Bryan Benalcazar AP Literature Deception and Inner Conflicts in Macbeth In today’s world, people live through lies and within fraudulence that cause conflicts within one’s self. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the protagonist, Macbeth encounter inner conflicts that introduce the idea of duplicity in the text through the discrepancy of the proposed murder and the irony that is established by his ambition, which established the central theme of the play of appearance vs. reality.
The discrepancy of the proposed murder reveals Macbeth’s inner thoughts and his incapability to decide whether or not the murder is in his best interest. Macbeth states, “But in these cases / We still have judgment here, that we but teach / Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return / To plague th’ inventor” (1. 7. 6-10). At the beginning of the soliloquy we get a sense of reassurance that Macbeth wants to kill Duncan, but this quote is more hesitant, offering the idea that violence teaches other people to pursue violent actions.
This ideal contradicts the beginning of the soliloquy with the intention of giving both sides of Macbeth’s inner conflict. After, the contradiction between his judgment and the justice bestowed, Macbeth states: “He’s here in double trust: / First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, / Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, / […] / Not bear the knife myself” (1. 7. 12-16). There is more discrepancy with Macbeth’s action towards Duncan because now he gives us reasons to believe that he will not kill Duncan but still remaining with the idea of him being kinsman yet he will be the one holding the knife.
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This then sets the tone to be ominous as we get a sense of confusion and lead to the development of Macbeth’s inner thoughts and conflict leading up to his final verdict. Through the discrepancy there is a motivating factor that enlightens the establishment of deception. Ambition is the motivating factor for Macbeth to kill Duncan, but it is ironic that supports the claim that everything is not what it seems. The soliloquy ends with Macbeth stating, “To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself / and falls on the other” (1. 7. 6-28). This part of the soliloquy is ironic because Macbeth says one thing but really means something else; the ambition is his justification to kill Duncan, yet ambition causes the inevitable disaster. The implication of the disaster is the death of Duncan but the idea of ambition is a motivating factor and not catastrophic, which demonstrates the ideal of everything is not what it seems (appearance vs. reality). Lady Macbeth questions his ambition, she says, “Was the hope drunk / […] / Art thou afeard / To be the same in thine own act of valor / As thou art desire?
Wouldst thou have that / Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, / and live a coward in thine own esteem,” (1. 7. 35-43). Throughout the first act, Macbeth is overpowered by the ideals of Lady Macbeth, which infers that Lady Macbeth created Macbeth’s own ambition. The irony of Macbeth’s ambition is inevitable through the influences of Lady Macbeth; the idea that everything is not what it seems is compelled through the generalizations of ambition and its dangerous effects that are bestowed upon it through its irony.
Macbeth’s ambition thus represents the idea of deception through the ideal of everything is not what it seems, which coincides with the theme: appearance vs. reality. Throughout Act I, the theme of appearance vs. reality is deliberately used to display the connection between the betrayal of the king and the reality of the situation. Macbeth says to Banquo, “So foul and fair a day I have not seen” (1. 3. 38). This is an example of the usage of appearance vs. reality foreshadowing the inner conflict that Macbeth faces later in the scene. Foul and fair” are contradictions of each other, which lead the display that “foul” represents the betrayal of the king, whereas “fair” is the reality of him becoming king through the action of murder. The conversation with Banquo in the beginning of Act I, Scene 3 foreshadows the aside that begins: “This supernatural soliciting / Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, / Why hath it given me earnest of success, / […] / And nothing is but what is not” (1. 3. 131-43).
The ending of his aside initiates the theme of appearance vs. reality, where he states the only things that really matter to him are things that do not exist; the things that do not exist are the reason for the inner conflict of his self-being. The betrayal of the king is demonstrated through the wicked thoughts of murdering the king and the reality of the situation is that he is stifled by his own thoughts and speculations that make him question himself. The theme of appearance vs. eality juxtaposes with idea of deception through Macbeth’s words and actions; the discrepancy of the proposed murder and the irony of his ambition establish a deeper understanding of Macbeth’s inner conflicts. Shakespeare’s Macbeth portrays the inner conflicts of Macbeth introducing the idea of deception through the connection of betrayal and the reality of the betrayal, the contemplation of the murder, and the claim that everything is not what it seems. The theme of appearance vs. eality connects to the discrepancy of the proposed murder where the idea brings about contemplation of the murder and the ambition that leads Macbeth to complete the action leads to the idea of deception of one’s self being. The issue of deception provides insight in regards to how people during the 11th century were dishonest in England leading to the re-evaluation of one’s self image and realization of not focusing on one’s morals. Works Cited Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2007. Print.
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