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Appearance Versus Reality In Macbeth Essay

1880 words - 8 pages

It has been said that it is not right to judge a book by its cover as the way it appears does not always show the way it reall

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair. / Hover through the fog and filthy air" (I, I, 10-11). In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare displays that how things appear on the outside may not always be how they truly are, leading people into false security. This is shown through Macbeth, the Witches and dream imagery.

In Macbeth, Shakespeare portrays the theme of appearance versus reality through the character of Macbeth, and more specifically, his relationship with King Duncan. Upon meeting Macbeth, Duncan thinks quite highly of Macbeth and ...view middle of the document...

Finally through the appearance versus reality theme it is shown that appearance creates security in a character which is made false by the contrasting reality. Duncan has trust and feels secure with Macbeth which was proved false when Macbeth murdered him.

Appearance versus reality is also apparent in the poem Macbeth through the Witches. When Macbeth comes to the Witches for the second time he has already gained trust in them as their first three prophecies had come true. On the second visit the Witches show Macbeth three apparitions. Two of these apparitions were equivocations in order to mislead Macbeth. "Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn / The power of man, for none of women born shall harm Macbeth" (IV, i, 78-80). This is the second apparition. To Macbeth this appears to mean that no man can defeat him as without a woman a birth cannot occur. This appearance gives him the false security that he will not be defeated in combat by another man. This gives him the courage to stand strong and not give up to Macduff and his army. In reality however, this apparition was an equivocation. The Witches knew that Macduff was not of women born and was removed from the womb through a caesarian section therefore giving him the power to defeat Macbeth. This reality versus the appearance that was given to Macbeth through the apparition misled him into a false sense of security against Macduff. The third apparition was also an equivocation from the Witches in which things were not as they seemed. "Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until / Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him" (IV, I, 91-93). This apparition states that Macbeth shall never be defeated until the Great Birnam Wood forest moves to Dunsinane Hill. Through Macbeth's eyes this apparition would appear to say that he would never be defeated because the Great Birnam Wood forest cannot move itself to Dunsinane Hill. This appearance once again gives him a false sense of security that he will never be defeated as trees cannot move. In strong contrast however is the reality that this apparition was an equivocation. The Witches of course knew that trees could not move on their own however, the branches of the trees in the Great Birnam Wood forest were broken off by Macduff's army and carried to Dunsinane Hill as a way to disguise themselves. Since the Great Birnam Wood has now moved to Dunsinane Hill Macduff's army has the power to defeat Macbeth. Once again this shocking reality versus the appearance that was given to Macbeth through the apparition misled him into a false sense of security.


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