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The Bitter Taste Of Revenge: The Significance Of Seeking Vengeance

1282 words - 5 pages

The idiom “revenge is sweet” appears so frequently that one might think the cliché is true, yet the nature of revenge is far more complex and may leave more bitterness in its wake. The cyclical nature of revenge and man’s inhumanity to man means it has a propensity to intensify and devastate the people in its wake including the inflictor. Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits examine the theme of the nature of revenge through the presence and significance of prominent characters seeking revenge in both Latin American novels.
When family and personal honor taints, the aftermath escalates into a major threat stemming from the nature of revenge forming in order to protect a principle. In order to save the family’s honor, which the town holds of the utmost importance, the Vicario brothers seek vengeance on Santiago Nasar. Pablo Vicario’s betrothed Prudencia Cotes, “knew what they were up to […] and [she] didn't only agree, [she] never would have married [Pablo] if he hadn't done what a man should do” (García Márquez 62). The quote characterizes not only Prudencia as unsympathetic, but also much of the town, whose indifference comes in part from its belief that the men have a duty to protect the women from disgrace. The House of the Spirits’ arguable protagonist, Esteban Trueba, tries to save his daughter from what he thinks of as disgrace in a similar manner-murder. The time passes “since the fateful day when Trueba had made him pay for his daughter’s virginity with an axe. Pedro Tercero remembered him as an angry giant” (Allende 360). The simile comparing Trueba to a giant emphasizes the lasting impact the encounter has on Pedro Tercero. Both accounts of vengeance display the authors’ views on men protecting the purity of the women in their lives. Allowing their soiled reputation to be a catalyst for revenge, the Vicario brothers and Trueba discount the prospects of discussion or less reversible revenge to protect those they see as victims and save face.
Fueled by passion and violent rage, an unreasonable amount of revenge becomes displaced and fixated on those deemed responsible. García Márquez writes, “Faustino Santos was the only one who perceived a glimmer of truth […]he asked him jokingly why they had to kill Santiago Nasar […] ‘Santiago Nasar knows why,’ Pedro Vicario answered him” (52). The irony displayed in this scene between the butcher and the Vicario brothers demonstrates the illogical and snap judgment of the brothers. Although class antagonism plays a role in Faustino’s dismissal of the death threat, he sees a seed of truth in the unreasonable. This is similar to the amount of torture Esteban Garcia wants to inflict in The House of the Spirits. With a bruised sense of ego, Esteban García begins to exact his payback instead in a torturous manner, “Alba understood that he was not trying to learn Miguel’s true whereabouts but to avenge himself for injuries that had...

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