Paradox In Macbeth Analysis

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In William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, Shakespeare introduces us to a man on a mission to assassinate the reigning king of Scotland, King Duncan. Through King Duncan, Shakespeare reveals Macbeth’s crude and unfiltered nature while capturing every second of Macbeth’s sadistic plan. With the use of paradox, internal character struggles, and the idea of fate, Shakespeare provides insight on what madness Macbeth created and the effect his madness has on other characters. Through the use of paradox in the play, minor details guide the path of the story to the very end. Without the use of paradox throughout the play, the play would not make any sense at all. Near the beginning of the play, there are three witches who tell Macbeth of a prophesy to become King of Scotland, in which the witches chant, “fair is foul and foul is fair” to foreshadow the entirety of what lies ahead (I, i, 10-11). The phrase signifies that what lies ahead is fair and foul, however good is bad and bad is good. This truly gets its meaning when Macbeth kills King Duncan. He kills Duncan, and completes a foul act. However, it is all according to the prophecy, so it holds as fair. What would be a fair act to bring in the heir to the throne transitions from a positive connotation to one that is foul, and therefore a paradox blooms with these events. Malcolm, son of King Duncan, later reveals that he wants to kill Macbeth because of the many that he has killed in his path to claim the throne.

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