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Research paper topic: Macbeth - 1010 words
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Macbeth Does the statement "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" thoroughly expresses the many themes of Shakespeares Macbeth? The first time we hear the statement is very early in the play when the witches say the exact line "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" only for Macbeth himself to repeat it very closely two scenes later. This repetition of the lines shows me that the characters themselves believe that there are many foul events taking place. In this essay I will endeavour to prove that the above statement doesnt express Macbeth thoroughly. Firstly I will show the fair Macbeth himself degrading into a foul inhuman monster. Secondly, I will compare the witches to Macbeth to demonstrate the real foulness in these characters. I will then show why I believe that there simply isnt any fairness existing in Macbeth. Then I will point out that there are simply too many themes in Shakespeares Macbeth to be summed up in one line. Macbeth, in the beginning, is a man of valour, honour and nobility.
By his loyal traits he helps maintain Scotlands stability. Macbeth, on the outside, seems to be the fairest man in all Scotland, however we know better. Under the cloaking shadows of his skin, Macbeth hides his one weakness - that is ambition. His wife knows of his ambition and stirs him to act on it. Macbeth struggles with a choice; should he let the witches prophecies realise themself, or should he take steps to the achieve them.
He knows that the latter choice will involve the murder of his virtuous king Duncan, but even this isnt enough to sway him as he, after urging form his wife, chooses the latter. In doing so, Macbeth unrobed himself of all that is good in the human soul - kindness, courage, honour and love. Macbeth becomes so obsessed with his chase of glory that he turns away from all that he once cherished, even his wife. Macbeth becomes so blinded by his new robes of kingdom that he doe! snt even notice his wife slipping away into insanity. In the beginning Macbeth had great trouble with the concept of murder, he regrets killing Duncan - "Wake Duncan with thoust knocking, I would if I could." However, by the end of the play Macbeth shows no sign of his human qualities, he has in fact become quite inhuman, quite foul.
Sometimes if we dont look carefully we only see things skin deep. Take the scene when Macbeth and Banquo first see the three witches. If we dont look carefully we see the fair Macbeth talking to the foul witches. However, are the witches really the foul ones? I think Macbeth is really the foul one of the party. This doesnt say that the witches are fair, but it does say that they are not foul.
The real blackness lies deep within Macbeth. So, who are the fair ones? I cant really say. I mean Macbeth is not because we know he is a cold murderer in the end, and I dont think that the witches are either. I have trouble in saying the witches are fair, because, they are witches. I would go as far to say that neither of them are fair.
However, I need to point out that those who dont look deeply enough would call Macbeth fair and the three witches foul. Beauty is only skin deep, but the will to do evil is deep to the bone. This doesnt mean that the witches are not fo! ul. In fact I think they are, witches are said to be the lovers of Satan, they carry with them images of darkness and death, how could these supernatural beings not be described as foul? As you can see I havent identified any fairness in Macbeth. This is because I believe there is none. Macbeth has been described as the "Most profound and mature vision of evil." How can there be anything fair in a play based on evil, murder and treachery? People may argue that Macduff, the eventual victor of Macbeth was the true and good man in the play, but I would say that by winning the crown in violence, Macduff has repeated Macbeths act. Its true that Macduffs cause was more wholesome, but to coin an old phrase He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. Who can say that Duncan came into the crown by inheritance? Shakespeare has hatched a vicious circle of deception and treachery.
Perhaps its simply the witches that keep the circle in motion. If you read into Macbeth you can see many themes. Most of them can be found in Macbeth himself. For example, Macbeth shows us that evil doesnt pay and that ambition is blind. The play Macbeth contains so much imagery of evil, darkness, blood, supernatural, untimely death and murder.
I find it inconceivable that so many themes can be well summed up in "Fair is foul and foul is fair". The principle behind Macbeth is a simple human truth, and that is of human frailty - Man can be destroyed by inner and outer circumstances. This statement is so powerful and indeed meaningful that "fair is foul and foul is fair" simply doesnt match up. The repetition of the line "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" could simply be attributed to coincidence. There was only ever one man who really knew what the above line meant, and this essay has barely scratched at the surface of his Macbeth.
I recall someone saying that without sorrow we can not know joy, so perhaps the fact that I can see evil in Macbeth shows there is also good. There are so many layers to the tragic play, Ive found it impossible to consider them all here. I may be entirely wrong in this essay, however, I believe that I followed the right path to be able to come to my conclusion - "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" does not completely summarise every theme in Shakespeares Macbeth.
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