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Shakespeare's "Macbeth" Foul Is Fair, Fair Is Foul

775 words - 3 pages

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) This phrase aptly describes the macabre status quo within the character Macbeth and without. Throughout the play the reversal of ordinary events and the equivocation of main characters line the plot with a mysterious and inexplicable emotion, which culminates in the brief yet ferocious battle between good and evil.Nature is often used as a “backdrop”, a mirror that reflects the true on-goings of a plot and the true sentiments of its characters. In Macbeth this is very much true; Shakespeare uses nature to represent and indicate how upside-down Macbeth’s world has become. After his victorious combat in the first act of the play Macbeth comments to himself how “foul and fair a day I have not seen.” (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 38). He does not elaborate on this remark and, not a moment later, he happens upon the three witches. The witches recite their terrible prophecy unto Macbeth and, almost as if under a spell, he is enveloped in an insatiable thirst for more knowledge. Although Banquo attempts to rationalize Macbeth, he does not hear of it. Instead he declares, almost contradictorily so, “This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill, cannot be good” (Act 1, Scene 3, Line 130) From this point on Macbeth is stricken with the original sin; the greed for something unpossesed. This reversal of a seemingly brave and loyal warrior is manifested in various events throughout the play. In Act 2, for example, “Duncan's horses…beauteous and swift…turn'd wild in nature” and began to “eat each other” (Act 2, Scene 4, Line 16). And also “a falcon, towering in her pride of place…was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd.” (Act 2, Scene 4, Line 12) These two “unnatural…deeds” (Act 2, Scene 4, Line 14) portrayed by nature are also seen in Macbeths own life. Macbeth turns on his own kind, like the horses, and, like the owl, destroys someone greater than he, the murder of King Duncan. Another demonstration of this is when it is day “by the clock” it actually appears as if it were a “dark night” (Act 2, Scene 4, Line 5). This dearth of...

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