Shakespeare Themes - Justice
had a strong sense of ultimate justice. The bad guys get their comeuppance
in the end, though frequently the good and innocent suffer due to the
wrogdoing of the vilains (for example Lady Macduff and her children who
are murdered in in Macbeth). And then there's a third category
- those who have their moral faults but suffer more for them than they
seem to deserve - for example KIng Lear is foolish and rash but
doesn't deserve to be so badly treated by his ungrateful daughters, Banquo,
Macbeth's friend could have done more to control Macbeth, but doesn't
deserve to be murdered.
Macbeth is well aware of justice - "we still have judgement here" and is afraid of it - not only the justice that a criminal will receive from the state, but the poetic justice that will find its way eventually to the evil doer: "this even-handed justice/Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice To our own lips".
In Merchant of Venice Shylock the moneylender seeks a very narrow and heartless justice, not softened by mercy. Portia points out to him that by strict justice like this " none of us /Should see salvation", so while we must never fall short of justice, we are called to go well beyond it.
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