After hiring murderers to kill him, Macbeth begins to see Banquo's ghost which drives him crazy, possibly a result of his guilty conscience. Macbeth's external conflict is with Macduff and his forces trying to avenge the king and end Macbeth's reign over Scotland. One specific motif is considered the major theme, which represents the overall atmosphere throughout the play.In the first scene of the first act, three witches plan their next meeting in which they will encounter Macbeth. It is in this scene that the motif is first presented, as the tree witches chant, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air" (1. 1. 11-12).
The witches meet again in scene three of act one. One of the witches discusses a curse she has placed on a woman's husband, because she refused to share her food. Macbeth enters during this scene along with Banquo, arriving from a victorious battle.He uses the motif to describe the day as "So foul and fair a day I have not seen" (1. 3. 38). When Macbeth encounters the witches, they give him two predictions.
One is that he will become the thane of Cawdor, and then the king of Scotland. When hearing this, Macbeth immediately begins to plan his methods of obtaining these positions, including the murder of the king. Because of this, it may be assumed that he has thought of such actions prior to the meeting. This is an example of what was once fair, a loyal and noble of Scotland, has become foul, an ambitious traitor.On the night of his murder, king Duncan is invited to a banquet hosted by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Once there, Duncan describes the castle in a positive manner. "This Castle hath a pleasant seat; the air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself unto our gentle senses" (1.
6. 1-3). Ironically, Macbeth murders him in his sleep in the castle. The main theme of the play is supported here, as this fair and pleasent castle, has become a foul place of betrayal and murder. This scenario is also seen at Macbeth's second banquet, which he holds to show gratitude and love for his friends.Meanwhile, however, three murderers hired by Macbeth, kills his friend Banquo in order to prevent any threat or opposition to Macbeth's reign. In her first appearances, Lady Macbeth is presented as an ambitiously evil and foul character that will do whatever it takes to get what she wants.
We see this motivation in her when she says, "How tender tis to love the babe that milks me; I would, while it was smiling in my face have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out" (1. 6. 55-58).In these lines, Lady Macbeth threatens that she would smash her baby's head if it meant achieving their goals. However, after killing Duncan and becoming queen, she realizes her mistakes and is driven mentally ill by it. She is no longer able to live with the guilt and fears of her actions. In her case, we see what was once foul, becomes fair.
William Shakespeare uses nature to develop the theme of the play. Disorders in nature during this time were a result of an evil doing disrupting the natural order of the world.In the play, Macbeth's betrayal of Scotland is the cause of the disorders in nature. An example of these disorders is the woods that Macbeth's messenger claims he saw. "As I did stand my watch upon the hill I looked toward Birnam, and anon, methought, the wood began to move" (5. 5. 33-35).
Throughout the play Macbeth, the general mood is one of deceit and betrayal. What appears to be fair is foul. This is why it is considered to be the major theme of the play.