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In this chapter, we consider how youth make sense of their own retaliatory goals and actions in the aftermath of being harmed, and we elaborate on the implications of their meaning-making for processes of moral development and behavior. We begin by describing how youths’ experiences of revenge are distinct from other forms of harmdoing, and how these unique features of revenge may inform the meanings that they construct from their retaliatory desires and actions. Next, we describe age-related changes in these constructive processes, and discuss how youths’ histories of interactions in their social milieu may undergird their constructions of meaning about revenge. We conclude by articulating implications of our analyses for intervening with children and adolescents surrounding issues of revenge.
The Merchant of Venice is a morally ambiguous and disquieting play, and the monologues by Shylock and Portia—among the most memorable and stirring in Shakespeare’s oeuvre—often leave audiences unnerved and uncertain about their allegiances. The play aptly lets us in on the many abuses and injustices that befall Shylock, and the various reasons for his distress—the widespread societal aversion for his culture, and his more personal and deeply wounding woes. Shylock was scorned, taunted, spat upon, mocked, and humiliated by Antonio and his coreligionists because he was a Jew. He was also betrayed by his own daughter Jessica, who stole his money along with a ring he had kept in remembrance of his deceased wife, and bestowed it all on her fortune-hunting Christian suitor, a friend of Antonio’s. So when Shylock delivers the rousing “Hath Not a Jew Eyes?” monologue, he commands more than our pity—we understand him: like us, when injured or wronged he feels pain and itches to strike back; he yearns for justice, aches to reclaim a sense of his own value. We may not like Shylock, but we also do not quite blame him for craving revenge.
In this integrative chapter, we summarize insights emerging from the volume as a whole with respect to the main propositions outlined in the introduction, namely, that (a) revenge is part and parcel of children’s and adolescents’ lives, manifesting various normative forms and functions, and (b) throughout childhood and adolescence, revenge can be both a consequence and a predictor of adverse psychological and social processes. In addressing the ways in which these two overarching concerns are woven throughout the chapters in this book, we summarize the contributions of individual, interpersonal, and institutional-level influences on the development of revenge. We conclude with proposed future directions and implications for intervention.
This volume brings together research on revenge across childhood and adolescence to explore how revenge is a part of normative development, but also arises from maladaptive social environments. The chapters demonstrate the ways in which revenge is intertwined with social, emotional, cognitive, and moral development as well as being informed by interpersonal experiences within familial, educational, community, and cultural social settings. The book summarizes international scholarship on revenge across early childhood to late adolescence from a wide variety of interdisciplinary perspectives to provide a comprehensive overview of the field. The authors address how individual differences in revenge emerge as an adaptation to the challenges faced when growing up in adverse social and societal conditions. They then suggest a range of avenues for effective intervention that take account of the complexity of revenge as a psychological and social phenomenon.