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

Discuss the way in which the theme

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the way in which the theme "Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair" is effectively portrayed through the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The witches in a "barren heath" are the first to mention Macbeth - thus indicating that he, the main character of the play, has, or will have a very strong tie to them and evil. Shakespeare opens the play with a dark and mysterious atmosphere, setting the mood of the play using a thunderstorm, an example of pathetic fallacy, a device used effectively throughout the play. This opening suggests that a battle is going on between good and evil; the witches reinforce this suggestion: 'When the battle's lost and won'. This play immediately gives the impression of deceit and evil scheming because as the witches riddle relates 'Fair is foul, and foul is fair'. This is the play's main theme - appearances can be deceptive. The use of alliteration here accentuates and heightens the feeling of the mysterious atmosphere, boding ill for the future with the suggestion of foul play. Throughout the beginning of the play Macbeth is not seen, but others describe him as valiant and 'brave Macbeth' in stark contrast to already established link with evil. ...read more.


The way in which Duncan then speaks about the previous Thane is very ironic in the sense that Duncan cannot see through Macbeth's thoughts either, as Duncan says 'There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face'. From the very beginnings of the play, Lady Macbeth is viewed as very controlling, strong, and certain - Shakespeare portrays her - arguably from her introduction - as unwomanly; saying that Macbeth 'Shalt be what thou art promised�. This reveals Lady Macbeth�s positive thinking and her having command over Macbeth. In the context of the play and the time Shakespeare was writing this can be seen as a reversal of roles and directly contradicts the accepted ideal that women were ornamental, the weaker sex, the servants of men. She is ordering Macbeth to become what the witches have foreseen, rather than questioning whether he will achieve it, or perhaps not even try to do so. From the very start therefore we see just how powerful Lady Macbeth is - she can command her husband to murder the king of Scotland. Her power is also shown in the way she taunts Macbeth, saying he is 'too full of the milk of human kindness�. ...read more.


She is cunning and calculating, and despite the fact that Macbeth is the seasoned warrior, the man, she is the one who laughs at murder and Macbeth who recoils from it; however we see her exert her power over Macbeth to make him want to murder Duncan, arguably showing how the power in the relationship is all in Lady Macbeth's court in the first act. Theme in the opening sequence "Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair", stays closely to the play and reappears throughout Act One, most notably through the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth who appear to be "fair" but are plotting "foul" things. To others they appear as the "innocent flower"; however to themselves, and in reality they are the "serpent underneath it". This deceitful, hidden image is repeated throughout the play, from the opening chant of the witches to the traitorous nature of the previous Thane of Cawdor and the carefully concealed evil of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare's use of imagery serves to reinforce the theme and how it is portrayed in the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Macbeth later pronounces those same opening lines: "Fair is foul and foul is fair", a paradox which indicates how appearances may be deceptive: an innocent image may conceal a "foul" reality. Adam Darell ...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. Examine The Dramatic Significance Of The Theme 'fair Is Foul' In Macbeth

    The first prophecy has come true and therefore Macbeth is no longer just excited by the witches' words, he has proof that the witches can indeed predict the future and begins to believe them. Macbeth is now under the witches' spell and their words will always be in his mind provoking evil thoughts.

  2. Fair is foul, and foul is fair'

    The witches then praise Macbeth, and say All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Gkamis! They then say that he is thane of Cawdor, and that he shall be king. At this Banquo speaks and say that they are saying all these things about Macbeth, but what about him.

  1. Discussion of Macbeth - An Introduction

    "Gall", used in medieval medicine is a bitter fluid produced by the gall bladder and is associated with anger, emotional bitterness and resentment. It therefore suggests in this passage, sweet milk turning into bitter gall. Shakespeare plays on the idea of motherhood, which may also suggest her lost child.

  2. Examine the Dramatic Significance of the Theme 'Fair Is Foul' In Macbeth.

    Before Macbeth, a general of the king Duncan's army, even enters the play we are given several impressions about him. He is obviously related to the witches in some way as they speak of him: "There to meet with Macbeth".

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