In Act 1, Scene 1-5 in Macbeth, what are the references that deal with the deceptive nature of appearance?

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This idea that appearances can be deceptive is a common theme throughout the entire play; however, this is quite strong in the first few scenes to help set the stage, if you will, for all the falseness and deception to come.

The witches are the first to speak of this deceptiveness in the very first scene of the play: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair."  This is our first indication that all may not be as it seems. 

In the next scene (ii) it's Macbeth who uses the same language:  "So foul and fair a day I have not seen."  This is another obvious preparation for what's to come.  Over and over thoughout the play, these kinds of phrases are spoken by the Macbeths--such as "False face must hide what the false heart doth know" in Act I scene vii.

Some more indirect refences in the opening scenes include the predicitons for Banquo ("lesser than Macbeth but greater," "happier but not as happy") and Lady Macbeth's warning to her husband that he

"look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under't."

We also have the contrast between Macbeth saying he'll only be king if chance will have it so (ii) and then calling the newly named heir to the throne "a step" which he must "o'erleap" (iv). 

Such contradictions are all over in this play; these should at least get you started!