“The Crucible” and “Macbeth”
“The Crucible” and “Macbeth”
Hiding the truth and speaking falsely is a theme that has been thoroughly explored by many artists and writers, with a similar conclusion for most of them. Deceit emerges as an evil device, a dark and never-ending tunnel from which it is difficult to get away, for a lie leads into another one, the same way as a step leads into another. Nonetheless, despite initial appearances and all the twists and turns the tunnel might have, it finally ends abruptly, and light, that is to say truth and virtue, prevails. That is what seems to happen in the plays Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, and The Crucible, by Arthur Miller.
Abigail Williams is a main character in The Crucible who seems to follow the advice that Lady Macbeth gave his husband regarding how to lie. Abigail actually look[s] like the innocent flower, for she is a young girl whom nobody seems to mistrust, and everybody refers to her and her friends as the girls, something which adds to her the power of innocence. However, she is the serpent under [the flower], for she takes advantage of how people trust in her and uses this in her favour to attack with her lies. Abigail knows that they will trust her because she bear[s] welcome in [her] eye[s], and therefore, they believe her when she charges upon Mary Warren: Oh, Mary, this is a black art to change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; its Gods work I do.
Furthermore, both Abigail and Lady Macbeth are two very powerful women who make use of their authority to incite other people into lying. Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to kill Duncan, while Abigail forces the other girls into lying by threatening them, for she tells them that if any of them breathe[s] a word about [witchcraft], [she] can make [them] wish [they] had never seen the sun go down.. What makes them (Abigail and Lady Macbeth) guilty is inducing others into evil, not just doing evil themselves, but inciting; for he who incites becomes overwhelmingly powerful. Incitement is their weapon and their greater device, they slowly soften the conscience, until words penetrate it, incitement builds its nest in it and then it is too late to get rid of immorality.
Hypocrisy is another aspect of deceit that is seen in both plays. Parris, the reverend of Salem, prefers to save his own reputation rather than living by moral and Christian standards, and therefore lies: And what shall I say to them? That my daughter and my niece I discovered dancing like heathen in the forest? Nobody would doubt from a priest; for that reason, his lies are indulgent. Lady Macbeth is also two-faced, for she insists on Macbeth, after he has killed Duncan, that false face must hide what the false heart doth know. Moreover, Abigail is hypocrite enough to speak about not knowing what pretence Salem [is], and to affirm that she never knew the lying lessons [she] was taught by all [those] Christian women, despite all her lies. Although this shows Abigails double standards, it does also reflect the insincerity of the whole town.
However, all these characters seem to forget something essential. They all try to beguile the time, but they do not have in mind that it is impossible to mock the time, for control of time (or society as a whole) is completely beyond human reach. This trespassing of natural and incomprehensible laws bring nothing but perdition and oblivion and damnation, alike the builders of the tower of Babel who suffered for trying to reach God´s inmense power. Fate is around the corner and always turns back on those who defy the above orders. Macbeth was killed, after being appalled by his conscience in such way to murder sleep; Lady Macbeth was driven to suicide and, regarding Abigail, the legend has it that [she] turned up later as a prostitute in Boston.
All in all, along both tragedies it is possible to realise how virtue prevails over wickedness and deceit, notwithstanding how powerful these liars are and their hypocrisy that allows them to hide their deceits. Therefore, Lady Macbeth and Abigail Williams are doomed to eternal damnation, in spite of the ability they have to beguile and incite other people into evil. A human is unable to mock the time, therefore, his sins will be punished sooner or later, for whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own/ funeral drest in his shroud (Walt Whitman, Song to Myself)