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With Love, Revenge Essay

1754 words - 7 pages

Revenge is a subject dealt with mostly in drama and other fiction rather than in life, because few would throw their lives away in pursuit of it. Thus the best way to explore revenge is sometimes to examine the stories at hand. Revenge tragedies, as dramas, are largely character-driven, and the character's motivations are quite simple: revenge – in the name of love. Bel-imperia sought revenge for her lover Andrea, and her motivation was expressed with the inevitability of tragedy and the inextricable association of revenge and love lost. The most notorious example of revenge as an act caused by love is direct and from the most famous revenge-themed play, when Hamlet is visited by his father's ghost, who is right to the point: "If thou didst every thy dear father love… Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder (1.5.5, (Shakespeare & Wofford, 1994). And yet women are the symbols of love, while the men are the avengers. In The Spanish Tragedy, Bel-imperia has the first revenge motive after the villain kills her lover Andrea: "And thanks to thee and those infernal powers / That will not tolerate a lover's woe" (III.xv Kyd, 1970). Interestingly, Bel-imperia is not the focus of the play – in fact, it was originally titled, Hieronomo's Mad Again. So when she vows for revenge right in the beginning, why does she lose focus as the center of the plot? Why does she have to die – although it seems almost unnecessary at that point? The simple answer to these questions is that these twists happen because she is a female character. Women represent feminine values like love, and subsequently they become accessories to the plot, and to their male counterparts. Because they represent love, and love is fatal in revenge tragedies, the women characters must suffer appropriately horrible fates by the last act.
Women represent hope, community, and love, largely due to the perception that they are typically more emotional then men, and therefore less logical as well (gender roles often assign certain traits as mutually exclusive). They are perceived as ruled by their emotions, such that men must keep an eye on them, a notion that is explicitly noted in The White Devil, "women are like cursed dogs, civility keeps them tied at daytime, / but they are let loose at midnight; then they do most good or most mischied." (Webster, 1612, I.ii). In Hamlet, Queen Gertrude is vilified (by her son) for loving her new husband: "Why, she would hang on him, / As if increase of appetite had grown / By what it fed on." (I.ii Shakespeare & Wofford, 1994). The love interest in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog also has a focus on community and hope – the first time anti-hero Billy (Billy is Dr. Horrible's alter ego) speaks to her, she is searching to get signatures to get their city to sign over an old building to the Caring Hands Homeless Shelter (Whedon 2008, Act I). In each of these situations, the male characters treat the women as objects of their affection rather than potential...

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