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.
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.