• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

“Fair is foul and foul is fair”. Show how this image recurs and develops through the play.

Extracts from this document...


Dec/Jan 1999/2000 Guy Hannah 10M G.C.S.E. English Coursework Macbeth Assignment title: (5) "Fair is foul and foul is fair". Show how this image recurs and develops through the play. Throughout the tragedy, the theme entitled "fair is foul and foul is fair", is key to the play's success and dramatisation, as it both recurs and develops as the play continues. The fore mentioned words are used by and against the key characters in the play, as Shakespeare uses his language to portray the theme and characters. The witches are key in performing the appearance versus reality theme. This major theme is first brought on in the first scene of the play, with the spooky, disturbing, oxymoronic verse culminating in "Hover through the fog and filthy air", which explains Shakespeare's intentions for the plot and deeper metaphors and echoes through to act five. The blatant opener is much like the oxymoron of I.3, "lesser than Macbeth, and greater", which appears impossible, but sets the later scenes in which Banquo meets his end; because Banquo is lesser when he dies, but will be greater because of his fantastic devotion to good, and he "shalt get kings", showing Shakespeare's desire to impress James I, the possible seed of Banquo, in his theatre. It is clear that, by Hecat's rhyming speech in III.5, "strength of their illusion", that the fiends' whole purpose and method is to deceive people like the literate Macbeth by situations appearing to mean certain things, but in reality meaning something totally different. ...read more.


Macbeth, while the play write shows superbly how she is seeming to be fair in front of guests, "Look to the lady", but in fact she is the real villain of the play, tormenting the audience and every-one's innocent ignorance of women. The theme is somewhat reversed towards the end of the script because Shakespeare - with his depraved repetition, "To bed, to bed, to bed" - has not made Lady Macbeth such an enemy to his enthralled audience, that they can't really feel sorry a little for her illness, "This disease is beyond my practice", as she becomes more fair in the juggled end of the play. The wife of Macbeth also appears un-hurting, senseless and cruel, before we see the start of her more fair side in II.2, "Had he not resembled... I had done't", as the writer teases the audience with his confusing, twisting plot and monosyllabic dialogues. She repeats a more feeble side of herself in a more complex way as the play develops, "dwell in doubtful joy", and she becomes a weaker character. Her contributions to the fair foul/foul theme change as she slowly becomes less of a villain, but her grip on her husband gets much weaker, "Be innocent of the knowledge dearest chuck", as he becomes more of the evil one, whilst continuing to use oxymoronic personification, "Light thickens", because before, he was looking to be just deception intended by the witches, "In their ...read more.


The disturbed Shakespeare is very obsessed the death of young characters. The people visiting the play will be very distressed by the playwright's veracity to beguiled murderers as first a small boy is brutally hacked down by the assassins, "He has killed me mother", (and even he can use metaphor, "shag-haired villain") followed by a teenager losing his life in vain, "Thou liest, abhorred tyrant!", as the bewitched main character goes on his last run. This shows dramatic irony because we already know that "only one of women born shall harm Macbeth" so Shakespeare shows off his literary skills as the characters in Macbeth show their true states of mind through their language. Virtually the whole play contains the fair/foul theme; from the very first scene, until the moment in which Macbeth dies. As his evil world disintegrates, Malcolm concludes saying that righteousness is returned and the end of Macbeth signals the absence appearance versus reality, "That fled the snares of watchful tyranny", and that Scotland will continue under his reign and significantly, James I's. He believes that Macbeth was not the totally guilty one, "Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen", but the dead Lady is. Shakespeare must end the play relevant especially to James I, as a happy ending because the king would not like to see his fears the witches win or his possible ancestors lose. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. macbeth- appearance vs reality

    He also says that this is his way of teaching her to ask God to reward him for the trouble she has to take, and also to thank him for providing the occasion for that trouble. Basically King Duncan is trying to say how grateful he is to be here

  2. Discuss how Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth and how her character develops during the play

    Lady Macbeth's response to Duncan's arrival and her language confirm to the audience what she is capable of and predicts the horror of the events to come. In the soliloquy the reference to the raven is clearly an indication of death, an ill omen.

  1. Macbeth: Hero or Villain?

    "She should have died hereafter". Macbeth then talks about life in general. He concludes that there is no meaning to life. Just like an actor who comes on stage and play the part, then leave the stage never to be heard anymore, "poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard of no more".

  2. Critical Evaluation Macbeth

    Shakespeare uses this repetition in order to show a connection between the characters. This connects Macbeth with the witches and therefore, by association, with evil. This contrasts with the impression given of Macbeth, the valiant warrior, in Scene Two. Also, in this scene Macbeth meets the witches where he hears

  1. Macbeth - Women In The Play

    He then realises that this will have no effect on the witches and then pleads them to by saying "If you can," showing that they should only speak if they want to. Shakespeare is showing that these powerful women have too much control over the others and, if agitated, they can cause a lot of trouble.

  2. “Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair” - What factors contribute to the downfall ...

    The gorgons received very different reactions from Banquo and Macbeth concerning the news of Macbeth's new titles. Banquo's is one of possible scepticism asking "are ye fantastical?" whereas Macbeth by Banquo's description appears to be enthralled. Banquo asks them to speak to him saying he neither fears their hatred nor wants favours from them.

  1. Discuss how Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth and how her character develops during the play.

    As Act one scene five continues Lady Macbeth says what makes the audience think of her even as a fourth witch; "unsex me here, And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood" Here Lady Macbeth is saying that she wants all

  2. How Does Macbeth turn from fair to foul? In the play 'Macbeth', the ...

    'All hail Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter'. Macbeth is shocked at these predictions. Shortly afterwards Ross and Angus bring news to Macbeth that he is Thane of Cawdor. Ross says, 'And for an earnest of a greater honour, He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor..., hail most worthy Thane!

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work