1. What is it?
Revenge is the act of retribution, in which a character ‘gets back’ at someone who has harmed, hurt or acted unjustly towards him/her.
2. How is it made?
|A character suffers an act against them. The act is often unjust or cruel.||The victim feels a sense of rage or injustice. This can take over their entire life.|
|The victim has, or creates, an opportunity to inflict revenge against the perpetrators of the original act.||The revenge may be swift, slow, brutal or petty.|
|Often the revenge ends in tragedy or being worse than the original act. However, it can lead to a truce, glory, or a sense of justice.|
3. Examples in literature
The Count of Monte Cristo
Know Your Book
by Alexandre Dumas
Title: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo (*trans: The Count of Monte Cristo)
Author: Alexander Dumas (Dumas de la Davy Pailleterie) (1802-1870)
Genre: Fiction; novel; adventure
Plot: The day before his wedding, Edmond Dantès is arrested for supporting Napoleon. He is sentenced to life imprisonment on the island prison Château d’If. In solitary confinement, Dantès converses with ‘the mad monk’ Faria, who teaches him and speaks of a great treasure. Fourteen years after arriving, Dantès escapes. Nine years after that, the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo arrives in high society with money and a want for revenge on those who framed him.
Setting: Paris; Château d’If; Rome; 1815-1839
Characters: Edmond Dantès; Abbé Faria; Danglars; Mercédès; Morrel
Excerpt from Chapter 116 (translated from French):
On the fourth, he was no longer a man, but a living corpse. He had picked up every crumb that had been left from his former meals, and was beginning to eat the matting which covered the floor of his cell. Then he entreated Peppino, as he would a guardian angel, to give him food; he offered him 1,000 francs for a mouthful of bread. But Peppino did not answer. On the fifth day he dragged himself to the door of the cell.
“Are you not a Christian?” he said, falling on his knees. “Do you wish to assassinate a man who, in the eyes of heaven, is a brother? Oh, my former friends, my former friends!” he murmured, and fell with his face to the ground. Then rising in despair, he exclaimed, “The chief, the chief!”
“Here I am,” said Vampa, instantly appearing; “what do you want?”
“Take my last gold,” muttered Danglars, holding out his pocket-book, “and let me live here; I ask no more for liberty—I only ask to live!”
“Then you suffer a great deal?”
“Oh, yes, yes, cruelly!”
“Still, there have been men who suffered more than you.”
“I do not think so.”
“Yes; those who have died of hunger.”
Danglars thought of the old man whom, in his hours of delirium, he had seen groaning on his bed. He struck his forehead on the ground and groaned. “Yes,” he said, “there have been some who have suffered more than I have, but then they must have been martyrs at least.”
“Do you repent?” asked a deep, solemn voice, which caused Danglars’ hair to stand on end. His feeble eyes endeavored to distinguish objects, and behind the bandit he saw a man enveloped in a cloak, half lost in the shadow of a stone column.
“Of what must I repent?” stammered Danglars.
“Of the evil you have done,” said the voice.
“Oh, yes; oh, yes, I do indeed repent.” And he struck his breast with his emaciated fist.
“Then I forgive you,” said the man, dropping his cloak, and advancing to the light.
“The Count of Monte Cristo!” said Danglars, more pale from terror than he had been just before from hunger and misery.
“You are mistaken – I am not the Count of Monte Cristo.”
“Then who are you?”
“I am he whom you sold and dishonored—I am he whose betrothed you prostituted—I am he upon whom you trampled that you might raise yourself to fortune—I am he whose father you condemned to die of hunger—I am he whom you also condemned to starvation, and who yet forgives you, because he hopes to be forgiven—I am Edmond Dantès!”
|Skimming, Scanning and Basic Comprehension|
1. Where is this scene taking place?
2. In what physical condition is Danglars in this passage?
3. Of what crimes does Edmond Dantès accuse Danglars of committing?
4. What oxymoron is used in the first sentence? What does this oxymoron mean?
5. What meaning is behind the rhetorical questions Danglars asks Peppino?
6. What effect is achieved by first having Danglars deal with Peppino and Vampa, rather than initially introducing Edmond Dantès?
7. What phrases, actions and statements suggest that Danglars has been emotionally broken? Highlight these.
8. How does Danglars behaviour change when he is asked “Do you repent?” Why?
9. Edmond Dantès is the Count of Monte Cristo. What is his purpose in saying “I am not the Count of Monte Cristo…I am Edmond Dantès!”?
10. What suggests that Edmond Dantès knows his treatment of Danglars has been extreme?
11. How does the author increase the level of revenge? How has he made revenge the true heart of the book, rather than a single episode?
12. Do you believe Edmond Dantès’s treatment of Danglars to be justified, considering Danglars crimes?
13. What do you feel is the difference between quick brutal revenge, and slow drawn-out revenge?
14. ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’. Do you agree with this statement?
