Examine the use of symbols in 1984 and "V for Vendetta"

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure if you mean examine a bunch of symbols in "1984," and then examine a bunch of symbols in "V for Vendetta," or if you mean examine similar symbols between the two.  I'm going to write about the latter.  

In Orwell's "1984," Winston describes seeing posters all over London that show a man gazing down with the words "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU."  Whoever this guy/face is, he is the face of the Party.  He is symbolic of everything the Party is and stands for.  Most people see him as a calming and reassuring presence.  Sure, why not?  That's what big brother's do right?  Winston though, isn't so sure.  The face is a veiled threat to Winston and a few other people.  Big Brother is symbolic of power and punishment.  Don't do anything wrong, because Big Brother is watching.  The fact that the man in the picture is looking down shows a position of power being lorded over anybody under him.  If the image was meant to be warm and fuzzy, it wouldn't be looking down at you.  Just at you, at your own level.  

There is similar symbolism in "V for Vendetta" with Chancellor Sutler.  Most of his screen time isn't him in person. It's him being projected onto a screen.  Whatever camera is filming him is zoomed very closely to his face, which makes him giant compared to other people in the same shot.  It also has the effect of making it look like Chancellor Sutler is looking down at his audience.  As in "1984" the image conveys strength and power over something/somebody.  He is very much a villain that is watching you, just like Big Brother.