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Discuss the way in which the theme

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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.

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