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Revenge and its impact on the avenger

What is revenge? What does it do to the avenger? To the villain? To the victim?
• What is the relationship between revenge and justice?
• In which ways does Hamlet fit, and/or stray from, the conventions of revenge tragedy?
• Is the play supportive or critical of revenge, or both?
• How does the act of or desire for revenge affect issues such as: gender, self identity or
mental state, family or romantic relationships, and national identity?

Revenge is described as the action of spending a damaging measures against a person or group of people in reaction to some grievance, whether it be actual[1] or perceived.[2] Francis Bacon detailed vengeance being a type of “wilderness proper rights” that “does… upset the law [and] putteth what the law states from business office.”[3] Primitive justice or retributive justice is normally differentiated from more conventional and refined forms of justice like distributive justice and divine opinion. Ian Mckee claims that the desire for the sustenance of energy motivates vengeful habits as a method of effect supervision: “Those who are much more vengeful are typically those people who are decided by vitality, by influence and also the travel for position. They don’t want to lose face”.[5][6]

vengeful behavior has been found across a majority of human societies.[7] Some societies encourage vengeful behavior, which is called a feud.[8] These societies usually regard the honor of individuals and groups as of central importance. Thus, while protecting of his reputation an avenger feels as if he restores the previous state of dignity and justice. According to Michael Ignatieff, “Revenge is a profound moral desire to keep faith with the dead, to honor their memory by taking up their cause where they left off”. Thus, honor may become a heritage that passes from generation to generation. Whenever it is compromised, the affected family or community members might feel compelled to retaliate against an offender to restore the initial “balance of honor” that preceded the perceived injury. This cycle of honor might expand by bringing the family members and then the entire community of the new victim into the brand-new cycle of revenge that may pervade generations.[10]
Philosophers tend to believe that to punish and to take revenge are vastly different activities:[15] “…One who undertakes to punish rationally does not do so for the sake of the wrongdoing, which is now in the past – but for the sake of the future, that the wrongdoing shall not be repeated, either by him, or by others who see him, or by others who see him punished”.[16] Whereas, to seek revenge is motivated by a yearning to see a transgressor suffer; revenge is necessarily preceded by anger, whereas punishment doesn’t have to be.[17

Indeed, Kaiser, Vick, & Major (2004), point out: “An important psychological implication of the various efforts to define revenge is that there is no objective standard for declaring an act to be motivated by revenge or not. Revenge is a label that is ascribed based on perceivers’ attributions for the act. Revenge is an inference, regardless of whether the individuals making the inference are the harmdoers themselves, the injured parties, or outsiders. Because revenge is an inference, various individuals can disagree on whether the same action is revenge or not.” [17]

Belief in a just-world hypothesis is also associated with revenge: in particular, having strong experiences or challenges against beliefs in a just-world, can increase distress and motivate individuals to seek revenge, as a means of justice restoration. [18]

A growing body of research reveals that a vengeful disposition is related to adverse health outcomes: strong desires for revenge and greater willingness to act on these desires have been associated with post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and psychiatric morbidity.