Oppressive governments and the psychological manipulation of the people are the strong themes and warning signs that these two powerful works of art, 1984 and V for Vendetta, attempt to delineate. 1984 and V for Vendetta have their similarities and differences yet their worlds are built around these basic tenets. Yet varying with their degree of control, both the novel and the film depict despotic leaders and repressive governments. Both of these leaders use intricate methods to keep control. Even being in the same genre and heavily borrowing, they still have their wild diversity from on each other.
The one of the many differences between these works of fiction and perhaps the most significant one is the fact that the main character in V for Vendetta takes action. The link from V for Vendetta to 1984 grows substantially with each passing scene yet still differentiating itself from the classic novel at the same time Big Brother, with his Stalin- like features, is an iconic figure in George Orwell’s 1984 as is the inner party. Usually visualized as a Totalitarian ruler on that prodigious screen showing only his magnified head, he strikes a strong affinity with Chancellor Adam Sutler.
The high ruler of England was an obvious nod to Big Brother as he also chooses to output himself visually in the same manner. The English government is even constructed in similar fashion to the inner party. In V for Vendetta there is a head responsible for each branch of the government such as police or the media. However even within these comparisons, stark contrasts still persist. Big Brother is a mysterious figure that is not known by the reader if he exists at all while Chancellor Adam Sutler is a real and tangible person as shown in the final scene of the movie.
Also peoples attitude towards each of the figures vary remarkably. The brainwashed hopeless sacks of skin of Oceania are uncontrollably yet honestly in love with the party and big brother. The English totalitarianism in V for Vendetta, however, has some disdain from its citizens as well as highly ranked members. You can easily see the lead chief show some questionable looks to Sutler’s demands and we can also decipher that his mindset of the government has somewhat changed after making some crucial discoveries. These thoughts in Oceania don’t even exist and if they do, they are immediately converted and wiped out.
Even though they are much more severe and ruthless in 1984, the tactics used in these societies to keep control are fundamentally and conceptually the same. That’s what essentially drives the most glaring parallels of these two fictional factions. The Norsefire regime, in V for Vendetta, basically practices the same methods used in 1984 in extremely played down ways. It uses mass surveillance to eavesdrop on its citizens through vans patrolling the streets instead of telescreens. It also employed cameras in the public to keep eye on the people.
There is also a harsh curfew in effect at only elven clock and you can only have one channel on the television much like the telescreens. All of these same tactics showed up in 1984 with harsher effects and penalties. The Norsefire regime also borrows from Ingsoc, among other regimes, on how the upbringing of its leader occurred. V for Vendetta showcases how a dictator used fear from recent and future events to take and keep power. The use of mass media for government propaganda also draws comparisons to Ingsoc. The fabrication of recent, or all, events in favor of the regime and slogans of the regime are also direct allusion to 1984.
It is also evident that Norsefire alters history which is a stable of The Party. The party and Norsefire are still, even with all these relations to one each other, are on different levels of Authoritarian subjugation of their respective peasants. The Party citizens are nowhere near the entitlement, how little it may be, of England’s citizens. It is to no revelation that some of the major differences of these societies come down to methods used by the party since 1984 is an extremely implausible novel and there is no society that is on par, whether real or fictitious, with the overbearing Ingsoc.
What also didn’t come as surprise is that by far the biggest inconsistencies within these regimes are the characters and the actions they do or don’t take. Outside of Winston and Julia, but not for long, not a single conscious thought exist in 1984. The predominant Ingsoc has such a deterring control over their subservient minions that they have no freedom in anything, not even their minds. Anyone who has anything near contrasting thought will be hunted down, arrested, and restored. Even the main character can barely hold on to his true feelings before they get tortured out of him.
The whole mood and mentality of 1984 and its characters are completely antithetical to V. The whole movie is plotted around him trying to fire up the people into a revolt against the government with very extravagant explosions. V’s true alignment of whether he is supposed to be a villain or a hero is completely irrelevant to the topic. The fact that he is doing a thing on his free will is unreservedly more important. It is not just V either, there are a slew of other characters that have opposing thoughts.
Gordon and Evey are the other main characters that have these contradictory feelings. Gordon has a whole room of collectables that will get him killed, not to mention being a homosexual, and Evey is helping the terrorist. Even the little girl who said “bullocks” as she watched a fake report on V’s death is an enormous act of rebellion when compared to 1984 Any new work of art that centers on Authoritarianism and totalitarianism will strike resemblance to 1984 since it has lain in the roots of how such a government should function.
But since the book borrowed heavily from factions in control at the time, such allusions can be misinterpreted for 1984 while in fact they were just mean for use in general terms in regards to any totalitarian regime. However a lot of direct references to 1984 are undeniable in V for Vendetta such as the big head in big screen or how similarly are each societies set up among other more obscure nods to the novel. Even the rat in Evey’s cellar might have been a hint to Winston’s confrontation with rats in room 101 . V for Vendetta felt like homage to 1984 while inputting its own taste in the genre of dystopian future.