Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gendered Violence in Revenge

            Now that spring break has begun, so have my long hours of couch potatoing and catching up on all my favorite TV shows. One of these shows I’ve recently become engrossed with is Revenge. The protagonist of this show, Emily Thorne, is a young woman who has just moved into the Hamptons. She seemingly blends in well with her wealthy neighbors, but she is not all that she says she is. Her name is actually Amanda Clarke and she used to live in that same neighborhood until her father was framed for a crime by neighbors he trusted, and sentenced for life. Emily, after discovering the truth, has sworn to find revenge for her father by secretly taking down each of the individuals that had betrayed her father. She specifically targets Victoria Grayson, known as the queen of the Hamptons, who had an intimate relationship with her father but chose to betray him to keep her status and wealth.
            Revenge displays violence among women. It follows society’s expectations of how women should fight – the fighting is subdued, indirect, and often done in private. Emily Thorne does exactly this. She exposes her targets by anonymously blackmailing them or by secretly tweaking a situation to make her enemies turn against each other. Her cunning plans are well thought out and not impulsive. She refuses to do anything too outright, and instead makes all her attacks seem as if they were an accident or part of someone else’s ploy. Victoria Grayson, the main antagonist, also displays violence only behind closed doors. Instead of fighting directly, she believes that paying someone off with money can fix all problems, and if it doesn’t, she resorts to her henchman to use his connections to hush any problems. The show also follows gender based violence in that the main fight is between the heroine and villainess. Though Emily Thorne does take down male characters, they are all part of a ploy based off of Victoria’s money and promise of connections. It all comes down to fight between females.
            Emily Thorne also characterizes weaknesses stereotyped in women. Like Jean Gray from the Dark Phoenix Saga, the information she holds on the truth and her intelligence gives her a great amount of power. However, that power is compromised by strong connection to her emotions. The very nature of her plan, revenge, is based off of the strong emotions she holds against the people who betrayed her father. In addition, she finds herself in a love conflict between the son of her enemy and her childhood crush. Relationships with both these love interests cause deviations within her plans. Her relationship with Victoria’s son is meant to help her gain an advantage in her plan for revenge against his mother. However, it becomes questionable whether she is actually developing feelings for him, which would potentially overturn all of her plans.
            The way I see it, Revenge portrays a very strong female protagonist. Though her emotions may be characterized as weak and womanly, it is what keeps her human. In the show it is the sneaky and passive fighting that actually benefits her and allows her to take down every single person who betrayed her father. Emily Thorne may be plagued with society’s stereotypes of women, but it definitely works to her advantage. 

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