Fairness concerns itself with proportionality, not equality. It is a question of reciprocity – “just desserts”, what one deserves – rather than egalitarian distribution. This chapter focuses on how Shakespeare tends to depict feelings of unfairness as a key motivation for revenge and, if unchecked, a possible route to villainy, evil, and even societal collapse. This is because the desire for revenge fuels selfish or self-seeking behaviour – the antithesis of fairness – and thus unfairness begets unfairness. Human groups which lack any sense of fairness and in which individuals have become wholly selfish cannot flourish. I will focus chiefly on Richard III’s primary for motivation revenge, Hamlet’s refusal to kill Claudius when he is praying, the Duke’s pardon of Angelo in Measure for Measure, and Edmund’s motivations in King Lear.
Edinburgh Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.