We could, of course, have a lovely intellectual argument about whether societal justice is really any different from vengeance, especially when we talk about non-rehabilitative criminal sentences, like the death penalty. But that's not where I'm going with this.
It's all about the Goddess of Vengeance, that blue-eyed troublemaking deity that's been fleshed out more and more over the past few weeks of blogging (and fits of writing), even though thanks to the overpowering popular religions we have today, she's never actually in the flesh -- only borrowing it.
For my novel, I think I'm drawing a distinction between revenge, vengeance and societal justice that is likely entirely arbitrary.
When I say revenge, I mean the revenge fantasy. If you're anything like me, this is what occasionally comes to you when you're not daydreaming about sex or food. Sometimes, I think about that really horrible thing that someone said to me at some point, and how I wish I'd had this perfect comeback then, instead of saying, "Uh." That's a revenge fantasy.
My MC, Lauren, is going to have the chance to get revenge on anyone who's mean and petty with her -- to instantly turn a tart-mouthed customer's latte to scalding in mid-sip, or to make the girl who's just said, "I don't know WHY they're together" about her and her boyfriend suddenly lose her ability to walk in high heels. And the good ol' occupying Goddess of Vengeance is all for that sort of thing. But I think Lauren has to rise above it, and accept the "Jeez, I wish I'd said..." moments just like the rest of us.
Vengeance, for my novel's own little dictionary, is avenging a deeply wrong act -- something that truly deserves punishment. Lauren suddenly has a pathway right into the suffering of every victim, and the power to lash out in all their hurt and rage. But she's also a genuinely nice person, the sort who can imagine the pain she's causing HER victims, the ones who hurt someone else in the first place. Even though they deserve it, that's a big weight to carry.
And societal justice? Well, that's when the weight of the vengeance is distributed across the backs of an entire community. It's one thing for Lauren to find herself causing serious bodily harm to a would-be rapist and mete out vengeance alone, and another thing entirely for a court system to sentence that man to prison. The Goddess of Vengeance is more efficient, but societal justice isn't any one person's terrible and serious responsibility to carry.
That distinction is the crux of Lauren's inner turmoil. That, a lot of action scenes, some Greco-Roman history, and some hot romance with her cop boyfriend should make for an entertaining novel, I hope.
1 hour ago