Theme for the day(s)
The Seven Deadly Sins – Wrath
- Summer project update
- SCWA Upcoming events and goings-on
- The 7 Deadly Sins recap
- Wrath as a character trait, motivation, and antagonizing force
This summer we’re working on serialization projects. You can review the show where we covered the benefits and opportunities of serialization here. My work is on Wattpad and it’s called The Full Moon in Neverland. It’s nine full chapters, 49 parts, and clocks in at 5 hours and1 minute read (phew!) already and about one chapter from the climax. I think it’ll end up being between 14 and 16 chapters. So a lot of work and I’m giving it away.
Rex is working with Vella and has this epic cover for his vampire novel. I know, copycat (ha). So he’s going to go live after he gets six chapters loaded. Vella is a service of Amazon.
Let’s get to the fun stuff. Sin. From the Wikipedia page:
The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices, or cardinal sins, is a grouping and classification of vices within Christian teachings, although they are not mentioned in the Bible. Behaviours or habits are classified under this category if they directly give rise to other immoralities. According to the standard list, they are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth, which are contrary to the seven heavenly virtues.
So the 7 Deadly Sins discussion started with “Pride” and last week we did “Greed” which is not to be confused with gluttony which is a sin in and of itself. This week is “Wrath.”
What is “wrath”?
Defined as “strong vengeful anger or indignation,” wrath is an emotion, but it’s also all of the actions a character might take either indulging that wrath or denying it, suppressing it.
Some of the tropes associated with “Wrath” include:
- Hair-Trigger Temper: when the extremeness of anger is over the ease of provoking it.
- Tranquil Fury: when the extremeness of anger is made more dangerous by calmness of mind.
- Unstoppable Rage: when the extremeness of anger is left uncontrolled, and yet serves as a source of great power.
Wrath is also used as a synonym for revenge, specifically “revenge before reason.”
Some Disney examples courtesy of this site.
- Cinderella’s stepmom — jealousy and wrath
- Snow White’s wicked stepmother — also jealousy-driven
- Ursula, the sea witch — makes those deals with the merpeople and punishes them
- Cruella DeVille — her irrational hatred of puppies
- Hades (in the Hercules movie)
- Shadowman in The Princess and the Frog — jealousy driven as well
- Edgar the butler in the Aristocats — angry the cats the would inherit the fortune
- Fallo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame — rooted in a Christian oppression common in the era
- Jafar from Aladdin — he wants to be the Sultan and tricks and punishes his boss to that end
The most obvious literary example is Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath which works the theme of man’s cruelty to his fellow man. Old as Cain and Abel, our man v. man conflict exists in loads of stories. This is an external conflict.
This link says most thrillers and mysteries have this conflict at their center. Would you agree?
Are there other genres that have this man vs. man primary conflict?
As opposed to the science fiction genre which has a man vs. tech or the naturalism literature that has the man vs. nature.
In terms of how you might apply the levels of anger, wrath, and rage:
- Anger is more useful.
- Wrath is more powerful.
- Rage is more devastating.
Discuss. Which is controlled? Which can be stoked or exacerbated?
What do we think of a character who demonstrates anger?
What about a character demonstrating wrath — revenge?
What about rage? How do we feel about those characters?
What does the horror genre do to make use of these distinctions?
What is the progression? Do we begin with rage? Or do we slowly simmer the anger into wrath and ultimately rage?
Can your characters get away with wrath?
Not if their actions break the law. Not if they get caught breaking the law.
Does a writer need to show the character getting their comeuppance?
What about failed attempts?
What about a character driven mad in failed attempts to exact revenge?
Would the madness be the punishment?
The fifth circle in Dante’s inferno is for those guilty of wrath. Here’s the link to the study.com tutorial. Don’t forget the “sullen” or the other side of the rage-filled wrath beasts. These folks are gloomy, they didn’t appreciate the beauty or wonder of God’s creation. In the fifth circle of hell, the rage-filled beasts fight one another on the surface of the river Styx and the sullen gurgle beneath the surface below it.
Okay, so how do you do it without clenched fists and red-faced cartoonishness?
Here’s an article with 37 suggestions:
- Use it as motivation — maybe the character is jealous, frustrated, embarrassed, rejected, or worried
- Use the body language — clenched jaw, shaking, dry mouth, staring, finding it difficult to hear
- Decide on a passive or aggressive perspective — passive is withdrawn, quiet, maybe sneaky; aggressive is physical, snarky, or lash out behavior
- Use anger as a plot point to move the story forward — conflict = confrontation (or even the lack thereof) Characters can also demonstrate regret and be transformed by it