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Yesterday one of my friend asked me the question what the V symbol in V for Vendetta stands for. I never thought about it before. Does V stand for a group or just the name of the main character? Does it have other meanings?

I know the main character liked the V very much. I can see that from his self introduction. But my friend still thought that there are other meanings in the character V.

Evey: Who are you?

V. : Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask.

Evey: Well I can see that.

V. : Of course you can, I’m not questioning your powers of observation, I’m merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.

Evey: Oh, right.

V. : But on this most auspicious of nights, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace soubriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatis persona. Voila! In view humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the “vox populi” now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin, van guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.

Evey: Are you like a crazy person?

V. : I’m quite sure they will say so.

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According to Wikipedia:

He is at one point an inmate at "Larkhill Resettlement Camp" [...] While there, he is part of a group of prisoners who are subjected to horrific medical experimentation, conducted by Dr. Delia Surridge, involving artificially designed hormone injection. [...] All prisoners so injected soon die under gruesome circumstances, with the sole exception of "the man in room five" ("V" in Roman numerals).

[...]

[After his escape from this camp] he adopts the new identity, "V", as well as dons a Guy Fawkes mask and costume.

[...]

He doesn't even consider "V" his "name", saying "I don't have a name. You can call me V".

  • I would like to point out that in the doctors diary we discover V couldn't remember who he was or what was his name. So he just adopted the number of his room which is likely to have been the name they had called him with so as to see him more as a subject with a number than a human with a name which is common in prisons and camps like that. – tgwtdt May 26 '18 at 16:31
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It is deliberately ambiguous.

Yes, it the hero's soubriquet.
Yes, it stands for Vendetta.
Yes, it comes from Room 5 at Larkhill (Roman V, where V is tortured).

V himself talks of "virtuous vengeful victory".

V uses the letter to encompass the whole movement against totalitarianism. V is the people.

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    "V is the people" as in "V are the world, V are the children, V are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving ..."? – Hagen von Eitzen Jun 21 '15 at 17:47
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    Also the 5th of November, maybe? – o0'. Jun 21 '15 at 19:23
  • Even though most of his persona's relation to the letter V, he couldn't have had a hand in which room he was assigned at Larkhill. I would interpret that he built the V persona in that room, working under the assumption that V is his name (or at least his new identity). Possibly even relating it to the 5th of November mainly (and only) because he wants to punish those who put him in Larkhill. – Flater Oct 27 '15 at 9:09
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Since you're asking about the symbol V: drawn (as it usually is) surrounded in a circle, it is visually very like the anarchists' A symbol (which is also drawn surrounded in a circle), except upside down.

If you read the original comic graphic novel rather than the movie, V's anarchy is frequently evident.

Her name is Anarchy. And she has taught me more as a mistress than you ever did!

She has taught me that justice is meaningless without freedom. She is honest. She makes no promises and breaks none. Unlike you, Jezebel.

I used to wonder why you could never look me in the eye. Now I know.

So goodbye, dear lady. I would be saddened by our parting even now, save that you are no longer the woman that I once loved.

Here is a final gift. I leave it at your feet.

The flames of freedom. How lovely. How just. Ahh, my precious Anarchy… “O beauty, ’til now I never knew thee.”

Actually the letter "V" is used in each of the 40-odd chapter titles (starting with The Villain and ending with Valhalla), with other significant appearances as well ("a 'Violet Carson' rose")

V's personal identity is a mystery until the end, so it's not surprising that the 'name' is too.


As for whether it stands for a "group": initially it's the eponymous V who uses it, later (towards the end) the symbol is adopted by members of the public generally: e.g. a schoolgirl draws it on a wall

when the cameras stop working

near the start of Vox Populi chapter. Furthermore,

There.
Did you think to kill me?
There's no flesh or blood within this cloak to kill.
There's only an idea.
Ideas are bulletproof.
Farewell.

Therefore, "V" is a name for an idea.


There's out-of-universe evidence too for the "anarchy" theory. For example in this interview, A FOR ALAN, Pt. 1: The Alan Moore interview, Alan Moore is quoted as saying,

So I decided to use this to political effect by coming up with a projected Fascist state in the near future and setting an anarchist against that. As far I'm concerned, the two poles of politics were not Left Wing or Right Wing. In fact they're just two ways of ordering an industrial society and we're fast moving beyond the industrial societies of the 19th and 20th centuries. It seemed to me the two more absolute extremes were anarchy and fascism. This was one of the things I objected to in the recent film, where it seems to be, from the script that I read, sort of recasting it as current American neo-conservatism vs. current American liberalism. There wasn't a mention of anarchy as far as I could see. The fascism had been completely defanged. I mean, I think that any references to racial purity had been excised, whereas actually, fascists are quite big on racial purity.

So, V (himself) stands for out-and-out anarchy, and the story is (apart from being about love and "letting go") a story of benevolent anarchy overcoming inhumane fascism.

(I suspect there were other out-of-universe reasons too for choosing or discovering "V" but I don't know them).


My personal theory is that, in-universe, V comes from "Valerie" not from "room five": Valerie was the woman in room four, who wrote a letter to the man in room five. I suspect that V might have done what he did, in memory of Valerie.

Valerie wrote the letter, in her own hand, while she lived.
I delivered it to you as it was delivered to me. The words you wept over were those that transformed me, five years earlier.

V... she's beautiful.
Who was she?

She was the woman in room four.

And later:

I'm going to give the world what Valerie wanted it to have...
Roses.
A great abundance of roses.

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    The last point is interesting as roman four could be read as "I, V" – Hagen von Eitzen Jun 21 '15 at 17:49
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see here : V for Vendetta vs Comics

His obsession with words that start with V is limited to "Vi veri universum vivus vici" which is in his house. The entire dialogue loaded with words of V's is a script created by the Wachowskis.

The idea is that there was once a man who was captured and taken to a detention centre. He is tortured there and experimented on. He loses his mind. Eventually he is a shell of his original self and holds on to the number on his cell which is V.

He sets himself free and blows up the detention centre he burns up too, loses his face. He wants vengeance and dawns a new face. He constantly says he doesn't have a name, this could be because he doesn't associate with his former self, the man who he was before he was captured. But every person needs a name, hence he says "You can call me V". V is nothing but only the number to his room where he was re-born.

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V for Victory was a popular symbol im the UK from WW2 onwards. It is a V shape with the index and middle finger, palm facing inwards.

Originally it was ment to symbolize the success of the empire in hard times, but it eventually became a vulgar gesture for social dissent and rebelion.

I always saw it as being part of what the V stood for. If anything this meaning would encourge multiplicity in a definition of the V, as a form of protest to the "normal" order.

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