Evil And Evil In Macbeth

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Winey Yuen Professor Jon Rachmani English 220-35 29 March 2014 This dual and entirely opposed implication, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair./ Hover through the fog and filthy air” (1.1.11) in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth alludes to the apparent sinister nature of the play, in that it brings forth the idea of deception and that what appears on the surface is not always a true reflection of what lies beneath. In other words, what appears to be fair can actually be foul and likewise, what appears to be foul can actually be fair. Just like in the fog, it’s hard to tell what’s really there and we can’t be certain of what we’re seeing to be the absolute truth but ultimately, with time, reality will become clear. With this apparent contradiction and as the play progresses, appearance and reality are not differentiated, but are confused with one another; Shakespeare portrays how easily one can deceive and be deceived by outer appearances as it clearly shows that living a life of deceit will ultimately end in turmoil. The witches play an important role in Macbeth’s fate, introducing malignant ambition into his mind, but are the witches—universally recognized as foul creatures in children’s book— “inhabitants o’ th’ earth” (1.3.41) or are they just illusions? Clearly, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is intended to blur the boundary between appearance or illusion and reality. Once the witches plant the seed of ambition in Macbeth, he sees only the possibility of being king and doesn't realize the prophecies can imply anything other than how he interprets them. He develops a strong connection with the witches and loses sight of the true... ... middle of paper ... ... consciousness. As false appearance or, alternatively, illusion recurs throughout the play, Shakespeare reveals how misleading others and oneself is not the way to get ahead. It is evident that deceptive skills cannot be relied upon as guilt becomes overwhelming, causing insanity. The idea of deception is portrayed in the paradox, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (1.1.11). Through Macbeth’s rise to power, this play is full of vague knowledge, uncertainties and half-truths. Donalbain, able to distinguish those with true loyalty from those of mere flattery, states “There’s daggers in men’s smiles” (2.3.143), which greatly exemplifies the struggle between false appearance and true intentions in the play. Characters mask the face of their true being and convince others of what they’re not. Those who have been deceived and those who deceive generally end in turmoil.

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