Appearances Are Deceiving Essay Format

Appearances are Deceiving in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Reference quotes to the text and lines cited.

1495 WordsFeb 12th, 20046 Pages

The Renaissance play The Tragedy of Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, truly demonstrated a compelling tale of greed, power, and jealousy. The play revealed the turn of a good nobleman into a powerful and greedy king. It showed audiences how one crime led to another and eventually to a gruesome melee. Throughout the tragedy there appeared to be a reoccurring theme stated finest as appearances are deceiving. The audience is first introduced to the theme in the first scene of the play where the witches said the profound phrase, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (I, i, 10). The Tragedy of Macbeth continued to present the idea of images being deceivingly different from the actual appearance.

First, in Act I, the key phrase, "Fair is…show more content…

Additionally, Act III was replete with examples of the theme. Macbeth told Banquo, "We should have else desired your good advice / ... / In this day's council; but we'll take tomorrow[,]" (III, i, 20, 22) even though he knew Banquo will not see tomorrow, for Macbeth was arranging his murder. Then, he calumniated that Malcolm and Donalbain "are bestowed / In England and in Ireland, not confessing / Their cruel parricide," (III, i, 29-31) when, of course, he knows they are innocent of any wrongdoing. After Banquo leaves his palace, he told his guests that "To make society / The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourself / Till supper-time alone[,]" (III, i, 43) when in reality, he just wants time to consort with men to scheme Banquo's murder. In a discussion with his wife just before supper, Macbeth tells her to "Let [her] remembrance apply to Banquo[,]" whilst he knows that Banquo will be dead that night. Macbeth periodically deceives his guests with his words.

In addition, Act IV of Macbeth abundantly used examples of deceiving appearances. In the first scene of the fourth act, the three witches conjured apparitions for Macbeth. The second apparition, a bloody child, told Macbeth, "...for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth" (IV, i, 80-81). Macbeth assumed every person was born of woman; therefore, he was invincible. However, he did not see that the apparition was implying an unnatural birth, a caesarian

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Intro paragraph: In a riveting play laden with the supernatural, nothing is as it outwardly appears to the naked eye. Tension, mystery, dread and ambiguity pervade the drama. Using the theme of appearance vs reality, Shakespeare delves deep into the darker side of humanity and the inner plotting/scheming of the human mind.

1)Witches: the witches set the scene for confusion and illusion in the play. They successfully manage to mislead, cheat and incite evil throughout Scotland via deliberately ambiguous and misleading language. Even their physical appearance is contradictory and perturbing.


Fair is foul and foul is fair
Lesser than Macbeth and greater
You should be women and yet your beards forbid me to interpret
Look not like the inhabitants of the wart yet are on’t
(Last 2 are both Banquo)
This supernatural soliciting cannot be be ill, cannot be good

2)Duncan’s naive and misplaced trust shows that none can be believed or truly relied upon. The dramatic irony between himself and Macbeth as well as his dismissal of Donalbain’s advice are key.


Absolute trust
There’s no art to find the minds construction in the face
There’s daggers in men’s smiles
More is thy due then all can pay
(Duncan to Macbeth)
Valiant cousin
Black and deep desires

3)Lady Macbeth is the foremost example and epitome of deceit and false appearances. Inwardly she is consumed with a lust for power but outwardly maintains a masquerade of a loving and subservient wife.


Fill me from the crown to the toe top full of direst cruelty
Take my milk for gall you murdering ministers
Too full o’ the milk of human kindness
Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under’t
My keen knife not see the wound it makes
Honour’d hostess

4) Macbeth fools Duncan and carries out his coup against him. In the aftermath of the murder he abandons his once dearly held principles and lies to the assembly. Maintains his reputation while secretly corrupted by his own delusions of grandeur by building up a masquerade of selfless devotion and martyrdom.


Is this a dagger I see before me?
(Supernatural helps Macbeth to carry out the murder)
I do repent me of my fury that I did kill them (the two guards he framed for the murder)
Had I but died an hour before this chance I had lived a blessed time

5) Banquo is the most subtle example of appearance vs reality. He successfully hides his ambition. Unlike the others his mask is never unveiled due to his untimely demise at the hands of Macbeth.


Noble Banquo
Too cruel anywhere (the murder)
Bosom franchised and allegiance clear
I fight of treasonous malice
I fear thou playd’st most foully for it
May they not be my oracles as well?
But hush! No more.

6) Even the forces of good who oppose Macbeth are drawn into deception and appearance vs reality. The princes are falsely accused if Duncan’s murder. Malcolm is forced to lie to Macduff to test his loyalty and convictions. Very important paragraph, most people will overlook it.


Stolen away and fled which puts upon them suspicion of the deed
His flight was madness
(Macduff’s wife scorns his exile)
A good and virtuous nature may recoil under an imperial charge
Confound unity on earth
My more having will be as a sauce to make me hunger more

7) Macbeth himself is undone by his association with the witches. The equivocation of the witches give him a false sense of security and superiority which ultimately makes him very vulnerable to being overthrown.


Macbeth shall never be vanquished
Great Birnam wood
Shall come against him
None of woman born shall harm Macbeth
(All witches)
Damned all the trust them
Golden opinions
I cannot taint with fear
(All Macbeth)

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