Shakespeare is well-remembered for his exemplary work in the work of literature. Considered by many as the finest author during his time, he wrote books on different genres. However, it is how he managed to employ certain themes in all the genres he worked on that communicates his mastery of literature. He mostly worked on here genres of literature: History, comedy and tragedy. The two genres that this paper will work on are tragedy and comedy. The paper will focus n Merchant of Venice as the comedy and Macbeth as the tragedy. Using these two works, the paper will then analyze how Shakespeare successfully employs the theme of appearance v. reality. The paper aims to explore how this theme emerges through the different genres.
In the tragedy (Macbeth), the theme of appearance v. reality manifests itself in various forms. This was the case when Macbeth and Banquo encountered the three witches. At this point, the two couldn’t believe what they saw. This is well explained by the phrase: ‘You should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so’ (Shakespeare, 32). At this point, Macbeth is not sure whether he imagines of them or not because they melt into the wind. In this scenario, the author uses this theme to make the tragedy interesting. Whereas in reality women are not expected to have beards, the appearance in this case was contradictory. This brings about confusion from one party.
In essence, the theme of reality v. appearance connotes that something might be very different from its appearance. This means that it is not always correct that whatever we perceive or the outside appearance is reality. Another instance in Macbeth where this theme is best brought out is Lady Macbeth’s appearance after and before killing Duncan. Before killing him, Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a callous and tough woman, always dictating her husband. However, this is not the case after the murder. She is portrayed as having fallen apart. At one occasion, she sleepwalks. She is different from the person that was introduced in t early chapters as being immune to guilt.
Appearance v reality is also well-used in The Merchant of Venice. In this comedy, there are several examples that support it, taking the form of events, characters and objects. At the discussion about the bond, the Shylock that the author portrays is different from the real shylock. At one point, he says: ‘I would be friends with you and have your love’ (Shakespeare, 46). He goes on to say: ‘this kindness I show’. In appearance, it seems like Shylock is a generous person, willing to bail out Antonio. We expect him therefore to act because he was moved by the misfortunes of Antonio. However, this is very different from reality. In essence, Shylock had an ulterior motive. O him, it would be important that the misfortunes that Shylock was facing continued so that 'he would have a pound of flesh from' whichever part of the body pleased him. Whereas he is portrayed as acting out of mercy, his real intention is to eliminate Antonio, who was a major stumbling block to his success I business.
This theme is also portrayed when the suitors were trying their luck in marrying Portia. The contents of the three caskets were different from what they appeared to be from the outside. Because of this, some suitors were misled by the descriptions of these articles. This sums how the theme of appearance v reality manifests itself in ‘Merchant of Venice’.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Champaign, Ill.: Project Gutenberg, 199. Print.
Shakespeare, William, and Burton Raffel. The Merchant of Venice. New Haven: Yale UP, 2006. Print.