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Greater Dublin Area (GDA) for Leaving Cert Geography

Tip: I found it extremely beneficial to know this chapter inside out and back to front. There is more to write about the GDA in comparison with the West of Ireland, and the questions are often easier to get big marks in. There’s a good bit in this chapter, but much of it is common sense or things you’d hear about on the news. Be specific; learn exact figures regarding population, average temperatures etc. This is a critical piece of advice across the entire geography course, but particularly in the Regional section. 

Our Geography notes are coming soon, subscribe to our emails to get all the important updates (it's free and secure) Physical processes  Climate  Cool temperate maritime  Lower precipitation (compared to the WoI). 800-1000mm per year. In rain shadow of Dublin Mountains (which are 1200m high) Sunshine- 4 hours per day average Summer temperature- 16 degrees Celsius Winter temperature- 5 degrees Celsius Growing season- 270 days Relief
Lowland region- low, flat land Dublin…

Macbeth Sample Essay: Appearance versus Reality

Appearance versus reality is a major theme in “Macbeth”. 

Discuss this statement with reference to the play.

Another sample essay here

This is a H1 essay. You may also like: Full Notes on Macbeth (€)

(Some history: I wrote this essay straight out of the Leaving Cert. Lots of American study sites copied and pasted it onto their websites, verbatim, no credits! You can be assured that this is the original source. I have since gone back over it to spruce it up. When they go low...)

"Fair is foul and foul is fair," chant the Witches in the opening scene of Macbeth. With this apparent contradiction a seed is sown for the examination of what is indeed a major theme of the play. False appearance and apparition recur regularly throughout the story. The audience and even the characters themselves are often unsure of the distinction between what appears to be real and what actually is. Shakespeare makes a great statement through the play of how easily one can deceive and be deceived. It is full of rumours and fears, vague knowledge, uncertainties, riddles and half-truths.

[The Witches] - you don’t need to put these headings in your essays, this is just to improve readability when you’re studying

The Witches are the embodiment of evil and equivocation. They clearly have the power to make good look evil and make evil look good. They play a huge role in Macbeth’s fate by introducing doubt and malignant ambition into his mind. Their mixing of appearance and reality is crucial to the development of the plot. Macbeth, a character previously honourable and “valiant”, falls into the trap of interpreting what the Witches say, “And nothing is but what is not”. To Banquo they say, “Thou shalt get kings though thou be none.” He is clear in his understanding that what the Witches are saying has little to do with reality: “The instruments of darkness tell us truths, / Win us with honest trifles to betray ’s, in deepest consequence.” However, Macbeth is led by the appearance of royalty that the Witches got into his head, ultimately resulting in a tragic fate for Scotland and his own downfall. He develops a strong connection with the Witches. There comes a stage when he is dependent on the witches and confused what is reality and what is merely appearance: “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.” It is wishful thinking at best, but to Macbeth it is an absolute truth. He believes he will ever be vanquished unless an impossible natural occurrence (“Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him”) takes place… and most ironically it does! Even from looking at the Witches, we know that there is a mix up here of appearance and reality. Banquo notes: “You should be women, / And yet your beards forbid me to interpret / That you are so..” So equivocation is in the very nature of these “midnight hags.” One may even argue the most obvious point: aren’t witches only characters in children’s books? How can you even discuss reality and make reference to witches? Clearly, Shakespeare’s masterpiece is designed to blur the boundary between appearance and reality.


Darkness, nighttime and the colour black that frequently feature throughout the play evoke an understanding of the evil nature of the characters. Nighttime serves as the cover for Macbeth's murders. He pleads, "Stars, hide your fires! Let not the light see my black and deep desires." Lady Macbeth echoes this as she calls on the night for help, "Come, thick night, and pall the in the dunnest smoke of hell, that my keen knife see not the wound it makes." Most of the play is set at night time. It is only bright twice: when Duncan arrives at Inverness and when Macbeth is about to die. Both are events that subvert Macbeth's plot and clarify good versus evil to the audinece. The Porter scene adds to the atmosphere of darkness by making references to the gates of hell: “Who’s there, i' th' name of Beelzebub?” The Porter shares his alcohol-related sexual misadventures providing the audience with some much needed comic relief: “It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.”
Even from looking at the witches we know that there is a mix up here of appearance and reality. Banquo notes: “Thou should be women… and yet thy beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.” So equivocation is in the very nature of these “midnight hags.” One may even argue the most obvious point: aren’t witches only characters in children’s books? How can you even discuss reality and make reference to witches? Clearly, Shakespeare’s masterpiece is designed to blur the boundary between appearance and reality.

[Pathetic fallacy] 

The audience is returned to the darkness of the play very quickly. The changes in nature that occur along with the play’s events highlight Shakespeare’s main message to the audience. On the night when Duncan was killed it was abnormally dark: "There's husbandry in heaven, their candles are all out.” This unnatural occurrence corresponds to the "unnatural" killing of the rightful king: “Unnatural deeds / Do breed unnatural troubles”. The order of things at the time hinged on a belief int he divine right of kings. When this was disrupted by Macbeth, there was an echoing upset in heaven itself. Pathetic fallacy, a literary method used to illustrate deeper issues with the aid of the setting, is used here: "A falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place, / Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed." Perhaps, this is the mousing Macbeth trying to be in place of a hawk by slaughtering the towering royalty and violating the divine right of kings?

[Macbeth’s violence] 

We see some gruesome descriptions of brutal warfare, e.g."till he unseamed him from the nave to th' chops, / And fixed his head upon our battlements.” Not only does this create a general atmosphere of evil, but also assists the audience in understanding the personality of the main character, Macbeth, who seems to go the extra mile when it comes to being violent. Macbeth's sword "smoked with bloody execution”. Indeed, there will many more bloody daggers later in the play.


Shakespeare's references to blood throughout the text give the play a morbid tone and assist in recognising the characters' malignant minds and their evil deeds. Imagery of blood in a setting of violence is a symbol of danger and pain, reminiscent of death, disease and disintegration in all of Scotland: "Bleed, bleed, poor country... each new day a gash is added to her wounds". Macbeth's inner deterioration is emphasised by the numerous murders he rushes into after assuming power. The cold irony of the murderer's words regarding Banquo, "safe in the ditch he bides, with twenty trenched gashed on his head", is striking and convincing of Macbeth's evil character...

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