Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair

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“Fair is foul and foul is fair”. Discuss how the play Macbeth shows a disrupted world.

The play Macbeth revolves around several main themes including the contradicting ‘fair is foul and foul is fair’ where things are not what they seem. This theme reflects on the reality of the world, neither good nor evil but a combination of both. William Shakespeare demonstrates during the course of the play how contradictory people and life can be. The disruption of ‘The Great Chain of Being’ is also focused on throughout the play as unnatural happenings occur during the night of Duncan’s murder. Truthful words spoken by supernatural beings that seem to be good are revealed to cause harm and the people who are trusted most and considered loyal are discovered to be traitors.

It is believed that when ‘The Great Chain of Being’, the hierarchy of supremacy, is disrupted then everything else is thrown into chaos. During the dinner held for King Duncan the mood is joyful and everyone is having a great time, until strange events occur. When King Duncan is murdered by Macbeth ‘The Great Chain of Being’ is disturbed. This is because no one of lesser rank is allowed to commit a crime against a higher rank without being cursed with misfortune. In reaction to Duncan’s death, nature begins to mirror the unnaturalness of the regicide throughout the night. The night was “unruly”, “the earth was feverous” and an owl killed its predator, a falcon – Something “unnatural…like the deed that’s done”. The world shown in Macbeth is unsettled, caused by the twisted personalities of those in it whose actions go against the natural order.

Through Macbeth, Shakespeare conveys the true power of words and how they may not be as simple as they seem. When the witches prophesise to Macbeth they tell truths to “win [him]to [his] harm”. By telling two truths, they convince Macbeth that they can foresee the future and use this trust to plant foul thoughts into him. The news of becoming King brings...
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