From the very minute the human race came into existence, one principle has remained largely true; revenge settles almost every issue involving hatred. All humans when attacked, physically or mentally, resort to revenge for the restoration of their pride or for other such motives. Of course this in turn provokes a need for revenge in the original attacker and hence engenders a chain of vengeance. I have noted that eventually almost everyone resorts to revenge to settle an issue. Just like Esteban Garcia who hunted for revenge on Esteban Trueba, the man who harassed Garcia's grandmother disgracefully in the novel The House of The Spirits by Isabel Allende and just as Antigone took revenge upon the King, Creon, who had accused her brother of betraying the Kingdom and thereby the King himself in the play Antigone by Sophocles. Both of these works of literature possess revenge acting as an element of closure. This essay will investigate the method of implementation of the ideology of revenge and how it acts as a bridge to closure in each of the books.
The first visible element related to revenge that is common to both works is that in both works, revenge primarily revolves around the dominant male character. Esteban Trueba is at the center of a chain of revenge related events in the book The House of The Spirits. Similarly, King Creon has a role in almost all the situations that involve revenge in the play Antigone. Revenge, acting as an element of closure has had a significant impact on each of these characters. It would appear that revenge has been portrayed as the primary factor that affects the behavior of Esteban Trueba as well as Creon and completely alters their attitude through the course of the book/play. Considering these factors, I shall use Esteban Trueba and King Creon as exemplary characters to whom most incidents involving retribution may be related to. There is more though, that both the book and play have in common: For example; the motives of the characters.
The characters of both The House of the Spirits and Antigone base their primary motives for revenge on family relations and matters. Esteban Garcia from The House of The Spirits for one, seeks to avenge his grandmother, Pancha Garcia, who was a victim of endless sexual harassment from Esteban Trueba. In the play Antigone, Antigone seeks to avenge the injustice being done to her brother, Polyneices, who had been accused of betrayal.
Through the vengeful actions of characters like Esteban Trueba and Creon to attain a sense of closure, the attitudes and characteristics of many other characters involved are affected in a manner that, indirectly or not, results in a conclusive ending to all the events involved in the novel/play. I shall illustrate my point through the usage of one of many examples from The House of The Spirits that involve the element of revenge.
The series of injustices committed by Esteban Trueba on the Garcia family attain a sense of closure when Esteban Garcia captures Alba Trueba, the granddaughter of the man who had mercilessly raped Esteban Garcia's grandmother, Pancha Garcia. Esteban Garcia uses his position in the rebel army to exact revenge on Esteban Trueba by sexually harassing Alba under the pretense of interrogation. As the narrator explains - "Alba understood that he (Esteban Garcia) was not trying to learn Miguel's true whereabouts but to avenge himself for injuries that had been inflicted on him from birth." As a result of his actions not only does Pancha Garcia smile in her grave, avenged and satisfied, but a three generation long unrest between the Garcia and the Trueba families comes to an end. Esteban Garcia also manages to alter the tenacious Esteban Trueba's attitude to one of resignation, of realization and of acceptance, thereby creating an overall, decisive sense of closure on the entire novel itself. This eventual attitude of Esteban Trueba somehow echoes Creon's eventual attitude; both he and Creon are made aware of the consequences of their actions the harsh way and finally change their outlook, probably for the better. The lines about Esteban Trueba "â€¦he died without pain or anguish, more lucid than ever and happy, conscious, and sereneâ€¦" are probably indicative of his final attitude, engendered by ninety long retribution packed years. Revenge, in this case, takes a new form to bring closure; it takes Esteban Trueba's emotions through a complete circle, leaving them at baby like innocence and clarity. Creon suffers a similar fate: one that ended with unfortunate consequences that clarified his thoughts. From Creon's words near the end of the play, "Lead me away, a rash, a misguided man, Whose blindness has killed a wife and a sonâ€¦" we may rightly presume that he regrets his previous actions. Thus, by ending the lives of everyone involved in the series of events and providing the cause with a reason to regret, revenge brings a chapter of proceedings to an end.
One more war that Esteban Garcia manages to end during the process of avenging his grandmother is the war of ideologies that raged between Clara and Esteban Trueba; with the deceased Clara being crowned as the winner. This incident of vengeance enacted by Esteban Garcia upon Alba is the one strongest representation of revenge acting as an element of closure in the novel The House of The Spirits, ending not just one particular dispute but an entire series of acts of revenge intertwined in the storyline.
In the play Antigone, the type of closure that Antigone seeks is very different from that Esteban Garcia seeks. Her motives are not fuelled by vengeance but in fact, Antigone indirectly does exact revenge upon King Creon (who issued a decree declaring that Polyneices, Antigone's brother, should not be buried because the Kingdom claimed Polyneices was a traitor) by unconsciously triggering the death of the king's son, who also happened to be her lover, which in turn caused the death of the king's wife. As Teiresias the soothsayer relates to the King - "â€¦Before you give a child of your own body To make amends for murder, death for death." Nevertheless, this indirect form of revenge also acts as an element of closure in the play, producing the same effect Alba Trueba's rape had on Esteban Trueba on King Creon. Antigone presumably did not directly take revenge upon the King for his actions against her brother owing to the large gap in their social statuses and hence power. At the end of the play, when Creon is left with no surviving family members, that power turns out to be worthless and meaningless. The power that separated the King from his followers is shown to be all but useless after Antigone's death causes a chain of suicidal events in Creon's family. This is another form through which revenge acts as an element of total closure.
In both the works of literature I have studied, most of the storyline revolves around the concept of revenge. The plot is furthered by acts of vengeance and is eventually concluded by one final act of retribution. The author Isabel Allende and the playwright Sophocles have both managed to introduce the concept of revenge into their respective works and send it through one large cycle integrated in the storyline, eventually closing their respective works where each began. In the words of Franco-German Theologian, Albert Schweitzer, "Revenge is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion".