The desire for revenge against transgressors is an integral part of the human condition. Some deny they are subject to this urge (prevarication), some contend they have banished it from their lofty thoughts (not likely), others manage the urge (e.g. John Quincy Adams – keeping a list of those who “thwarted his progress in life”), and still others embrace the demon with an unholy passion (Josef Stalin). Historical examples of revenge are so ubiquitous, varied and terrible, recounting even an illustrative sample would take pages.
Revenge is not only a prevalent theme in literature, but a popular one. The penultimate tale of revenge, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, by Alexandre Dumas (one of my favorite books), is not only a classic, it remains incredibly popular, spawning a new film nearly every decade.
When I created the character “Morgana” in “The Return of Sir Percival”, my objective was bring to life a personality consumed with the desire for revenge, and empowered with the intellectual resources and amorality necessary to exploit this internal demon to the fullest. Throughout the novel, this antagonist designs and pursues her retributive schemes with care and patience, manipulating, exploiting and charming friends and foes alike to achieve her ends, without an iota of regret.
At the risk of raising and eyebrow or two, I must say that I do admire Morgana’s “effectiveness”. Since she is not burdened with the nuances “right” and “wrong”, the world devolves into a simple equation: Objectives versus obstacles. The former must be pursued, the latter eliminated. Many who live within this moral null-set are gratuitously cruel (Stalin), or hypocritical (Henry VIII), where Morgana is not, and a careful reader may even be able to discern vestiges of decency within this formidable woman.
I suspect if you were wrongly imprisoned in a foreign land, you might consider yourself lucky if someone like Morgana was tasked with obtaining your freedom for a very simple reason: She would secure your release, no matter how many bodies had to be buried in the pursuit of this goal.
Let me know what you think of this character if you have a minute.