Appearance vs. Reality; The Cause of a Hero’s Downfall Essay

Appearance vs. Reality; The Cause of a Hero’s Downfall Essay

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In the tragedy Macbeth; the reader witnesses the inevitable downfall of the tragic hero Macbeth as he attempts to do the impractical. While Macbeth turns from an admirable nobleman into the traitor fiend that is the result of his wife’s relentless coaxing, the reader distinguishes more and more of the “appearance versus reality” or the “things are not what they seem” theme that intertwines with Macbeth’s hubris thus leading to his downfall. As Macbeth furthers his plans, which fall in step with the weird sisters’ prophecy, he uses, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know,” (Macbeth, Act1.Scene7.Line82) in order to deceive his fellow noblemen and fulfill the prophecy of his becoming the Thane of Cawdor and the King of Switzerland. Even as Macbeth tries to defy fate, he realizes that what appears to be the truth is in fact unreal, and Shakespeare’s tragic hero does not fully apprehend that his difficulty in discerning between the real and unreal worlds is a chief factor in his demise until the completion of the prophecy/the death of Macbeth and of course, his foreseen downfall.
Throughout Macbeth, Macbeth is a little bit on edge, and gets to such a point, that the reader can’t determine if what Macbeth is seeing is actually there, or in Macbeth’s own head. At the beginning of the play, when Macbeth is about to kill King Duncan, (Act 2), he says:

Is this a dagger which I see before me, /the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. /I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible/ To feelings as to sight, or art thou but / a dagger of the mind, a false creation, / Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? / I see thee yet… (Macbeth, Act 2. Scene1. Lines 34-40a)

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...aunt him, and so he starts slipping up and his false face starts to show what his heart knows; he thinks so hard about the prophecy that he thinks he sees the three weird sisters and the apparitions, when in fact he might not have truly seen them since no one else did. Macbeth at first thought that he was immortal; he was on top of the world and no one could even come close to them. But because of the difficulty in discerning the real and the false, he comes to the closing of the prophecy; he is killed from a man not born of a woman (Macduff), and thus is done for which is more or less his downfall.

Works Cited

Beers, Kylene, et al, Elements of Literature Essentials of British and World Literature Sixth Course, Austin, Texas; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009.Date accessed: 8 March 2011
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Date accessed: 8 March 2011

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