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Macbeth – Fair is Foul “Fair is foul and fouls is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air. ” The paradox “Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” expresses some of the many themes of Macbeth. There are several different ways in which these words can be interpreted.

The first time we hear the statement is in the opening scene when the witches say the exact line “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” and Macbeth himself repeats it later almost precisely in Act 1 Scene 3: “So fair and foul a day I have not seen” Act 1 Scene 1, line 48 Which suggests a link between Macbeth and the sisters, though the interesting thing is that he hasn’t even met them yet, although they have already conspired to meet with him. They lure him with fair means, by telling him a small truth, to a foul end. Banquo suspects this, but Macbeth ignores his warnings.

The witches themselves seem to be the embodiment of the foul part of the phrase. At the time, people were very superstitious about witches, believing they were evil and should be burned. They would obviously assume the witches to be evil and untrustworthy. During this time, Guy Fawkes had tried to overthrow the English king, but had failed. However, Macbeth succeeded in acquiring the throne. Perhaps it was only because of the evil witches that he managed to do so. It is possible that he wouldn’t have even attempted to become king if the witches had not enticed him with their predictions.

The witches also have an eerie atmosphere about them because they always speak in rhyme. When they were first introduced, they were meeting in a storm and by the darkness and turbulence; the audience can tell straight away that they are going to be evil characters in the play. Also the ingredients they use for their spells and charms are unnatural and disgusting. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” can be related to the The witches delight in confusion, always speaking in rhyme and often contradicting themselves in what they say, “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.

Not so happy, yet much happier. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:” Act 1 Scene 3, lines 65-67 Their exact meanings are never clear and even their appearances are confusing, as Banquo states: “You should be women, And yet your beards forbid me to interpret That you are so. ” Act 1 Scene 3, lines 45-47 Characters can sometimes appear to be under the influence of the witches at crucial points in the play, such as when Lady Macbeth calls upon evil spirits, it is very similar to a spell: “Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts!

Unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty ;make thick my blood, Stop up the access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between Th’effect and it! ” Act 1 Scene 5, lines 39-46 However, by the end of the play, it is more like Macbeth has recited this incantation, as he has become cold and destroyed everything that was ever good about himself. He cannot even find it in his heart to grieve for his wife, saying simply that she should have picked a better time to die.

During the play, we see certain character’s personalities changing from fair to foul, or foul to fair. For example, at the beginning of the play Macbeth is shown as a brave and noble warrior, perhaps the fairest man in the whole of Scotland. However, his ambition is stirred by the foul predictions of the witches: “All hail Macbeth! That shalt be King hereafter. ” Act 1 Scene 3, line 50 He tries to reject his “dark desires” to kill, but eventually at the cajoling of his wife he is driven to murder Duncan.

Before the deed is done, Macbeth’s soliloquy reveals his confusion as he considers all angles, reminding us of the chaos the witches bring. Everything is stacked against the murder, apart from his ambition which he knows can only lead to a fall. Even then, he is still convinced by Lady Macbeth to murder Duncan. After the murder, Macbeth begins a downward spiral, needing no more encouragement to kill and becoming so obsessed with his pursuit of glory that he doesn’t even notice Lady Macbeth slipping into insanity.

When she commits suicide, he finds he has lost the capacity for grief. At the start of the play Macbeth appeared to be a fair man, receiving nothing but praise from the wounded sergeant. He had great trouble bringing himself to murder Duncan, and afterwards is burdened with guilt and regret. He believed he was not fit to pray, and when he murdered Duncan, he murdered sleep at the same, time, so he will never be allowed to rest again. “What hands are here! Ha! They pluck out mine eyes. Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hands? Act 2 Scene 2, lines 59-61 However by the end of the play he is so foul he is almost inhuman. This is shown when he has Lady Macduff and her children massacred in cold blood, and he cannot possibly justify this crime in any way, as it was completely unnecessary. The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth also turns from fair to foul. At first they share everything, and Macbeth calls his wife “my dearest partner of greatness. “. When Lady Macbeth assesses her husband’s character, it is clear that she knows him very well.

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