Fair is Foul, Foul is Fair: Paradox and Equivocation in Macbeth

In the play Macbeth, some of the most significant characters rely upon their ability to equivocate, in order to hide their treacherously covetous, or purely malicious intentions. Most characters take part in these acts of subterfuge, but the three witches, the porter and above all, Macbeth are the most significant. While Macbeth employs these tactics of speech manipulation and ambiguity as the others do, he eventually falls victim to this game of trickery himself, a captive of his own inability to see the deception hidden in the witches’ words.

When Macbeth is introduced, he is undoubtedly a respected and noble Thane, with blatant loyalty to his country. It is not until the witches’ prophecies tempt him with the possibility of a future kingship that he becomes the deceptive, dishonest murderer that plagues Scotland in the later acts of the play. Macbeth’s skill at deception is first put to the test after his murder of Duncan, when, with the intent of appearing innocent, he attempted to mislead Banquo, Macduff, Malcolm, and the other nobles into believing he was nothing more then his king’s loyal subject. He strived to appear just as appalled and surprised as they were by this brutal and unforeseen murder. In an effort to...

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