The Crucial Conflict of Shakespeare's Macbeth: Appearance versus Reality

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As the apex of William Shakespeare’s exceptional literary career, Macbeth exemplifies the utilization of literary devices to accent themes and ideas. Though set in the midst of an actual struggle in eleventh or twelfth century Scotland, this classic tale of envy, power, and corruption was written in the sixteenth century. Macbeth chronicles the degradation of Macbeth, his morals, and his conscience as the Scottish thane increases his power through murder and intimidation. Shakespeare highlights the irony of the actions of both Macbeth and other central characters throughout the play. Parallel scenes are also commonly used to stress the contrast between personas of various characters and their true identities. By using irony and parallel scenes to illuminate the continuous contrast between appearance and reality that is the crux of the plot of Macbeth, Shakespeare created a literary work of art that has been enjoyed and analyzed for centuries. Irony is well placed in vital scenes throughout the play. Very soon after the raising of the curtain, the pair uses broad terms to discusses the possibility of slaying the king before he leaves the following day: “. . . And when goes hence?/ Tomorrow, as he purposes. O, never/ Shall sun that morrow see!” (1.5.57-59). In this situational irony, the lord of the castle and his lady ponder treason. The timing of this consideration creates the irony: it comes as they prepare to accept Duncan as their most honored guest. From the perspective of a knowledgeable reader, it seems that a more apt time to discuss the treason would be at a time when the king appears vulnerable, not after he has repelled an army and is preparing to celebrate in the pair’s home. Soon after the question of murder is put ... ... middle of paper ... ... to become a place of death, and its proprietor is to become a murderer and usurper. At the heart of a vital pair of parallel scenes is the killing of kerns. These scenes exemplify the contrast between the appearance of Macbeth and his true self. A second set of parallel scenes is of even more importance; they are found in places of great importance to the plot of the play: just before the murders of Duncan and Banquo. These scenes best exhibit the disparity between Macbeth's confident appearance and his shattered, fearful inner self. Evidence positioned throughout this riveting tale of the deterioration of the morals of a powerful Scottish thane highlights crucial conflicts between appearance and reality to probe an essential theme all humanity knows well: Why do humans insist on obscuring their deepest motives beneath a facade of innocence, goodness, and openness?

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