Self-Deception in Macbeth

August 4, 2017 General Studies

In the words of Bemos Thenes, “Nothing is easier then self-deceit for what man wishes that he also believes to be true. ” Self deception is a human weakness. It means that even though something maybe wrong and untrue if an individual believes it enough it will come to pass. No matter what someone may say, it is hard to change ones opinion because that is what the person truly believes. This is portrayed in William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, through the actions of various characters.

Shakespeare clearly shows the idea of self-deception through their actions and how this self-deception leads to moral disorder. Macbeth is a play that is all about deception. Right from the beginning when the three witches meet to talk, the mood being nothing is quite as it seems is set when they say “Fair is fowl and foul is fair, Hover through fog and filthy air” (I: I: 11-12). This quote makes it seem that something bad is going to happen soon, and it also makes the mood seem dark and sinister. The three witches have a large role in causing characters such as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to become self-deceit.

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The three witches know exactly what is going to happen if they tell Macbeth their prophecy, but they decide to tell him in a way that he interprets all wrong, and doesn’t give him much thought for Macbeth. Hecate, the main witch, says to the three witches “And all you know security is mortals chiefest enemy. ” (III: V: 32-33). This means that comfort and over confidence in yourself is the worst thing for you; it will ultimately bring you to your downfall, which is exactly what they are trying to do to Macbeth. Although the witches forced Macbeth to be self-deceit, Lady Macbeth did to.

Lady Macbeth is a character that is very good at persuading to get what she wants. She was the one who pushed Macbeth to murder Duncan even when he had his doubts, she made him believe everything would work out and that it was the right thing to do, she made his self-deceit. By saying “Look like the innocent flower but the serpent under it” (I: V: 73-74), she is making him go through with the murder and to believe and play it off like it will turn out fine in the end. Even though Lady Macbeth helps to make her husband self-deceit, she too proves to be self-deceit.

She acts like she is not affected by the recent events caused by her and her husband but then breaks down. The overwhelming feeling of regret that she keeps trying to play off keeps her from sleeping well and eating normally. During her sleep Lady Macbeth began to talk in her sleep, one of the things she said was that “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. ” (V: I: 47). This was showing her guilt towards the murder of Duncan and that she cannot forget about it. Not long after this is said she commits suicide. Macbeth is the character Shakespeare used most to portray his idea of self-deception through.

Macbeth was made to be self-deceit because of the witches’ prophecy that brought him his overconfidence and too much reassurance. But his wife also made him this way. Lady Macbeth questioned his manhood when he wanted to stop and not go through with the plan and made him believe what they were doing should happen and will work out perfectly for them. During the play Macbeth believes what the witches told him. He believes so much that even when everything starts falling apart, he goes back to the witches to see what else they say. He keep thinking that this is what’s supposed to happen and it’s going to start being better soon.

Although Macbeth believes that everything is okay, just like Lady Macbeth he is losing sleep over the guilt. Macbeth began to get sacred of getting caught, so to cover it up he kept murdering people. He started with Duncan’s guards so they couldn’t be able to tell people their story, next was his best friend Banquo because he was afraid Banquo would tell people his suspicions, and then was Macduffs family, trying to get to Macduff but he wasn’t there. After trying so hard to cover everything up, and being so self-deceit Macbeth finally start so see the end and what’s really coming to them. “The way to dusty death.

Out, out brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full sound and fury, signifying nothing. ” (V: V: 25-30). This is the quote Macbeth says when he knows what’s coming for him, but he still proves to be self-deceit by listening to what the witches told him that he cannot be killed by someone born of a women. Macbeth once again thinking he’s invincible doesn’t realize that someone who was born of a caesarean section could kill him, because they are not technically born of a woman.

Macbeth did not know Macduff was born like that, and it is why Macduff is the one to kill Macbeth. In summary, self-deception is the human weakness that in the end will bring you to a downfall. Shown through the misleading, greed, and overconfidence of characters, William Shakespeare has shown self-deception the audience and readers of his tragic play Macbeth. This play shows how deception is started and what it does to you, for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth it started out being a good thing, Macbeth was King as we wanted, but everything came back to them and caused them into insanity, leading them both to death.


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