Throughout the ages, people have been deceived by appearances. Whether it is a first impression or a superficial relationship, the old adage to “not judge a book by it’s cover” is ageless. In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare captured that aspects of deceit by creating a few characters who seem to be innocent and trustworthy, but as the play proceeds, their heart’s wickedness surpasses the fake outward appearance. People should temper judgment. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s innocent appearance gives way to deceitful and evil desires.
Act one of Macbeth hinted the first taste of deceit. Opening the act, the witches warn that not everything is what it seems; what appears nice could be dangerous and vice versa. Next, Scotland was in the midst of battling the Irish when they realized that they had a traitor among them. Scotland’s very own Thane of Cawdor committed treason to help the enemy succeed. With the baffling news, King Duncan remarked to his son, “There’s no art / To find the mind’s construction in the face. / He was a gentleman on whom I built / An absolute trust.”(Shakespeare.1.4.?) From the outside the Thane of Cawdor was a respectable gentleman, but to reiterate Duncan, a person can not be fully known just by looking at his face. Both shrewd comments from the witches and Duncan signaled what was to come.
Two specific characters stand out the most, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Macbeth begins to create his false exterior immediately after the witches proclaimed his fate. Being in the company of the worthy Banquo, Macbeth had to shove his evil motives to be king underneath so no one could suspect him. He proclaimed to the heavens, “Stars, hide your fires; / Let not light see my black and deep desires.” praying th...
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... this man who has the appearance of a fine king. Nevertheless, God proclaimed, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NIV Bible.1 Samuel 16:7) With that in mind, God chose David, the youngest son who cared for the sheep, to reign as the next king.
Macbeth teaches sound lessons about deceit. Many fall captive to the lie of outward appearances while the real heart is concealed. Whether it is how it can destroy innocent lives or maim the oppressor’s life, deception will never be admirable. Proverbs 31:30 explains it directly, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman [or man] who fears the Lord is to be praised.” With all things considered, hold off from judgment, for things may not be as it seems.
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