Macbeth: Theme of Appearance vs Reality

Appearance vs Reality


When the play begins, and Macbeth hears of the Witches’ prophecies, he believes them a lot quicker than Banquo who dismisses them. When the Witches chant “fair is foul and foul is fair”. their words are deliberately unclear, suggesting that there are characters in the play who act good and righteous but are actually evil. In another instance king Duncan describes King Duncan as being a ‘worthy gentlemen’, however, his actions and motives are not what they appear to be on the surface, as Macbeth ends up being a traitor. Up until killing the King in act 2, scene 2, Macbeth is nothing but nice to King Duncan.

Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth into pretending to be kind and loyal, “look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it”. This is from Act 1, scene 5 where she finds out about the witches predictions and urges Macbeth to follow through with the acts to make sure he becomes King.

King Duncan is an excellent example of someone easily fooled by appearances. He put his full trust in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. He trusted the previous Thane of Cawdor as well, who was also revealed to be a traitor.

Macbeth also trusts the Witches completely. He doesn’t bother to question their motives or ask himself whether what they’re saying is reasonable. Their appearance would have been enough to frighten the Jacobean audience at the time, however, this does not deter Macbeth, as his ambitious nature is too powerful and he revisits them once more to gain more information.