Posted in Macbeth, Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week: “Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair.”

This week’s Quote of the Week is another famous one from Macbeth. Spoken by the witches in Act I, Scene I, this quote can be tricky to analyse but QuickLits is about to show you just how easy it is …

“Fair is foul and foul is fair.”

First impressions of this quote is that it doesn’t make any sense. How can something be both fair (nice and pleasant) and foul (nasty)? It can’t … or can it?

This quote is an example of a paradox because, at first glance, it doesn’t make any sense. However, if we look a little deeper, there is some truth in there (as in all paradoxes).

So what’s the truth?

Well, sometimes, we do encounter things that look really nice but are, in fact, quite nasty. Take a lovely-looking dog, for example. It might have a cute face but a pretty nasty temper. Just because something looks good, it doesn’t mean it is good!

How does this relate to Macbeth? The point is, Shakespeare is giving the reader a warning. He’s saying that we should not accept anything at face value in this story because although it might look nice, it’s actually hiding something far more sinister. He is, therefore, introducing the theme of false appearances. But what’s he also doing, rather subtly,  is using the witches to foreshadow the murder of King Duncan later on. Clever, eh?


Like this post? Want more Macbeth quotes and analysis? Check out our study guide here.



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