Deception In Macbeth Essay

1387 words - 6 pages

Macduff is the archetype of the avenging hero, not simply out for revenge but with a good and holy purpose. Macduff is the character who has two of the most significant roles in the play: First, he is the discoverer of Duncan's body. Second, the news of the callous murder of his wife and children (Act IV, Scene 3) spurs him toward his desire to take personal revenge upon the tyrannical Macbeth. When he knocks at the gate of Macbeth's castle in Act II, Scene 3, he is being equated with the figure of Christ, who before his final ascension into Heaven, goes down to release the souls of the damned from hell (the so-called "Harrowing of Hell").
A major dramatic technique that Shakespeare employs ...view middle of the document...

This inner nature of deceitfulness enables Macbeth to easily be influenced and taught to master the deceptive skills of his wife.
However, it is Lady Macbeth who acknowledges and teaches Macbeth that deception functions beyond the confines of concealment, as a crucial matter between success and failure in the arena of ambition. The paradox of “fair and foul” of the witches is constantly sustained in various levels in this play to illustrate the deceitful nature. In Act 1 Scene 5, Lady Macbeth gives greater resonance to this paradox in defining deception: “Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t”. Beyond educating Macbeth in this principle, she has placed deception synonymous with the power of evil. Not seeing the necessary evil and malicious drive in Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is worried that Macbeth’s ambition will be confounded by the fear of guilty conscience in his mind. To murder Duncan, Lady Macbeth must make sure that conscience will not stand on the path of Macbeth’s ambitions. Deception works most efficient in the state of mind where all fears and conscience is suppressed, so that murder can be committed with pure evil and with no betraying regrets. Lady Macbeth warns Macbeth not to betray himself to impediments vested in cowardly fears: “To alter favour ever is to fear”. Lady Macbeth helps to establish a strong consistency in Macbeth’s deception leading to Duncan’s murder.
Deception disintegrates soon after as Macbeth suffers mentally at the climatic trauma inflicted by Banquo’s ghost, proving that deceptive skills are not reliable anymore. This mental collapse is evident when the ghost of murdered Banquo appears at Macbeth’s seat during his banquet. Fear begins to consume Macbeth’s mind, as ghost of Banquo haunts him to equivocate: “Thou canst not say it. Never shake thy gory locks at me” Macbeth confesses the truth; though he did not murder Banquo, he bought the death of his friend. Macbeth can neither settle his nerves nor entertain his guests with full sincerity, as the ghost disturbs his conscience and drives him towards self-inflicting madness. Lady Macbeth realizes the mental state of her husband, and at first she disguises it as a childh ood illness. But in her second attempt, she fails to save Macbeth from the suspicion of the lords and immediately dismisses the lords: “He grows worse and worse; question enrages him. At once, good night. Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once.” Deception no longer serves those who seek to get away with murder.
A moral balance is brought by Shakespeare to this play: those who deceive others will in turn be deceived in the same tragic manner; Macbeth’s belief in the prophecy of the witches and of the supernatural forces will deceive him to his death. Macbeth comes willingly in his second visitation to the heath after the trauma of Banquo’s ghost. This is another indication that Macbeth places great faith in the supernatural power of the witch’s predictions. The...

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