Theme of Fair is Foul in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Theme of Fair is Foul in William Shakespeare's Macbeth

'Fair is Foul' is the major theme in Macbeth and is present throughout

the play in both the characters and the events. 'Fair is Foul' refers

to the contrast of good and evil in the play, since Macbeth commits

many evil murders for what seem to be good reasons. There are several

false and secretive characters, such as the Witches, Macbeth and Lady

Macbeth, because of the contradiction of good and evil. Therefore the

theme of 'Fair is Foul' is also linked to the theme of appearances

being deceiving. As a result of this theme lots of chaos, lies,

secrets and total disorder are caused.

The three Witches introduce the theme of 'Fair is Foul' in Macbeth and

are the first characters seen in the play: "Fair is foul, and foul is

fair". Their words seem to contradict each other, presenting the idea

of illusion versus reality in the play. The fact that the Witches are

in the first scene of Macbeth confirms that they are important

characters and main devices of evil. They meet in foul weather and

talk of "thunder, lightning" and "the fog and filthy air", giving the

audience a first impression that Macbeth is a dark, dangerous play in

which the theme of evil is central.

Only once in the play are the three weird sisters called 'witches',

instead they are called "old hags" and "elemental forces". Shakespeare

describes the witches in this way to make them sound more evil so that

the audience would dislike them more. Shakespeare used the witches and

supernatural influences to present evil scenes and events. As witches

were hated at the time that Shakespeare wrote the play, he used the


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after Guy Fawks' attempt to kill King James I in 1605. James would

have therefore enjoyed the play, as he would get the chance to watch

Macbeth die for trying to kill his own king. The witches in the play

would have also been linked with James I, as he had three witches

killed for trying to conjure up a storm to kill him. Shakespeare's

main reasons for writing Macbeth were to flatter King James I and to

keep the interest of his audience. This is shown by the fact that

Banquo, named after James' ancestor, is portrayed as a good and honest

character. Shakespeare also wrote about witches and evil witchcraft,

which were considered wrong and morbid at the time. Women were

considered to be most likely to relate to witchcraft, which is perhaps

why Lady Macbeth seemed to be more controlled than Macbeth in the

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