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Appearance vs. Reality in Macbeth

             One definition of "appearance" is: "An outward aspect of somebody or something that creates a particular impression." Almost contradictory is the definition of "reality": "Actual being or existence, as opposed to an imaginary, idealized, or false nature." A prominent theme in Shakespeare's play Macbeth is the contrast between appearance and reality. This theme is interlaced through each act of the play.
             In the Act I Scene iii, when Macbeth has his first encounter with the witches, he says, "So foul and fair a day I have not seen." He utters these words in reference to the victory he has just achieved over the revolting MacDonwald. The triumph, while beautiful, or fair, was also bloody, or "foul". Although Macbeth and his army eradicated the threat of the perfidious Thane of Cawdor, lives were paid in expense. This quote also introduces the beginning of his ascendancy to kingship, which is "fair", while it is also the genesis of his downfall to the powers of evil.
             "Lesser than Macbeth, and greater." (Act I, Scene iii) "Not so happy, yet much happier." (Act I, Scene iii) These two lines are asserted in reference to Banquo. The first line is in relevance to the humanity of Banquo. Although it may appear that Macbeth is due more reverence due to his rank, the reality is that the one due more respect is Banquo, who is the better individual. The second line is in relevance to their own lives. Although Macbeth may seem happier due to his power in society, in actuality Banquo is happier because he is content with his life whereas Macbeth yearns for more. .
             Although Macbeth at first finds himself distraught at the mere thought of assassinating the king, his wife assuages his fears with aspirations of royalty. She instills her ideals of disloyalty in him. She describes to Macbeth how he must be devious. "Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, /But be the serpent under't." (Act I, Scene v) Lady Macbeth instructs her husband to appear loyal and trustworthy in his actions and his words, while biding his time to manifest his disloyalty and abuse of Duncan's trust.

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