‘I’VE SHOT THE MAN THAT SHOT BILL BROWN’: SOME OBSERVATIONS ON BALLADS AND REVENGE Cover Image
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‘I’VE SHOT THE MAN THAT SHOT BILL BROWN’: SOME OBSERVATIONS ON BALLADS AND REVENGE
‘I’VE SHOT THE MAN THAT SHOT BILL BROWN’: SOME OBSERVATIONS ON BALLADS AND REVENGE

Author(s): David ATKINSON
Subject(s): Customs / Folklore, Music, Ethics / Practical Philosophy
Published by: Akadémiai Kiadó
Keywords: ballads; murder; revenge; poaching; morality;

Summary/Abstract: There is considerable moral ambivalence in the representation of revenge in anglophone ballads (compared, perhaps, with folktales). A ballad like ‘Lamkin’ internalises the notion of personal injury as crime. In contrast, the poaching ballad ‘The Death of Poor Bill Brown’ depicts revenge without legal consequences, giving a sense of moral clarity which is nonetheless deceptive when set against its social background. ‘The Gallant Poacher’, on the other hand, employs a kind of popular theology to replace the impulse to revenge. Ballads like these do not teach morality, but rather invite the exploration and negotiation of ethical ideas like revenge and justice.

  • Issue Year: 47/2002
  • Issue No: 1-2
  • Page Range: 61-68
  • Page Count: 8
  • Language: English