Monday, September 26, 2011

"'It's very important to take revenge. In the right way, of course. It doesn't mean you have to hurt anyone. But you act in a way that lets you keep your self-respect.'"

-Maxine Swann. The Foreigners.

As I mentioned previously, I recently finished reading Maxine Swann's The Foreigners. It's a beautiful book, and deals with different cultures and self-identity. This quote, in particular, jumped out at me as I was reading.

What I like about this quote is that it sums up why people like the idea of revenge. Revenge, often petty, is the subject of movies and TV shows, and we've all fantasized about it. There is a reason - it is about self-respect. It is about letting someone else know that they are not allowed to walk all over you. This is why scenes such as Veronica's smug look at the end of the pilot for Veronica Mars are so satisfying - they uphold the idea that revenge is possible, and that it feels great.

Not quite the smug look to which I was referring, but she definitely looks like she's enjoying her revenge.

Moreover, this quote brings up another aspect of "revenge" - that it must be done in "the right way." That it doesn't necessarily mean that you hurt anyone else, because revenge is more for yourself. I really liked this qualification. It's true - revenge is for you, which is why it can result in pettiness and get out of control. So it is important to limit yourself - to allow yourself to keep your self-respect, and feel better, but not to lose control of the situation or yourself in the process. This is why it is okay to verbally cut someone off who is being a complete asshole, but it is not okay to, say, shoot someone in the head for failing to say "Bless you." (I might have watched "Dogma" last night.)

I don't know that I'm advocating vengeance - I just like the manner in which this quote succinctly sums up what revenge should be, and why it is so appealing.

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