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Macbeth - Essay Example

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Instructor name Date Justice in Macbeth In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses mental torture as a means of punishing his main character as a form of justice. Macbeth violated the rules of justice when he murdered the rightful king, his guest, and his kinsman…
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Macbeth
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Macbeth

This order doesn't seem to be something Duncan thought carefully about and seems to be a violation of justice in that Cawdor is denied a final defense. Macbeth's murder of the king reasserts justice for Cawdor, but it violates the justice of his society. Also, Duncan's actions are repeated by Macbeth when he orders the murder of Macduff’s family and the execution of Banquo. Because he has violated justice, Macbeth suffers mental torture that eventually leads to his own destruction. This illustrates how a king who resorts to violence as a means of asserting his power will be forced by his own nature to continue escalating his violent actions until he himself is destroyed. Macbeth’s elevation to Cawdor near the beginning of the play reinforces the witches' prediction and the idea that Macbeth is more committed to his own personal interests than he does to justice. This is a slowly developing process that begins when Macbeth writes to his wife about the prophecy and his promotion to Thane of Cawdor. Although he knows his only reason for moving against his king is “vaunting ambition, which o’erleaps itself” (I, vii, 25-27), Macbeth decides his commitment to Lady Macbeth and his greed is stronger than his commitment to the less tangible ideals of truth and justice that he's vowed to uphold. When Macbeth willingly participates in murder for his own welfare with no concern for the welfare of the realm, the consequences quickly escalate to massacres of perceived but often innocent enemies and the need for Macbeth to lie and deceive as a means of maintaining the perception others have of him. Because Macbeth has violated the rules of justice, he is unable to see innocence in friends and expects nothing from them but harm. His own violations force Macbeth to consider Banquo's possible schemes, leading him to order murder as a form of self-protection even though Banquo has sworn himself to secrecy after they meet with the witches: “If you shall cleave to my consent, when ‘tis, / It shall make honor for you” (II, i, 25-26). When Banquo brings up the subject of the witches, Macbeth's betrayal causes him to assume Banquo will do the same. “Our fears in Banquo stick deep, / And in his royalty of nature reigns that / Which would be feared. ‘Tis much he dares; / And to that dauntless temper of his mind / He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor / To act in safety” (III, i, 49-54). Macbeth realizes that he has Banquo’s silence only as long as keeping silent benefits Banquo. While Macbeth wouldn't have seen Banquo as a threat had he acted in the name of justice, Macbeth's violation of justice makes him see Banquo as a threat that must be eliminated. This is highlighted by the fact that Banquo had no intention of doing anything to bring about Macbeth’s downfall since he was excited for the benefits to his own son from the prophecy. Because he can't depend on justice to give him success, Macbeth must again turn to the witches for advice. “I conjure you by that which you profess, / Howe’er you come to know it answer me … Even till destruction sicken, answer me / To what I ask you” (IV, i, 50-51, 60-61). He realizes that these are creatures of evil, but he has already turned his back on justice and has no other resource to turn to. For their part, the witches drive Macbeth to further evil action in his seeking of Macduff, ... Read More
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