If there is one thing that has been prevalent since human interaction began, it is the concept of revenge. Everyone has a moment in their life where someone does them wrong, and they want nothing more than to get back at the person who is responsible. While this reaction is completely normal, the results of actually acting on these feelings usually end badly for everyone involved. One of the main reasons that revenge does not typically end well is because once all is said and done, the past can not be changed.
“The Cask of Amontillado”, like many other stories, is focused on the theme of revenge, which is a feeling everyone is familiar with and is something that almost always ends badly. One of the more prominent stories about revenge comes from Edgar Allan Poe, a very well known author recognized mainly for his dark story writing. His story, “The Cask of Amontillado”, is an interesting tale about a man who feels insulted and seeks revenge.
Essentially, the main character, Montressor, feels that he has been insulted by his apparent hated enemy, Fortunato, and as a result he leaves Fortunato tied up in the Montressor family’s catacombs to die. In this story, many things are left unclear. For one thing, it is never told what exactly Fortunato did to exact this revenge. This means that his “insult” could be anything, and the punishment for his ‘crime’ in this story goes to show the length that people are willing to go to get revenge on someone who has wronged them.
One thing to note in this story is that the narrator is never caught for his crime. Although “The Cask of Amontillado” is a good story about revenge, it is not Edgar Allan Poe’s only story that relates to the subject. Another one of his stories that focuses on revenge is “Hop-Frog.” “Hop-Frog” tells the tale of a dwarf and his female companion, Trippetta, who are taken as prisoners from their homes and brought to be entertainment for a king that is very appreciative of humor. The story ends with Hop-Frog and his companion getting revenge upon the king for striking Trippetta and his mindless council by burning them alive in front of a crowd of people at a masquerade party. The main difference between this story and “The Cask of Amontillado” is that there is a lot more information to go off of. For one thing, it is made very clear why Hop-Frog wants to get revenge upon the king. One similarity between “Hop-Frog” and “The Cask of Amontillado” is that in neither story do the people achieving revenge have anything bad happen to them as a result. In both stories, it is apparent that the characters get away with their deeds. “Hop-Frog” brings a sense of joy in that Hop-Frog and Trippetta get away, but it leaves the viewer wondering if what they did was right.
Even so, wanting revenge is a natural feeling after being wronged, and there are deeper, psychological effects revolving around these feelings as well. An article by Stillwell, Baumeister, and Del Priore says that, “The discrepancies between how different people see the same event may contribute to such seemingly inequitable outcomes.” (253). What this means is that many times, people see different things when looking at the same situation, and as a result, one person can be left less satisfied with the results than the other person. For example, one person may view a prank as a minor thing and laugh it off, while the person who was pranked may view it as something that really rubbed them the wrong way and is something that they want to get back at the other person for. “When people are hurt or angered by another person they may try to restore equity to the relationship.” (Stillwell, Baumeister, and Del Priore 253). This means that when someone feels wronged, they feel like they have to make the relationship even again. Needless to say, some people will act on their feelings, and naturally some cases of revenge can go wrong. There are a bunch of cases in the news about how someone tries to take revenge upon someone else.
For the most part they end badly, which would make sense considering they ended up in the news. One case of revenge gone wrong occurred in New Port Richey, Florida when a seventeen year old turned a corner too fast and crashed into a few parked cars and a house in what was meant to be a simple attempt to throw eggs at her ex-boyfriend’s car. The end result was thousands of dollars worth of property damage and a citation for careless driving (Tampabay.com). As with this story and many others, revenge likely occurred because of a bad relationship break up. There are countless cases where someone seeks revenge on an ex-partner and ends up doing something fundamentally worse than the actual breakup. In a similar case, I interviewed a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous about a time that he seeked revenge. As with many cases of revenge, his was the result of a relationship gone bad. It was directed towards an ex-girlfriend who had recently began dating one of his close friends. After the break up, he was crushed. He took it very personally when his ex-girlfriend began dating one of his close friends. As a result, he ended up making threats against the new boyfriend and harassing his ex-girlfriend by hacking all of her social media accounts and deleting them.
The end result of his actions lead to a sit down between the group, which resulted with the possibility of harassment charges. In his case, he got lucky, but it could have ended much worse had they chosen to press charges. Since then he has made the decision that it would be best for him and for them if he just cut them out of his life for the time being, so that is what he is doing. Relationship break ups are rarely mutual, and if they are it usually does not stay that way for long, with one person ending up regretting the decision more than they thought they would. This case goes to show that acting on feelings of revenge is not good for anyone. Of course having a successful act of revenge towards someone may feel very satisfying at first, but in the long run people tend to reminisce about the initial event and it leaves them feeling just as bad as they did when it happened. Something that many people should learn is that there is no way to change the past. There will always be a void in the mind when thinking about what happened. “Revenge is a doomed attempt to eliminate shame and increase stature by asserting dominance.” (EmotionalCompetency.com). This means that when we feel like taking revenge, it is just a hole we are trying to fill with confidence to make ourselves feel better. As humans, we do not want to lose face with the people we know, so we feel obliged to take action against the wrongdoer to balance the scale.
