Ambiguousness and Equivocation in Macbeth

Essay by somodyHigh School, 10th gradeA-, December 2006

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Macbeth would have been better off looking at all possible scenarios and meanings of the things done and said in his presence. The death of him and his wife, Lady Macbeth, were due to his faults, and his misinterpretations of the above. The line "Fair is foul and foul is fair" (Macbeth 1.1.11) is repeated in different manners and different connotations by different characters throughout the play. It indicates that everything is unnaturally reversed in the world of evil and that everything is ambiguous and uncertain. William Shakespeare's Macbeth is a very challenging work because of its aforementioned traits. Situations, characters and statements aren't always as they seem. This essay will prove that Shakespeare uses *** as a means to make the reader aware of deeper levels of meaning.

To look more closely at the situational aspect of "Fair is foul and foul is fair," we shall now investigate the prophecies given to Macbeth by the three Apparitions and see that they aren't as they seemed.

The First Apparition, an armed Head, says "Beware Macduff/Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough." (Macbeth 4.1.78-79). The Second Apparition, a bloody Child, states, "Laugh to scorn/The power of man, for none of woman born/Shall harm Macbeth." (Macbeth 4.1.87-89). The Third Apparition, a Child crowned, with a tree in his hand, predicts with certainty that "Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until/Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/Shall come against him." (Macbeth 4.1.101-103). Macbeth, interpreting the forecasts in his own manner, confusedly verifies:

"That will never be/Who can impress the forest, bid the tree/Unfix his earth-bound root? Sweet bodements, good!/Rebellion's head, rise never till the wood/Of Birnam rise, and our high-placed Macbeth/Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath/To time and mortal custom..." (Macbeth 4.1.104-110).

This means that Macbeth thinks that, as...