Thursday, July 6, 2017

Karmic Retribution Through History: From Shakespeare’s MEASURE FOR MEASURE to FATE FILES

By Natalie Lifson

       Have you ever been wronged by someone so greatly that you hope they suffer eternally? That they themselves will hurt as much as they've hurt you? That desire for revenge in the face of helplessness is a very human, universal concept. In many prominent religions and cultures, it is a core belief that those who have committed evils will suffer for them in death even if they did not suffer for them in life. In fact, this was the reason Christianity was so attractive to early pagan converts; common people and serfs felt powerless against those who cruelly lorded over them and taxed them so heavily. The idea that those who wronged them would not get away with it despite a system that was rigged in the favor of their oppressors offered people solace in the times of strife that were the Dark Ages.

        Even today as our world gets less and less religious, the idea that those who commit awful acts will get what’s coming to them is a popular one. Most famously is the term “karma," the Buddhist principle of the sum of a person’s existences that determine what their next reincarnation will be. However, in the Western world karma is popularly used to describe the phenomenon of the universe’s natural inclination to punish evil and reward good.

       Karma is also a common theme in popular culture, even dating back to the 17th century. In Measure For Measure by Shakespeare, Angelo, the deputy to the Duke, abuses his power for his own benefit. A young nun in training, Isabella, approaches