In addition, the witches’ implement deceptive strategies to exploit individuals’ weakness leading vulnerable characters astray. Witches’ lure their victims with confections of misleading truths and deceits. In Macbeth, Banquo warns Macbeth after their encounter with the witches’. “And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betrays in deepest consequence”(1.3.132-135).Banquo advices Macbeth to remain alert and attempt to discern the true intentions of the witches'. However, with the fulfillment of two prophecies, Macbeth is blinded by ambition and remains oblivious to the witches’ deceptive maneuver. Macbeths’ gullibility to their deceptive plot results in his obsession with the relentless pursuit of absolute power. He reveals his weakness is not being tempted by the witches’ prophecies to commit sins in his pursuit to achieve his newly desired goals. Francis Nurse explains his theory to Danforth, in desperate attempt to rescue his wife from conviction in The Crucible. “Excellency, we have proof for your eyes, God forbid you shut them to it. The girls, sir, the girls, are frauds” (Miller 87).Deception plays a key role in the numerous and often unsubstantiated convictions during the Salem witch trials in The Crucible. Francis reveals the girls witchcraft claims were false. The witches’ deceptive testimonies convince Danforth of their allegiance to the court and leads to several convictions. Francis proposes his perspective of the ones responsible and brings Danforths attention to the courts relentless pursuit to perspective people, solely based on witches’ charades. The girls deceive the court by exploiting its insecurities, resulting in the apprehension of innocent people. After Macbeth grows more sinful and overpowered with greed he does not make any real attempt to change, his conscious is bothered by this. "I have supped full with horrors. Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts, Cannot once start me"(5.5.13-15). Macbeth loses grasp of his sanity and self-control. Being consumed with power, Macbeth lets nothing stand in his way in his, because he is supreme and that is all that is left now. He now suffers from troubled sleep, nightmares and loss of appetite, and is going insane. Therefore, the witches’ use deception to exploit characters’ weaknesses, leading them astray.
Moreover, the witches’ influential and effective plots render their victims’ conditions beyond redemption after a certain point in time. After the witches’ schemes take control of the situation, characters realize that redeeming their position is a helpless hope. In Macbeth, Macbeth realizes his murderous path which spirals out of control. “I am in blood stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’ or”(3.4.161-163). Macbeth becomes conscious of his misdeeds, which he commits in order to make the witches’ last prophecy a reality. The witches’ continue to extend their influence over Macbeth due to the fact that he is prepared to persevere regardless of the consequences. The witches’ plan to corrupt Macbeth beyond redemption is being implemented successfully as Macbeths insecurities accumulate. The witches’ drag Macbeth down a path of no return and Macbeth is forced to trudge on. Macbeth’s condition is at risk the witches’ success and their effectiveness. Similarly in The Crucible, John Proctor realized that Mary Warren’s mental breakdown and sudden change of sides in favor of Abigail would determine the courts verdict. “God is dead” (Miller 119).The witches’, Abigail and the girls reinforce their influence over the court proceedings with the defeat of their only opposition. Proctor is aware that their situation is beyond redemption due to Abigail’s newly announced accusations against Mary Warren. The witches’ influential and effective plan convinces the court of Proctors guilt and ends any further opposition. “Conjure me? Why, no, sir, I am entirely myself, I think. Let you ask Susanna Walcott she saw me sewin it in court” (Miller 76). Proctor doubts the existence of God and his doctrines. As a result, characters fall victim to the witches’ influential and effective plots, resulting in their condition worsening to the point of no return or beyond redemption.
Overall, the portrayal of witchcraft in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible and William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is pivotal as it triggers the descent of humanity through the manipulation of innocent individuals. For instance witches are powerful and perform superhuman feats through the practice of dark arts. Furthermore, vulnerable individuals are led astray, as a result of the witches’ deceptive schemes. Moreover, the witches’ influential and effective plots render their victims’ helpless beyond the point of redemption. Evil is often shrouded under a blanket of false promises, thus educing the emergence of one’s dark personality without any hope of salvation.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. London: Penguin Classics, 2003
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: Washington Press, 1992