Essay on Appearance vs Reality in Macbeth

770 Words Dec 24th, 2012 4 Pages
"Fair is foul and foul is fair," chant the witches in the opening scene of Macbeth. With this apparent contradiction a seed is sown for the examination of what is indeed a major theme of the play. False appearance and apparition recur regularly throughout the story. The audience and even the characters themselves are often unsure of the distinction between what appears to be real and what actually is. Shakespeare makes a great statement through the play of how easily one can deceive and be deceived. It is full of rumours and fears, vague knowledge, uncertainties, riddles and half-truths.

The aforementioned witches are the embodiment of evil and equivocation. They clearly have the power to make good look evil and make evil look good.
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How can you even discuss reality and make reference to witches? Clearly, Shakespeare’s masterpiece is designed to blur the boundary between appearance and reality.
Another way in which Shakespeare develops this theme is through Macbeth’s rise to power and particularly the role of Lady Macbeth in it. Macbeth kills the King of Scotland and makes sure to appear innocent and cover up reality. He seems worthy of becoming king but the reader knows the dark truth. Lady Macbeth is crucial in the development of the deceitful plot to frame the guards by encouraging Macbeth to be a “serpent underneath” while looking “like the innocent flower.” Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are skilful at swapping reality for false appearance.
Macbeth’s castle becomes symbolic of the conflict between reality and appearance. It seems like a beautiful welcoming place and yet it is the motherland of regicide, treachery and disintegration. Duncan comments that “this castle hath a pleasant seat” never to see daylight again. The Porter nicely alleviates the horror of the murder. However, even his humorous remarks contain a reference to what this castle has become – he welcomes those knocking on the door… to hell. He welcomes sinners and equivocators and describes their ambiguous and contradictory actions. His reference to alcohol heightens the theme of

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