V versus Murrow

Speech Comparison

Overview

V and Edward R. Murrow are two completely different people from two completely different worlds, however, if they were to somehow meet, they would definitely agree that the turmoil in each of their societies is due to the exploitation of the common people. In V’s realm, his people are being fed false information, while in the real world, Murrow believes that the people of his time are being unfairly fed invaluable information. While V strongly believes that violence is necessary to improve the issues at hand, Murrow believes that he is meant to take a more passive role, being merely an informant. Although the two figures have slightly different goals with far different means of achieving them, they share the common goal of an improved and more accurately informed society.

V's Purpose

V gives his speech with the intent to restore the people’s faith in the power of their own words, and inspire them to rise up against their corrupt government. In his speech, he preaches how valuable one’s words are by claiming that “words will always retain their power…and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth”. He then repeats the word “truth” at the beginning of the very next sentence by saying “And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?”. This repetition of the word truth further emphasizes its importance, and he projects his opinion onto his audience by adding “isn’t there?” at the end. He wants people to know that no matter how much the government oppresses them, their words will always hold value, and are therefore the perfect tools to force change. He also sneakily refers to the government as “those who do not want us to speak”, in an effort to sour the prestigious image of the political figures in charge.


In addition, V gave his speech to expose government’s fear tactic and enlighten the people on how the government is able to exploit them. He wants the people to know that the government is only as powerful as the people allow it to become, stating that “if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror”. He also wants the people to know it is not entirely their fault, claiming that the government uses war, terror, and disease to “corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense”. He makes sure to emphasize the government's use of fear by using phrases such as “I know you were afraid” and “Fear got the best of you”. He then uses a bit of sarcasm and repetition near the end when he states “He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent”. V uses the repetition of the word “promised” and the sarcasm of the phrase “all he demanded” to emphasize that the people’s silence and obedience is the catch to all of the chancellor’s promises. V wants his speech to build tension between the common people and the government so that they will develop enough courage to stand alongside him on the fifth of November!

Murrow's Purpose

Edward R. Murrow gave his speech in an effort to persuade Networks, Advertising Agencies, and Sponsors that the quality of news being released at the time was extremely poor and that viewers may actually want to see more informative segments. He frequently uses parallelism to make strong criticisms of the accuracy of news stations, claiming that they reflect “decadence…escapism, and insulation". He also makes aggressive criticisms of viewers, claiming that “We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent”. He soon follows by saying “But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and realize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late”. Murrow uses the repetition of strong words to call people to action, in an effort to inspire viewers and networking companies to take an active role in improving the informational quality of the news. He then paints a picture for what better quality news would look like by stating, “a time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan, is given over to a clinical survey on the state of American education”. Murrow wants people to understand the true power of television and implant the desire in viewers and broadcasters alike to use it constructively (to educate).

Similarities

V and Murrow’s speeches are extremely similar because they both use a relatively passive tone to get their points across. In V’s speech he clearly wants people to join him in his revolt, however, he does not force his opinions on people, as he states “So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked”. Although he is passionate about his point of view, he also offers the members of his audience the option to disagree with him (which further sets a good example of what the government doesn’t allow people to do). Similarly, Murrow presents his audience with an option at the end of his speech, stating that “This weapon of television could be useful. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate – and yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends”. He finishes by leaving the option to either try out his idea or continue to present the news how they always have been.


V and Murrow’s speeches are also extremely similar because they both advocate for their audiences to take action. In V’s speech, he urges his audience to join him in his effort to overthrow the government, stating “stand beside me one year from tonight…and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never be forgot”. The use of the word “beside” helps to emphasize the fact that V does not place himself on a higher plane than everyone else, and the use of the word “together” helps to emphasize how important unity is to V and his cause. Similarly, Murrow also calls his audience to action by saying “Our history will be what we make of it”. He implies that television is a marvelous tool, and the power to use it properly (to educate the public) is entirely in the hands of the people.

Differences

V and Murrow’s speeches are slightly different, however, because as V urges his audience to completely overthrow the people in power, Murrow simply seeks compromise. V strongly believes that there is something “terribly wrong” with his country, with the high chancellor being at the source of the problems. He believes that the only way to truly solve the societal issues at hand is to eliminate those currently in charge. Murrow, on the other hand, does not want to completely change how the news is currently portrayed, he simply wants more airtime to be dedicated to educational segments. He uses “a week or two” as an example time frame between two educational segments, meaning that he doesn’t plan on totally altering the current network schedule. He merely wants to use a greater percentage of television’s potential for educational purposes.


V and Murrow’s speeches also have completely different tones of speech. Throughout V’s speech, he uses a more proper and profound tone, perhaps in an effort to project himself as the valiant hero that he believes himself to be. He begins his speech with a very gentlemanly greeting, stating “Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption.”. Murrow, on the other hand, starts his speech off with a rather poorly constructed first sentence, stating “This might just do nobody any good”. His use of improper grammar does not necessarily make him any less passionate about his cause than V, however, it may be evidence that he is a little bit less concerned about his own personal image. Murrow also uses numerous casual phrases throughout his speech, such as “What have they got to lose?”, and finishes his speech on a very simple note by saying “Good night, and good luck”. V, however, used perfectly correct grammar through his speech and fills it with a myriad of descriptive and complex sentences. For example, V uses complex wording to paint a vivid picture comparing the freedoms that the people had before with the restrictions that they have now when he says “And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission”. V also ends his speech on a much more formal note by saying “…and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot”.

Warning & Relevance

The writer of V for Vendetta and Murrow are both giving us a clear warning that a lack of access to quality information can lead to turmoil. In V for Vendetta, the reason that the government is so easily able to manipulate people is because they have absolute control over what information does and does not get released to the public. They have the power to control what people think about, and when you have control over a person’s thoughts, you have control over a person’s actions. Such total control is what causes their formerly democratic society to become more of a dictatorship. Similarly, Murrow understands that the more informed a person is, the more easily he/she will be able to fight against ignorance, intolerance, and indifference. Their warning is extremely relevant today because Donald Trump may very well be our next president and there is no telling what types of regulations he may try to change. If access to information is kept at a decent level and people continue to invest time in watching more informational shows, this country as a whole will be much more prepared for whatever the future holds.