The meaning of, and background to, the well-known expression "Hell have no fury like a woman scorned.

Well-Known Expressions

Hell have no fury like a woman scorned

Meaning:

A woman rejected by her lover is liable to seek revenge on him

Background:

This expression is often attributed to late 17th century English dramatist William Congreve (see below), but the concept of the vengeful scorned woman dates back at least as far as 400 BC as seen in Euripides' most famous play, Medea. Medea, betrayed by her husband who she sacrificed everything for, unleashes a horrific vengeance on her enemies, making both assassins and victims of her own children.

It would also seem that the concept of the vengeful woman was common in earlier writing, such as in the Jacobean play The Knight of Malta (1625): "The wages of scorn'd Love is baneful hate."


William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride, 1697:

As you'll answer it, take heed
This Slave commit no Violence upon
Himself. I've been deceiv'd. The Publick Safety
Requires he should be more confin'd; and none,
No not the Princes self, permitted to
Confer with him. I'll quit you to the King.
Vile and ingrate! too late thou shalt repent
The base Injustice thou hast done my Love:
Yes, thou shalt know, spite of thy past Distress,
And all those Ills which thou so long hast mourn'd;
Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.

Alphabetical list of expressions

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