By Ellen Ma
V FOR VENDETTA takes place in a dystopian England when everything has collapsed from war. The government has become “Big Brother” and the entire system is corrupt. However, on the historical day of Nov. 5, 1997, a mysterious man named V blows up Parliament. The reader is taken through V’s mission –– to take down the fascist rulers of England, as well as coming to know Eve, a young girl who is saved by V and taken under his wing.
Eve becomes a major role to the reader, as she is the most relatable character and goes through the most changes. Alan Moore is excellent with showing readers what Eve’s life has been like within dystopian England and David Lloyd is great with capturing haunting feelings, loss, and hope within his art. And Just like Eve, the reader will need to determine if V is an anarchist/terrorist or a freedom fighter for the people.
Grade 9 and older
There are a few disturbing images (violence, sex), but understandable in order to show the feeling of a dystopian story.
IN THE CLASSROOM
I’ve used this graphic novel in my freshman college English courses, mainly to see how students would react to being introduced to a political theme through the form of text and image. The students found the story to be rich and an extraordinary experience. Many students knew nothing about England in general or had much knowledge about government and politics. However, V FOR VENDETTA was very capable of presenting the situation –– what if you lost your freedom? –– and this made students start to think more deeply.
Overall, the outcome was successful. Students were discussing their individual freedom, whether or not V was an anarchist or freedom fighter, and wrote compare/contrast papers. The most rewarding for me was reading students’ perspectives and their opinions about the character V.
I would recommend this graphic novel, but hold back if this will be the first time using a graphic novel in the classroom. There are a lot of elements and themes going on within V FOR VENDETTA; this can either work against you or for you but probably the main thing to consider would be time. I only spent three weeks on this graphic novel and the students and I both felt there were still plenty to discuss.
Turn to PERSEPOLIS or PYONGYANG: A JOURNEY IN NORTH KOREA if you’re interested in introducing a political theme; these two graphic novels are slightly more simplistic in artistic style, but still very strong in content.
Author: Alan Moore
Illustrator: David Lloyd
Color: Full color