by Diana Orgain
Revenge: (definition from www.dictionary.com)
–verb (used with object)
1. to exact punishment or expiation for a wrong on behalf of, esp. in a resentful or vindictive spirit: He revenged his murdered brother.
2. to take vengeance for; inflict punishment for; avenge: He revenged his brother's murder.
What great fodder for a crime novel, even dictionary.com immediately went to murder in the sample sentence! What makes revenge such a great element for writing? I think it’s because revenge is so human and primal, everyone can relate to instinctual impulse of it. Now, of course, whether or not the character acts out the impulse is a completely different story and part of what makes writing and reading so much fun.
We can live vicariously through a character chasing down a cop that just gave him a parking ticket. Or a more classic example - the wronged hero: a young girl (the hero’s finance, daughter, sister – fill in the blank) is brutally assaulted, but the law can’t get to the villain. The hero makes his own brand of justice, right? Some example of the revenge theme in Greek tragedy are Agamemnon and Medea, in Elizabethan drama there is Hamlet and Titus Andronicus. The theme also runs in many Hollywood westerns and crime thrillers.
Do you have a favorite revenge theme movie or book? What do you think makes revenge such a great writing topic?