question of the weekend: What meaning does Guy Fawkes hold for you?

V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask

This weekend’s question may be mostly for my U.K. readers… though I suspect my readers elsewhere are likely crossculturally aware enough that they’ll have something to kick in here, too.

So, bronxbee writes:

is Guy Fawkes a folk hero? i mean, isn’t he burned in effigy for trying to destroy the houses of parliment? did he kill himself rather than face execution?

but today there was an article in the NYT about the guy fawkes masks that are being worn as part of the Occupy# movement. here’s a quote:

The face behind the mask has an appropriately subversive story. Guy Fawkes was an Englishman who tried to blow up the House of Parliament in the early 17th century as part of a plot to give Catholics more power amid a Protestant monarchy. He failed, then killed himself to avoid execution, but became a British folk hero whose effigy is burned each Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes Day, a rough British counterpart to Halloween.

but it was my understanding that there has been some discomfort in england over “burning the guy” because of the anti-catholic sentiment it expresses… so how could he be a fok hero? or has his legacy changed in recent years with the lack of faith in government, monarchy and representatives. or maybe it was just the comic book/’movie?

I confess that I don’t know enough about how people in the U.K. feel about Guy Fawkes to make any sort of guess here (though I am looking forward to my first Bonfire Night!). I do suspect that V for Vendetta, both the graphic novel and the movie, has had a lot to do with popularizing the Guy Fawkes mask as a general symbol of rebellion and pushback against oppression.

What do you think?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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