Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth - Beyond the Fair and Foul Essay

Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth - Beyond the Fair and Foul Essay

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More to Macbeth than Fair and Foul

    The statement "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" does not thoroughly express the many themes of Shakespeare's Macbeth.  The first time this statement occurs is very early in the play, when the witches chant the exact line "Fair is foul, and foul is fair"(I.i.12) only for Macbeth to repeat it himself two scenes later.  This repetition of the lines shows that the characters themselves believe that there are many foul events taking place.  Firstly, one can watch the fair Macbeth degrading into a foul inhuman monster.  Secondly, the witches may be contrasted to Macbeth to demonstrate the real foulness in these characters.  Thirdly, it can be shown that there is simply no fairness existing in Macbeth.  Lastly, one can see that there are too many themes in Shakespeare's Macbeth to be summed up in one line.


            Macbeth, in the beginning, is a man of valor, honor and nobility.  With his loyal traits he helps maintain Scotland's stability.  Macbeth, on the outside, seems to be the fairest man in all of Scotland; however such is not true. Under the cloaking shadows of his skin, Macbeth hides his one weakness: ambition.  His wife realizes his ambition and stirs him to act on it.  Macbeth struggles with a choice: should he let the witches' prophecies realize themselves, or should he take the steps necessary to achieve them?  Macbeth knows that the latter choice will involve the murder of his virtuous king Duncan, but even this is not enough to convince him to bide his time. After urging from his wife, he chooses the latter and murders his king.  In doing so, Macbeth disrobes himself of all that is good in the human soul: kindness, courage, honor and love.  Macbeth becomes so obses...

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... Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999. 126-35.


Cotton, N. "Witches and Magic in Macbeth." Shakespeare Quarterly. 38, 1987: 320-326.


Kinney, Arthur F. ed. William Shakpespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Hall and Company, 1985.


Muir, Kenneth. "Introduction." In Macbeth. Ed. Kenneth Muir. New York: Routledge, 1992.


Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Elements of Literature. Sixth ed. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1997.


Stallybrass, Peter. "Macbeth and Witchcraft." In Focus on Macbeth. Ed. John Russell Brown. Boston: Routledge, 1982.


Wadsworth, Frank W. "Shakespeare, William." World Book Online American Edition. Online Edition. Online. Netzero. 26 Mar 2002.


"William Shakespeare." BBC Homepage. Online. Available <>. 26 Mar. 2002.


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