Crime and Vengeance

Psychological and behavioral responses to inexplicable or stressful situations vary from person to person. The traditionalist society taught females to tolerate difficult life situations and endure them silently, whereas males were encouraged to actively respond to and deal with them. In the classical literature, male protagonists are normally depicted as successful heroes, even though many of them commit murders and are heavily bent on revenge.

The present paper argues that in film “Chicago”, a feminist perspective on crime and behavior in stressogenous atmosphere is depicted, so the production is itself a response to androcentrism of “Othello” and similar works and seems a means of deconstructing the socially approved pattern of male domination. First of all, the major events of Chicago should be outlined.

The main characters named Roxie and Velma are both murderesses, the former kills her lover, as she learns that he is unwilling to help her become a celebrity, whereas the latter slaughters her husband and sister having found out they are having an affair. At the first sight, Velma’s actions look like a mirror reflection of Othello, as both characters actually take the lives of their nearest and dearest, out of anger, jealousy and frustration. Later Othello discovers that he was misinformed about Desdemona’s infidelity and commits suicide, feeling deeply ashamed and guilty.

Velma and, more importantly, Roxie, who murders her lover out of blind anger, do not seem to reproach themselves and the life seems to continue for them in jail: “Chicago is, after all, all about the showmanship of its music and performers, with the cynical plot about upstart wannabe Roxie and veteran vaudevillian Velma fighting for the spotlight, for stardom, and for freedom with the help of oil slick Billy most definitely a secondary concern” (Dequina, 2002, p. 6).

Othello realizes he is not able to live any longer with the knowledge of his blame for the innocent life, whereas the two women from “Chicago” are more emotionally flexible and soon reconcile themselves to the fact of committing manslaughter. The difference in response is to great extent attributed to the fact that honor and dignity, basically masculine constructs, are particularly important to Othello’s and (men’s in general) moral system, whereas Velma and Roxie are less likely to rely on strong inner principles.

The lack of stable value system is associated with the fact that males since their early childhood are brought up to take responsibility, whereas females are less likely to be trained to be aware of the consequences of their actions. In addition, in Othello’s time, common and state law as well as societal norms were much more stringent and their violation brought much more serious consequences, whereas the 1920s are characterized by industrial revolution and the growing freedom of moving from one social class to another and changing perceptions of justice respectively.

Women, who recently received an extended opportunity to participate in the labor market, developed ambitions for penetrating stage and cinematography. Therefore, as Roxie’s and Velma’s independence also points to their relatively freedom from social norms and canons (Weinberg, 2005). It also needs to be noted that females are more cold-blooded in planning and executing their revenge, whereas males like Othello tend to regret about the wrongful actions they did.

Similarly, Roxie’s husband Amos, when learning about his spouse’s unfaithfulness, feels deeply offended and avenges the woman by informing the police about her crime. However, he later repents and allows Roxie to involve him into the trick with her pregnancy, undertaken for the purpose of negotiating a softer penalty. As for me, I am adherent to the values of life, health and property, so I believe I will be deeply resourceful of a crime I perpetrate in an unusual emotional state.

Moreover, I am convinced revenge bring only the illusion of satisfaction and fails to warm human heart as strongly as forgiveness does. Therefore, when feeling irritation, anger or rage, I am likely to take more control measures and calm down in order prevent myself from abusing both myself and others. Reference list Weinberg, S. (2005). Chicago – the Razzle-Dazzle edition. Retrieved November 26, 2008 from < http://www. dvdtalk. com/reviews/19471/chicago-the-razzle-dazzle-edition/> Dequina, M. (2002). Chicago. New York Times, 22 April, p. 6.