The Theme of Appearance and Reality in Macbeth

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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In A1S5, we see Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth stepping in helping with advising Macbeth to come off as deceitful. She warns Macbeth “to look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under it.” Then later on we’re shown Lady Macbeth alone welcoming the guests into the castle, these guests are Banquo and Duncan. It is almost like she is controlling the whole situation, she is being devious on Macbeth’s behalf and seems to be incharge of being deceptive. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are both close partners in crime so his wife, Lady Macbeth is willing to risk anything to cover up for him. One of the ways Shakespeare portrays the theme of appearance and reality is in A1S6. This is when Duncan first sees the castle and he misreads the whole appearance. We are shown this when Duncan says, “this castle hath a pleasant seal.” This is the first sign he misreads. When Duncan speaks of this, he means that the castle is set in a pleasant atmosphere. This means that Duncan is completely unaware of the situation before him, and doesn’t know what is actually planned for him. When Shakespeare says this, he’s using dramatic irony, and we, as the audience know that, despite what the castle looks like, wicked things are going to happen within the castle walls. The dramatic irony emphasises the reality of the situation.

Shakespeare also portrays the theme of appearance and reality when Banquo makes remakes on “the temple haunting Martlet.” This is another one of Shakespeare’s signs that he gives to the two men. Marlets are associated with being duped. But Banquo does not see it as this, he continues on saying about how the castle has delicate air and how because these beautiful creatures live here, it must be a nice place. Like Duncan, Banquo doesn’t know what is going to happen in the castle. Throughout this scene, Shakespeare uses dramatic irony, and this is another case, as the audience knows that martlets are a sign of being duped by the characters pay no attention to it. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony here to bring across what he was trying to say. Lady Macbeth is a dictative woman and is very alluring. Lady Macbeth uses her femininity to charm Duncan and Banquo to hide what is actually about to happen and to make them feel safe and at home. Lady Macbeth tells Duncan “All our services in every point done twice and then done double.” From this we are shown that she is tricking him into thinking that she is striving to be a “honored hostess”, this is partly to cover up for her husband, Macbeth. She is reshaping and manipulating Banquo and Duncan to trust her and believe that she wants to do anything and everything to help them. She wants to make sure their stay is a smooth one. The language used to show the appearance and reality in this part is when Lady Macbeth says, “All our service.” This tells us that Lady Macbeth is lying and is trying to sweep what is about to happen under the rug, but only the audience can see that she is lying as we know her plans.

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As we all know Lady Macbeth will protect her husband. She is there to give him an alibi when Duncan asks, “ Where is the Thane of Cawdor?” Lady Macbeth takes control by changing the subject. The reason she covers for Macbeth is because she thinks he will give away the plan the murder Duncan. Being the open book he is, you are able to “read” him. To change the subject she says “your servants ever have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs, in compt.” She starts to say about how the King’s servants hold everything in trust for the King and they just give him whatever he wants while he is in their home, they must treat it like their own. Throughout this scene, Lady Macbeth is in control and she is taking over the murder situation. She feels that Macbeth is not strong enough to go through this murder by himself. Shakespeare portrays the theme appearance and reality in this part of the play with dramatic irony, throughout the scene, the audience knows what is going to happen, and we know she is being insincere and manipulative towards her guests. The theme that Shakespeare has chosen for this point mis manipulation and control. Later on in the play, we see Lady Macbeth with a guilty conscience. She is sleepwalking and dreaming that her and her husband are murdering Duncan again. We can see that she is distressed as when you sleepwalk you are usually distressed or are going through a rough patch. Lady Macbeth starts to see blood that is isn’t actually there. “Out, damned spot!” This shows that she is regretting what she has done and is replaying it in her head and trying to make sense of it. For the first time in a long time she isn’t in control. Shakespeare portrays the theme appearance and reality by her repeating things she had said during the first few scenes of the play, We the audience also know what Lady Macbeth is troubled about, but none of the people watching her know what is happening.

Shakespeare portrays the theme of appearance and reality in A5S1 by Lady Macbeth not properly sleeping. She is not sleeping well because she is doing all the things that you would do in normal day life, she is even carrying a candle so that she can see where she is going. We can see that she is trying to rid herself of this crime but she doesn’t want to tell anyone, we can see this in the line “none can call our to our account”. We can she that she thinks that no one will be able to make him or her confess how they got this power. This amplifies this situation by Lady Macbeth not knowing what she is doing, and the people watching her not knowing what she is talking about. Lady Macbeth is trying to rid of the blood on her hands but she can’t. Shakespeare shows this when she says “out, damned spot! Out, I say! One;two:why, ‘tis time to do”. Lady Macbeth has said early in the play “a little water will clear us of these deeds”. Lady Macbeth is finding out that she will never be able to get rid of this dead. It is driving her insane. She is slowing finding it hard to keep it a secret any longer; she is so disturbed about killing Duncan that she is even dreaming about it. Shakespeare is trying to emphasise that although Lady Macbeth seemed confident while persuading Macbeth to kill Duncan, her ambition has fallen on the other side and it has come back to haunt her.

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The theme of Appearance and Reality in Macbeth. (2019, Aug 10). Retrieved from