Macbeth and Lear Connection

In Macbeth the recurring theme is appearance over reality, “Fair is foul and foul is fair.” This same theme echoes strongly in King Lear. Lear’s two daughters that appear to love him don’t and the one that does appears unkind. I think Shakespeare is trying to tell us something about going deeper than the surface when making momentous decisions, but in order for us to apply this advice we have to know when a certain decision carries especial weight in the balance. In both plays they had obstructions in realizing the importance of their actions. This ability was impaired in Lear as he has grown senile and is “fourscore and upward” and “hath ever but slenderly known himself.” In Macbeth he was impaired by an inner conflict of confusion over “supernatural soliciting” which he cannot term ill or good and where “function is smothered in surmise, and nothing is but what is not.”
Like in the game of chess, sometimes we have to plan ahead, not only for our own actions, but others’ response to those actions, and how things could play out; realizing when a certain bad move could lead to your checkmate matters most.


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