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Look like the innocent flower, but be a serpent undert How does Shakespeare use theme of appearance and reality in Macbeth?

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"... Look like the innocent flower, but be a serpent under't" How does Shakespeare use theme of appearance and reality in 'Macbeth'? Appearance is a noticeable aspect of something or somebody, appearance can create different impressions depending on who is observing. Almost the opposite is reality, actual being or existence, as opposed to an imaginary, idealized, or false nature (taken from dictionary). We should not judge, take opinions of people or anything only on their appearances. For example there are people who appear to be extremely trustworthy and reliable but in reality, are not. This does not only occur with people as there is an English saying "don't judge a book by its cover". Appearance versus reality is an important theme in William Shakespeare's Macbeth. There are many actions from the characters where they portray this theme of appearance versus reality; this theme is applied in almost each act of the play. There are loads of moments where the theme of appearance and reality is portrayed however I would like to start with the first one in Act one Scene one, where the three witches chant, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" This introduces to the reader that throughout the play you will find confusion between what is right and what is wrong, this quote shows the chaos that is occurring already. ...read more.


This is in Act 1 scene 5 when King Duncan is visiting Macbeth's castle and they are planning to murder him, Lady Macbeth's intention is to make their house appear welcoming, warm and inviting, but they intend to kill him. An innocent flower is harmless and is attractive aspect as its features are colorful and delicate. On the other hand a serpent is a evil reptile, to add on to the iniquity "serpent" is mentioned in the bible the as the reptile said to have tempted Eve. Also Shakespeare is warning people that in real life it is dangerous to trust what you see as people try to cover up the reality. During Macbeth's dagger monologue, he is overcome with a false vision, "Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee or, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight? Or art though but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?" The dagger is just a hallucination, which Macbeth can only see. ...read more.


Why are you silent?" Macduff is tricked as Malcolm creates a false reality instead of his own character, Malcolm paints himself as the most evil and worst ruler there can possibly be. Then he uses a simile to compare himself to Macbeth, he says he will appear "as pure as snow", all what he is saying is a fake appearance used to test Macduff. Malcolm is then certain that Macduff is on his side when he says after Malcolm's speech "Thy hope ends here" He utters this because he finds that Malcolm has became evil and that there is no hope in anyone, then Malcolm interrupts him to reveal the truthful reality as Macduff had passed the test. Although I did not include every example related to the theme of appearance and reality in the play of Macbeth. The reader or the audience can understand what Shakespeare was trying to do, whether he described an appearance that was false in reality or whether used to test another's innocence. In the end appearance does not always agree with the reality and that Shakespeare was demonstrating that the way people act on the outside and who they actually are on the inside may be two totally different things. ...read more.

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