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What are four instances of illusion versus reality in Macbeth?

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southernbelle066 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 13, 2010 at 8:06 AM via web

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What are four instances of illusion versus reality in Macbeth?

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amymc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted December 15, 2010 at 4:25 AM (Answer #1)

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All these examples come from the actual text of Macbeth.

1.  The witches' prophecy to Macbeth appears to be a blessing and promise him riches and power.  However, through the murder he commits to become king, he loses his friends, his wife and his life.

2.  Duncan has a hard time telling good people from bad ones.  He trusts the traitorous Thane of Cawdor and later the wicked Lady Macbeth even after he has admitted that he cannot tell by looking who is good and who is evil.

There's no art
To find the mind's construction in the face:
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust. (1, iv)

3.  Lady Macbeth believes that she will gain power, money and prestige through being queen.  However, she really loses her mind and kills herself when she becomes guiltridden.

4.  Malcolm thinks that he will make a terrible king.  He argues with Macduff against returning to Scotland and taking his throne.  However, at the end of the play, he seems to be quite capable of reestablishing order to the kingdom.

My thanes and kinsmen,
Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honour named. What's more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time,
As calling home our exiled friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny. (V, vi)

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sailoroftheskies | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 6, 2012 at 3:28 AM (Answer #2)

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The fourth illusion is incorrect. Malcolm does not believe that he will be a bad king: he is simply testing Macduff. He is creating an illusion for Macduff that Malcolm will be a bad king, but Malcolm knows that he is not.

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