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Appearance and Reality in Macbeth

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Introduction

Appearance and Reality in Macbeth As one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, Macbeth portrays the untimely end of its main role at the hands of what appears to be his own ambition. However, Shakespeare carries the audience through a series of strange events that lead the viewer to question images used by the three witches, effectively the narrators, and motives of characters, which seem unfounded. The line between fantasy and reality is undefined by the playwright, leaving images and surreal occurrences open to interpretation. One interpretation is that the unnatural happenings within the play are not all they seem but are in fact the physical representation of the workings of the disturbed minds of the characters, visions that Shakespeare allows the spectators to witness. Moreover, the characters are not exempt from this apparent theme throughout the play. Many use a false guise to hide their real beliefs, often guilt. Shakespeare's use of dramatic irony transfers the possibility that not all is what it seems directly to the audience through soliloquies and the basic narrative. Macbeth has a striking reversal of character within the play, hiding behind his loyal and patriotic persona that the audience is aware of by other characters assessments of him throughout the play: "For brave Macbeth- well he deserves that name" He brutally murders his own friends for self-ambition (with much persuasion from his once honourable wife, Lady Macbeth) and eventually becomes the tyrannous King of Scotland and is notoriously hated: "The devil himself could not pronounce a name more hateful to mine ear" The discovery of Macbeth's treachery leads to his own downfall, allowing the characters to realize that whatever he appeared to be, Macbeth proved that his honourable, heroic reputation was purely a facade to hide his evil, unjust deeds. This change of character is unexpected and unfounded. Macbeth appears to be unaware of his own thirst for power until his first meeting with the witches, which has a marked and profound affect on his character, detaching Macbeth from his senses as the play progresses. ...read more.

Middle

However, Macbeth's conviction to his principals does not last, as his wisdom cannot prevent the surge of self-ambition that eventually overcomes him. Macbeth becomes aware of his competition to the throne shortly after he reveals that he shall let nature decide his fate. As he becomes aware that Duncan has made his son The Prince of Cumberland and next in line for the throne. Macbeth soliloquises how he intends to deal with his struggle to become King, believing if he acts without really thinking about what he has to do, it will be as if he never committed the crime. "Let not light see my black and deep desires; the eye wink at the hand; yet let that be which the eye fears, when it is done, to see." Macbeth is attempting to hide his homicidal plots against the successor to the throne, believing that if he makes an exception to his principals, it would be as if he did not commit the crime at all. Macbeth seems to justify his behaviour by suggesting that murder is acceptable as long as he benefits from it. Yet still, he lays judgement on himself by acknowledging that he will regret the murder of Duncan, Macbeth fears the consequences. Macbeth writes to his Lady in hope that she can advise him on what he should do, this is evident of the strong and loving bond they have before they are lost in separate worlds of guilt and suffering. Immediately, Lady Macbeth decides that although it is evil, Duncan must not prevent them from reaching their goal and she begins to plot against the King. "Thou wouldst be great, art thou not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it...which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have crown'd withal." Lady Macbeth analyses her husband as she discusses the news he has just shared with her. She believes that becoming King is not of his reach but he does not have the fortitude to corroborate with destiny and ensure that he reaches his goal to become king. ...read more.

Conclusion

The extraordinary witches appear real to the audience and the characters; however, one argument suggests that in fact they are the amorphous embodiment of evil, brought into existence to balance the forces of nature; "fair and foul" and are in fact the conjuring of infected minds and the further Macbeth follows their direction, the stronger they become. Indirectly, the witches' power is evident as Macbeth becomes more reliant on their foresight. The witches are chanting a second inexplicable spell as Macbeth informs them that his fortune has become a reality but enquires how much more destruction must be suffered to achieve this goal. The twisted hags inform him through a series of apparitions as to what his fate holds. "Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff; Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough." Appearing to him as an armed head it proposes imminent war however Macbeth discards the image believing that although it suggested Macduff posed a threat, it appeared to reverse this prediction by informing Macbeth to "dismiss" 'him'. Unsure of the witches, Macbeth ignores their warning, believing it to be purely poetic, which later proves to be a misjudgement as Macduff is the man who eventually overthrows and murders Macbeth. "Be bloody bold and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth." The vision of a bloody child represents Macduff. Having been born by caesarean section, he was not "born of woman" under the Elizabethan description of such and the image of the bloody child is that Macduff of "from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd". Indirectly, the witches are informing Macbeth that only Macduff can harm him, therefore not lying to him but encouraging him to anticipate that he is invincible and that because everyone must be born by a woman, he should fear nobody. Moreover, the apparition's persuasion to mock others confirms Macbeth's belief that he is better than everybody is and that no one can harm him, which is a false sense of security. This ithe hidden truth is also evident ...read more.

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