(WARNING: Game of Thrones Spoilers)

 

When you get angry with someone, how long do you hold that anger inside of you? How long does it fester like an infection, bubbling with heat and bursting at random moments? People seldom find themselves in such a spot, but there are a few select individuals that hold on to their fury like a starving man does a piece of bread. Most stories will dramatize how a man seeks his vengeance, but where do the storytellers get their ideas?

My name is Derek Williams and I love doing character studies. My first post here, and on my blog (dragonsmount.wordpress.com) was a comparison between Commander Shepard from Mass Effect and Noah from the Bible. The story of a man fighting against the odds, even from his own people, to save the world (or galaxy) could open a door for many ideas. However, I am going to focus on two individuals and the similarities they share: Inigo Montoya and Oberyn Martell. (Note: There are a lot of comparison blogs about these two men. Continue reading and you’ll realize why this post isn’t really about how their characters are alike.)

The fact that they both have somewhat Spanish descent (Dorne bears a cross between Spanish and Middle Eastern influence) is not the determining factor of what makes the two of them a couple of peas in a pod. It is their mantra, the defining statement revolving around their identity. This ethos shaped them into who they were, consuming who they once were into an avenger.

For Inigo Montoya, it was the six-fingered man. “I was eleven years old. And when I was strong enough, I dedicated my life to the study of fencing. So the next time we meet, I will not fail. I will go up to the six-fingered man and say, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

For Oberyn Martell, it was the Mountain. “I am the brother of Elia Martell. Do you know why I came all the way to this stinking, shit-pile of a city? For you. I’m to hear you confess before you die. You raped my sister. You murdered her. You killed her children. Say it now and we can end this quick!”

Both of these men had a moment when their lives were changed. On the parchment of their lives, blood overwrote the ink left there. And from that event, the brutal death of a loved one, their lives were consumed with the thought of justice, of revenge. And when that kind of seed is allowed to take root, there is no way to pull it out unless the demand of blood has been paid.

Inigo spent twenty years devoting himself to the practice of fencing just so that he could kill the six-fingered man. All of the decisions he made in his life revolved around that single statement: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” For twenty years that mantra kept him fed, clothed, and drunk for the most part. V from V For Vendetta encapsulated that feeling:

“That’s it! See, at first I thought it was hate, too. Hate was all I knew, it built my world, it imprisoned me, taught me how to eat, how to drink, how to breathe. I thought I’d die with all my hate in my veins.”

He goes on to telling Evey the process she was currently going through, but the core message remains. Hate consumed everything he was and he formed his identity around it, just as Inigo did concerning the death of his father.

Oberyn, too, fell into this pit of hate. He did not claw his way out of it, he built a home inside of it. For sixteen years, from the end of Robert’s Rebellion to the day he confronted the Mountain in behalf of Tyrion of Lannister, Oberyn devoured the hate he stored for the Mountain. His avarice turned him to many pleasures of the flesh, the same way Inigo turned to alcohol and who knows what else to quench the lingering sorrow he felt.

Both of their lives revolved around that single moment of conquering their mortal enemy. And when they both came face to face with the object of their scorn, all they could repeat was the mantra they stored in their hearts.

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.

The mournful tune is laced with malice as they engage their foe. The words continue to pour out of them just as blood does. They can think of nothing else but ensuring that their enemy knows what they have done and that they will perish for it. One succeeds, the other does not; revenge does not always work out for those who pursue it with desperation.

Inigo, riddled with holes, manages to leave Count Rugen skewered and dead. He reflects at the end, talking to Wesley about the outcome. “It’s very strange. I have been in the revenge business for so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.” The foundation of his life had been removed. Naturally, all that remains is a void. Wesley offers something to fill that void, one that utilizes the talents he spent twenty-years polishing.

Oberyn, on the other hand, did not receive such kindness. Despite his great efforts to overcome the mountain, his lust for justice and the sole confession of his enemy’s brutality was too much to overcome. His weakness became bear and Ser Gregor Clegane took advantage of it. I will not go into much detail, but Oberyn did get his confession. Whether he heard it over his own cries of pain is another thing. In the end, his hate consumed everything that was left: his life.

So what do we do in a situation like this? How do we let go of the grudges in our life to prevent them from consuming everything around us, leaving nothing but empty shells or dead men?

As a Christian, I have a firm belief on how to handle justice and vengeance. Though it’s not the one I want to have. I too have a desire to see that those who wronged me are made right personally. But in Deuteronomy 32:35 it says, “Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.”

Romans 12:19, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Ultimately, though, the reason why I should never try to deliver justice or vengeance on my own is this:

Matthew 5:38-39, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

The rope I walk is narrow indeed, but it is not the same rope everyone walks. In those cases, it is important to realize that someone may desire a different approach. To that, I say, learn from the stories. Learn from those who come before you. Revenge is a mirror; you stab at your enemy only to stab at yourself. It is a poison you drink to watch the other person die.

Drop your mantras and forgo your quests; one way or another, those who have wronged you will come to justice.