Your assignment is to read four short stories and make connections between their themes/motifs/images and those of V for Vendetta. Post your response to at least two of the stories in a single blog post below. Your response need not be formal, but should be substantive - i.e. it doesn't need to be fancy, just thoughtful and interesting.
First, read both of these VERY short Edgar Allan Poe stories:
"The Oval Portrait"
"The Masque of the Red Death"
Next, read two of these science fiction short stories:
"Repent Harlequin! said the Ticktock Man" by Harlan Ellison (the story that inspired Alan Moore to create V)
"Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut (or if you already read that, try his related story "2BR02B" instead)
Finally, comment on ONE of Poe's stories and ONE of the scifi stories in relation to V for Vendetta. What similar ideas or images does it evoke? How does reading the two pieces "together" influence your interpretations?
A large part of V for Vendetta revolves around the conflict between two political ideals or "ideologies": Anarchism and Fascism. The political philosopher Louis Althusser described ideology as a group of people's "imaginary relationship to their real conditions of existence" (the Puritan ideology, for example, conceived of their actual suffering as part of God's plan, sustaining their self-image as the Chosen People). So you can think of ideologies kind of the way we think of literary theories like postcolonialism as "lenses" - they are like lenses on humanity, even reality itself.
The Anarchist and Fascist ideologies derive from the work of earlier political philosophers who produced different versions of what's called Social Contract Theory: the idea that a society is like an agreement among individuals to give up certain freedoms to gain other benefits. THOMAS HOBBES produced a version of social contract theory that inspired Fascism, while JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU produced an opposing version that became the basis of Anarchism. (A third version developed by JOHN LOCKE, which suggested individuals should establish a limited government to protect their rights to liberty and property, became the basis for our own American system of government, partially as a reaction to theocratic tyranny).
Watch this video from 8-Bit Philosophy along with any additional research you find necessary, then produce a summary of Hobbes and Rousseau's ideas. Do you with agree with either of them? And do their arguments influence your views on V's revolution? Comment on a classmate post with a substantive response to receive extra credit beyond the 20 points for you first post.
"The major enemy, the strategic adversary [of our thinking] is Fascism... and not only historical fascism, the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini -which was able to mobilize and use the desire of the masses so effectively - but also the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.... How does one keep from being fascist, even (especially) when one believes oneself to be a revolutionary militant? How do we rid our speech and our acts, our hearts and our pleasures, of fascism? How do we ferret out the fascism that is ingrained in our behavior?"
-Philosopher Michel Foucault, Preface to Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus
Foucault (like his friends Deleuze and Guattari) all grew up during WWII, and during the 60s and 70s tried to theorize why so many people openly EMBRACED fascism. The big idea here is that society does NOT work like the Social Contract Theorists thought - people do not consciously agree to form societies for their own benefit, but instead, societies form people through a kind of unconscious peer pressure. We're taught to conform to certain ideals of "normality" by people who were taught and conform to the same, partially because there is a sense of safety in being like others, and partly because certain religious or political ideologies threaten us or promise rewards based on our obedience (Omelas, Danforth's court, the Norsefire party...)
After watching the above-linked 8 Bit Philosophy videos, see if you can make connections between these ideas and the story or setting of V for Vendetta. In particular, think of the final scene with Helen Heyer, the embodiment of the "Fascism within us all,," and Finch, who has overcome that instinct. And if you want to take it further, do any of Foucault and Deleuze/Guattari's ideas reveal "micro-fascisms" in our democracy (or school/community environments) now? In particular, are we "trained" to discipline and repress our desires?
First off, hooray that the Blog is finally working again! Second, get ready to share your view on V's address to the nation in Book II Ch IV, "A Vocational Viewpoint." In this chapter, V broadcasts a message speaking to the people as if they are his "employees" and have been doing a terrible "job" governing themselves, encouraging them to rebel, and even threatening them if they don't. Your goal is simple: write a paragraph, or a serious of bullets/questions, expressing your reaction to the speech. Is V too critical of the people? Is he right to encourage rebellion? Or is he not considering the Thomas Hobbes argument that this can lead to chaos? Be sure to cite at least TWO images that V shows in the speech - the dictators, the historical scenes, the monkeys, the Buddha, etc. Try to bring together the thoughts you've been having throughout our discussions into a smart post!
If you want, you can see a video of someone reading the words aloud with the pictures in the background here. You can also watch the movie's version of the speech, which is quite similar in content but VERY different in tone - if you discuss this version in your post, be sure to contrast it with the harsher, more sarcastic original..
Mr. Justin Biggs