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Shaun Patrick Francis Wrinn

Heroes are Remembered, Ideas Never Die

Stroke after stroke. Breath after breath. There is nothing but oneself, the water,

and the journey. Swimming is constant battle. The body against the mind. The human

against the soul. The flesh against the ideas. Swami Vivekananda, a famous Indian

philosopher, once battled his own body in the pursuit of ideas. He swam from the

southernmost point of India to a lone rock in the ocean where he meditated for three days.

Vivekananda once said, “When an idea exclusively occupies the mind, it is transformed

into an actual physical or mental state.” There is no quote that could more aptly describe

V. He so completely, utterly, and fervently believes in the idea of justice, that he actually

becomes the embodiment of it. V is the very idea of justice and freedom and he will go

to any means to see his idea realized.

V’s identity is ever-changing. He is no one mere person but a collection of

people. This only perpetuates V as an idea. He is constantly introducing himself as

someone else. When Evey, in the novel, asks V who he is, V replies “Me? I am the king

of the twentieth century. I’m the Boogeyman. The Villian. The Black Sheep of the

Family” ( Moore 13). The Boogeyman is not real. It is not tangible. The Boogeyman

cannot be caught or killed just as V, as an idea, can never be caught or killed. In the

movie version, when V breaks into Lewis Prothero’s house, after Prothero realizes who

he is, V says, with a certain smugness in his voice, “the Ghost of Christmas Past”
(McTeigue). When V enters the Bishop’s house in the novel, he begins by saying “Please

allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste” (Moore 54). V introduces

himself using a line from the Rolling Stones song “Sympathy for the Devil”. By

introducing himself by using the lyrics of a famous song, V only reinforces that he is

invincible. A song can never be completely eradicated. It can never be fully censored.

Somewhere in the world, someone will remember that song and its meaning. Later, in

the same encounter, V says “I am the Devil, and I come to do the Devil’s work” (Moore

55). V introduces himself as the Devil to, once again, reinforce that he is an idea. The

Devil, like the Boogeyman, is not tangible. No one has seen the Devil walking the earth.

No one can ever get rid of the Devil. The Devil will be a part of the world forever, just as

V will. At the end of the movie Detective Finch asks Evey who V was. Evey replies,

“He was Edmund antes. And he was my father and my mother, and my brother. My

friend. He was you…and he was me. He was all of us”(McTeigue). V, and even his

closest confidant, is even unsure of who he is anymore. He has become so infatuated

with the idea of justice that he has actually become it. He is no longer a man with a

certain identity. V assumes whatever role is necessary to see the culmination of his ideals

of justice and freedom.

Is V even human at all anymore? Is there any part of him that doesn’t succumb

completely to this idea of justice and freedom? There is, but it is small, almost non-

existent. It is the one part of a human that cannot, and should not, ever be given to

anything or anyone. It is the “one inch” that Valerie speaks about in her letter. Valerie


I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish… except one. An

inch. It’s small and it’s fragile and it’s the only thing in the world
worth having. We must never lose it, or sell it or give it away. We
must never let them take it from us. (Moore 159)
V has one inch of humanity left. It is this inch that causes him to take Evey in. In the

movie version, this inch doesn’t allow him to leave Evey unconscious at Jordan Tower

after she helps him escape. It is this inch that Detective Finch sees and makes him want

to dig deeper and find out what happened at Larkhill. It was this inch that made it

possible for V to be so cerebral and precise with his planning. This inch does not allow V

to completely give in to his vengeance. This inch does not let him murder Dr. Surridge

viciously, but rather use a peaceful injection. No matter how infused the idea of justice

becomes with V, there is still an inch of humanity left in V.

In the song “Set It Off” by Audioslave, Chris Cornell sings, “He was standing at

the rock, gathering the flock.” V might as well have been the inspiration for the song.

V’s rock is the television when he speaks to the country. His flock is the people of

England who finally decide enough is enough. V was the shot in the arm the people of

England needed. The people of England knew that what was happening in their country

was wrong but were too afraid of being black bagged to do or say anything. V showed

them that being afraid is not an option. Being afraid is what got the people of England

into the current situation. V says in the novel, “All you had to say was ‘NO’ You have no

spine. You have no pride (Moore 117).” The people have no courage and no pride to

stand up to their own government. V gave them an opportunity to stand up and say no.

No man could turn this country, full of fear and cowardice, into what V turns it into. He

takes a country that is scared to say anything at all against the government and inspires

them to stand up and show that they don’t agree with what is happening in their country.
People don’t stand up for a man. They stand up for an idea. A man is mortal and flawed.

An idea can be perfect. An idea can be sublime. An idea can be immortal.

V proves that an idea is stronger than any amount of firepower or control a

government can hold over its people. Oscar Wilde once said “All great ideas are

dangerous.” V is the most dangerous idea; one that people believe in. He tells the

people, if they agree with him, to stand outside parliament. He never tells them to bring

weapons, throw a punch, or even raise their voices. The people of England believe so

explicitly in V, and the idea behind him, that they walk in front of Parliament knowing

that the government will have soldiers standing with guns waiting for them. An entire

country of people would not risk their lives for a man in a mask. It takes so much more

than that. It takes belief in an idea. Belief in a principle. Belief in V.

John F. Kennedy once said “A man may die, nations may rise and fall but an idea

lives on. Ideas have endurance beyond death.” V is no longer a human. Even after he

dies, the image and idea of freedom and justice will forever be associated with V. His

vaudevillian mask will live in lore the way that only certain objects and images do. V

will forever be the savior that the oppressed of the world will look up to. He will be the

hope that lingers on that life will get better. He will be the hope that as Valerie says “that

the world turns and that things get better, and that one day people will haves roses again.

(Moore 160). There is nothing human about a man that can do all this. He not only sets a

nation free but he is a sign of hope for the entire world. V truly is the idea and synthesis

of freedom.