Appearance Vs. Reality; The Cause Of A Hero’s Downfall

1104 words - 4 pages

In the tragedy Macbeth; the reader witnesses the inevitable downfall of the tragic hero Macbeth as he attempts to do the impractical. While Macbeth turns from an admirable nobleman into the traitor fiend that is the result of his wife’s relentless coaxing, the reader distinguishes more and more of the “appearance versus reality” or the “things are not what they seem” theme that intertwines with Macbeth’s hubris thus leading to his downfall. As Macbeth furthers his plans, which fall in step with the weird sisters’ prophecy, he uses, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know,” (Macbeth, Act1.Scene7.Line82) in order to deceive his fellow noblemen and fulfill the prophecy of his becoming the Thane of Cawdor and the King of Switzerland. Even as Macbeth tries to defy fate, he realizes that what appears to be the truth is in fact unreal, and Shakespeare’s tragic hero does not fully apprehend that his difficulty in discerning between the real and unreal worlds is a chief factor in his demise until the completion of the prophecy/the death of Macbeth and of course, his foreseen downfall.
Throughout Macbeth, Macbeth is a little bit on edge, and gets to such a point, that the reader can’t determine if what Macbeth is seeing is actually there, or in Macbeth’s own head. At the beginning of the play, when Macbeth is about to kill King Duncan, (Act 2), he says:

Is this a dagger which I see before me, /the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. /I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible/ To feelings as to sight, or art thou but / a dagger of the mind, a false creation, / Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? / I see thee yet… (Macbeth, Act 2. Scene1. Lines 34-40a)

The audience here can decipher that the dagger is just in Macbeth’s imagination and it is this “appearance” that “pulls” Macbeth into killing Duncan; the primary motive to Macbeth’s downfall. This dagger is seemingly pointing towards King Duncan’s room seemingly enslaves Macbeth’s mind into believing that it is Macbeth’s duty to kill the King in order to complete the prophecy. This dagger which is nothing more than a “dagger of the mind” (Macbeth, Act 2.Scene1. Line 38), causes Macbeth to come a step forward into bringing upon his own ruin.
Another step that leads to Macbeth’s downfall is yet again his own fault. After he orders the killing of Banquo in order to defy fate and attempt to stick to his throne, Macbeth becomes delusional and starts asking Banquo’s “ghost” to leave him alone. Macbeth’s “False face must hide what the false heart doth know,” (Macbeth, Act1.Scene7.Line82)/mask starts slipping and all his guests are shocked that their king is acting almost insane and apparently can’t keep himself together. Macbeth speaks to this apparent/realistic ghost like a man who is weighed down by fear and guilt. As Lady Macbeth and Macbeth discuss whether they should kill the king at the beginning of the play, they agree that they...

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