Alan Moore’s story and David Lloyd’s illustrations came to life in the 2005 film adaptation “V for Vendetta.” The political thriller became a pop culture hit addressing sociopolitical issues such as discriminatory practices, religion and authoritarian rule. Photo from The Verge.
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
John Milton wrote this famous poem, originally called “In Quintum Novembris” (“On the Fifth of November”), to commemorate the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
The post volume for “5th of November” was over 62,000 with 98.8 percent of posts coming from Twitter. Most of the social media posts came from the U.S. (38.9 percent), Unknown (32.9 percent) and the U.K. (9.9 percent). Photos from Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Social Media. Studio.
The Gunpowder Plot
According to Britannica, Robert Catesby, Thomas Winter, Thomas Percy, John Wright and Guy Fawkes plotted to blow up Parliament and King James I. Then later on, John Grant, Ambrose Rokewood, Robert Keyes, Sir Everard Digby, Francis Tresham and Thomas Bates joined the plot. Their ultimate goal was for the English Catholics to take control of Protestant England.
Unfortunately, the plan never came to past for two reasons. According to History.com, Lord Monteagle, who was one of the co-conspirator’s brother-in-law, received an anonymous note telling him to avoid Parliament. Monteagle warned government officials hours before the attack. Then Sir Thomas Knyvet, discovered Fawkes was guarding the gunpowder. Fawkes was supposed to light the powder and escape across the River Thames via boat.
As a result, he was captured along with his other co-conspirators; however, some refused. Catesby, the Wright brothers, and Percy were fatally wounded during gunfire after they refused to yield. Tresham died in the Tower of London of natural causes. Fawkes was hanged and drawn (his neck snapped before being quartered). Winter, John Grant, Rokewood, Keyes, Digby and Bates were hanged, drawn and quartered.
Afterwards, Parliament declared Nov. 5 a holiday to celebrate the failed attack. However, this day is now a political symbol of the co-conspirators actions. While these men– who were labelled as zealots and traitors– met gruesome endings, their legacy has become part of a global revolution. This date was originally a British observance day, but is now a global entity to challenge various governments who are corrupt, greedy, lack accountability for their actions and inactions and anti-democratic.
The Gunpowder Plot resurfaced in “V for Vendetta,” a 1980s British graphic novel created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The novel was set in futuristic England under a fascist and authoritarian rule. The novel followed V, a charismatic anarchist, who used terrorism to oppose the tyrannical government. He saves 16-year-old girl, Evey Hammond, who becomes his student and assistant.
The plot resurfaced a couple decades later and became a pop culture phenomenon. Guy Fawkes Day and the graphic novel gained global attention after the 2005 film adaptation starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving and John Hurt. According to Mental Floss, Fawkes was mainly celebrated in the U.K. on Halloween before the film’s release. People would wear Fawkes costumes and create effigies in honor of him.
Now the 5th of November is celebrated in bonfires and fireworks since the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, according to World Atlas.
Images Come to Life
The narrative surrounding Guy Fawkes Day has evolved from traitorous zealots to a charismatic anarchist to a symbol for change. Photos: Left photo from Business Insider. Right photo from Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Social Media. Studio.
Social media users utilized the meaning of the 5th of November to discuss Election Day in the U.S. Photo from Adam Brown Social Media Command Center Social Media. Studio.
After Lloyd’s illustration was turned into a stylish mask, many social and political movements have incorporated it. Mental Floss provided a history of who has worn the mask: the hacktivist collective Anonymous, the Occupy Wall Street protestors, employees for Turkish Airlines, Arab Spring movement protestors and Lindsay Mills (Edward Snowden’s wife).
The artist is not upset by the use of his creation. Actually, Lloyd is happy his work has come to life and is being used for good.
He told CNBC, “I’m very happy with all circumstances where the mask is being used by people who are trying to do what they believe is the right thing — to combat any tyranny they happen to want to confront.”
This day goes by many names: Guy Fawkes Day, 5th of November Day and Bonfire Night. However, the legacy behind the name still remains the same: to create social and political change within suppressive and oppressive governments; and to have their citizens voices heard.
In closing, remember this quote from “V for Vendetta,” “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
Oh, one last thing… Happy Election Day!