Ambitions and Appearance and Reality in Macbeth by William Shakespeare

In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, he explored many different issues, such as ambitions and appearance and reality. Many clever techniques were used to present these themes, for example contrast imagery and the use of characters.

For presenting the theme ambition, Shakespeare used contrast in the character Macbeth. At the beginning of the play Macbeth is a good person. Lady Macbeth described him as being “too full of the milk of human kindness”. This image of a mother always caring for her child shows that Macbeth is a loving and kind person who always cared for others. But after the witches’ prophecy of him becoming the Thane of Cawdor came true, he started to change.

With the encouragement from Lady Macbeth and the witches’ prophecy, Macbeth’s ambition started to take over him. “Crown my thoughts with act.” This image of decorating, improving his thought by crowning it with act, shows that Macbeth will not stop at anything to accomplish his goals. At the end of the play, Macbeth changed completely, from a royal thane, to a tyrant, a Devilish Macbeth. “This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongue.” This image shows that people hated Macbeth so much that even saying his name is like a curse. By contrasting using contrast in Macbeth, Shakespeare is able to show how horrible ambition can be, and how it could change a person completely.

Another important theme in this play is appearances and reality. This is presented by irony in Lady Macbeth; she thinks of hear self differently to who she really is in reality. “Unsex me here, fill me full of direst cruelty.” She says this because she believes that she could strip herself of her femininity and human kindness and avoid her conscience.

After the murder of Duncan she said “A little water will clear us of this deed, what is done is done.” Making it sound as if though it wasn’t a big deal. This is then contrasted with how she really feels when she said “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand”. This the antithesis of what she said at the start. So with this example, Shakespeare shows us that a person often says one thing on the outside, but thinks really differently inside.

Another example used to illustrate appearance and reality is when Lady Macbeth talks about “Be the serpent under the flower.” The serpent symbolizes evil and deception, while the flower symbolizes all the pleasant qualities of a person. She also said, “let our faces be visors to our heart.”

The visor is something that could be used to cover the face, while the heart symbolizes the true feelings of people. These phrases are very good examples for describing Lady Macbeth. When Duncan comes to Macbeth’s castle, she seems like a very courteous, cordial hostess, but actually she was already making preparations for his murder. So through Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare tells us how people can never be trusted and that appearances are often deceiving.

As you can see, Shakespeare explores many issues in this play, presenting them with several clever techniques. Like contrast in Macbeth to show the effects of ambition, irony in Lady Macbeth to show that people often say things differently to what they really mean, some times even deceiving themselves and imagery of the serpent showing how people could never be trusted.

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