much in the same way that Dickens questioned the class system and pointed out its superficiality in ‘Oliver Twist’ (which no-one would question as a work of literature, and which can be studied as part of the AQA’s English Literature A Level course).

V for Vendetta can also be read as an allegory for Thatcherite Britain and a projection of what may have happened as people became more adapted to the idea of there being ‘no such thing as society’ while austerity cuts and unemployment took hold. It must also be noted that the story is unapologetically leftist and, for the objective student, it should be analysed as such. George Orwell tackled a very similar theme in his seminal 1984, which (again like Dickens’ work) is undoubtedly a work of literature in the minds of the majority.

You may well wish to determine your own opinions on V for Vendetta, and on the wider topic of graphic novels as literature, by reading it yourself. Finally, even if you disagree with these articles, bear in mind that one thing remains the same: watching the film of the book is one thing, reading the source material is an often superior other.

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Darren is an IGCSE and A Level English Language tutor with Oxford Open Learning. A love of reading and of all things superhero as a boy transformed into a love of graphic novels that never really went away. He is particularly interested in how graphic novels reflect culture and enjoys comparing works from Europe, North America and Asia. He also fully supports Marvel’s cinema works and hopes that superhero movies continue for years to come!

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