Shakespeare: Fair Is Foul and Foul Is Fair

Shakespeare Essay

The theater of life is now seen as the falsity of what lies on the surface, as the deepest ambiguity of everything. This performance is conveyed by the witch’s cry in the Macbeth play – fair is foul and foul is fair. In other words, the beauty is disgusting and the ugly is fine. If in the time of the Renaissance it seemed that the valor, the ability to act were enough to achieve the goal in the life, actual understanding of the sinister ambiguity and mysteriousness of the life – causes a predominant interest in the human mind and in his ability to perceive the world. Fair is foul and foul is fair, Shakespeare’s witches say in unison in the Macbeth play, act 1, sc. 1. This phrase has become a winged one and this main semantic message passes through the whole play.

I should be noted that witches were androgynous, that is, they looked like women, but they had beards. Androgynous creatures knew the secrets of the universe. For us, mortal beings sexually separated, this is inaccessible after the fall of Adam and Eve. The nature of witches was considered as the devil one and we can judge their androgyny by this old picture. The best minds were thinking about the fate and predestination, seriously studied the relationship between the good and the evil. In this way, Thomas Nash wrote that anything can be turned inside out in The Horrors of Night (1594). Nash and Shakespeare put this paradox in the mouth of witches who used to sow the evil seeds in people’s souls. But Shakespeare’s play asserts that this paradox is the acting principle in the whole human history. Tradition says – if there were no bloody atrocities in the distant past, King James would not be King, he did not go to the throne of England and would not have formed The Great Britain during his reign. Shakespeare’s play reminded King James with a sad story of his ancestor. Through many generations, the prediction of the witches came true. Those words of witches were understood as a prophecy for future long-term consequences stemming from the old fact of evil.

The Mobius tape obviously has a reference to the history, but it seems to be impossible to determine what is virtuous or insidious due to the shortness of ordinary people lives. In short periods of time, the good is always good, as the evil is always evil. The virtue always suffered from maligners. This is true that the act of the evil returns to its bearer sooner or later – don’t foul the well, you may need its waters, as the wise book convinces. But it is not easy for a person who has been harmed to see how the commandment that any vengeance will be repaid because the time of his stay on the earth is too short. It should remember that the most unfortunate is the one who committed the evil, though this does not apply to all kinds of the evil. He not only suffers from the boomerang law or from his conscience pangs, but he is still a villain who brought suffering to his neighbor in the eyes of others, while the victim does not suffer from the remorse of the conscience and he often enjoys the sympathy and support of relatives.

We can nevertheless notice the universal justice of these words of Shakespeare’s witches. An evil caused once, suddenly turns into good after a lapse of time – the memory of the suffering experience is not erased, but the bitter sediment remains in the soul until the end of days. Even if the evil is perceived by a human not as a result of someone’s actions or intentions, but a fatal combination of circumstances, uncontrollable cataclysms, natural processes that are not subject to a person, and it can, later on, have a beneficial effect on the destiny of the both sufferer himself and everyone associated with it. And the same comes with the good. A person may do a good deed, but the incident interfered, and it turns into the undeniable evil. And in the opposite way, many people came up to the idea that it the misdeed of Judas Iscariot, whether he wanted it or not, led to the creation of Christianity, as it is stated in the Bible.

How can we not marvel at the justice of the prophetic words of the Shakespeare’s witches? And how great was the mind, passionately reflecting on the interdependence of the good and the evil. These words, in addition, are an echo of the historical concept of Francis Bacon, which was an eminent scientist of that time – he expressed the concept of the good and the evil in accordance with the Calvinistic understanding of these moral categories in his Confession of Faith. The preparation and publication of the King James Bible became another cultural achievement of that era. King James ordered to prepare the publication of a new text of the Holy Bible by one of the first royal decrees. The head of the special collegium was Archbishop of Canterbury, Lancelot Andrews, one of Francis Bacon’s few close friends, who read all his works. The King James Bible has remarkable merits. It is known that when the work on the translation was completed, the text was sent to two editors for a year. Who they were is unknown – no names in any of the directories available even in the Folger Shakespeare Library. Only Shakespeare could give a poetic luster to the Biblical text, it’s so beautiful. Not Bacon, of course, deprived of a natural poetic gift, neither Rutland, an artistic component of the creative Janus.

These suggestions recalled in the memory one biblical quote – the man is born to suffering and to rush upward like a spark. The meaning of these words may be understood as an inevitability of sufferings for all who live on earth, in this vale of sorrow. But if you imagine a pillar of sparks flying upwards, you can see – suffering takes us to the higher spheres. Through hardship to the stars. So, is the evil good? Is this a strange conclusion for a human as an echo of some cosmic law granted for our understanding?