Love story superplot no. 9:
Revenge after separation
“I know I get a little crazy now and then. But it’s only because I love you so much!”Jenny to Matt – in: My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)
Short info: Revenge after separation
|One of the lovers has broken up or wants to do so, the spurned partner is seeking revenge and wants to do harm|
What is the superplot “Revenge after separation” about?
Married couples or a couple of friends are living more and more apart and begin to hate each other. One of the partners is so filled with hate that he wants to harm the other. The plot “Revenge” is always about people with a hurt self-esteem. One person feels degraded and humiliated by a separation. The motive of revenge is spurned love and deepest inner hurt. With the consequence that one wants to take revenge on the other.
What are the figure targets?
A relationship is about to end or has already ended. One partner wants to free himself, the other prevents this and/or takes revenge. It is often the case that one partner has to escape from the other, who is looking for revenge because of the separation.
Historical development of the plot
Stories about “revenge after separation” are about a subtle fight. The special thing about this theme is the secrecy with which a revenger proceeds. In contrast, the “separation duel”, which is presented in the next chapter, takes place more openly and in a balance of power.
Probably the most famous story about “revenge after a separation” was written by Euripides (480 BC – 406 BC) with the drama “Medea” (431 BC). The focus is on Jason and Medea, who come from two different cultures.
When the action begins, Jason has already separated from Medea. He wants to marry a king’s daughter and expects advantages. Medea, who has risked her life for Jason in the past, feels deeply hurt and makes plans for revenge.
Suddenly she has an idea: Medea gives her ex-husband and his new wife a few presents, including a dress that she has soaked in poison. With that she kills first the new wife of Jason. Then Medea sets about killing their sons, on the one hand to escape the Corinthians’ revenge and on the other hand to punish Jason with it. Medea flees on a dragon chariot sent to her by the sun god Helios.
In the saga about Medea, the main character goes to extremes when she learns that her husband wants to leave her. Other revenge stories in world literature are mostly about revenge after the death of a family member, the so-called blood revenge. The theme of revenge for a love that has been spurned appears far less frequently in literature.
In films there are not only female characters who take revenge on their husbands out of spurned love (“My Super Ex-Girlfriend” (2006), “Gone Girl” (2014), “The First Wives Club” (1996)). There are also men who take revenge on their wives. These men feel humiliated by a separation and deeply hurt in their ego (“Enough” (2002), “Sleeping with the Enemy” (1991)).
There is always a subtle fight, which often ends in a bloody fight. The latest example for an interesting revenge story is the movie “Gone Girl”, in which a rejected wife takes revenge on her husband by faking her death and blames it on her still-husband. By doing so she forces his love.
Film samples are …
Enough (2002) with Jennifer Lopez
Gone Girl (2014) with Ben Affleck
Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) with Julia Roberts
The First Wives Club (1996) with Bette Midler
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) with Uma Thurman