Theme of Deception/Deceit in Macbeth Throughout Macbeth things are not always as they seem. Deception in the play is always present, with Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the three witches being the chief instigators of deception. From the very first scene, the deception within Macbeth’s world is clearly defined.
“Fair is foul and foul is fair”, say the witches at the beginning of Macbeth. This language of contradiction that Shakespeare uses adds to the play’s sense of moral confusion and quickly introduces the theme of deception to the audience, by implying that nothing is quite as it seems.
Also, the play clearly shows how living a life of deceit will ultimately end in disaster. Macbeth, evidently led by his wife, but also by his own ambitions, is guilty of deception many times throughout the play. He deceives his comrade Banquo, King Duncan, as well as his public. From the beginning he welcomes Duncan into his home, knowing that he is about to be murdered. After murdering Duncan he then goes on to kill the guards outside Duncan’s chamber to cover up for himself and make it look as though the guards committed the murder. Lady Macbeth is also one who conveys the theme of deceit in this play.
She is very skilled at persuading others, especially her husband, into be She is telling Macbeth to look and act pure, but to be evil inside. ” However, Macbeth does not heed Banquo’s words of wisdom, and allows the witches to further deceive him with words that have double meanings and misleading messages, such as those spoken about Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane and that “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth”. The three witches portray the theme of deception in a different way. Banquo suspects their deception and treachery early on in the play, just after Macbeth has received the title of Thane of Cawdor.
The deception once foregrounded as an advantageous quality has now led to this self-deception, craziness, and Lady Macbeth’s eventual suicide. She schemes and plans right from the beginning to influence Macbeth to kill Duncan and make himself king. “To beguile the time Look like the time, bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower But be the serpent under’t. They play with Macbeth right from the start by greet him as ‘Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and King hereafter’ knowing Macbeth will go to any lengths to make these prophecies true.
Self-deception is the worst kind of deceit, as we can see that the guilt becomes overwhelming, causing insanity. The deceit does take its toll: “O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! ”, and Macbeth’s conscience is imprisoned by the build up of denial and self-deception. The illusions, such as the ghost of Banquo and the knife, show that like his wife, Macbeth’s own self-deception has sent him crazy. She is finally so caught up in deception that she cannot take the stress any more. Macbeth’s learned evilness and deception also affects him negatively, and the quest to be king is tragic.
Macbeth’s state of mind is also not that of a normal person, as he is trying to go against his nature to convince himself that deception is the only way to be King. Moral Lessons of Macbeth “Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t. ” (Shakespeare 1. 5. 64-66) Throughout Shakespeare’s Macbeth, things are not always as they seem. Deception in this play is always present, especially with the main characters – Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is the most skilled at persuading others, especially her husband, into believe things that are not true.
The above quote, spoken by Lady Macbeth to her husband, shows exactly how manipulative and deceiving she can be. She is telling Macbeth to look and act pure, but to be evil inside. Macbeth, evidently led by his wife, but also by his own ambitions, is likewise guilty of deception. He deceives his best friend Banquo, King Duncan, as well as his public. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth also try to use denial and rationalization to deceive themselves. This self-deception leads to grave circumstances for them both. Macbeth is forced into further and further lies, making life difficult and unbearable.
Lady Macbeth is also caught in the depths of deception and eventually kills herself. Therefore, it is obvious that the main characters of Shakespeare’s Macbeth are all negatively affected by the recurring theme of deception. Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth uses her ability to mislead others in many ways. First of all, she decides to use deception to push her husband’s ambition to be king. … Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear, and chastise with the valour of my tongue all that impedes thee from the golden round… (1. 5. 25-28)
Lady Macbeth believes that, to be successful in his ambitions, Macbeth must rise above his goodness and accept her evil ways. She knows that the process of making her husband believe what she wants may not be easy. Lady Macbeth has to be cunning, and she is up for the challenge. The thought of being in power – the King and Queen of Scotland – drives her and she cannot be stopped. Lady Macbeth often has to reinforce her immoral beliefs to her husband, giving him a boost. Was the hope drunk, wherein you dressed yourself? hath it slept since, and wakes it now, to look so green and pale at what it did so freely?
