The Philosophy Post #4: Maleficent's Revenge

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Last week I went to see Angelina Jolie as a super sassy (yet still really creepy) villain in the new Disney movie, Maleficent. I have literally been waiting months for this to come out and it definitely did not disappoint.

The film focuses on the Sleeping Beauty story from Maleficent’s perspective and gets right into the heart of why she cast the curse on cute little Aurora. I’m going to try not to give away too many spoilers so I won’t tell you everything, but what I will tell you is she cast the curse as an act of revenge (ooooh mysterious!), which leads me nicely into today’s little taster of philosophy discussing whether or not Revenge can ever be justified.

As is always the case with philosophy there is a whole lot of people with a whole lot of opinions, so I am just going to focus on the view of good old Nietzsche.

He thinks that there are two types of revenge

1) Revenge to prevent further harm to oneself
This is basically when your act of revenge is carried out to try and prevent yourself being subject to more harm in the future.  For example, someone hits you in the face and you hit them back to try and stop them from giving you a few more whacks.

2) Revenge to restore your own pride
In this type of revenge the phantom head hitter would have given you just one whack and then walked away. And even though you were in no further danger, you still decided to chase them and give them their just deserts because no one messes with you.

So for Nietzsche, the first type of revenge is justified and the second isn’t. But what does this mean for Maleficent?

Well the curse she cast over Sleeping Beauty wasn’t really in self defence and was definitely more of a ‘I’m gonna show King Stefan not to mess with Maleficent again’ moment – so in that instance, I don’t think we can say she was justified.

BUT

Things get a little more interesting at the end of the film where Maleficent and King Stefan meet again. This time it seems like Stefan is out for blood so if Maleficent doesn’t commit an act of revenge to defend herself, she will definitely be vulnerable to more harm. So what does she do?!

I CAN’T TELL YOU. Because you have to watch it.

As a bit of a disclosure, I have to say I am not sure that I really agree with Nietzsche’s view on revenge. Number 1) seems a bit more like self defence to me, and also, it seems like their should be some limit on what kind of revenge would be justified for certain actions. For example if someone steals your Haribo it doesn’t really seem justified to kick them in the shins (even if you are protecting your last fizzy cherry). But maybe those are things for another day...now go and book your cinema tickets!

What’s your thoughts on revenge?


Charlotte x
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