Deceiving Motifs In Macbeth

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“Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many”. This quote was written by a Roman poet, named Phaedrus around 370 BCE, long before Shakespeare’s time. Thousands of years later, Shakespeare incorporates many deceiving motifs in Macbeth that put the words of Phaedrus into action. The use of ill-fitting clothes, sleep, and bloodshed is all examples of imagery used to illustrate that not everything that looks genuine is so. Just as clothes appear to fit well, they can be very uncomfortable at the same time. The prophecies given to Macbeth came “upon him/like strange garments [that] cleave not their mold” (Shakespeare.1.3.160-1). Banquo is hesitant about hearing the prophecies and warns Macbeth because they might…show more content…
To fight for an individual’s country was a noble deed. However, in Macbeth’s case, it becomes a symbol of guilt and discomfort. In the beginning, Macbeth is a revered soldier and a confident nobleman but after murdering Duncan, he experiences a change in character, becoming uncomfortable and paranoid for committing such a horrible crime. He wonders if “all great Neptune’s ocean [will] wash this blood/clean from [his] hand” (2.2.78-9). Macbeth knows what he has done is wrong and he is shaken by his actions. Back then killing on the battlefield was much more respected than cowardly murder on a defenseless opponent. There was a purpose to fighting for an individual’s own country and brave soldiers were very highly revered. Macbeth is seen as this gallant and fearless warrior at the beginning of the play by his captains as they describe how “he unseamed [the enemy] from the nave to th’ chops” (1.2.24). This passage clearly exemplifies how blood can be deceiving being seen in a heroic light only later to be a dark burden on the Macbeth’s. Lastly, Shakespeare shows the reader how blood deceives lady Macbeth by being able to be cleaned off easily at first but then weighing her down with the guilt and responsibility of her actions. Lady Macbeth later realizes bloodshed’s misleading nature and eventually goes insane trying to cleanse her soul saying, “Out damned spot, out, I say! One. Two.” (5.1.37). Throughout the play, bloodshed is portrayed as both heroic and dark; tricking characters into manslaughter after rewarding them for

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