Theme Of Appearance And Reality In Macbeth

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Macbeth did this all because of the three witches prophecies foreshadowing that he could be king if he had the ambition to go out and take it. Shakespeare uses the literary device of a motif, a recurring subject or idea, throughout the play to accentuate the overall theme that he is trying to convey to the audience. Two motifs that Shakespeare exemplifies in Macbeth are appearance vs. reality and gender roles switched, which both add to the overall theme of illusion based reality.

In The Tragedy of Macbeth, the motif of appearance vs. reality is constantly present in every scene of the play. Right from the beginning when the three witches are conspiring together to meet with Macbeth they say in unison “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (1.1.10). This short phrase is perchance the most famous line of the play and it foreshadows the overall theme in the play. In this circumstance ‘fair’ has a connotation of magnificence, beauty, or allure. Whereas ‘foul’ has an association having to do with anything bad, malevolent, or evil. Also, the interchanging of these lines signify the blurring between choosing what is right and what is wrong, creating chaos inside of whomever might be trying to do so. Immediately from the start of Macbeth, we get the idea that nothing is as it seems and perhaps everything that seems to be ‘fair’ is actually corrupt and dishonest. Since the three witches say this line in unison at the end of the first scene in act one, it leaves the reader with an eerie suspicion for the next scene to come. Secondly, Macbeth having just had a victorious day at battle says “So foul and fair a day I have not seen” (1.3.38). This line brings back the idea of everything seeming to be one way but is really the complete opposite. ...

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...eme of illusion based reality. The vital idea behind the entire play as a whole is spoken by the weird sisters in the first act and scene of the play; “Fair is foul and foul is fair”. Throughout this entire play the audience sees this idea brought to life by Shakespeare making it perfectly clear that motivation can only be achieved at an expense that only some are actually willing to take. While some may want to place a certain amount of the blame of Macbeth’s downfall onto the witches for telling him of the prophecies, it has to be taken into account that Macbeth was the one to have the ambition to actually go out there and take what did not rightfully belong to him. In the end, all the prophecies do turn out to be true and Macbeth perishes from a pretty well deserved death.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Washington Press, 1992.
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