An examination of the role of retributive justice in the murders in Macbeth.

Essay by DasPunkHigh School, 11th gradeA-, December 2002

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An eye for an eye', 'what goes around comes around', and 'all in good time'. All

of these sayings have the same meaning, which is basically; you get what you deserve. This is also known as revenge, or in this case, the main topic of retributive justice. In Macbeth, there are many murders committed and in a Shakespearean play with murders there is, without a doubt, going to be some examples of revenge. Retributive justice plays no role in the murders of Duncan or Macduff's family but it plays a significant role in the murder of Macbeth.

Duncan was the King of Scotland and he was a righteous leader who was loved by many. He had many loyal companions. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth and Banquo met three witches who prophesied that, among other things, Macbeth would eventually become King of Scotland. Macbeth was very loyal to Duncan having just fought and won a war for him against Norway and the Scottish rebels.

Regardless of his loyalty, with the witches' prophecies in mind, Macbeth murdered Duncan in order to become King. Once he killed Duncan he regretting ever listening to the witches. He feels that since he has killed Duncan, the thought of it will haunt him the rest of his life "...Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore / Cawdow / shall sleep no more" (II.ii.55-57) Retributive justice played no role in the murder of Duncan, nor did it have a role in the murder of Macduff's wife and child.

From what we saw in the Act 4 Scene 2, Macduff had a good life with his family and a good relationship with his son. Macbeth sent murderers to Macduff's castle to kill Macduff because he felt threatened. Macbeth's reasoning for this was because Macduff was suspicious of...