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Clothing in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth Essay

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In Macbeth ambition and power are two great themes. The main characters try to overcome their social hierarchy and gain authority. The will to obtain power is strong and as the character try to become more than they are, they are ultimately revealed by their clothing. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth will come to realize how their clothes have unmasked them, and will try and dress to deceive. However, they can never fool themselves fully and will end up consumed by their attempts to do so. I state that while their garments may represent their true position, changing them cannot stop the force of faith.
First of all, in the initiation of the play we get a first example of how clothing uncovers who and what you are. When Banquo meets the witches he utters “What are these So withered, and so wild in their attire, That look not like th´inhabitants o´th´earth, and yet are on´t” (1.3.40). Although these witches have the physical form of women their clothing reveals that it may not be right. Their appearance is so strange that it makes Banquo question their existence and intentions. Since they are not real women, their prophesies should not be trusted. A false attire could equal a false heart. Moreover, Macbeth’s appearance unveils his true personality, a character that is in the beginning not driven by ambition, but of conscience and thought. A weakness Lady Macbeth willingly draws attention as she endeavor to encourage him into murdering Duncan “ Was the hope drunk Wherin you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since? And wakes it now to look so green and pale At what it did so freely?” (1.7.35). Macbeth is indeed not eager to conquer the throne, but frightened over his own thoughts and possible acts. Even as Macbeth succeeds with the murd...


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... seen how the charterers tried to deceive and empower themselves with clothing, failing miserably. How faith intervenes with clothing Malcolm delightfully explains:
But Macbeth is [treacherous]. A good and virtuous nature may recoil In an imperial charge. . . Angels are still bright, thought the brightest fell: though all things foul would wear the brows of grace. And yet grace must still look so”(4.3.20)
There is indeed nowhere to hide from you true self, and no ambition, power or clothing can change this. We are what we are, trying to leave our social hierarchy will but lead to our destruction. What we try to gain, we will eventually end up losing ten times over, so happiness can never be gained with ambition or power. Only death may arise from it.



Works Cited

Shakespeare, W. The Tragedy of Macbeth. London: Penguin Signet Classics, 1998. Ed.by Sylvan Barnet.


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