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What does the line "fair is foul, and foul is fair" mean in the play Macbeth?

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jbrady5959 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 9, 2012 at 7:16 AM via web

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What does the line "fair is foul, and foul is fair" mean in the play Macbeth?

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toffee5 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted April 9, 2012 at 2:28 PM (Answer #1)

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there is often a contradiction between appearance and reality.in this context it may be referred to the foul weather and the fair outcome of the battle.

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marciascoles | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 9, 2012 at 11:05 PM (Answer #2)

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It could be construed as whatever is "fair" could also be "foul" and whatever may be "foul" could also be "fair." Think of this in terms of an "eye for an eye." This statement could be seen as foreshadowing the events to come within the play.

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mudkipzarecool | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted April 11, 2012 at 2:58 PM (Answer #3)

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Actually, the "fair and foul" line is designed as an oxymoron to portray and emphasise the confusion. Shakespeare gives it more meanings than one. 

Maybe the quote refers to the weather, but it could also be about the sacrifice and victory of the battle, haply both at the same time. 

 

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