Essay Macbeth Themes: Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair

900 Words Aug 27th, 2012 4 Pages
The theme of ‘Fair is foul, foul is fair’ permeates throughout the play 'Macbeth.' Explain what it means, providing examples from the play to support your answer:

One of the most important themes in the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare comes from one of the last lines in Act 1, Scene 1 of the play. The three witches speak this simple line ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair,’ shortly before they disperse and it becomes a prophecy and an underlying warning for the rest of the play. The connotations of this one line becomes significant as the play unfolds beginning even with Macbeth’s opinions at the beginning of the story and lasting throughout the play with the constant recurring themes of deception, doing evil in the name of good,
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But that these are only half truths and even when the witches reveal to Macbeth the apparitions and prophesies; ‘Beware Macduff;’ that ‘none of woman born shall harm Macbeth;’ and that ‘Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him;’ they speak in a way that causes Macbeth to believe he is invincible. This is highlighted in the quote where Banquo remarks: ‘Oftentimes, to win us our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence.’

Another way that the theme of ‘Fair is foul and foul is fair’ proffers itself is through the deception of King Duncan by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. This deception is even worse because of Duncan’s trust in Macbeth, so as Lady Macbeth quotes; ‘Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t.’ Duncan is not suspicious because as Macbeth quotes in his soliloquy; ‘He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed; then as his host, who should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself.’ It is doubly ironic that Duncan should trust and praise Macbeth so highly when he says to Lady Macbeth; ‘See, see, our honor’d hostess! The love that follows us sometime is our trouble, which still we thank as love. Herein I teach you how you shall bid God ‘ild us for your pains, and thank us for your trouble;’ and also that Duncan should replace a
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