Macbeth appearance and reality essay - please mark

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jimin1311
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#1
Report Thread starter 4 months ago
#1
Hi everyone! I would be very grateful if some people could look through my Macbeth essay ( my exam board is WJEC ). Please offer some constructive comments and a mark out of 24, or a grade. I know there is quite a lot to read, but again I would be extremely grateful if you could read through it. Thank you very much!

How does Shakespeare present appearance and reality in Macbeth?

William Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' is a dark tale of power lust and paranoia set during the middle ages in Scotland, which revolves around the titular character Macbeth. The theme of appearance and reality continuously occurs throughout the play substantially contributing to the development of the plot. Appearance can relate to an act of performing, whereas reality is the state of things as they actually exist. At the start of the play, Macbeth is presented with the appearance of being a brave and noble warrior, however he develops a blinding ambition and loses his morals. By the end of the play, Macbeth is considered the ultimate villain, and his downfall is perpetuated by Lady Macbeth's obsession to gain power and keep reality hidden. Additionally, the witches drive the plot with their paradoxical language that masks reality and creates an appearance of a powerful future for Macbeth.

Shakespeare opens the play, Macbeth, with an introduction to the characters of the three witches. The contradictory statements of the witches present the idea of appearance versus reality in the play, one of which is ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair.’ This paradoxical language acts as a summary of what is to come, foreshadowing the overall theme of the play. This illustrates that through different events, things and people who may have an appearance of being good or bad turn out to be the opposite in reality. The witches' statement highlights to the audience that appearances are often deceptive, and that things can turn out to be far different from what they appear to be. This statement could also be informing the audience that anything that is considered to be ‘fair’ and good in the play is actually ‘foul’ and evil.

Moreover, in Act I Scene iii of Macbeth, we observe that appearance does not equate to reality when Banquo states that the witches, ‘look not like the inhabitants o’ the earth.’ The noun ‘look’ implies that Banquo is making an immediate judgement on the appearance of the witches. Banquo questions their appearance a second time after hearing the first set of prophecies, when he asks ‘Are ye fantastical, or that indeed // Which outwardly ye show?’ The adjective ‘fantastical’ suggests that Banquo may believe the witches' prophecies have some extent of truth within them but is reluctant to believe so due to their appearance. This creates dramatic irony for the audience who are well aware that in reality, the witches are a lot more powerful than they seem despite their appearance.

At the beginning of the play, Shakespeare presents Macbeth as someone who is noble and loyal to their king, which we see when the sergeant reports that Macbeth’s blade ‘smoked with bloody execution.’ The combination of the verb ‘smoked’ with the adjective ‘bloody’ insinuates that Macbeth slaughtered enemy soldiers with relentless speed and defied his fate. The sergeant acknowledges that Macdonald was favoured by ‘fortune’ and yet Macbeth was still capable of emerging victorious, presenting Macbeth to the audience as someone who, even at this early point in the play, will not allow anything or anyone to get in his way. However, the appearance of Macbeth’s nobility and loyalty towards King Duncan is completely made redundant by the reality of his betrayal later in the play.

Lady Macbeth conceals the real Macbeth by telling him to ‘look like the innocent flower, // But be the serpent under’t.’ This quote encapsulates the whole theme of the play, conveying the idea of appearance versus reality. She encourages Macbeth to be two faced; to look fair and honorable on the outside but be cunning and deadly on the inside.The juxtaposition of ‘flower’, which connotes innocence, with ‘serpent’, which is synonymous with death, emphasises how there can be a dangerous divide between a person's appearance and reality. Also, the turning point marked by the conjunction ‘but’ shows the sharp contrast between the outward appearance and the inner reality. As Lady Macbeth begins her instruction with the imperative verb ‘look’, the audience is immediately made aware of how manipulative Lady Macbeth is. This elucidates how she is controlling Macbeth in a powerful and manipulative way.

After Macbeth commits regicide, his outward appearance does not match the reality of his actions. This is clearly portrayed when Lady Macbeth says to Macbeth ‘Why, worthy thane, // You do unbend your noble strength.’ The adjectives ‘worthy’ and ‘noble’ represent who Macbeth was at the beginning of the play, but it's become increasingly clear that Macbeth is no longer worthy of these titles and is the antithesis of all he was believed to be. Contrary to Macbeth being ‘worthy’ and ‘noble’ previously in reality, he is now putting on a mere performance of having these characteristics. Lady Macbeth's description of Macbeth would create utmost dramatic irony for the audience who would be well aware that since Macbeth has committed regicide, this appearance of him is completely discarded as a result of the reality of his actions.

