Sure, men have also been accused of witchcraft, but they are by far the minority.
- The Lost Continent (Annotated);
- Macbeth Deception;
- Are witches the ultimate feminists?.
Both are time-honoured tools for policing women, meant to shame them into socially prescribed behaviour. A whore transgresses norms of female sexuality; a witch transgresses norms of female power. Witches are often called unnatural because of their ability to threaten men. With her spells, a witch can transform you into a pig, or defeat you in battle. She can curse you, blight your crops, ignore you, refuse you, correct you.
The stereotypical image of the witch — green skin, pointed hat, warts, black cat — has become entrenched, but beneath that surface lies a dazzling variety; a rich diversity of women who have frightened, possessed and inspired us over the centuries.
This image took firm root in the Christian era, when witches were women who consorted with the devil; but old and ugly witches predated Jesus. Roman literature portrayed witches as pathetic creatures with false teeth and grey hair, who dug in the ground by moonlight, tore animals with their teeth and used the organs of boys they starved to death for their spells. They had two main pastimes: making love potions, and casting curses. The poet Ovid blamed a disappointing sexual performance on a witch using a sort of Roman voodoo doll to take away his potency.
Sure Ovid, that was my first thought, too. Their spells — eye of newt and toe of frog — are as disgusting as their appearances and curse anyone who crosses them. And ugliness, of course, is key. The haggish outsides of these witches are meant to match their evil insides, and testify to their unnaturalness, since women are supposed to be as neat, attractive and young as possible.
Foreign women were also vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft, and the association between immigrants and sorcery goes back at least to Greek mythology. The witch Medea was the princess of Colchis, on the eastern edge of the Black Sea, which to the notoriously xenophobic ancient Greeks was alien and suspect.
Fair is Foul, Foul is Fair Analysis in Macbeth
When Jason and his Argonauts came to claim the Golden Fleece from her father, Medea fell in love with Jason and aided him with her spells, so that he and the Argonauts were able to seize the fleece and escape. In gratitude, Jason married Medea, but back home in his kingdom she was shunned, her witchcraft and foreignness merging into a single undesirable trait. Towards the end of the 17th century, the slave Tituba, who may have been South American, was blamed for leading the innocent white girls of Salem into evil.
Fears of witchcraft grounded in racism persist even today. The Roma, longtime outcasts in Europe, have frequently been accused of evil magic. And African-influenced voodoo is routinely used by Hollywood as a horror movie plot point. He therefore sets out to kill them. The message of the witches is fair to Macbeth, but foul to Banquo. Later in the play, Macbeth further consults the prophecies of the witches, where he is fed more crap.
From Circe to Clinton: why powerful women are cast as witches | Books | The Guardian
In the end, he is defeated by humans contrary to what the witches claimed. Macbeth and his wife are the ones who highlight this theme the most. This phrase summarizes the two characters perfectly. She tells him to act fair in the eyes of their guests, but to be foul in order to achieve their ambitious goal.
Scene 7 , Lady Macbeth tells her husband to act as a normal jovial host to the king and the other guests and not to show his true intentions to them. They put on quite a facade that no one learns of their real intentions and subsequently, King Duncan is killed by Macbeth. They both find it hard to act fair in the presence of Banquo, based on what they plan to do to him.
Let your remembrance apply to Banquo; Present him eminence, both with eye and tongue: Unsafe the while, that we Must lave our honours in these flattering streams, And make our faces vizards to our hearts. Act 3, Scene 2. Macbeth continues with a series of foul play to ensure that he has a stronghold grip on the throne. At the banquet for the nobles of Scotland, Macbeth dupes everyone around that he has high regards for Banquo when he has just killed him.
After the murders of King Duncan and his friend Banquo, he turns to Macduff and his family, where Macduff is able to escape, but not his family. From the beginning, Lady Macbeth is presented as a ruthless and an over ambitious character, who will do anything to become royalty. She is the one who comes up with the plan to kill King Duncan and she also coerces her husband to execute it.
In a twist of events, Lady Macbeth does not cherish her new status as queen. She is haunted by the guilt of her evil deeds. Lady Macbeth is also caught in the depths of deception and eventually kills herself. Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth uses her ability to mislead others in many ways. Lady Macbeth believes that, to be successful in his ambitions, Macbeth must rise above his goodness and accept her evil ways.
She knows that the process of making her husband believe what she wants may not be easy. Lady Macbeth has to be cunning, and she is up for the challenge. The thought of being in power — the King and Queen of Scotland — drives her and she cannot be stopped. Lady Macbeth often has to reinforce her immoral beliefs to her husband, giving him a boost.
Was the hope drunk, wherein you dressed yourself? From this time such I account thy love. Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour, as thou art desire? Once she has schooled her husband in the art of deception, she must help him uphold this image and the lies. This deceit always results in hazardous utcomes. Although Lady Macbeth is the most talented deceiver, Macbeth is also lead into committing his own deceptions. He begins to learn from his wife, and, in turn, proceeds to deceive many others.
Deceiving his friends becomes a frequent habit, and Macbeth is forced to continue his lies and stories. Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends; I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing to those that know me. Pretending that everything is fine eventually does not work, and as the play continues, so does the deception on many different levels. Deceiving others may seem difficult, but deceiving oneself leads to even bigger problems.
Lady Macbeth is so occupied with trying to mislead others, while rationalizing the deception to herself and her husband, that she does not notice how much the guilt is building. She finally gets so caught up in the deception game, that she cannot take it anymore. Though she is trying to be bold, saying that she does not care who knows what they have done, the statement proves that she does fear being detected.
See a Problem?
She goes mad, sleepwalking and rambling about the murders. Macbeth is also in over his head, and his mind starts to play tricks on him on more than one occasion: Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee: I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. He is trying so hard to go against his nature, convincing himself that deception is the only way to be King. Macbeth goes from being a noble warrior with honest ambition, to someone that cannot even control his own thoughts anymore, due to all of the deception.
From the end results of the play, we can clearly see how deception ruins lives. Shakespeare shows the audience that misleading others — and oneself, is not honorable nor the way to get ahead.
Count Reuven's Treasure
Evil deception of any kind is clearly harmful and a valid moral lesson can be taken from this play. Everything revolves around what seems to be; however, the truth does not emerge until the end when all deceptions are revealed.
- Seeing Is Deceiving.
- Holy and Diabolical Marks!
- How to cite this page.
- Thoughts of the Heart.
The witches and Macbeth use the tools of deception to cloud the issues and move the play along leaving the reader to ascertain what is real.