“Fair and Foul” Defines Macbeth
Shakespeare wrote over 30 plays throughout his lifetime, but one of his most famous works is Macbeth. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth to impress King James I of England also known as King James VI of Scotland. The play begins in Scotland, with three witches that are arranging a time to meet with Macbeth and tell him his prophecy. Later Macbeth and Banquo come upon the witches when they tell Macbeth that he will be Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and finally, King. They tell Banquo that he will be lesser than Macbeth but a better person and that his descendants will be Kings. Shortly after the witches disappear, Ross and Angus enter and inform Macbeth that he is the new Thane of Cawdor, perfectly following through with the witches’ prophecies. King Duncan decides to change the rule from the strongest Thane becomes king after his death to his son Malcolm obtaining the throne. He then tells Macbeth that he will be staying at his house tonight. Macbeth writes a letter to his wife Lady Macbeth explaining all that has happened. Upon reading his letter, Lady Macbeth devises a plan to intoxicate Duncan’s guards and Macbeth to kill him. Macbeth never agrees to this but Lady Macbeth seduces him into committing the crime. When morning comes Macduff arrives to wake up the king but is stunned at the scene of a dead king and 3 guards. Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain decide to flea Scotland in fear of a conspiracy to murder them will arise, leaving Macbeth entitled to the throne. Macbeth remembers that the witches said that Banquos’ sons will become Kings and hires three murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. The murderers successfully kill Banquo but Fleance escapes. Macbeth decides to visit again the three witches to see what the future holds. They show him three apparitions; an armed head, a bloody child and a crowned child with a tree in his hand. Macduff is the first person to question Macbeth’s innocence with Duncan’s death. Macduff leaves his family unprotected to go to England and find Malcolm. Macbeth has Macduff’s family murdered. When Macduff meets with Malcolm he convinces him to come back to Scotland and kill Macbeth. Then Ross enters and tells him of the murders of his family. Malcolm and Macduff group an army together and head to fight Macbeth in the Birnam Woods. Macduff kills Macbeth off stage and returns to the stage with his head. In Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, the most prominent theme is “Fair is foul and foul is fair” (I,1,13,7) portrayed by Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Macduff.
The first character to display “Fair is foul and foul is fair” is Macbeth. When Lady Macbeth is seducing him to kill Duncan, Macbeth responds with 10 reasons why he says no. “He’s here in double trust: First I am his Kingsman and his subject, strong both against the deed”, (I,7,12-14,39). Macbeth is a loyal subject to the king and knows these actions would be foul. He does not want to kill Duncan because he trusts Macbeth and is loyal to him as well. With Banquo’s prophecy from the witches in mind, Macbeth plans to murder not only Banquo but also his son Fleance. “Its is concluded. Banquo, thy soul’s flight, If it find heaven, must find it out tonight”, (III,2,161-162,91). Banquo’s prophecy lead Macbeth to believe that he had killed Duncan for Banquo’s sons. Macbeth decides to set up a murder for Banquo, even though he is a fair man committing foul actions. After the mysterious death of Duncan and Banquo, Macduff begins to question Macbeth’s innocence with these murders. Macbeth decides to kill Macduff’s family. “I am in blood, stepped in so far that, should I wade no more. Returning were as tedious as I go o’er”, (III,4,136-138,119). Macbeth is now responsible for the deaths of Duncan and his three guards, Banquo and Macduff’s family. He is an entirely foul man in every aspect of his life. Macbeth was originally a fair man but becomes completely foul.
Throughout Macbeth, Lady Macbeth...
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