Vengeance manifested throught different cultures.
July 10, 2008 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find the gods and goddesses of Revenge and Vengeance in Greek theatre, Shakespearean theatre, as well as popular movies (mainly Oldboy and Titus Andronicus).

I have mainly been seeking Nemesis (and her other guises) in Shakespearean theatre. I am also trying to find Korean manifestations of Vengeance in mythology. I would like to teach my Korean students by connecting Shakespearean plays such as Titus Andronicus to Park Chan-Wook's Vengeance Triology (mainly Oldboy). I am interested in cultural differences and similarities of revenge. I am also interested in protagonist and antagonist foils and mirrors in relation to revenge/vengeance and how different cultures (Western/Asian/Korean) construct them.
posted by Knigel to Education (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
2005's Korean Lady Vengeance should be what you are looking for then.
posted by Iteki at 11:22 AM on July 10, 2008

Crap, see that you mentioned that you were aware of the trilogy, only say you say Oldboy before, sorry.
posted by Iteki at 11:22 AM on July 10, 2008

In addition to Nemesis (who brings retribution to the proud and overly fortunate) and Eris ("Strife," whose charge is human conflict), I'd pay close attention to the Erinyes (or "Furies"), who are arguably the vengeance gods most important to the Western dramatic tradition.

The Erinyes carried out vengeance for crimes against the natural order, particularly murders of parents by children, guests by hosts, and kings by subjects. In Aeschylus's Oresteia, they hound Orestes for killing his mother until Athena absolves him in a formal court and strips the Furies of their traditional duties. The play cycle as a whole represents a transition from blood feuds and vengeance to justice and mercy; the responsibility for retribution moves from the family to the state.

But in Shakespeare's plays, where blood feuds, unnatural crimes, and messy vengeances are commonplace, the Furies get their old jobs back. They show up directly in Richard III, when Clarence dreams of them in the Tower of London:
'...Seize on him, Furies, take him to your torments!'
With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends
Environ'd me about, and howled in mine ears
Such hideous cries, that with the very noise
I trembling waked, and for a season after
Could not believe but that I was in hell.
Clarence's sin at Tewksbury is small vengeance potatoes next to Richard's many unnatural crimes; all of his many victims come back to haunt the man in his own punishment dream, another action of the divine order that seems interested in rectifying the tragedies of the War of the Roses in the most ghoulish way possible.

Man, I've got to stop before this turns into a thesis. I'll just say that mortal vengeance is often seen as the only way of rectifying the most unnatural crimes - but responses to unnatural horror themselves tend to be unnatural and horrific, which is why the Furies (and their many mortal instruments) are inherently problematic. When you consider the association between vengeance and incest that runs through Oldboy, you can see that isn't just a Western concern...
posted by Iridic at 12:42 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sorry if this is super obvious, but if "Shakespearean drama" includes Ren drama in general, then you might check out the whole subgenre of revenge tragedy (of which TA is a particularly wacky example). Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy and Middleton's Revenger's Tragedy both have characters named "Revenge"-- might be a good place to start.
posted by Bardolph at 6:05 PM on July 10, 2008

« Older How do I move back to New Orleans?   |   Upside-down car loan. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.