Difference Between Appearance and Reality

Key Difference – Appearance vs Reality


Appearance and reality are common themes that come up in literature. However, this should not be confined to literature alone. Even in our lives, there can be instances where a mismatch between appearances and reality emerge. These two are not the same. There is a clear difference between appearance and reality. First let us define the two words. Appearance is what something looks like or how someone looks like. On the other hand, the reality is the state of things as they exist. This highlights that a key difference exists between the two words. The reality is the truth or what really exists, but the appearance is a merely what something looks like. There may be instances where something appears as the reality of the situation, but is only a form of deception. A person may appear to be kind but in reality is the complete opposite of it. Through this article let us clarify this difference with some examples.

What is Appearance?

Appearance is what something looks like or how someone looks like. These are often not the reality but forms of deception. People even in our day to day life can appear to be something that they are not. For example, a person who appears to be very generous may, in fact, be a miser. Appearances, in this sense, are merely masks that people put on for their advantage in life.

When we look at literary works appearances and reality is a common theme. Especially, Shakespeare uses this theme in many of his plays. Let us look at an example from Macbeth. The very character of Macbeth can be considered as a clash between appearances and reality. After the prophetic greetings of the witches, Macbeth appears to be someone who he is not in reality. He appears to be loyal to the king although in reality he plans to murder him and become king.

Difference Between Appearance and Reality - A scene from Macbeth

A scene from Macbeth

What is Reality?

The reality is the state of things as they actually exist. In philosophy, the question of what is truly real is often raised. This allows the philosopher to separate reality from the appearance of it. Reality or what is real is believed to live forever. It is not temporary as is the case for appearances. The reality is also considered to be objective.

However, discerning what is truly real in life can be rather difficult as people often put on appearances that conceal their true state. Sometimes, reality can become so blurred and concealed that it is difficult to recognize. This is why we should always be vigilant as to notice the real from the appearance of it.

 Key Difference - Appearance vs Reality

What is the difference between Appearance and Reality?

Definitions of Appearance and Reality:

Appearance: Appearance is what something looks like or how someone looks like.

Reality: Reality is the state of things as they actually exist.

Characteristics of Appearance and Reality:


Appearance: How something appears to be may not, in fact, be the truth.

Reality: Reality is the truth.


Appearance: Appearance can be deceptive.

Reality: Reality is not deceptive.


Appearance: Appearance is temporary.

Reality: Reality is permanent.


Image Courtesy:

1. “MacbethAndBanquo-Witches” by Théodore Chassériau – Musée d’Orsay. [Public Domain] via Commons

2. Truth alone wins By Kashmirspeaks (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons