Macbeth: The Theme of Equivocation
According to the Oxford Dictionary equivocation is “a way of behaving or speaking that is not clear or definite and is intended to avoid or hide the truth”. In other words saying parts of the truth and leaving out others. In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth the theme of equivocation is portrayed through the witches, the characters, and the apparitions.
In the play Macbeth, the witches introduce early on the theme of equivocation through their prophecies. This is illustrated when the witches say: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair, /Hover through the fog and filthy air” (1.1.12-13). This also connects to the reversal theme that good is evil and evil is good. All is not as it may appear to be. Also the witches use equivocation to perform their evil deeds: “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis. /All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor. / All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter” (1.3.46-48). Soon after his prophecy Macbeth hears news of his new title (Thane of Cawdor). This assures him that the witch were true in their words. He then begins about the prophecy of becoming king, which then led to thoughts of murder. Thus, the witches use that act of equivocation to their advantage.
Different characters in Macbeth use equivocation and most often it is one that has a double meaning. One in particular is when Lady Macbeth states:
“In every point twice done and then done double,
Were poor and single business to contend
Against those honors deep and broad wherewith
Your majesty loads our house. For those of old,
And the late dignities heap’d up to them,
We rest your hermits”. (1.6.16-21)
Lady Macbeth expresses her happiness towards Duncan. Initially one would think that she happy because she is honored to be in the presence of the king. It is soon realized that the true cause of her joy is what she and her husband have planned for Duncan (his murder).
In the play the apparitions...