Conversely, while many people would jump on the opportunity to get back at someone, some people are strong enough to not act on the urges of revenge. It takes a strong person to let something go, and it takes an even stronger person to completely forgive. “Forgiveness is the cancellation of deserved hostility and the substitution of friendlier attitudes.” (Hughes 113). To forgive someone should be viewed as a type of release. When a person forgives another, they are releasing all of their anger and hostility
and opening the door to a renewed friendship, or at least an agreement to not interact again. Of course, forgiving someone will not always stop them from doing something else in the future, but it is still a good method to practice for yourself. “Forgiveness has a discretionary nature, and the discretion belongs to the injured.” (Hughes 113). Many times, the best way to get back at someone is to show them that they did not have as massive an effect over you as they were hoping. While forgiving someone will not give immediate satisfaction, it is usually better for a person to let something go than to dwell on it for a long period of time. In contrast, it may be wondered whether or not retribution is always such a bad thing in certain cases. In the case of ‘Vicky’, it seems like retribution may be something that she deserves.
Ten years ago, ‘Vicky’, who was ten years old at the time, fell victim to her father, who recorded many videos of her performing sex acts with him and even made her act out scripts. Her real name as well as her father’s name was redacted from the court documents, however the case ended with her father being sentenced to fifty years in prison. Prosecutors from ‘Vicky’s’ case have said that “While she continues to try to live a normal life, ‘Vicky’ carries emotional burdens which continually get in her way.” (OpposingViewpoints.com). Needless to say, this case is an extreme one, which begs the question as to whether or not retribution is something that Vicky is right in seeking. It would seem outlandish for anyone to blame her for making the people who download the videos of her pay for her therapy. In this case, it may be best to let the victim act out what they feel, because very few people can truly understand what it is that ‘Vicky’ has been through and continues to go through everyday. Not surprisingly, the entertainment industry has quite an interest in the topic of revenge. Some of the most popular shows that air on television relate to the theme of revenge in one way or another.
In ‘Breaking Bad’, there are episodes toward the end where one character wants revenge very badly on another character, and it ends up putting him in a monumentally worse position than he was at before. There are countless other shows with similar themes. Many popular movies do this as well. The film series ‘Kill Bill’ by Quentin Tarantino pretty much revolves around that subject entirely. It can be wondered what it is that makes movies and television shows about revenge so popular with people, and the most likely answer lies in our society as a whole. A thirst for vengeance is a feeling everyone is familiar with and it is satisfying for us to watch others achieve it. Overall, revenge is a very common theme throughout the world we live in. It is something that is unlikely to change because it is just how we are wired. As humans, we can not help but get feelings of anger and retribution when we are wronged, but it should at least be known that most of the time, the actual act will only make a person feel worse than they did before in the long run. Society as a whole should be more accepting of the method of forgiveness as opposed to revenge as this is the only way to truly move on. “In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior.” (Sir Francis Bacon. EmotionalCompetency.com)
Poe, Edgar A. “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846) Web 03 Dec. 2013. This is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s Classic tales about revenge. I used this story as a starting off point for the theme of my essay, which revolves around revenge. This information is in my first body paragraph which dissects the story.
Poe, Edgar A. “Hop-Frog” (1850). Web 05 Dec. 2013 http://www.eapoe.org/works/tales/hopfrgb.htm. This is another Edgar Allan Poe story which also focuses on revenge. I used this story to show that in many stories revenge is a very common theme. This information is in my second body paragraph which dissects the story.
Stillwell, Arlene. Baumeister Roy, and Del Priore, Regan. “Basic and Applied Social Psychology” We’re all Victims Here: Toward a Psychology of Revenge. (2008) 253-263. Web 06 Dec. 2013. Academic Library- Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. This article explains the psychology revolving around revenge and does studies involving the subject. I used this article to help explain the psychology behind feelings of revenge. This information is in my third body paragraph.
Hughes, Martin. “Analysis” Forgiveness. (1975) 113-117 Web 06 Dec. 2013. Academic Library- JSTOR. In this entry, Hughes explains the concept of forgiveness and what it truly means. This information is used in the part of my essay that explains forgiveness.
Chavez, Adriana M. “Online Child Pornography Can Harm Victims for Life.” (2013) Web 06 Dec. 2013. Academic Library- Opposing Viewpoints. This article goes over the case of a girl who was sexually abused as a child and explains what she has gone through since the incident. This information is used in the paragraph that wonders if revenge is always such a bad thing in certain situations.
Sanders, Katie. “Revenge gone wrong: Teen driver crashes into New Port Richey home.” Tampa Bay Times. 05 Mar. 2010. Web 06 Dec. 2013. This article reports a case of revenge gone wrong in the form of a girl attempting to throw eggs at an ex-boyfriend’s car and causing a lot of property damage in the process. This information is used in the essay’s paragraph that explains how revenge can go wrong.
“Revenge – Getting Even” – No author listed. EmotionalCompetency.com – ND. Web 06 Dec. 2013. This web page helps further explain some of the concepts of revenge and forgiveness. This information is used in my essay’s paragraphs involving forgiveness. I also use a quote about revenge from this page.
Anonymous. Personal Interview. 05 Dec. 2013.
This is an interview i did of a friend who wanted to remain anonymous about a time he seeked revenge against an ex-girlfriend. I use this information in the area that involves revenge going wrong.