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Know Your Book
by Thomas Hardy
Title: Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented
Author: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Genre: Fiction; novel
Plot: A rumour says the poor rural Durbeyfield family is related to the rich d’Urbervilles. Eldest daughter Tess, who is in love with Angel, is sent to the d’Urbervilles to claim kinship. Here she meets Alec, a cruel man who rapes her. Although Tess marries Angel, he abandons her after learning what Alec did. Years later Alec, claiming to be reformed, takes a destitute Tess as his mistress just as Angel returns to apologise. Her happiness with Angel destroyed once more, Tess finally breaks.
Setting: Wessex, a fictional English county; 1870s
Characters: Tess Durbeyfield; Alec d’Urberville; Angel Clare;
Excerpt from Chapter 56:
“Then a man’s voice from the adjoining bedroom—
“What’s the matter?”
She did not answer, but went on, in a tone which was a soliloquy rather than an exclamation, and a dirge rather than a soliloquy. Mrs Brooks could only catch a portion:
“And then my dear, dear husband came home to me … and I did not know it! … And you had used your cruel persuasion upon me … you did not stop using it—no—you did not stop! My little sisters and brothers and my mother’s needs—they were the things you moved me by … and you said my husband would never come back—never; and you taunted me, and said what a simpleton I was to expect him! … And at last I believed you and gave way! … And then he came back! Now he is gone. Gone a second time, and I have lost him now for ever … and he will not love me the littlest bit ever any more—only hate me! … O yes, I have lost him now—again because of—you!” In writhing, with her head on the chair, she turned her face towards the door, and Mrs Brooks could see the pain upon it, and that her lips were bleeding from the clench of her teeth upon them, and that the long lashes of her closed eyes stuck in wet tags to her cheeks. She continued: “And he is dying—he looks as if he is dying! … And my sin will kill him and not kill me! … O, you have torn my life all to pieces … made me be what I prayed you in pity not to make me be again! … My own true husband will never, never—O God—I can’t bear this!—I cannot!”
There were more and sharper words from the man; then a sudden rustle; she had sprung to her feet. Mrs Brooks, thinking that the speaker was coming to rush out of the door, hastily retreated down the stairs.
She need not have done so, however, for the door of the sitting-room was not opened. But Mrs Brooks felt it unsafe to watch on the landing again, and entered her own parlour below.
She could hear nothing through the floor, although she listened intently, and thereupon went to the kitchen to finish her interrupted breakfast. Coming up presently to the front room on the ground floor she took up some sewing, waiting for her lodgers to ring that she might take away the breakfast, which she meant to do herself, to discover what was the matter if possible. Overhead, as she sat, she could now hear the floorboards slightly creak, as if some one were walking about, and presently the movement was explained by the rustle of garments against the banisters, the opening and the closing of the front door, and the form of Tess passing to the gate on her way into the street. She was fully dressed now in the walking costume of a well-to-do young lady in which she had arrived, with the sole addition that over her hat and black feathers a veil was drawn.
Mrs Brooks had not been able to catch any word of farewell, temporary or otherwise, between her tenants at the door above. They might have quarrelled, or Mr d’Urberville might still be asleep, for he was not an early riser.
She went into the back room which was more especially her own apartment, and continued her sewing there. The lady lodger did not return, nor did the gentleman ring his bell. Mrs Brooks pondered on the delay, and on what probable relation the visitor who had called so early bore to the couple upstairs. In reflecting she leant back in her chair.
As she did so her eyes glanced casually over the ceiling till they were arrested by a spot in the middle of its white surface which she had never noticed there before. It was about the size of a wafer when she first observed it, but it speedily grew as large as the palm of her hand, and then she could perceive that it was red. The oblong white ceiling, with this scarlet blot in the midst, had the appearance of a gigantic ace of hearts.
|1. What happens in this scene?|
a) A secret is revealed
b) A declaration of love
c) A murder
d) An abandonment
e) A reunion
|2. Mrs Brooks might be described as|
|3. Tess blames Alec (‘Mr d’Urberville’) for ruining her marriage by|
a) spreading rumours about her that led to her husband leaving
b) persuading her to start a relationship with him on the premise her husband was gone
c) learning her secret and using it for blackmail
d) investigating the legality of the marriage and having it cancelled
e) making her fall in love with him and then boasting to her husband
|4. ‘She was fully dressed now in the walking costume of a well-to-do young lady in which she had arrived, with the sole addition that over her hat and black feathers a veil was drawn.’ The presence of the veil is an example of|
|5. The revenge given out by Tess differs from that done by Edmond Dantès in that it|
a) relates to a spouse
b) that a third-party becomes aware of it
c) that law enforcement does not try to stop it
d) the speed in which it is administered
e) its use of poison