What's a good thesis statement about the cost of revenge?

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One way to write a thesis statement on revenge and the price of revenge would be to focus on a piece of literature which has revenge as one of its central themes. For example, a thesis statement could be based on the play The Visit by Friedrich Dürrenmatt and could explore to what extent Claire gets satisfying revenge and at what cost.

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George Orwell provides a good thesis statement in the title of his essay "Revenge is Sour." This, of course, is a contradiction of the proverb which says that revenge is sweet. Orwell's subject is a particularly interesting one, since he is discussing one of the greatest opportunities for revenge in human history, which he witnessed. The Allied forces had liberated the inmates of a prisoner-of-war camp in South Germany in 1945. They had precisely reversed the previous situation, putting the former prisoners, including several Jews, in command of the camp, and locking up the Nazi officers.

Orwell clearly understands that, for the Jews and other inmates who were put in charge of Nazi camps at the end of the Second World War, their dreams had quite literally come true. The men who had murdered their families and subjected them to unspeakable humiliation and pain were now entirely in their power. What he found in practice, however, is that revenge was not nearly so satisfying people think it will be when they are dreaming about it. The Nazi officers, who had seemed so formidable when they held the power, now appeared merely pathetic. Orwell describes a Jewish former inmate half-heartedly abusing one of them:

I wondered whether the Jew was getting any real kick out of this new-found power that he was exercising. I concluded that he wasn't really enjoying it, and that he was merely—like a man in a brothel, or a boy smoking his first cigar, or a tourist traipsing round a picture gallery—telling himself that he was enjoying it, and behaving as he had planned to behave in the days when he was helpless.

In the next paragraph is a statement which could well serve as a thesis statement if "revenge is sour" seems too short and imprecise:

Properly speaking, there is no such thing as revenge. Revenge is an act which you want to commit when you are powerless and because you are powerless: as soon as the sense of impotence is removed, the desire evaporates also.

The price of achieving the revenge of which you have dreamed, therefore, is realizing that there is really no such thing as revenge, and seeing all your plans and desires evaporate before your eyes.

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A good thesis statement on revenge and the price of revenge should delve into the intricate aspects of these actions. It should parse the conditions that propel people to seek vengeance and measure the consequences (the price) of their vengeful behavior. To avoid speaking in generalities, one should probably locate specific examples of revenge and its price. To do so, they can use a poem, a novel, a movie, a TV show, or so on.

For a novel that might produce an insightful thesis on revenge and its price, consider choosing a novel by one of the Brontë sisters. Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre has multiple instances of revenge. One could argue Bertha Mason gets revenge on Edward Rochester for locking her up, when she burns down his house. Alternately, one might argue that Jane gets revenge, via Bertha, on Rochester for concealing his prior marriage to Bertha.

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë, would also be a good novel to discuss in relationship to revenge. One could build a thesis around Heathcliff and discuss how the price Heathcliff pays for his revenge is a type of interminable torment.

For a TV show with ties to revenge, take a look at The Sopranos. Tony Soprano, the mob boss and antihero, regularly seeks vengeance against those who go against him. Here, one might want to talk about how the price of Tony's revenge relates to his physical and mental well-being.

Finally, for a film about revenge, maybe check out the movie adaptation of Gone Girl. Discuss how Amy possibly distorted the consequences of her husband's behavior in order to justify her elaborate revenge scheme against him.

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I would recommend to perhaps base your thesis on revenge and its costs on a famous piece of literature in which revenge is a key theme.

A fitting piece to look to would be The Visit by the Swiss author and playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The entire play focuses around a woman's quest to take revenge on her past lover and her hometown, as they all treated her, Claire, horribly when she was younger.

A thesis statement based on the theme of revenge within this play could be "To what extent does Claire get satisfying revenge in the the play and at what cost?" This thesis statement would allow you to explain why Claire wants revenge in the first place and how she goes about receiving this revenge. However, you could then also further investigate if this revenge comes easy to Claire or whether she is paying a price for this revenge. Is this price really just the financial price she is paying, or is she perhaps also paying another price, for example with regard to her morals, virtues, and values? You could then conclude by trying to evaluate whether it was all worth it in the end and whether Claire really leaves a happier woman after having completed her revenge.

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This is a great question, as revenge might seem good, but in the long run it really does hurt everything and everyone. In other words, there is always collateral damage. This is why Confucius said these very wise words:

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Here is an illustration of this thesis. Arguably the best example of this point comes from the book The Count of Monte Cristo. In this book, Edmond Dantés is framed for a crime that he did not commit. For this reason he finds himself in prison. Needless to say, he escapes and begins to seek revenge. He is successful. Careful planning and an endless supply of money makes all of this possible. 

However, along the way, there are unintended consequences. Other people, innocent people, get harmed. For example, the innocent child Eduard is killed in the process. Edmond realizes this and feels contrition. 

I leave you with words from Abbé Faria: "I regret having helped you in your investigation and said what I did to you." When Dantés asks what he means, Faria replies, "Because I have insinuated a feeling into your heart that was not previously there: the desire for revenge." Abbé Faria, a religious man, knows that revenge is never the solution, not only because humans are imperfect in their justice, but also because God says that revenge is his prerogative.

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