The Deceptive Nature of Appearances in Macbeth

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In real life, we should not judge people solely on their appearances. There are many people who appear to be trustworthy but in reality, are not. The reason why the authors use deceptive appearances in characters as a tool to drive the plot forward and convey the thematic idea that individuals are struggling between personal justice and national peace.

Macbeth's Use of Appearance and Reality

Later on, the main character of Macbeth uses the distinction between appearance and reality in order to hide their true intentions. This is spoken about by Duncan in relation to the betrayal by the previous Thane of Cawdor: "There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face." This foreshadows Duncan's inability to see the truth behind the façade, allowing Macbeth to play the role of gracious host and then murder his liege.

Macbeth's Transformation

Macbeth alters and shifts from the stage of naivety to the stage of selfishness and egocentricity. The next stage of Macbeth's life seen in the play is insanity. The first stage that confirms this is when Macbeth starts seeing things that are not congruent with reality, such as the apparition of the dagger that points him to Duncan's room. Lady Macbeth sarcastically questions Macbeth's masculinity, effectively spurring his need to prove himself not cowardly and therefore manly. Yet, believing her husband isn't manly enough, Lady Macbeth conjures the spirits in her soliloquy, "unsex me..." pleading to transcend the limits put on her because of her gender. This suggestion that he would rather be unconscious than to know the crime he had just committed symbolizes the influence that Lady Macbeth had over Macbeth with the murder of Duncan, as he is consumed with guilt and anxiety after the murder while Lady Macbeth remains calm and composed.

Lady Macbeth's Manipulation

When Lady Macbeth says that she believes that Macbeth does not have what it takes to find the easy way out due to his morality, we see a humane or soft side to Macbeth. So it is her duty to manipulate him and convince him to do this (she is much more amoral than Macbeth). Due to Lady Macbeth's characterization of Macbeth, we feel empathy and compassion for him. Lady Macbeth is unable to differentiate between appearance and reality, resulting in tragic consequences. It can be argued that Lady Macbeth is the one responsible for triggering a slippage into this inevitable situation that led to their descent. From the moment Macbeth became aware of his "fate," Lady Macbeth started forming her own imaginary world in which her evil plans seemed likely to be effective. The thought of her and her husband being royalty makes her dismiss rationality, and while being immersed in her corrupt intentions, she bears a great influence on Macbeth himself. During the play, her personality is being subjected to a gradual and deteriorating transformation which leads to her demise. Given this, we can't help but wonder how she comes up with such evil plans and how all these dark thoughts go through her head.

Conclusion: The Deceptive Nature of Appearances

I hope I have demonstrated through the interpretation of the carefully crafted devices used by both William Shakespeare and Ariel Dorfman used symbolism, setting, and characterization as tools to present the thematic idea where two protagonists are unable to hold power and control over their own destinies. However, Dorfman's ambivalent and open end allows the audience to reflect on themselves and decide as to whether or not Paulina ends up freeing herself from the past as the play concludes with Paulina listening to Dorfman's song that used to make her ill thinking about her torture. While in Macbeth, he was ultimately responsible for his own downfall, as he kills and hallucinates about his crimes, his morality takes over and he has trouble identifying what is right and wrong, a time of political unrest and instability. Both novels challenge the experience of appearances can be deceptive, emphasizing the themes and concerns each writer wants to advance.

These two plays explore the well-known saying "Don't judge a book by its cover."

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