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The Theme of Revenge and its Portrayal in Sweeney Todd

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Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Revenge is a common driving force in many novels, movies, and in this case, musical. The ideology of Sweeney Todd is pretty simple; Sweeney wants revenge on the Judge who sent him away to an unjust incarceration while the judge took his daughter as a part of the ward. Of course, there is has to be a twist in the story. As we find out, Todd is insane and murders a lot of people by cutting their throats after he shaves their faces. Then gives the bodies to the meat pie vendor who lives below him named Mrs. Lovett. To summarize the ending, Sweeney Todd wants to kill the judge, and eventually does. However, he kills a homeless hag who wandered into the shop because the judge was on his way up the stairs. Then almost kills his daughter after killing the judge however does not recognize her. Then he goes down to dispose of the body when he realizes that the old hag he had killed was his old wife! Sweeney kills himself because he cannot bear to live knowing he had killed his wife, plus it was discovered that he was a killer. The end.

Nonetheless, there were a few musical numbers that I really did like. The first of which was “No Place like London”. The song starts off very cheerful in major. Anthony Hope, the sailor, walks onto the stage and begins to sing; this turns out to be somewhat of Hope’s theme music. He is naïve, and young always looking on the bright side, probably not a coincidence that his last name is Hope. However, Todd interrupts him, and the tune somewhat becomes dark, as we find out, Todd is a very dark person and sees all the bad in the world. They exchange words about Hope saving Todd while he was stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Then, suddenly, the old hag comes out begging for change, this becomes very repetitive during the play. As Hope gives her money, she starts to joke about sex and Todd is disgusting and yells at her to go away. They exchange a few more words about meeting up later, and then they leave.

The last song I had some interest in was “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” at the end of the musical. It was extremely dark and a summary of the entire musical. Although the same variation of the song was played in the beginning of the musical, this one wrapped up the musical, which I understood more. The way this number starts is as shortly after Todd kills himself. The whole cast comes out and sings this large ballad, making it very majestic, however creepy as well. There is a whole lot of dissonance happening giving you chills. Although the tune is quiet odd and disturbing, I was attracted to it because I thought it was relatively catchy.

In conclusion, the story of Sweeney Todd was extremely interesting and had an unreal amount of dynamics. Though Sweeney was a murder and crazy, I felt that I was rooting for him the whole time, and a little upset that he died. A different dynamic that I realized was the two last names of Anthony Hope and Mrs. Lovett. The Sailor always looked on the bright side and had never doubted Sweeney would do anything wrong, and especially listening to anything he told him. He was a symbol of Hope to Todd about getting his daughter back and having the old life he lived. Also, Mrs. Lovett’s name is pretty similar to “love”. She falls for Sweeney by accepting who he is. She never tells him that his ex wife was the beggar even though she knew, because she loved him. Ultimately, her love for him is what causes her death, Sweeney’s ex wife’s death, and Sweeney’s own death. In terms of revenge, maybe you shouldn’t serve it in meat pies and just keep it cold.

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