William Shakespeare’s, Macbeth widely explores the theme of betrayal, the fear of its occurrence and the effect paranoia has on an individual. The play harbors many mistrusting and deceitful characters, who prove that care should be taken when considering someone’s outward appearance. However, Shakespeare demonstrates that a life of mistrust and paranoia will lead to ones demise, just as much as a life of foolish trust will and that only those who live with a careful balance of both trust and vigilance together will thrive.
From the beginning of the play, Shakespeare demonstrates just how much appearances can deceive. Macbeth is described as a “brave” and “worthy gentlemen”. Even Macbeth initially sees himself as “good” and questions why he would kill Duncan, given his own character. Although his true colors show in the end, Macbeth is known thought of all around Scotland as a good and honest man. It is only when Lady ...view middle of the document...
After the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are both almost immediately struck by fear and an obsession with mistrust, and the audience can see the toll it takes on them psychologically and mentally. Macbeth states that his mind is “full of scorpions” because he fears that Banquo and Fleance will steal his crown, and like Lady Macbeth, is unable to sleep due to “terrible dreams that shake [them] nightly”. Lady Macbeth, unable to live that way anymore, kills herself. The audience is forced to consider whether a life full of ignorance and trust, such as demonstrated by Duncan, is worse than the one full of the fear and guilt that embodies Lady Macbeth, with both of those lives leading to the demise of its occupants.
The characters that thrive and succeed by the end of the play are the individuals that a balance of both trust and vigilance in there lives. Macduff is the first to be suspicious of Macbeth, even after being told of his bravery. He is notably absent from Macbeths inauguration, proving his doubting of the new king. Macduff travels to England in order to recruit Malcolm, trusting that he did not kill his own father as the rumors say, showing Macduffs loyalty. Malcolm also exhibits a good measure of both vigilance and trust. Demonstrating this, Malcolm at first fears Macduff is working for Macbeth, and fools him into thinking that he is an unfit king. However, once it is proven just how much of an “evil tyrant” and honest Macduff is, they both lead the people to victory, killing Macbeth. Without the good judge of character that both men possess, that was lacking in Duncan, and only because they were both a combination of wary and loyal did they succeed.
In conclusion, Shakespeare does encourage the audience to not blatantly trust first appearances and to use logic and reasoning, rather than be consumed by ignorance. In saying this, he also argues that a life wholly occupied by paranoia and mistrust is damaging and will also lead to the demise of a person, just as much as foolishly trusting life will. Macbeth argues that, in order succeed and thrive, a balance of vigilance and justified trust is necessary.