Additionally, after Macbeth murders the king, the appearance of Lady Macbeth is not equal to her reality which is shown when Macduff says to her ‘O gentle lady, // ‘Tis not for you to hear what I can speak.’ The adjective ‘gentle’ alludes that Macduff assumes women, including Lady Macbeth, are too delicate to know about such matters. Macduff believes that Lady Macbeth is innocent, and since she is a woman she should abstain from hearing evil things. This is a typical stereotype which shows that women allegedly cannot commit such horrible crimes, but men supposedly can, which is ideal for Lady Macbeth who wishes to be perceived as someone who would never think twice of doing such a thing. This again creates extreme dramatic irony for the audience who know that despite Lady Macbeth's appearance, in reality she wants to remove her womanly attributes and is the mastermind behind the murder of King Duncan.

In Act III Scene iv, Macbeth suffers from his exploitation of appearances, as he struggles to make sense of what his reality is anymore. When Macbeth is told to sit at the table with his companions, he proclaims that ‘The table’s full.’ The adjective ‘full’ along with the empty space on stage verifies that Macbeth is now seeing Banquo's ghost. Banquo’s ghost advocates his crumbling sense of reality, and illustrates that the evil and corrupt parts of himself which he attempts to repress and disguise start to express themselves in the form of morbid hallucinations and spirits. Macbeth is unable to trust his own mind as a result of his deceit, highlighting that one of the biggest conflicts of appearance versus reality is the battle within Macbeth’s own psyche. This suggests to the audience that Macbeth will never be able to amend the reality of his actions no matter how much he tries to alter his appearances.

Furthermore, when Macbeth begins to panic upon seeing Banquo’s ghost at the banquet, Lady Macbeth blatantly lies to all the noble guests yet again concealing reality. She explains to them that ‘my lord is often thus, // And hath been from his youth.’ The noun ‘youth’ displays how she attempts to hide the truth by misleading the others into believing that Macbeth has always acted like this since he was young. The fact that Lady Macbeth managed to maintain a false persona when forced to make an excuse on the spot for Macbeth’s sudden outburst really showcases how deceiving of a character she is. Lady Macbeth truly defies the stereotypical gender roles women played in that period, as women were never seen as the deceptive type. In spite of this, Lady Macbeth's actions would meet audience expectations as they have previously encountered her obsession over hiding reality with appearances a countless number of times throughout the play.

When Macbeth visits the witches a second time to ensure that his position of king won't be taken from him, we see how the witches mask reality with small truths. The witches show Macbeth an apparition saying that ‘none of woman born // Shall harm Macbeth.’ The verb ‘harm’ implies that no one will be able to lay a hand on Macbeth as essentially everyone is born of a woman. To Macbeth, the apparition appears as though no man can defeat him, as without a woman a birth cannot occur. This appearance gives Macbeth a false sense of security that he will not be defeated. In reality however, this apparition was an equivocation, as the witches knew that Macduff was not of woman born but rather born through a caesarian section. This clearly indicates to the audience how they contort reality with the appearances of small truths by telling Macbeth what he wants to hear.

In Act V Scene i, Lady Macbeth begins to suffer from guilt and loses her control over appearances which is conveyed when she exclaims ‘Out, damned spot! out, I say!’ The repetition of the imperative verb ‘out’ could insinuate how guilty she is, and how much she wants to remove evidence of what she's done in order to forget her actions. The exclamation marks encapsulate her despair and anger at her guilt of what she has done. In the presence of others, she appears to be sane and in control of her life whereas at night, the reality of her mental state comes to light through her somnambulism. Lady Macbeth's deceit is met with fitting consequences, as she is caught between reality and her imagination. Her hallucinations are symbolic of her losing control of herself, which could make the audience feel sympathy for her. By the end, Lady Macbeth cannot control her mind and is ultimately destroyed by her guilt and deceit.

By the end of the play, Macbeth finally realises how he had been tricked by the witches who had covered up reality with their lies. Macbeth's realisation is portrayed when he says ‘these juggling fiends no more believed // That palter with us in a double sense.’ The noun ‘sense’ elucidates how Macbeth had incompetently misinterpreted the witches’ words who had succeeded in leading him down a road of evil by enticing him with false promises. The witches had been able to easily fool Macbeth with lies by feeding him small truths, as their contradictory statements confused Macbeth leading him astray. The most significant moment of dramatic irony for the audience is when Macbeth finally sees the duplicity of the witches’ words. The audience knew the whole time that the witches concealed reality with promising appearances, but Macbeth realised it too late.

In conclusion, deception plays a pivotal role in this play, and it could possibly be Shakespeare’s message to the audience about how surreptitious and misleading things can be. The dichotomy between how people act on the outside and who they really are on the inside can be two totally different things. Anyone is capable of looking like an innocent flower while being the serpent under it, and anyone can mask reality with appearances. The three witches and their misleading prophecies show how everything is not as it seems, and the hallucinations that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have because of their guilt also displays how appearances and reality can become indiscernible. Towards the end of the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth no longer know who they are, since they had been completely destroyed as a result of them driving their appearances away from their true reality.
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YGSK
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#2
Report 4 months ago
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Hey - I got a 9 in English and full marks in Macbeth essay. I got a 5 in my English mock in y11, and built it up through practicing essays all the time - so well done for giving essays a go!!! More the merrier! For your introduction first of all, it is definitely thoughtful and you have a good understanding of the text here, however, I would not place it as ‘critical’. This is where you get 26-30 marks on your essay.

How I would rephrase it to be critical:
Always use words like expose and criticise and explain WHY Shakespeare presents Macbeth a certain way.

For example,
Macbeth is presented with the appearance of being a brave and noble warrior, however he develops a blinding ambition and loses his morals.

In a critical way:
Shakespeare exposes how a noble soldiers ambition could in reality be devious and sinister through the characterisation of Macbeth. Macbeth’s ambition to be king causes him to disobey social constructs such as the divine right of kings, causing him moral degradation, Shakespeare expounding the consequences to noble men in the audience who are considering regicide on James I.

With your paragraph on fair is foul and foul is fair, I would relate it more to Macbeth. For example, a critical analysis of this could be:

The witches chant ‘fair is foul and foul is fair’ uses paradoxical chiasmus with the grammatical reversal possibly foreshadowing macbeths downfall from a hero to a tyrant. The equivocation also reveals how a noble appearance could be deceptive, as ‘fair’ could represent Macbeth’s morals at the start of the play, as he fights rebels on behalf of the king. However, at the end of play with his numerous murderous attempts, one being on Banguo, it is evident his morals become ‘foul’. Thus, Shakespeare explores the reality behind ambition, and how a noble ambition could in reality be corrupt.

Great next paragraph. Though, you could have mentioned the appearance vs reality of lady Macbeth, her using imperative verbs gives her an authorative appearance, juxtaposing the qualities of a typical Jacobean women. Shakespeare exposes the reality of feminine power in the Jacobean era, where women would use their power and authority to manipulate their husbands. - then you could mention how the ‘serpent’ is an allusion to genesis and the Eve being manipulated, Shakespeare here revealing how lady Macbeth is like a devil twisting Macbeth.m

I don’t think you really need your next paragraph, but the paragraph after about lady Macbeth and Macduff links great to the argument above with ‘innocent flower’! And that would make your argument much better!

Next paragraph is amazing and very critical! You could add some context to make this a bit better, but definetly a grade 9 paragraph! You could mention how spirits and hallucinations are associated with the supernatural, and link this back to your fair and foul paragraph, saying how all things belonging to the supernatural are deceptive in reality and the cause of Macbeth’s madness.

Next paragraph again do not think it is needed. With the extra time you have without these 2 paragraphs you might have not need to mentioned, this would be fine because your answer would be really hard to right on time I imagine.

Next paragraph could dig deeper into Shakespeare’s purpose - eg Shakespeare critices the supernatural and it’s deceptive nature exposing its dangers of twisting reality. Perhaps his purpose of this was to please James I as it agrees with his written daemonology, and this would help him to earn the king Court to fund his plays.

Next paragraph very good - could mention how Shakespeare exposes how in reality feminine power in a patriarchal society is only temporary, as Lady Macbeth’s power eventually diminishes as she commits suicide.

Your conclusion is amazing!!

Overall, I would give it 25/30 which is roughly a grade 8, if you add more critical bits throughout your essay then it could definetly get up to the 30/30 mark! But honestly as this stage of the year this amazing work and you should be so so proud. Also, with your essay, the reason why I did not mark it at least 26/30 into the critical mark was because you keep on switching between lady Macbeth and Macbeth almost as if you are writing 2 different essays and giving 2 different answers to the question. I think you could get away with just doing one of these characters, and mentioning the other one in relation to how it effects the main one you are talking about.

Sorry this is so long!
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jimin1311
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#3
Report Thread starter 4 months ago
#3
(Original post by YGSK)
Hey - I got a 9 in English and full marks in Macbeth essay. I got a 5 in my English mock in y11, and built it up through practicing essays all the time - so well done for giving essays a go!!! More the merrier! For your introduction first of all, it is definitely thoughtful and you have a good understanding of the text here, however, I would not place it as ‘critical’. This is where you get 26-30 marks on your essay.

