Abstract

Everyone in the early Republic knew the name and story of Jane McCrea. She was the beautiful woman killed in her wedding dress on her wedding eve in upstate New York in late July, 1777. Of course, most of her story was fiction. There were no witnesses to her death, and the tale was quickly embellished to blast the British and serve the rebel cause. In this essay, we explore the myth of Jane McCrea in order to probe our cultural fictions about revenge-for Jane McCrea's story was first and foremost a revenge story. By observing how the narrative of revenge changed as the story evolved over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the McCrea myth suggests that revenge should be understood not primarily as a moral wrong, as an innate human depravity, or a universal, trans-historical inevitability, but instead as a historically conditioned, circulating discourse of power in modern states.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 93-112
Launched on MUSE
2009-04-09
Open Access
No
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