Justice As Mercy and Revenge: Antigone, Medea, Montecristo, Yong Pal


This paper is about personal justice understood in two of its opposite manifestations, mercy and revenge, and oriented against official and public law seen as untrustworthy. It is also about globalized archetypes and intercultural communication. The archetype chosen for mercy is Sophocle's play Antigone, and the archetype for revenge is Euripides' Medea. Some evolution will be traced from these starting points in western and eastern works based on the original Greek plays, namely by Brecht, Pasolini, Satoshi, Luo, Wang. Also focussed are a western prototype of modern vendetta, Dumas's The Count of Montecristo, and an eastern mass-produced contemporary text, South Korean soap opera Yong Pal. In all the above works, ethical dilemmas are examined related to the theme of justice through the dichotomies of the public and private spheres, family and state, revenge and forgiveness. Also analysed is how some individuals use unduly means to obtain just aims. Additionally, the paper is concerned on how literary representation encourages readers and audiences to think about what is just and unjust, thus resulting not only in cathartic liberation from pain but in committed awareness. Critics and theorists mentioned include Seneca, Hegel, Tuan, Govier. The conclusion highlights that mercy should be preferable to revenge, and reform of consciousness is desirable in order to change society and oppose injustice.

Author Information
Roberto Bertoni, Trinity College Dublin, Italy

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2016
Stream: Arts - Arts Theory and Criticism

This paper is part of the ACAH2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon