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Macbeth - the Central Themes of the Play

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Ben Scott 11F MACBETH The central themes of the play are highlighted by the sinister statement made by the witches at the very beginning of the play, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air." The whole tone for the play is set as it is a drama about contradictory forces and ideas: light and darkness; good and evil; holy and unholy; loyalty and disloyalty; trust and mistrust; what is natural and unnatural; honesty and deception. The witches mention of Macbeth is significant because he is immediately associated with evil. Duncan decides to appoint Macbeth as the next Thane of Cawdor as the previous one was a traitor, he says, " No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive Our bosom interest. Go pronounce his present death, And with his former title greet Macbeth." This is ironic as Macbeth has inherited the title of a traitor and the title leads to Duncans killing and ultimately Macbeths downfall. This is also a link to the fair is foul statement as Macbeth seems fair, noble and a good servant for the king but in the end he kills Duncan and is evil. ...read more.


Macbeth and Lady Macbeth share a very close relationship which is based around trust and honesty. Macbeth is ambitious and Lady Macbeth is trying to help him achieve his ambition, " All that impedes thee from the golden round, Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem To have thee crown'd withal." This is ironic as although the wealth and power seems very attractive to them once they get it the trust, honesty and closeness they had is lost, this once links back to the 'fair is foul' theme. Lady Macbeth also tells Macbeth to be deceitful and disguise the truth, " Look at the time, bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your toungue: look like the innocent flower But be the serpent under't." This shows that Macbeth looks innocent and fair but inside he is evil and foul. Duncan ironically praises Macbeths castle as pleasant and welcoming, " This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself Unto our gentle senses." This shows that 'fair is foul' as the castle looks pleasant from the outside but is evil within and is where Duncan is to be murdered. ...read more.


When Macbeth goes to visit the witches again they are cunning and employ equivocation, juggling with words to disguise the truth and lull Macbeth into a false sense of security. This is shown where they say, " The power of man, for none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth." This is making Macbeth feel safe without them lying as Macduff was cut from his mother when she was dead, the witches are deceiving him showing that 'foul is fair'. When Macduff goes to ask Malcom to raise an army to fight Macbeth and bring order back to Scotland Malcom accuses himself of being evil and foul. He is cautious to make sure Macduff is not trying to leur him back to Macbeth, he says, " To make me hunger more, that I should forge Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal, Destroying them for wealth." Malcom is appearing foul but is fair in contrast to Macbeth, Malcom believes in Maduffs integrity and decided to help him. Malcom also says, " The night is long that never find the day." This means that every black, evil night comes to a good day, 'foul is fair'. The contrasts become moral contrasts and Macbeth has lost everything, eventually goodness overpowers evil. ...read more.

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