Parables of Revenge and Masculinity in <i>Mystic River</i>

Roger Berkowitz and Drucilla Cornell

in Clint Eastwood and Issues of American Masculinity

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230129
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235124 | DOI:
Parables of Revenge and Masculinity in               Mystic River

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This chapter reads Clint Eastwood's Mystic River (2003) as an insightful exploration of the seductions and dangers of revenge and the relation of vengeance to violence and masculinity. What revenge offers in response to trauma and loss is the fantasy of control. The “value of vindictiveness,” is that revenge offers a “safety-valve” that protects a victim against the self-destructive impulses that accompany the act of being injured or insulted. Confronted by a traumatic injury, all people feel a “natural propensity” to hit back that has its reason in the impulse to defend one's ideal image of oneself; failure to respond to an injury threatens to show the injured party as either physically or psychologically incapable, which can lead to feelings of self-hatred so extreme that they “constitute a real danger for the individual.” By externalizing harm as a result not of one's own weakness but of another's wrong, the avenging victim both restores his injured pride and steels himself from self-blame and self-destruction.

Keywords: Clint Eastwood; masculinity; vengeance; Mystic River

Chapter.  8202 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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