Macbeth: Appearance vs. Reality

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Honestly Deceitful

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth some of the physical qualities that an object or person have do not necessarily correspond with its reality/personality. The theme ‘appearance versus reality’ appears a lot in Macbeth and it’s quite significant because deceit, which is a big part of the plot in the play, is based off of this theme, whether its related to what eye can see, or personality. In the end, it seems as though appearing differently than they really are, doesn’t work out for any of the characters in the end. A smile could mean a real smile, though it could also mean anger, revenge, or deceit.

“And nothing is what is not.” (1.3.155). This line being said by Macbeth, shows what’s underneath his layer of faithfulness: he starts to believe that the right thing to do is kill Duncan. It said after the witches gave the prophecy that Macbeth will become king and after Macbeth is announced Thane of Cawdor, showing that the prophecy may very well be true. Macbeth is expressing that he is confused about what to do – something that may seem right to him, will not seem right to the people around him. Macbeth seems like a very faithful man; he fought for Duncan, the king, and really cares about his friends and his country. Along with his confusion about his moral reasoning, he also expresses his shock for seeing the supernatural (evidently, witches aren’t a normal spotting).

"Look like th’ innocent flower / but be the serpent under ‘t.”(1.6.76-77). Said by Lady Macbeth, this quote compares the difference of physical animals to the deceitful personality she wants Macbeth to persevere. A flower is innocent, attractive, and sometimes bland – unlike the look of a murderer. A serpent is cruel, dangerous, and sneaky: the exact qualities a murderer needs to do his deed without getting caught. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth’s personality tilts closer to the flower, while nearing the end, it clearly shows the other end of the scale (a serpent)....
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