Theme of Macbeth: Fair Is Foul and Foul Is FairGet Your
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Theme of “Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair” in Shakespeare’s Macbeth One of the most important themes in Macbeth involves the witches’ statement in Act 1, Scene1 that “fair is foul and foul is fair. ” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 10) When Macbeth and Banquo first see the weird sisters, Banquo is horrified by their hideous appearances. Conversely, Macbeth immediately began to converse with these universally known evil creatures.
After hearing their prophecies, Macbeth considered the witches to be “fair” when in reality their intentions were quite “foul. Macbeth’s possession of the titles of Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland came by foul means. Macbeth became the Thane of Glamis by his father Sinel’s death; he became Thane of Cawdor when the former thane was executed for treason; and he was ordained King of Scotland after murdering King Duncan.
Macbeth seems to have a rulthless way of advancing in life. This theme is further verified by King Duncan’s statement “There’s no art/ To find the mind’s construction in the face? (Act 1, Scene 4, Lines 11-12) Although Macbeth has the appearance of the amicable and dutiful host (“fair”), he is secretly plotting Duncan’s death (“foul”). Furthermore, Lady Macbeth’s orchestration of the murder exemplifies the twisted atmosphere in Inverness. Both a woman and a host, she should be the model of grace and femininity. She is described, however, as a “fiendlike queen” (Act 5, Scene 6, Line 69) and exhibits a cold, scheming mentality.
In addition, the very porter of Inverness likens the place to the dwelling of the devil Beelzebub. This implies that despite its “pleasant seat,” (Act 1, Scene 6, Line 1) Inverness is a sinister and evil place. It is also interesting to note that Macbeth is unable to say a prayer to bless himself after murdering Duncan. It is strange and “foul” that he should think of religion after committing such an unholy act. The very sanction of sleep and repose is also attacked in Macbeth.
What is normally considered a refreshing and necessary human activity is “murdered” by Macbeth after he commits his wicked crime. Neither Macbeth nor his wife is able to sleep after killing Duncan. Macbeth’s lack of sleep makes him a brutal killer; Lady Macbeth begins to sleepwalk and unintentionally reveals the source of her distress through her nightly babble. In addition, Macbeth gains an almost inhuman strength and courage after his first crime. He is more courageous in crime than he has ever been in virtuous deed, which is a good example of “foul” play.
Author: Kimber Trivett
Theme of Macbeth: Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair
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Macbeth Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair
"Fair is Foul, and foul is fair," these lines are the very backbone of Shakespeare's play. This oxymoron aptly describes the macabre status quo within the character Macbeth and without. In other words what seems from outside is not what is from within. The lines are chanted by the three witches at the start of act 1 scene 1. They seem to give a sense of foreboding to the audience of the dark event about to take place. The couplet sets forth the values of the play and gives an eerie and forbidding effect to it. It is worth noting that when Shakespeare writes a couplet he is very serious. Interestingly the first words Macbeth speaks refer to a fair and foul day. Thus Shakespeare emphasizes the importance of the line again at the start of scene 3.
The lines told by the weird sisters at the start of the play carry throughout the play and are among the most important theme Shakespeare builds Macbeth on. The fact that it is the witches who say it gives significance since witches are evil and they delight in confusing people in what is good and what is bad.
They do just that confusing Macbeth till his understanding of right and wrong is blurred. Till the fair Macbeth becomes the foul Macbeth. The couplet does not make much sense at the beginning but as the play progresses the meaning becomes clear and we understand that what seemed fair that is Macbeth was actually foul. First through the narration of the wounded captain we learn of the bravery and greatness of Macbeth. Then we meet Macbeth who in turn meets the weird sisters. Instead of being happy as he should be if one has just been prophesized he is silent. His body language does not show optimism either he seems to 'start' upon being proclaimed as a future king.
What does Shakespeare mean by Fair? A definition of fair is something that is positive which embodies good values. Interestingly Macbeth is described in Scene 2 of Act 1 by the wounded captain as a person possessing many of those 'Fair' qualities. We know that he is brave as seen from the lines of the captain- 'Like valor's minion, carved out his passage'. This ghastly line depicts a brave soldier willing to risk his life for the king by 'Carving' his passage through group of soldiers and then slicing the rebel Macdonwald in...
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