Comparison of David Malouf’s Ransom and Clint Eastwood’s Invictus

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Words: 1043 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 1043|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Table of contents

  1. "Ransom" and "Invictus": a Comparison
  2. The Wrath of Vengeance
    The Redemption of Forgiveness
    The Triumph of Reconciliation
    The Universal Message
  3. Conclusion
  4. References

The novels and films we engage with often mirror the complex facets of human nature, especially the themes of revenge and redemption. David Malouf's "Ransom" and Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" delve into the human psyche, shedding light on the futility of revenge and the transformative power of forgiveness. In this comparative essay, we will explore how both works portray the consequences of seeking vengeance and, more importantly, the profound impact of choosing forgiveness.

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"Ransom" and "Invictus": a Comparison

The Wrath of Vengeance

The concept of revenge, an act of causing harm or suffering in return for perceived wrongs, takes center stage in both "Ransom" and "Invictus." Malouf's novel introduces us to the Greek hero Achilles, consumed by the desire for revenge after his beloved friend Patroclus is killed. Achilles's rage spirals out of control, demonstrating how revenge can lead to a destructive cycle, as each act of vengeance only fuels his anger further. His inability to find solace through revenge highlights its futility.

Achilles, a character whose name itself has become synonymous with anger and vengeance, is emblematic of the destructive power of revenge. As Patroclus falls in battle, Achilles is consumed by a burning desire to avenge his friend's death. The intensity of his fury is palpable, and Malouf skillfully conveys this through evocative language: "He could feel his soul change color." This visceral transformation of his very being underscores the emotional turmoil that revenge inflicts upon the avenger.

Similarly, "Invictus" explores the aftermath of apartheid in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, assumes the presidency. Mandela, a former political prisoner, faces the choice of seeking revenge on those who imprisoned him or pursuing reconciliation. Eastwood's portrayal of the violent clashes between black and white South Africans underscores the destructive nature of revenge. The wounds of the past cannot heal when revenge is the guiding principle.

The Redemption of Forgiveness

While both works delve into the dangers of revenge, they also emphasize the redemptive power of forgiveness. In "Ransom," Malouf introduces the character Somax, who imparts a crucial lesson in forgiveness to King Priam. Somax shares his own tragic story, revealing his initial impulse to harm his beloved mule, Beauty, out of anger. However, he chose forgiveness instead, hugging the mule. This act of compassion allowed him to move beyond his rage, highlighting the potential for healing through forgiveness.

Somax's story serves as a poignant reminder that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness but a source of strength. His words resonate with the readers, underscoring the transformative nature of choosing forgiveness over revenge. As Somax puts it, "But what would have been the good of that?" This rhetorical question challenges the idea that revenge can ever truly satisfy one's rage. It prompts us to consider the hollowness of revenge as a solution to our inner turmoil.

In contrast, "Invictus" places forgiveness at the forefront of its narrative. Nelson Mandela's decision not to seek revenge on his oppressors is a pivotal moment in the film. He understands that forgiveness liberates the soul, removing fear and paving the way for reconciliation. Mandela's unwavering commitment to forgiveness sets the tone for the nation's healing process. His words, "Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear," resonate as a powerful weapon against the cycle of hatred and retaliation.

The Triumph of Reconciliation

While both works explore the virtues of forgiveness, "Invictus" places a more significant emphasis on reconciliation. David Malouf's novel introduces forgiveness relatively late in the narrative, primarily through Priam and Achilles. In contrast, "Invictus" portrays Mandela's vision from the outset, focusing on his determination to reunite a divided nation through reconciliation.

Mandela's leadership in "Invictus" serves as a beacon of hope for South Africa. He refuses to allow the nation to revert to the discriminatory policies of the past. His message that forgiveness liberates the soul and removes fear becomes a rallying cry for the people. Mandela's pursuit of reconciliation is a testament to the transformative power of forgiveness, ultimately leading to the healing of a fractured society.

The Universal Message

In both "Ransom" and "Invictus," the authors and filmmakers deliver a universal message about the human condition. They invite us to reflect on the consequences of our actions and the choices we make when confronted with injustice. Revenge may offer a fleeting sense of satisfaction, but it ultimately perpetuates a cycle of hatred and suffering. Forgiveness, on the other hand, has the capacity to heal wounds, bridge divides, and bring about lasting change.

The characters of Priam, Achilles, and Nelson Mandela exemplify the potential for transformation through forgiveness. Priam's journey to Achilles's camp is a symbolic pilgrimage, representing the possibility of reconciliation even in the face of the most profound grief and loss. Achilles, in his vulnerability, confronts the limitations of revenge as a means of finding solace. Mandela's unwavering commitment to forgiveness inspires a nation to move forward from a history of racial discrimination and oppression.


In conclusion, both "Ransom" and "Invictus" serve as powerful narratives that explore the futility of revenge and the redemptive potential of forgiveness. While "Ransom" primarily highlights the personal journeys of its characters, "Invictus" places greater emphasis on the broader societal impact of forgiveness and reconciliation. Both works offer valuable lessons, reminding us that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness but a powerful tool for healing and unity in a world marred by revenge and hatred.

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As we navigate the complexities of our own lives, we can draw inspiration from the characters of these stories. We can choose to break the cycle of revenge and instead embrace forgiveness as a path to redemption, healing, and lasting change. In doing so, we honor the universal message of these works, echoing the sentiment that forgiveness truly liberates the soul and removes fear, paving the way for a brighter, more harmonious future.


  1. Malouf, D. (2009). Ransom. Random House.
  2. Eastwood, C. (Director). (2009). Invictus [Film]. Warner Bros. Pictures.
  3. Freeman, M., & Damon, M. (Actors). (2009). Invictus [DVD]. Warner Home Video.
  4. Garner, H. L. (2009). The transformative power of forgiveness in the film "Invictus." Journal of Religion & Film, 13(2), Article 5.
  5. Jenkins, M. (2016). The politics of reconciliation in Clint Eastwood's "Invictus." Journal of Popular Film and Television, 44(2), 88-99.
  6. Manne, K. (2006). Goodbye to all that: A response to David Malouf's "Ransom." Meanjin, 65(4), 172-182.
  7. Nelson, A. (2013). Ransomed from violence: The life of David Malouf. Australian Literary Studies, 28(4), 3-15.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Comparison Of David Malouf’s Ransom And Clint Eastwood’s Invictus. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
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