Justice in MacbethIs justice served in "Macbeth"? 

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Justice is served in that Macbeth ultimately dies and Malcolm retakes the throne.  But it will take everyone a long time to recover from Macbeth's short reign.  He killed Banquo, Fleance, Macduff's family, and of course Duncan.  He also threw the entire country into turmoil.  They need to make sure it is not quite so easy to kill their king and replace him with oneself.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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An excellent question!  The answer is more complicated, but I would venture to say "yes" and "no".  Macbeth definitely gets what he deserves.  He has murdered the King; he has murdered Banquo and attempted to kill his son, Fleance; he has attacked and killed the members of the MacDuff household; and he has ruled Scotland in such a way that no one rests easily in his or her bed at night.  As honorably as he began in the play, he has ended up in a very dishonorable position at the end.  So, therefore, being killed and paraded before the victors is what he deserves for causing so much pain and suffering among innocent people.

Lady Macbeth also gets her due...after her part in Duncan's murder, she and her husband grow apart, she goes crazy and commits suicide.

The witches, however, get off scot-free (no pun intended).  They are the ones who originally plant the seed of ambition and ladder-climbing into the minds of the Macbeths.  Macbeth himself is so taken by their prophecies that he can not stay away from them.  He goes back more than once to find out more information and never realizes they are toying with him.  It is not until he realizes that MacDuff has been "from his mother's womb untimely ripped" that Macbeth discovers the witches have intentionally misled him for their own entertainment.  From a plot point of view, the witches are just as guilty for the events that take place, but they suffer no punishment for it.

pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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There is a foreshadowing that justice will eventually be served in Macbeth when Fleance escapes the murderers who kill his father.  The reader knows that Fleance will one day be king, as will his sons and their sons.  So its just a matter of time until Macbeth meets the man who is capable of killing him, Macduff.

Unfortunately for justice to be served, there are great sacrifices, the deaths of Lady Macduff and her family and Banquo.  Once Macbeth has the Macduff family murdered, there is a strong motivation in Macduff to get rid of Macbeth.       

Justice is served, Macduff seeks revenge and honor for his family's slaughter, nature is restored, to its proper balance once Macbeth is killed and Malcolm is put on the throne of Scotland.

The presence of evil remains a part of the social order in the universe, but it does not have the upper hand any longer. 

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