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Disproportionate Retribution / Theatre

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  • Threatened in As You Like It, when Touchstone finds out that someone else (a simple, non-threatening peasant) likes Audrey:
    "...abandon the society of this female, or, clown, thou perishest; or, to thy better understanding, diest; or, to wit I kill thee, make thee away, translate thy life into death, thy liberty into bondage: I will deal in poison with thee, or in bastinado, or in steel; I will bandy with thee in faction; I will o'errun thee with policy; I will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways: therefore tremble and depart!"
  • From Chicago:
    Liz: So, I said to him, I said, "You pop that gum one more time..." And he did. So I took the shotgun off the wall and I fired two warning shots...into his head!
    • Really, almost every woman's justification in "The Cell Block Tango" is an example of it. Person being the slightest bit of an asshole and/or cheating on you? Murder him. (The one possible exception- among the actual murderers, anyway- is June, whose husband relentlessly accused her of "screwin' the milkman". Even if she was [and there's nothing to indicate things one way or another], his reaction sounds downright abusive in its own right. Stabbing him to death may well have been a release from dealing with Wilbur's crap for years.)
  • Invoked in The Children's Hour. Enfant Terrible Mary blackmails Rosalie by saying she'll reveal that she stole a classmate's bracelet and that the police will put her in jail for decades for stealing.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: This play deconstructs this trope by showing us the kind of personality and mindset of the people that use it:
  • In "Lonesome West" by Martin McDonagh, it is revealed that the father of the two main characters mocked Coleman's haircut. In response Coleman grabbed the shotgun and shot his father in the head.
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  • In Macbeth, one of the witches causes a sailor to be shipwrecked tossed about in a horrible storm... because his wife wouldn't give the witch a roasted chestnut. (The text explicitly says that the boat won't sink, possibly due to some kind of limitation on the witches' powers, but the sailor will have a thoroughly miserable time of it.)
  • The Mikado: most sentences for committing crimes tend toward the Cool and Unusual Punishment variety, and a lot of them are pretty excessive (Snake Oil Salesmen get all their teeth extracted by amateur dentists). Also, flirting is punishable by death, for some reason.
  • Iago seeks to destroy his superior, the Moorish general Othello, both personally and professionally by convincing him that his loving wife is actually unfaithful. Iago can't decide on why he's getting revenge, since he offers up several conflicting rationalizations. Ultimately, Iago destroys Othello simply because he doesn't like him.. He ruins Cassio's reputation and tried to have him assassinated, mentally destroys Othello and causes him to murder his wife, then kill himself. Because he was passed over for a promotion.
  • The title character in The Phantom of the Opera murders stagehand Joseph Buquet when the opera managers refuse to give his beloved Christine the lead role in the opera, despite the fact that they stopped the show and made a point of announcing that the pause was so that Christine could step into the part. Later, incensed at Christine's betrayal (with absolutely zero thought to the fact that his behavior has terrified her), he drops a massive chandelier into the audience, where it would have likely injured or killed numerous people, including Christine.
  • One could argue that both Shylock's "pound of flesh" contract and the punishments inflicted upon him at the end of the play are both examples of this trope.
  • Basically the entire play of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Let's see if I can get this in order:
    • Titus has come back to Rome victorious from war with the Goths. He ritually sacrifices the eldest son of their queen, Tamora.
    • Titus randomly shanks one of his sons for questioning him.
    • Tamora has Bassianus (brother to the emperor and the future husband of Titus's daughter, Lavinia) buried alive, framing two of Titus's sons.
    • Aaron the Moor has Titus's daughter (who's really done nothing) Lavinia raped and mutilated (so she can't tell who did it) by Chiron and Demetrius (sons of his lover the empress Tamora), because Titus had their elder brother killed.
    • And then Titus finds out, kills the two brothers and makes them into a pie and serves it to the empress, Tamora (their mother). This play is just totally messed up.

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