Revenge is the best revenge . . .

I’m struggling with a scene.

Without giving too much away (or anything at all, really), Character A did A Very Bad Thing to Character B, and Character  C is about to make Character A regret it, or at least feel an equivalent pain.

I’m not having problems writing it, but I’m a little troubled about how much I’m enjoying it.  Or perhaps I’m troubled that I’m not more troubled?

It helps, I’m sure, that in my Revenge Lib,  A is a murderer with some interesting hobbies and B is a sympathetic character (or so I’m told).  And C, while being protective of B, is still a borderline sociopath, and isn’t particularly troubled by A’s pain.

To be honest, I’m not either.  And neither is B.

I’d be worried about this, too, except I can name several sympathetic characters on stage, screen, and page whose primary motivation is to do unto others what they did to me and mine.   Half the books in the library— including most of  613.2, but probably not 641-5*—are based on it.  As are the television and comic book industry.

The cleanest revenge appears to be taken on someone else’s behalf; that way it’s not entirely selfish, which tends to erode the moral high ground.  But of course, that isn’t really revenge—it’s justice.

Justice=Good.  Revenge=Bad.

Revenge is self-destructive and harms the giver as much as the receiver.  Then again, there’s a high price to pay for justice, too.  These days, revenge can be legal and vigilantism can be justice, so the only “real” difference appears to be where the writer’s—or better yet, the reader’s—sympathy is placed.

And that can change in a heartbeat.

That’s what makes this stuff so cool.

I’m not a vengeful person by nature.**  I’m far more likely to sign a petition or march for a cause than don a Batsuit™ or go hunting for the kid who made my life hell in high school.***  My subconscious, however, apparently has some issues to work through.

As long as it works ’em out on paper,  I think I’m okay with that.


*No.  Go look.

**Though I have occasionally brought my A-game to the slanging match.  And I’ll cop to road rage, though again, I tend to use my words.  And jazz hands.

***Everyone has at least one of those kids assigned to them during the course of their school career—even those kids are allotted at least one tormentor each.  I hope.


10 thoughts on “Revenge is the best revenge . . .

  1. I had to look it up, as we use LC, not DD. I think a case could be made that even 641-5 have some element of revenge involved (have you checked out what some people call haute cuisine, or fine design lately?). In any case, there is a certain amount of catharsis in putting ‘stuff’ on ‘paper’ that you wouldn’t necessarily play out in real life situations. It’s definitely better than bottling it all up until you explode.

    Oh. And I lurve me some jazz hands!

    • True enough—celebrity chefs certainly appear to have enough ego to fuel some feuds!

      Food Feud Fuel . . . Hey-O! New tongue twister!

      Catharsis is half the reason I write, some days.

  2. It’s so cool how you’re working this out on paper. I wonder if there’s any room for Universal justice in your WIP, the kind that’s dished out by something more powerful than another character. That’s the kind that always wows me.

    • You mean the kind where the bad guy flees, only to be killed in a mudslide caused by his own criminal land management, or the kind where he’s enjoying his ill-gotten gains on his yacht, which gets struck by lightning and sinks?

      I’m not sure Universal Justice could get a word in edgewise with the Pigeon crew—they’re all kind of DIY-ers. But the concept might fit the next one!

  3. This is a really terrific point. Justice is justified–note how the words stem from the same origin?–only when the character has the reader’s sympathy. Honestly, I’ve never really thought about it in that way.

    Sigh. This might be an issue in my own ms.

    Thanks for the idea, but not so much for the work it might entail…

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