How does Act 1, Scene 6 contribute to the "fair is foul" theme in Macbeth?

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

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King Duncan has invited himself to dinner at Macbeth's castle at Inverness. As he approaches the castle, he notes how beautiful it is there:

This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air

Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself

Unto our gentle senses.

Banquo agrees and adds his own observations about how peaceful and sweet the castle and the surroundings seem. Then Lady Macbeth prances down to greet them with fair and loving words:

All our service

In every point twice done, and then done double,

Were poor and single business to contend

Against those honors deep and broad wherewith

Your Majesty loads our house. For those of old,

And the late dignities heap'd up to them,

We rest your hermits.

What could be more hopeful, more loving and more fair: a beautiful place and a lovely hostess. Fair, fair fair.

Yet, within mere hours, this delicately sweet environment will be turned in a place of unnatural, bloody murder by the very woman who greets the king so sweetly and by her equally gracious husband and duplicitous. Foul, foul foul.

So, what seemed so fair to the innocent senses of an old and kindly king, will soon be turned into the putrid jaws of hell. Fair is foul, and foul is fair... indeed.

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