In the real world, injustices occur but the response to these injustices depends on ones level of self-respect.  An individual with self-respect will respond differently to injustices in comparison to an individual with no self-respect. Self-respect allows one to have self-confidence and to reason before acting. In the Macbeth play, immorality, deceit, and Murder are the basis of the play, which leads to injustices to some people, and the playwright has developed ideas about how self-respect plays an important role while responding to injustices. Self-respect plays a normative and vital role in response to injustices (Miller, 2001). It is a prerequisite to responding to injustices.

Macbeth is both foul and fair and is aware of the existence of these opposites inside him. Early in the play, Macbeth admits that he has horrible imaginations of killing Duncan. In his soliloquy, it is clear that Macbeth is aware of the benefits and effects of killing Duncan (Shakespeare, 2001). He recognizes that crime is followed by punishment and it has to occur. He also recognizes that killing Duncan would be a divine retribution given that Macbeth is honorable as a king. Lady Macbeth instills the ideas of killing Duncan in Macbeth. Though Macbeth has no reason to kill Duncan other than his ambition, Lady Macbeth wants to see the ambition through. She initiates the plot to assassinate Duncan. However, once Duncan was dead, Macbeth started having second thoughts. The consciousness of his action starts to kick in, but his wife softens the consciousness by reassuring him that everything will be all right.

By killing Duncan, Macbeth commits an injustice, and due to his self-respect, he tends to have second thoughts about the action. He feels guilty of killing Duncan and his ideals of right and wrong are challenged. He respects the fact that crime has an inevitable punishment, but his wife puts him at ease. His self-respect is overrun by his wife’s insistence. Macbeth just followed what his wife and the witches insisted on and ended up allowing injustices to happen. This denotes a lack of self-respect. An individual with self-respect will not just sit around as injustices occur (Miller, 2001). Macbeth commits injustices by his hand due to lack of self-respect. Self-respect instills a feeling of honor and dignity. Macbeth, however, feels self-guilt and regret after killing Duncan.

After consulting witches, Macbeth goes ahead to kill his fellow soldier Banquo. Banquo is a threat to his kingship and has to be killed. Macbeth portrays this by saying,

“Our fears in Banquo

Stick deep and in his royalty of nature

Reigns that which would be fear’d: ‘this much he dares;

And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,

He hath wisdom that doth guide his valor

To act in safety. There is none but he

Whose being I do fear” (Shakespeare,14)

Macbeth is afraid of Banquo, a fellow soldier and combined with the witches prophesy; he has to kill him and his son. The witches prophesy the idea that Banquo will become a king. Macbeth is now king but is determined to remain king. By instructing the murderers to kill Banquo, Macbeth is progressively allowing injustices to happen. His self-respect is completely eroded. He has neither honor nor respect for the throne.

In murdering Duncan, Macbeth was overrun by ambition, but he later develops another flow. After visiting the witches a second time, he gains excess confidence in himself. He views himself as immortal by saying “Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn/the power of man, for none of the woman born/Shall harm Macbeth” (Shakespeare, 21). His ambition and hubris turn him into a murderer. Apart from Duncan and Banquo, Macbeth also plots to destroy Macduff’s family. Macduff on the other hand and swears allegiance to Malcolm, son of Duncan. With Malcolm planning on taking over the kingship from Macbeth, Macbeth refuses to submit and prepares for battle. In the end, Macduff slays Macbeth in battle, and Malcolm becomes king. Malcolm has self-respect. Macbeth killed his father and Malcolm has the honor to revenge his father’s death.

Macbeth is not bad from the start. At first, he is a noble soldier who respects Duncan, the king. He has no reason to kill Duncan given that he respects his leadership. He is hesitant of killing Duncan; he says, “We will proceed no further in this business” (Shakespeare, 8). He has self-respect and understands the effects of injustices. He is an honorable soldier, but due to his wife’s ambition, he erodes his self-respect and turns to a murderer. As soon as the witches told him the prophecy, he gains thoughts about how to fulfill the prophecies.

From the above occurrences, it is clear that when an individual responds to injustices, self-respect plays a major role. Macbeth ambition of being king is achieved through injustices, but Malcolm becomes king by revenging his father. In those days when the play was written, revenging a father’s death was an honor.  Malcolm responds to the injustice against his father by revenging while Macbeth responds to his injustices by committing further injustices.



Miller, D. T. (2001). Disrespect and the experience of injustice. Annual review of psychology, 52(1), 527-553.

Shakespeare, W. (2001). The tragedy of Macbeth (Vol. 2). Classic Books Company.


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