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On Punishment and Why We Enjoy It in Fiction: Lisbeth Salander of the Millennium Trilogy and Eli in Let the Right One In as Scandinavian Avengers

Vaage, Margrethe Bruun (2019) On Punishment and Why We Enjoy It in Fiction: Lisbeth Salander of the Millennium Trilogy and Eli in Let the Right One In as Scandinavian Avengers. Poetics Today: International Journal for Theory and Analysis of Literature and Communication, 40 (3). pp. 543-557. ISSN 0333-5372. E-ISSN 1527-5507. (doi:10.1215/03335372-7558136)

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Abstract

I propose an explanation for why spectators may enjoy excessive punishment when watching fiction, even in Scandinavia where harsh punishment is roundly condemned. Excessive punishment is typically carried out by a vigilante avenger, and in fiction this character is often a fantastic character (e.g., not realistic, taking on superhuman and/or supernatural characteristics). We allow ourselves to enjoy punishment more easily when the character who punishes is clearly fictional. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Let the Right One In, fantastic elements seep into an otherwise realistic setting and allow the spectator to fully enjoy the main characters’ vigilante revenge. The theory of fictional reliefs posited here holds that this mixture of modes facilitates one of two paths to moral judgment.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1215/03335372-7558136
Uncontrolled keywords: moral psychology of fiction, revenge
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > Film
Depositing User: Margrethe Bruun Vaage
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2018 09:48 UTC
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2019 11:38 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/70038 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Vaage, Margrethe Bruun: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7608-0025
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