I think it would be safe to say that concepts such as revenge and justice are attributes to life. I guess the question becomes — what’s the difference?

Generally, I find that justice is an establishment of equilibrium. By definition, it marks fairness, more often in a social realm. Revenge, on the other hand, is selfish in nature. It is the actual infliction of harm on another due to personal loss, suffering. It extends far beyond “taking an eye for an eye.”

I suppose the distinction becomes less clear, however, in a case like Prospero’s. Are his actions morally justified? At some point he expresses, “I will plague them all!” (4.1.115), and many other outburst and actions (including the tempest itself) illustrate his strides of vengeance. Yet after reading Act 5, I cannot help but think that he realizes the distinction and distances himself from his initial motivation, his early vision of retaliation.

What do you think? Is there a true difference between revenge and justice or is the distinction far from black and white? And how does the concept of forgiveness tie into each?