The Philosophy Post #4: Maleficent’s Revenge

Last week I went to see Angelina Jolie as a
super sassy (yet still really creepy) villain in the new Disney movie,
Maleficent. I have literally been waiting months for this to come out and it
definitely did not disappoint.

The film focuses on the Sleeping Beauty
story from Maleficent’s perspective and gets right into the heart of why she
cast the curse on cute little Aurora. I’m going to try not to give away too
many spoilers so I won’t tell you everything, but what I will tell you is she cast the curse as an act of revenge (ooooh mysterious!), which leads me nicely into
today’s little taster of philosophy discussing whether or not Revenge can ever be

As is always the case with philosophy there
is a whole lot of people with a whole lot of opinions, so I am just going to
focus on the view of good old Nietzsche.

He thinks that there are two types of

1) Revenge to prevent further harm
to oneself

This is basically when
your act of revenge is carried out to try and prevent yourself being subject to more harm in the future.  For example,
someone hits you in the face and you hit them back to try and stop them from
giving you a few more whacks.

2) Revenge to restore your own

In this type of revenge
the phantom head hitter would have given you just one whack and then walked
away. And even though you were in no further danger, you still decided to chase
them and give them their just deserts because no one messes with you.

So for Nietzsche, the first type of revenge is justified and the
second isn’t. But what does this mean for Maleficent?

Well the curse she cast over Sleeping Beauty wasn’t really in self
defence and was definitely more of a ‘I’m gonna show King Stefan not to mess
with Maleficent again’ moment – so in that instance, I don’t think we can say
she was justified.


Things get a little more interesting at the end of the film where Maleficent
and King Stefan meet again. This time it seems like Stefan is out for blood so
if Maleficent doesn’t commit an act of revenge to defend herself, she will definitely
be vulnerable to more harm. So what does she do?!

I CAN’T TELL YOU. Because you have to watch it.

As a bit of a disclosure, I have to say I am not sure that I really
agree with Nietzsche’s view on revenge. Number 1) seems a bit more like self
defence to me, and also, it seems like their should be some limit on what
kind of revenge would be justified for certain actions. For example if someone
steals your Haribo it doesn’t really seem justified to kick them in the shins
(even if you are protecting your last fizzy cherry). But maybe those are things for another day…now go and book your cinema tickets!

What’s your thoughts on revenge?

Charlotte x