True Lies Essay, Research Paper
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is saturated with thought-provoking situations and enigmas. Many of these enigmas are contradictions or overlapping puzzles. Equivocations, or things said alongside their opposites, occur often in the play. The presence of the supernatural also enhances the eluding effect. Finally, statements made by characters analyzing their own situations often illustrate the idea of illusion versus actuality. This theme of truth and reality opposing fallacy and fantasy is a prominent idea in Macbeth.
Throughout the play, especially in the first act, duality and contradiction is commonly mentioned. Initially, this is seen as the witches speak in the opening scene. “Fair is foul,” they say, “and foul is fair” (I, 1, 12). The Weird sisters also speak in this manner when they address Banquo. They tell him he will be “Lesser than Macbeth and greater” (I, 3, 68). Although this seems perplexing, one later finds that what they say is true; though Banquo does not become a king he is a better man than Macbeth. In the fourth act, many things “double.” The witches wish upon Macbeth double the pain, and he wants to be double sure about himself. Another example of equivocation is the imaginary liar the drunken porter allows into the gates of hell. This further proves that this eluding form of speech is wicked and deserves punishment. By saying two separate things together as truth, one is unsure about the validity of the statement.
Another confusing aspect of Macbeth is the reality of the impossible and supernatural. The witches, whether real or illusion, had an enormous effect on the lives of the characters. They make Macbeth believe he has control over his fate, and by doing so they have changed his fate. The apparitions they bring about also have great impact on Macbeth’s plans and state of mind. These images contradict one another, making him be more concerned with which statement is true, than the apparitions’ own legitimacy. One, an armed head, cries, “Beware Macduff!/ Beware the Thane of Fife!” (IV, 1, 81-82). The next ghost, a bloody child, tells Macbeth, “Laugh to scorn/The power of man, for none of woman born/ shall harm Macbeth” (IV, 1, 90-93). One would be skeptical of these prophecies, because one says to beware Macduff and another says not to fear anyone. Macbeth, however, continues to put his trust in them, and this leads to his downfall. The dramatic climax occurs when Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo sitting at his dinner table. He is the only one who can see the ghost, and the dinner guests think their host is going crazy. Certainly, the existence of this ghost, visible only to one man, is questionable.
Through all their trials, the main characters agree that appearance is often a poor indication of reality. This is seen from the point of view of both the liars and the deceived. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth say that they should hide their ambitions from Duncan and the other guests. “False face must hide what the false heart doth know,” says Macbeth at the close of Act 1 (I, 7, 95). Lady Macbeth encourages herself and her husband to pretend to be peaceful but be offensive and wicked. There is also a lot of mention of clothes, which cover and loosely hide what is truly underneath. Malcolm, who is cautious of cover-ups and lies, eloquently says to Macduff, “Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace/ Yet grace must still look so” (IV, 3, 29-30). This means that everything, even evil things, can appear harmless and pure. Nothing should be judged only by its visible attributes.
The dual nature of people and situations, confusing the issue of fact and fantasy, is a major theme illustrated in Macbeth. This is seen first through the equivocations of the Weird sisters and others. Also, the supernatural beings and occurrences reinforce the idea. Lastly, characters’ notice of the triviality of appearance further demonstrates the theme. Because Macbeth was too trusting in that which could not be trusted, he was bound to fall tragically.