From this time such I account thy love. Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour, as thou art desire? Wouldst thous have that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem, letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,” Like the poor cat I’the adage? “(1. 7. 35-42) Lady Macbeth implies that Macbeth is being cowardly by not going after what he wants. She preys upon her husband’s pride to remind him of his ambitions. Once she has schooled her husband in the art of deception, she must help him uphold this image and the lies. This deceit always results in hazardous utcomes. Although Lady Macbeth is the most talented deceiver, Macbeth is also lead into committing his own deceptions. He begins to learn from his wife, and, in turn, proceeds to deceive many others. Deceiving his friends becomes a frequent habit, and Macbeth is forced to continue his lies and stories. Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends; I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing to those that know me. Come, love and health to all; then I’ll sit down. – Give me some wine: fill full: – I drink to the general joy of the whole table, and to our dear friend Banquo, whom we miss; would he were here. (3. 4. 4-91) This falsehood is evident, as Macbeth is trying to fool his dinner guests about the reasons for his strange behaviour. Pretending that everything is fine eventually does not work, and as the play continues, so does the deception on many different levels. Deceiving others may seem difficult, but deceiving oneself leads to even bigger problems. Lady Macbeth is so occupied with trying to mislead others, while rationalizing the deception to herself and her husband, that she does not notice how much the guilt is building. She finally gets so caught up in the deception game, that she cannot take it anymore.
Lady Macbeth’s worry that people are no longer falling for their deceptive ways, comes out in one of her mad ramblings in front of the doctor: “… What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? “(5. 1. 35-37). Though she is trying to be bold, saying that she does not care who knows what they have done, the statement proves that she does fear being detected. In the end, Lady Macbeth’s guilt over all of the lies gets the better of her. She goes mad, sleepwalking and rambling about the murders. “Wash your hands, put on your night-gown; look not so pale. – I tell you yet again,
Banquo’s buried: he cannot come out on’s grave. “(5. 1. 58-60) The deception that Lady Macbeth once prided herself on, lead to the self-deception, which then lead to her death when she committed suicide. Macbeth is also in over his head, and his mind starts to play tricks on him on more than one occasion: Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee: I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. (2. 1. 33-36) … art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? (2. 1. 37-39) Macbeth’s state of mind is not that of a normal man.
He is trying so hard to go against his nature, convincing himself that deception is the only way to be King. The deceit does take its toll: “O! full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! “(3. 2. 36) Macbeth becomes imprisoned by his illusions caused by the build up of denial and self-deception. Banquo’s ghost is an example of these illusions. “… Take any shape but that [Banquo’s] and my firm nerves shall never tremble: or , be alive again… “(3. 4. 103-104) Macbeth’s inner struggle is coming out and, because his mind is in such a state, he can no longer control his behavior. Like his wife, Macbeth’s own inner deception has made him crazy.
Macbeth goes from being a noble warrior with honest ambition, to someone that cannot even control his own thoughts anymore, due to all of the deception. From the end results of the play, we can clearly see how deception ruins lives. Shakespeare shows the audience that misleading others – and oneself, is not honorable nor the way to get ahead. Lady Macbeth’s ability to seduce her husband into having immoral thoughts, leading to immoral actions to gain power, does not pay off. Macbeth’s learned evilness and deception also affects him negatively, and the quest to be king is tragic.
Self-deception is the worst kind of deceit, as we can see that the guilt becomes overwhelming, causing insanity. Evil deception of any kind is clearly harmful and a valid moral lesson can be taken from this play. Deception is the heart of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Everything revolves around what seems to be; however, the truth does not emerge until the end when all deceptions are revealed. The witches and Macbeth use the tools of deception to cloud the issues and move the play along leaving the reader to ascertain what is real. The Weird sisters set up the theme of appearance vs. eality with their opening lines “fair is foul, and foul is fair, /hover through the fog and filthy air” (1. 1. 12-13). These lines hint to the reader that people and events in the play will not be as they appear! When the witches give Macbeth his three titles Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis, and King hereafter (1. 3. 51-53) thoughts of suspicion arise. Will Macbeth try to achieve these titles or let things take their natural course? Banquo tries to be the voice of reason and portrays feelings of doubt in his lines: “That, trusted home, /Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, /Besides the Thane of Cawdor.
But tis’ strange. / And oftentimes to win us to our harm,/The instruments of darkness tell us truths, /Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s/ In deepest consequence”(1. 3. 132-138). Perhaps, in my opinion, a play can have only one theme or a central idea to be focussed and as far as Macbeth is concerned the whole idea is based on what the witches chanted “fair is foul and foul is fair”. This idea is repeated by almost everyone in the play . e. g right after the battle of Dunsinane where the sergeant remarks “from that spring whence comfort see’d to come Discomfort swells’ ..
