Macbeth Themes - Appearance and Reality

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  • Appearance and Reality
    • This theme is established as a key theme at the very start of the play with the paradox "Fair is foul and foul is fair" suggesting that things are not what they seem to be
    • Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to "look like th'innocent flower but be the serpent under't", which shows how she wants Macbeth to deceive Duncan so that he doesn't find out about their plans
    • When he asks if the Thane of Cawdor has been killed yet, Duncan says "There's no art to find the mind's construction" which is ironic as he does not see Macbeth's plan to kill him
    • After Duncan's dead body is found, Macbeth asks questions like "What's the matter?" and "What is't you say, the life?" and Lady Macbeth asks "What, in our house?" as they pretend to not know of Duncan's murder and pretend to be shocked and confused
    • When Duncan has been found dead, Lady Macbeth dramatically cries "Help me hence, ho!" and pretends to faint to stop everyone from thinking that they killed Duncan
    • After Duncan's murder, Donalbain says "There's daggers in men's smiles" which shows that he, like his father, is aware of deception and therefore runs away to Ireland and his brother goes to England
    • Macbeth flatters Banquo and refers to him as "our chief guest" to find out where Banquo is going so that Macbeth can have him killed but this could also hint that Banquo is the next to be murdered
    • "Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?" suggests that Macbeth is unsure about whether the dagger is actually there or not and the audience are unsure about whether the witches have created the hallucination or Macbeth is just imagining it


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