“Revenge, at First Though Sweet, / Bitter Ere Long Back on Itself Recoils”: Patriarchy and Revenge in Unforgiven and True Grit
The chapter examines the dependence of female characters on males to achieve revenge in two recent Western films: Delilah, the mutilated prostitute in Unforgiven, and Mattie, the teenage daughter of a murdered man in True Grit. Both films portray the patriarchal social order’s unwillingness to provide justice for the wrongs suffered by the two women. This forces the prostitutes of Big Whiskey and Mattie into mercenary economic arrangements with males in order to achieve their revenge. In addition, revenge in both films is negotiated through a biblical subtext, which ultimately reveals the significant cost of revenge on the revengers: William Munny and Mattie.
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