Revenge in Kill Bill and The Count of Monte Cristo
The two-part martial arts film Kill Bill follows the story of Beatrix Kiddo (alias The Bride) as she journeys to get revenge on a group of people who ambushed her at her wedding. One of the components of the film that adds to the overall intensity is The Bride’s thirst for revenge. The all-encompassing nature of her vengeful feelings harkens back to Alexandre Dumas’ classic revenge story The Count of Monte Cristo, in which Edmond Dantés (the titular count) seeks retributive justice against the people who ruined his life.
Beatrix Kiddo goes by the title of “The Bride” for much of the action of the film. The audience does not learn of her real name until close to the end of the movie. The fact that she is “The Bride” rather than “Beatrix” for much of the movie implies that she has reinvented herself and has fashioned a new identity. This new identity is defined by the traumatic attack from her past. Her cryptic title (now representing the fact that she is solely focused on getting revenge on her attackers) is reminiscent of the title that Dantés gives himself after he escapes from jail. Dantés calls himself The Count of Monte Cristo, and Dumas refers to him this way in the text. As with The Bride in Kill Bill, the count’s real name in The Count of Monte Cristo is not revealed until close to the end of the narrative (although the reader can guess that the count is actually Dantés). The main characters of Kill Bill and The Count of Monte Cristo effectively change who they are in order to confront the new challenges in their lives. This willingness to transform their identities represents how thoroughly altered they have become after their respective traumatic experiences. Furthermore, it demonstrates how eager and willing these characters are to seek revenge and how central revenge is to their respective life goals.
As if these changes in identity weren’t adequate indications of the characters’ intense thirst for vengeance, both The Bride and The Count of Monte Cristo make frequent vocal proclamations of their desires for justice. Furthermore, both characters express assurance that they will triumph over their enemies. In the first battle of Kill Bill, Volume One, The Bride tells Vernita (alias Copperhead) that she is certain of victory. She asks, “When do you want to die? Tomorrow? The day after tomorrow” (Tarantino)? The Bride’s unflinching belief in her eventual victory serves to illustrate how seriously driven she is by revenge. Similarly, The Count of Monte Cristo vocally expresses his eagerness to rid himself of compassion and dedicate himself totally to revenge. After helping Morrel’s family, he states, “Farewell to all the sentiments which rejoice the heart. I have played the part of Providence in recompensing the good, may the god of vengeance now permit me to punish the wicked” (Dumas 187)! The fact that he makes reference to “the god of vengeance” implies that he is divinely ordained and willed to be successful in his revenge mission (Dumas 187).
Interestingly, The Bride and The Count of Monte Cristo both are faced with difficulty when the opportunity for revenge presents itself. The Bride is initially reluctant to kill Bill when she finally arrives at his house. This is largely due to her discovery that their child is still alive. In a surprising moment of inactivity, The Bride spends a significant amount of time at Bill’s house conversing with him before killing him. The Count of Monte Cristo displays reluctance as well. This reluctance can be seen when The Count chooses not to fight Albert in a duel because it would cause Mercédes distress. These similar instances of backing off from vengeance (albeit for a short while) imply that revenge is not as easy an accomplishment as one might think.
Overall, the main characters of Kill Bill and The Count of Monte Cristo follow similar trajectories in their paths to revenge. Both works portray revenge as an idea that can totally overtake a person. Conversely, both works offer moments of humanity while on the path to revenge. So, it can be seen that these narratives represent the complexity that accompanies a quest for revenge.
Dumas, Alexandre. The Count of Monte Cristo. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2004. Print.
Tarantino, Quentin. Kill Bill, Volume One. Miramax, 2003. Film.
Tarantino, Quentin. Kill Bill, Volume Two. Miramax, 2004. Film.
(Image courtesy of http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/technology/internet/article3142256.ece)