Macbeth: Appearance and Reality
The theme of appearance versus reality is very important in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The characters of Duncan, Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth are unable to differentiate between appearance and reality, resulting in tragic consequences. Poor judgment is evidenced by Duncan, who trusts Macbeth too much; Lady Macbeth, who is fooled by the witches; and Macbeth, who is tricked repeatedly by others.
King Duncan trusts Macbeth too much. Macbeth appears as a superhero and faithful to King Duncan. He fights against the traitor Macdonwald, and he helps the king to solve a great problem that wins the war. Duncan trusts Macbeth very much because of Macbeth’s heroic efforts and he gives Macbeth the title “Thane of Cawdor”. In actuality, Macbeth is not as faithful to the king as he appears. He has the ambition to become king after hearing the prophecies from the three witches. After Macbeth returns to his castle, he makes plans with Lady Macbeth to kill Duncan when he comes to visit. As soon as Duncan arrives, he says something very important. Duncan says, “This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air/ Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself/ Unto our gentle senses” (I.vi.1-3). This quote shows that Duncan, like Macbeth, even feels that Macbeth’s place is comfortable for him. Duncan never suspects the trustworthiness of Macbeth and never does anything to guard himself. Macbeth kills Duncan easily. Therefore MacBeth’s appearance deceives Duncan.
Lady Macbeth is tricked by the three witches. When Macbeth gives Lady Macbeth the prophecies from the three witches, Lady Macbeth realizes how terrific it would be for her to be queen once Macbeth becomes the king. Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to kill king Duncan, and this action causes Macbeth to commit his first crime. Lady Macbeth becomes extremely nervous, continually walking in her sleep, trying to clean Duncan’s blood from her hands. Eventually she kills herself. The witches’ appearance led Lady Macbeth to her death. Lady Macbeth is also tricked by the appearance of herself. In the beginning she thinks that she should persuade Macbeth to kill Duncan. When Lady Macbeth finds out about the prophecies from the witches, she says:
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts! Unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty; make thick my blood,
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nation
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see...