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The Consequences of Respect

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The Consequences of Respect

Shakespeare's Macbeth, the story of a confused man's thirst for power, among many features discusses the definition of respect and how it revolves around the actions of the weird sisters. In Act 3, scene 5 the conversation between Hecate and Witches reveals how the Witches' disregard for their leader reflects the disrespect people have for one another in the play. This scene explicates the Elizabethan perspective of how breaking the order of society brings upon disparity and turmoil in the natural world. The Witches' lack of respect for their leader Hecate, a condition that parallels the human world within the play, reflects the world's loss of respect for social order, which creates chaos throughout society.

The conversation between Hecate and the Witches defines the play's concept of respect as the socially higher ranked entity having dominance over those ranked underneath. This model of respect conveys that in the Elizabethan society when due respect is not given, the outcome of this discord is chaos. Therefore the chaos that erupts in the main plot line of the play therefore is attributed to the lack of respect the weird sisters had for Hecate by acting without her consent. In Act 3, Scene 5, the weird sisters offend Hecate:

Saucy and overbold, how did you dare

To trade and traffic with Macbeth

In riddles and affairs of death,

And I, the mistress of your charms,

The close contriver of all harms,

Was never called to bear my part,

Or show the glory of our art


The fact that the Witches meddle with Macbeth without telling their leader Hecate reveals the irony that they expect to be respected, but do not intend to give respect their leader. This perspective the Witches have causes a clash in the definition of respect in the play showing that with this ironic principle of respect, social order is unattainable. The Witches acting without the consent of Hecate reveal that they are attempting to break the natural order in society by trying to gain more authority than Hecate. By dealing with Macbeth without informing Hecate, the Witches believe that they have gained the ability to overthrow the higher ranked entity revealing their sense of self-confidence and rebelliousness. These characteristics are important because they spur the Witches to cause chaos throughout society and influence Macbeth to lose respect for his higher official, King Duncan. Therefore the weird sisters decision to not involve Hecate in their operations contradicts the Elizabethan definition of respect, and this ignorance to orthodox belief leads to the deterioration of the kingdom.

The disregard to the concept of respect between the Witches and Hecate is paralleled between the Elizabethan society and the weird sisters as the humans in the natural world do not comply with the intentions of the Witches, revealing that without respect chaos is inevitable. This belief that chaos is directly related to the lack of respect is significant because as Macbeth betrays King Duncan the whole kingdom starts falling apart. The fact that humans disobey the natural order of society reveals that the respect for the Witches' is lost and in response to this, the chaos in society increases. One of the weird sisters describes the revenge she has planned upon a sailor whose wife refused to share her chestnuts, showing that when a human disagrees with her she flexes her power. This act of treachery reveals how when the Witches are disrespected by the humans, they go out of their way to cause chaos just to ruin



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