Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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"FAIR IS FOUL AND FOUL IS FAIR" AS A THEME IN MACBETH The concept of "Fair is foul and foul is fair" is used throughout Macbeth in many forms. This theme of reversal is heavily reflected in both the characters and events of Macbeth and therefore is the central theme. The first notable example is when the witches introduce the broad application of this concept to us in the first scene. Duncan provides an example of this theme in inter-character relations when he speaks of his relationship with Macbeth. An example of the reversal theme in specific examples of action can be found in Act 3 where Banquo was murdered which was fair but Fleance escaped, which was foul. The final example of the reversal theme was when Ross was responding to Malcom's statement that Siward was preparing to attack Macbeth. All of these examples will illustrate that the reversal theme is predominant in Macbeth.

The reversal theme is apparent even when looking at the plot structure of Macbeth in a very general way. A specific example which illustrates the broad application of this theme is in the very first scene of the play where the witches are having a discussion about how they are going to disrupt the life of Macbeth after which they say, "Fair is foul and foul is fair./Hover through the fog and filthy air." This passage is in reference to the general theme of the play. The witches help to create this theme through their influence upon Macbeth. They cause him to gain the crown which is fair, however, they also cause him to gain and preserve his power through murder and deception which is foul. This example shows the use of the reversal theme in the broad spectrum of the plot.

The reversal theme...