The Importance Of Equivocations In Macbeth

719 Words3 Pages
Macbeth is a play about subterfuge and trickery. Macbeth, his wife, and the three Weird Sisters are linked in their mutual refusal to come right out and say things directly. Instead, they rely on implications, riddles, and ambiguity to evade the truth. Macbeth’s ability to manipulate his language and his public image in order to hide his foul crimes makes him a very modern-seeming politician. However, his inability to see past the witches’ equivocations—even as he utilizes the practice himself—ultimately leads to his downfall.

Sometimes, equivocations in Macbeth are meant kindly, as when Ross tries to spare Macduff’s feelings by telling him that his wife and son are “well.” Macduff initially takes this to mean that his family is alive and healthy, but Ross means that they are dead and in heaven. More often than not, though, such ambiguous statements lead to harm. The witches’ deceptive prophecies are perhaps the most destructive instances of
…show more content…
Duncan laments that there’s no method with which one may find “the mind’s construction in the face,” meaning that it is impossible to know what a person is truly thinking just from his or her outward appearance. Lady Macbeth mimics this language when she directs her husband to look like an “innocent flower” in order to hide the “serpent” that truly lurks in his heart. The Macbeths know how to use imagery and appearance to conceal the truth, and sometimes they even use those skills on themselves. Macbeth asks the stars to extinguish their light so that his “eye” cannot see what his “hand” does. Similarly, Lady Macbeth asks the night to grow as dark as the “smoke of hell” so that her knife cannot see itself slash its victim. The Macbeths know that their acts are wicked, so they try to hide the knowledge of their deeds from their own consciousness. In a sense, they wish to equivocate to

More about The Importance Of Equivocations In Macbeth

Open Document