Likewise this idea of contradiction is explicit in Duncan’s words” There is no art to find the mind’s construction on in the face’. Banquo was intrigued by the appearance of the witches to whom he says” You should be women, and yet your beards forbid one to interpret that you are so”. He is further confused how ” the instruments of darkness tell us truths ” . Later on Lady Macbeth has the following advice to her husband ” to beguile the time look like the time, bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue, look like the innocent flower and yet be the serpent under it. The theme can be traced throughout in Macbeth as one of deception. Appearances are deceptive. What is fair is not fair . Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” is considered one of his great tragedies. The play fully uses plot, character, setting, atmosphere, diction and imagery to create a compelling drama. The general setting of Macbeth is tenth and eleventh century Scotland. The play is about a once loyal and trusted noble of Scotland who, after a meeting with three witches, becomes ambitious and plans the murder of the king. After doing so and claiming the throne, he faces the other nobles of Scotland who try to stop him.
In the play, Macbeth faces an internal conflict with his opposing decisions. On one hand, he has to decide of he is to assassinate the king in order to claim his throne. This would result in his death for treason if he is caught, and he would also have to kill his friend. On the other hand, if he is to not kill him, he may never realize his ambitious dreams of ruling Scotland. Another of his internal struggles is his decision of killing his friend Banquo. After hiring murderers to kill him, Macbeth begins to see Banquo’s ghost which drives him crazy, possibly a result of his guilty conscience.
Macbeth’s external conflict is with Macduff and his forces trying to avenge the king and end Macbeth’s reign over Scotland. One specific motif is considered the major theme, which represents the overall atmosphere throughout the play. This motif is “fair is foul and foul is fair. ” In the first scene of the first act, three witches plan their next meeting in which they will encounter Macbeth. It is in this scene that the motif is first presented, as the tree witches chant, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air” (1. 1. 11-12). The witches meet again in scene three of act one.
One of the witches discusses a curse she has placed on a woman’s husband, because she refused to share her food. This display of evil powers and spitefulness, suggests that the witches may have some influence in the development of the motif. Macbeth enters during this scene along with Banquo, arriving from a victorious battle. He uses the motif to describe the day as “So foul and fair a day I have not seen” (1. 3. 38). When Macbeth encounters the witches, they give him two predictions. One is that he will become the thane of Cawdor, and then the king of Scotland.
Upon hearing this, Macbeth immediately begins to plan his methods of obtaining these positions, including the murder of the king. Because of this, it may be assumed that he has thought of such actions prior to the meeting. This is an example of what was once fair, a loyal and noble of Scotland, has become foul, an ambitious traitor. On the night of his murder, king Duncan is invited to a banquet hosted by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Once there, Duncan describes the castle in a positive manner. “This Castle hath a pleasant seat; the air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto our gentle senses” (1. . 1-3). Ironically, Macbeth murders him in his sleep in the castle. The main theme of the play is supported here, as this fair and pleasant castle, has become a foul place of betrayal and murder. This scenario is also seen at Macbeth’s second banquet, which he holds to show gratitude and love for his friends. Meanwhile, however, three murderers hired by Macbeth, kills his friend Banquo in order to prevent any threat or opposition to Macbeth’s reign. In her first appearances, Lady Macbeth is presented as an ambitiously evil and foul character that will do whatever it takes to get what she wants.
We see this motivation in her when she says, “How tender tis to love the babe that milks me; I would, while it was smiling in my face have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out” (1. 6. 55-58). In these lines, Lady Macbeth threatens that she would smash her baby’s head if it meant achieving their goals. However, after killing Duncan and becoming queen, she realizes her mistakes and is driven mentally ill by it. She is no longer able to live with the guilt and fears of her actions. In her case, we see what was once foul, becomes fair.
William Shakespeare uses nature to develop the theme of the play. Disorders in nature during this time were a result of an evil doing disrupting the natural order of the world. In the play, Macbeth’s betrayal of Scotland is the cause of the disorders in nature. An example of these disorders is the woods that Macbeth’s messenger claims he saw. “As I did stand my watch upon the hill I looked toward Birnam, and anon, methought, the wood began to move” (5. 5. 33-35). Throughout the play Macbeth, the general mood is one of deceit and betrayal. What appears to be fair is foul. This is why it is considered to be the