This is the one day of the year where every person who has seen V for Vendetta thinks they know about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot…and most people I speak to..don’t.
So…let me explain.
The Gunpowder Plot took place in 1605 when a group of 13 Catholics led by a man by the name of Robert Catesby, decided that James I was treating the Catholic people of England no better than the previous monarch, Elizabeth I, who persecuted Catholics. So naturally these 13 men decided that an act of terrorism would definitely be the way to go to get their point across. They didn’t like being persecuted so…why not blow up Parliament and the King as well? Well…that escalated quickly…
To carry out their plan, the conspirators got their hands on 36 barrels of gunpowder…hence the name Gunpowder Plot. They stored it in a cellar just under the House of Lords and were planning to ignite it…blowing up the building as they did. However one way or another (some suggest that the King’s officials knew about the plot already and some others say that one of the conspirators sent a letter to a member of the House of Lords) Unfortunately for our friend Guy Fawkes, who was one of the conspirators, he was the one standing in the cellar with the gunpowder when the King’s officially stormed in and found him. He was captured, tortured to give up the names of the other traitors as well as his own confession and later killed by being hung, drawn and quartered in the Tower of London.
Despite the fact that the traitors’ attempt to blow Parliament sky high was foiled by the royal authorities…the reigning monarch in the Great Britain only enters Parliament once per year, during the opening ceremony, and when they do, the building is thoroughly searched before hand.
November 5 has since become known as Bonfire Night in the Great Britain. It is often asked with a tongue in cheek attitude, whether the people of the Great Britain are celebrating the failure of the plot or the attempt itself. The citizens of Great Britain have huge bonfires where they burn “Guys” meant to look like Guy Fawkes to celebrate the failure of the plot. Fireworks displays are also common.
So..as you can see, the connection to V for Vendetta (the loose comic book film adaptation) is loose if that. Basically V, the main character wear a Guy Fawkes mask in order to remain anonymous in his attempt to overthrow the fascist government that has over taken 2020s UK. He uses Guy Fawkes as a face to attach his idea to that the government must be overthrown…by violence. He explains his plot by saying “Remember Remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot, I can think of no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” People tend to cling to the idea of the movie and of the holiday without remembering that the main character believes that blowing up buildings full of people is the way to get what you want. Following in the footsteps or brainwaves of V or of Guy Fawkes is very dangerous. While V may have been inspired by Guy, he hides behind the identity of a failed terrorist and allows his followers to do the same. The anonymous movement on the internet has also occasionally used the mask as their symbol. Don’t don the mask if you don’t know what it represents. I agree that V for Vendetta is an excellent and thought provoking film, even if its connection to the real historical event is a bit loose. The terrorists of 1605 weren’t anonymous and they were terribly punished for their treason. If you watch the film knowing the context of the mask, they are really quite different. One inspired the other but that’s really all. Enjoy the movie though! I will be celebrating Bonfire night with a Sparkler bath bomb from the originally British company Lush, the bath bomb was inspired by the bonfires that are set on 11/5. Happy Guy Fawkes day everyone! I’ve posted some informational links below!