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Macbeth: Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair

1309 words - 5 pages

Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair Men have always accused ravishing women of being dangerous, and blame them for all the world's ills. After all, all women are descendants of Eve, the beautiful temptress who caused the fall of man. The Greeks also blame women for the same evil, only they call her Pandora. Even the Chinese are afraid of their women, so much so that they crippled their women for a thousand years. They broke their women's feet in half and fell all over themselves praising these crippled "tottering willows of fascination" with feet like "perfumed lilies" that reeked of death. The name for "woman" in Chinese is xiao ren and nei ren, which means "person for the inside [of the house]" and "inferior man." Obviously, the men are so afraid of women that they need to cage them inside the house and insult them each time they say their name. Chinese history is full of stories of dangerous women, including one beautiful courtesan who so enchanted the emperor that he set the city on fire just to see her laugh. Similarly, in Shakespeare's Macbeth, Lady Macbeth spurs her husband into killing a king. Yet, she is not the only one who is not what she seems. Thus, in Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the characterization of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, and the witches to illustrate the fairness of the foul and the foulness of the fair. Lady Macbeth appears to be a beautiful lady, but in truth, she is a vile murderess. She tells Macbeth that he should look like "the innocent flower, but be the serpent under't" (1.6.75-78). Flowers symbolize beauty, life, and all that is fair, or "of pleasing appearance, especially because of a pure or fresh quality." In reality, she is a serpent, a symbol of the devil and deception. Even her hands are full of foul dirty spots of blood that she cannot wash off: "Out, damned spot! Out, I say!" she cries (5.1.37). Her hands are also "foul" in that they have "an offensive odor": "Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!" (5.1.53-55). Lady Macbeth is so full of foul thoughts that she wants to get rid of anything about her that seems fair, which is her femininity: "The raven himself is hoarse…Come you spirits…unsex me here;/And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full/ Of direst cruelty!" (1.5). Lady Macbeth is obsessed with murder and death. She mentions the raven, which is the symbol of death because they are cannibals and scavengers. Ravens rip the skin off fellow ravens that are not like them or are weak and eat them. In England, a tombstone is also called a ravenstone. In order to summon up the courage to kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth feels like she has to be unsexed. She believes that only men have what it takes to slay a king. Lady Macbeth is a malicious woman, who overthrows her husband's morals and convinces him into killing the king. In the beginning, Macbeth appears to be a dignified hero of Scotland and ironically perceives the day...

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