How I would rephrase it to be critical:
Always use words like expose and criticise and explain WHY Shakespeare presents Macbeth a certain way.

For example,
Macbeth is presented with the appearance of being a brave and noble warrior, however he develops a blinding ambition and loses his morals.

In a critical way:
Shakespeare exposes how a noble soldiers ambition could in reality be devious and sinister through the characterisation of Macbeth. Macbeth’s ambition to be king causes him to disobey social constructs such as the divine right of kings, causing him moral degradation, Shakespeare expounding the consequences to noble men in the audience who are considering regicide on James I.

With your paragraph on fair is foul and foul is fair, I would relate it more to Macbeth. For example, a critical analysis of this could be:

The witches chant ‘fair is foul and foul is fair’ uses paradoxical chiasmus with the grammatical reversal possibly foreshadowing macbeths downfall from a hero to a tyrant. The equivocation also reveals how a noble appearance could be deceptive, as ‘fair’ could represent Macbeth’s morals at the start of the play, as he fights rebels on behalf of the king. However, at the end of play with his numerous murderous attempts, one being on Banguo, it is evident his morals become ‘foul’. Thus, Shakespeare explores the reality behind ambition, and how a noble ambition could in reality be corrupt.

Great next paragraph. Though, you could have mentioned the appearance vs reality of lady Macbeth, her using imperative verbs gives her an authorative appearance, juxtaposing the qualities of a typical Jacobean women. Shakespeare exposes the reality of feminine power in the Jacobean era, where women would use their power and authority to manipulate their husbands. - then you could mention how the ‘serpent’ is an allusion to genesis and the Eve being manipulated, Shakespeare here revealing how lady Macbeth is like a devil twisting Macbeth.m

I don’t think you really need your next paragraph, but the paragraph after about lady Macbeth and Macduff links great to the argument above with ‘innocent flower’! And that would make your argument much better!

Next paragraph is amazing and very critical! You could add some context to make this a bit better, but definetly a grade 9 paragraph! You could mention how spirits and hallucinations are associated with the supernatural, and link this back to your fair and foul paragraph, saying how all things belonging to the supernatural are deceptive in reality and the cause of Macbeth’s madness.

Next paragraph again do not think it is needed. With the extra time you have without these 2 paragraphs you might have not need to mentioned, this would be fine because your answer would be really hard to right on time I imagine.

Next paragraph could dig deeper into Shakespeare’s purpose - eg Shakespeare critices the supernatural and it’s deceptive nature exposing its dangers of twisting reality. Perhaps his purpose of this was to please James I as it agrees with his written daemonology, and this would help him to earn the king Court to fund his plays.

Next paragraph very good - could mention how Shakespeare exposes how in reality feminine power in a patriarchal society is only temporary, as Lady Macbeth’s power eventually diminishes as she commits suicide.

Your conclusion is amazing!!

Overall, I would give it 25/30 which is roughly a grade 8, if you add more critical bits throughout your essay then it could definetly get up to the 30/30 mark! But honestly as this stage of the year this amazing work and you should be so so proud. Also, with your essay, the reason why I did not mark it at least 26/30 into the critical mark was because you keep on switching between lady Macbeth and Macbeth almost as if you are writing 2 different essays and giving 2 different answers to the question. I think you could get away with just doing one of these characters, and mentioning the other one in relation to how it effects the main one you are talking about.

Sorry this is so long!
Thank you so much for reading my essay through and giving your personal opinion on it. I understand it is extremely long, and I greatly appreciate the time you have have taken to read this and give me a mark and a grade. I will most certainly take into consideration about how I must make my writing more critical in order to get a higher grade. The way you write is so sophisticated and eloquent, I hope I will be able to write like you some day This is honestly amazing feedback, I wish my teachers could give advice to the same standard as you have! Also, well done for getting full marks in your essay, as I can see you must have absolutely smashed your exam!!
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YGSK
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#4
Report 4 months ago
#4
(Original post by jimin1311)
Thank you so much for reading my essay through and giving your personal opinion on it. I understand it is extremely long, and I greatly appreciate the time you have have taken to read this and give me a mark and a grade. I will most certainly take into consideration about how I must make my writing more critical in order to get a higher grade. The way you write is so sophisticated and eloquent, I hope I will be able to write like you some day This is honestly amazing feedback, I wish my teachers could give advice to the same standard as you have! Also, well done for getting full marks in your essay, as I can see you must have absolutely smashed your exam!!
Happy to help
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