Theme of Macbeth: Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair

Topics: Macbeth, King Duncan, Duncan I of Scotland Pages: 2 (439 words) Published: October 17, 2007
Theme of "Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair" in Shakespeare's Macbeth

One of the most important themes in Macbeth involves the witches' statement in Act 1, Scene1 that "fair is foul and foul is fair." (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 10) When Macbeth and Banquo first see the weird sisters, Banquo is horrified by their hideous appearances. Conversely, Macbeth immediately began to converse with these universally known evil creatures. After hearing their prophecies, Macbeth considered the witches to be "fair" when in reality their intentions were quite "foul." Macbeth's possession of the titles of Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland came by foul means. Macbeth became the Thane of Glamis by his father Sinel's death; he became Thane of Cawdor when the former thane was executed for treason; and he was ordained King of Scotland after murdering King Duncan. Macbeth seems to have a rulthless way of advancing in life. This theme is further verified by King Duncan's statement "There's no art/ To find the mind's construction in the face…" (Act 1, Scene 4, Lines 11-12) Although Macbeth has the appearance of the amicable and dutiful host ("fair"), he is secretly plotting Duncan's death ("foul"). Furthermore, Lady Macbeth's orchestration of the murder exemplifies the twisted atmosphere in Inverness. Both a woman and a host, she should be the model of grace and femininity. She is described, however, as a "fiendlike queen" (Act 5, Scene 6, Line 69) and exhibits a cold, scheming mentality. In addition, the very porter of Inverness likens the place to the dwelling of the devil Beelzebub. This implies that despite its "pleasant seat," (Act 1, Scene 6, Line 1) Inverness is a sinister and evil place. It is also interesting to note that Macbeth is unable to say a prayer to bless himself after murdering Duncan. It is strange and "foul" that he should think of religion after committing such an unholy act. The very sanction of sleep and repose is also attacked in Macbeth. What is...
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