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Macbeth Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair

845 words - 3 pages

"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 two. These are the fair qualities of the...

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