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

Appearance and Reality in Macbeth

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

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

    Essentially we understand from the play that ambition is good but if you become way too ambitious and are blinded by it then that can lead to harm. This is what happened to the character of Macbeth. The significance, which is shown in the play, could be that dreams or

  2. The letter from Macbeth to Lady Macbeth

    him and as Duncan is his guest, it is Macbeths duty to protect the king rather than cause harm to him "he's here in double trust first as I am his kinsman and his subject strong both against the deed , as his host who against shut the door, not

  1. Shakespeare's use of the Supernatural in Macbeth

    These items would horrify an audience if acted properly. Many of the items are stomach wrenching and disgusting to the extreme. Examples of this are: 'Eye of Newt' 'Tongue of dog' 'Lizards leg' 'Howlets wing' But worst of all: 'Finger of birth-strangled babe ditch-delivered by a drab' The 4 body

  2. How does the audience respond to the development of the character of Lady Macbeth?

    She may appear highly- , even unstable. The audience may think after seeing this scene, that she is evil but they will certainly ponder upon this as her character develops. She has many great qualities, and depending on how the actress plays her part, the audience may be impressed by them, despite the evil she creates or they may choose to dislike her character all together.

  1. 'Macbeth' gives us a classic example of the literary definition of a 'tragic hero'. ...

    Shakespeare has portrayed the two of them to be totally dependent upon one another and to complement each other perfectly. After the murder of Duncan has been committed, it is Lady Macbeth who tries to convince the remorseful and ashamed Macbeth that 'what's done cannot be undone' and that there is no need to feel guilt.

  2. Does Shakespeare present Lady Macbeth as good or evil?

    "Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done't". Here she is explaining how she would have killed gracious King Duncan herself had it not been for the fact that he looked like her father whilst he slept.

  1. Look like the innocent flower, but be a serpent undert How does Shakespeare ...

    Macbeth cannot believe the reality that the witches are women as they appear like men, "you appear to have beards, but you also look like women" Macbeth cannot trust his eyes as his eyes and his mind are interpreting these women in different ways which is confusing him.

  2. Discuss the role of Lady Macbeth in the play. Is it Lady Macbeth or ...

    so that any feelings that stop her from doing this deed are got rid of. She asks them to, 'Stop th'access and passage to remorse'. She wants to be separate as possible from 'the milk of human kindness'. She wants her breasts to be instead full of bitter poison.

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