Macbeth Themes

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The actions of Macbeth and other characters show that appearances are misleading and Shakespeare created dialogue that constantly incorporates techniques that represent this duplicity. Equivocation is especially found in the line from Act 1 Scene 7: “False face must hide what the false heart doth know." Shakespeare uses repetition of the adjective false to link the appearance of the face and the heart. Macbeth’s facial expression is false as he is acting customary to the routine of everyday life, whilst in fact covering up the guilt of murder. Macbeth’s heart is false as he displays meaningful and authentic sorrow for the death of Duncan, a beloved King, when in fact he is the one who killed him and becomes King as a result. The word false links the face and the heart as aspects of Macbeth’s dishonesty. Another technique Shakespeare uses to create a sense of duplicity is irony, which is evident in the quote from Act 1 Scene 4. “There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face”. This was said by Duncan to his son about the courage of the Thane of Cawdor during his execution. Duncan makes this judgement quite casually and unemotionally, which is ironic for it is this very theory which is proved when Duncan himself is murdered. The irony is used to stress the significance of the issue of deception throughout the play. Superstition also has an underlying role in the play, the cause of Macbeth’s ambition. From the moment the witches prophesise Macbeth’s fate, he has had an irrational interest in their beliefs which has a large effect on his behaviour. One way in which Shakespeare conveys this is through the complexity of their predicting. “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. Not so happy, yet much happier. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.” Here, Shakespeare uses riddles and paradoxes to confuse Macbeth and the audience by giving vague and opposite ideas about their fate, for example not happy, but happier. This consequently causes Macbeth to dwell...
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