Think of all the books, films, TV shows and stories based around revenge and then think about the ending and how it all turned out. Not well, would be the answer in 99% of cases.
Take, for example, one of the most famous revenge stories of all time, The Count of Monte Cristo. The trail of devastation that follows in Edmund Dantès’ wake, as he takes revenge on the people responsible for his years of false imprisonment, is mind blowing.
There is a four series TV drama called Revenge, starring Emily Van Camp and Madeleine Stowe, which follows one girl’s mission to avenge the false accusations, imprisonment and eventual death of her father. The heartbreak and body count which follow are catastrophic and, to cap it all, her father turns out to be alive!
In my own novel, Bonds, Antony seeks vengeance against his adulterous wife and inadvertently makes a deal with a warlock for such a chance. The warlock places a curse on him, which turns him into a vampire, the only cure being to break the curse. Again, the body count and wrecking of innocent lives is devastating.
But why? Why is it that getting revenge on those who have wronged us, ends up causing so much more pain?
I would tender that it is all down to emotion. The mere desire to seek revenge is driven by hurt, but mostly by the emotions that hurt can turn into – anger and hatred.
Hatred and anger, at their darkest, are known as wrath.
Wrath, or irascibility as it is type cast, is the next of the deadly sins, and is defined as uncontrolled feelings of anger, rage and hatred.
Wrath, as discussed, reveals itself in the wish to seek vengeance.
At its worst, wrath can provoke injury, violence or hate which could go on for centuries. Think about the very real feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, a rift between two Southern families in the mid to late 1800s in America, a rift that still raged on until recently when I truce was signed by circa 60 members of the families. This illustrates perfectly the impact of wrath.
Hatfields and McCoys hated each other and were forbidden from mixing. Despite this, Johnse Hatfield fell in love with Roseanna McCoy and asked for her hand in marriage. So deep was the hatred between the families that Randall McCoy disowned his daughter and Anderson Hatfield gave his son a choice – to stay with his family or leave with Roseanna and never come back. Johnse chose to stay, abandoning Roseanna to a life alone, carrying a child he wasn’t aware of.
Whilst wrath shows itself in the most obvious ways of hatred and anger, it also shows in less apparent ways. Impatience, misanthropy and self-destructive behaviour, are all signs of wrath.
So, step back and look at yourself once more, dear reader, and think about the times you’ve been displeased at waiting, at the times you’ve disliked your fellow man and even at those drunken nights you like so much. These are all evidence that you are guilty of the sin of wrath.
Has your irascible nature earned you a nickname, one you may actually have been proud of at one time? Mine did……Taz. Yes, I too am guilty of the sin of wrath, as I would imagine we all are.
You may very well be arguing that wrath is often justified and I would tend to agree, to a certain extent. I mean, how much more justified could Mills have been, in this iconic scene from Se7en?
But, dear reader, before you pat yourself on the back and dismiss this sin, think back to the beginning of this blog and the effect that wrath will have. For, it isn’t only the object of your wrath who will suffer, but many innocent souls will also be destroyed in the fallout.
May fear protect you when the darkness comes.
Til next time.