Many people would not disagree with the saying that an eye for an eye is justified, however, the distance that some people are willing to go creates a large distinction between justice and revenge. When one seeks justice against another's wrong doings, they must be careful to be rectitude in dealings with others.(Govier 2002, p.4) Or in other words, it is not justified to "step on others toes" in order to satisfy yourself or another. Revenge can often be associated with justice, however vengeance carries with it a sense of cruelty. Revenge encompasses doing whatever in your power to get back at another, which often includes manipulation and deceit. Quite frequently revenge will also embrace malicious injury, or assault in retaliation.(Woodruff 1997, p.7) The feeling of retaliation, or revenge, is something we all experience, however to let it overwhelm our every emotion, and block out your sense of reason, is to embark upon a moral downward spiral. This emotional journey is seamlessly captured in Euripides "Medea", whereby the struggle against a passionate heart and a mind riddled with despair destroy a once contempt women. Her story is timeless in demonstrating the effects revenge and cruelty can have upon a being, as the drama reveals how far a woman will go to seek revenge. By primarily using her character and proceedings as an example, this essay will examine the implications of nursing a "vengeful heart", and while doing so will also seek an explanation as to why her actions became subject to cruelty. .
There are two types of cruelty featured in Euripides" "Medea", being physical and moral. Physical cruelty is related to acts of violence, whereby the victim is often weaker than the offender. Moral cruelty humiliates and breaks our self-confidence, however if taken aboard as a lesson, these times of pain can be looked back on as "stepping stones".(Govier 2002, p.5) Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all victims and victimisers, as we look upon each other with judgment and caution.