Appearance vs Reality in Macbeth

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Appearance vs. Reality in Macbeth The theme of appearance and reality is first introduced in Act 1 Scene 1, when the witches say: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair,/ Hover through the fog and filthy air.” This paradox warns the audience that deceit is a major theme of this Shakespearean tragedy and hints that the characters who appear to be “fair” are in fact “foul” beneath their facades. The reference to “fog” suggests that the “foul” characters succeed in obscuring their evil intentions through convincing fronts making it unclear for the other characters to pick up on. The first character to fall under Macbeth and his wife’s deceit is King Duncan who even says in Act 1 Scene 4 “There’s no art/ To find the mind’s construction in the face.” He is referring to the “gentleman” Thane of Cawdor whom he had “absolute trust” in but ended up betraying him. This is ironic because right after this Duncan puts all his trust in Macbeth who ends up killing him – the king appears to have his vision clouded by the “fog” which prevents him from singling out betrayal (he is a poor judge of character). However, unlike their father Donaldbain and Malcolm sense deceit, after their father is announced dead they decide to flee Scotland in fear of murder. As Donaldbain says: “There’s daggers in men’s smiles; the nea’er in blood, /The nearer bloody.” They notice the concept of deceptive appearances and know that if the murderer had no problem with killing the king then they will be murdered without a second thought – as long as they are close to murder, theirs is inevitable. Donaldbain associates daggers with blood which is connected to the first scene in this Act where a dagger appears to Macbeth. This association may also suggest that the two brothers subconsciously know that Macbeth killed their father – this relates to Freud’s iceberg metaphor which is that the fully conscious

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