"Fair is foul and foul is fair": How does this relate to what the witches say or their prophecies? How does appearance versus reality connect with this sentence? In real life, we should not judge people on their appearances. There are many people who look trustworthy but are not. The witches do not look trustworthy, yet Macbeth trusts them. Is this Shakespeare's version of reality versus appearance?   

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"Fair is foul and foul is fair" establishes one of the main themes of the play and goes far deeper than simply trusting or not trusting in physical appearances. On one level, Shakespeare does say that we should not trust people simply based on their appearance. This is a major...

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"Fair is foul and foul is fair" establishes one of the main themes of the play and goes far deeper than simply trusting or not trusting in physical appearances. On one level, Shakespeare does say that we should not trust people simply based on their appearance. This is a major flaw in Duncan's character: he is too trusting and not able to discern enemies in his midst. This makes him susceptible first to Macdonwald's treachery and then to Macbeth's. But a deeper question the play asks is how to get to the reality that lies beneath appearance. Duncan, seemingly, has every reason to trust Macbeth fully: he is his cousin, and he has fought valiantly and beyond the call of duty to defeat Macdonwald and protect Duncan's reign. Why would Duncan have the least reason to suspect treachery? On the surface, none. However, had he gotten to know Macbeth beyond surface appearances, Duncan might have caught glimmers of the depth and hunger of Macbeth's ambition—his dark side—and known to take precautions.

The most important incident of "fair is foul" is Macbeth's taking of the throne. This act looks "fair" (desirable) to him. It is everything he has ever dreamed of, the culmination of all his ambitions. Yet, that seemingly "fair" prize turns out to be "foul." Macbeth derives no joy, but only pain, fear, and a deadening of conscience from achieving his ambition. As is said early in the play, just getting the outer garments of a position, such as a crown, doesn't make a person inwardly fit to rule. The play suggests that having a moral compass helps us to discern between fair and foul and that we should not be deceived by temptations from the dark side. What should have alerted Macbeth to the foulness of the witches' prophecies was not their outward appearance but their connection with the supernatural power of darkness and the way they dangled before him his deepest desire.

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"Fair is foul and foul is fair" relates to the witches' prophecies because it is a statement of paradox and inversion. The prophecies are true, but only in part, and end up being to MacBeth's detriment and final demise. MacBeth believes the prophecies to entirely be true, but doesn't get the fact that foul is fair and fair, foul. He takes the prophecies as literally true. He doesn't see that he is the foul one, and that when the witches say "something wicked this way comes," they're talking about what he's become. You have it mostly correct, however. The statement is about appearances and reality, but also about how these two can change. MacBeth is heroic soldier at first, but becomes "foul." Lady MacBeth is strong and vicious at first, but becomes mad later.

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