Jeremy Keeshin




- Tempt this Temptress

Jeremy Keeshin As it is said, the show must go on. But the show doesn’t just go on by itself. It needs some sort of boost or impetus from some outside source. The show needs a person to propel the plot forward. In the case of the two movies, Pleasantville and Crimes and Misdemeanors, and the two written works, Macbeth and Fahrenheit 451, the temptress is the person who keeps “the show” going. In Pleasantville, two kids from the real world come in and disturb the utopian television town. In Crimes and Misdemeanors, two women lure some men into dastardly predicaments. In Macbeth, the wife maneuvers her husband to the throne and beyond. Finally, in Fahrenheit 451, a teen and an old man convince a government employee to act on his own free will. The archetypal temptress in each of the four works, Macbeth, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Pleasantville, and Fahrenheit 451, has been the character whose cunningness, manipulation, and individuality has catalyzed the reform in society and the main characters. In the story of Macbeth, the temptress takes on her role by using manipulation and cunningness to drastically influence the course of the story. In the Shakespearean play Macbeth, the title character is a Scottish Thane and General whose battle victories have given him an elite status in the country. Macbeth is the current Thane of Glamis, but a prophecy by the three Weird Sisters predicting that he will become Thane of Cawdor and King Hereafter as well, tempt him into taking action. They greet him when they say, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (Shakespeare 1.3.51-53). When they lay out this fate for Macbeth, the Weird Sisters have manipulated him into taking action. They are also cunning in their work. When they predict that Macbeth will acquire these two new titles, they have stimulated him into thinking this is the true sequence of

Jeremy Keeshin events. Whether or not this was actually going to happen before does not matter, because now that Macbeth has been tempted, it is more likely to happen. However, they are not even the most temptress-like characters in the story. Lady Macbeth, the wife of Macbeth, fears he does not have all of the ambition to take the necessary action, and she plots to manipulate him when she says, “Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear and chastise with the valor of my tongue all that impedes thee from the golden round, which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have the crowned withal” (Shakespeare 1.5.28-33). She explicitly says how she plans to utilize her powers to convince Macbeth to perform the deed of killing Duncan in order to become king. She ultimately convinces Macbeth as he does end up killing Duncan and ascending to the throne as king hereafter. This exemplifies how the persuasive actions of the temptress in the work Macbeth catalyzed the plot and made Macbeth do what he did. It is unclear if the same fate would have befallen Macbeth were it not for his temptresses, Lady Macbeth and the three Weird Sisters. Hypothetically, if the same fate were to occur without the influences of the temptresses, then it is evident that they made that destiny come about faster. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the Weird Sisters were the people whose cunningness and manipulation shaped the final outcome for the protagonist and rest of society. The other pieces demonstrate the manipulation of the temptress to influence the plot as well. In Crimes and Misdemeanors, the character of Halley Reed has the hearts of two very distinct and contrasting men. She has the love of Clifford Stern, an already married documentary producer, and Lester, the upbeat almost celebrity like character. She lures in both of them and influences Clifford when she makes the documentary with him and bashes Lester; nevertheless she ends up with Lester. However, the most prominent

Jeremy Keeshin trait of the temptress in Crimes and Misdemeanors is her individuality. Halley Reed is unlike any woman Clifford and Lester have ever seen, and it makes her lure even more appealing. In a dialogue between Lester and Halley, he shows how much he is drawn to her: “Lester: I told you I'm putty in your hands. Halley: What am I gonna do with a handful of putty?” (Crimes and Misdemeanors). It is evident from this dialogue that she has tempted him very much and he is very into her. Lester is an apparent womanizer, but Halley’s draw to him is above that. Halley as a temptress is important because she draws Lester and Cliff; two polar characters, and makes them think differently about their lives and what they could be. Halley is not the only temptress. On the other side of the story, Dolores Paley is the mistress and lover of Judah Rosenthal, who is a married ophthalmologist. His attraction to her is so vehement that it causes him to lead two double lives. Dolores gives Judah the ultimatum to choose her or his wife, and this intense dilemma causes him to consult his brother Jack. Judah decides to kill her. This sequence shows how the temptress catalyzed the plot. Because Dolores gave Judah the ultimatum, he had to decide more rapidly which life he would lead. His mistress and temptress was the person who radically changed his life. In Crimes and Misdemeanors, the temptresses Halley and Dolores are the characters that make the plot move along. In the film Pleasantville, the perfect town of Pleasantville has their world turned upside down by two teenagers from the “real world.” They tempt the town into trying these new things that they have never seen, heard, or done before. David and Jennifer are individuals in the town of Pleasantville, because they come with outside experiences that no one else has. The character of Jennifer (and Mary Sue in the television series) manipulates the town when she introduces them all to Lover’s Lane and many

Jeremy Keeshin experiences they have not had before. In one such exchange, she introduces sex to Mrs. Parker: “Betty Parker: Mary Sue? Jennifer: Yeah? Betty Parker: What goes on up at Lover's Lane? Jennifer: What do you mean? Betty Parker: Well, you hear these things lately... kids spending so much time up there. Uh, is it holding hands? That kind of thing? Jennifer: Yeah! That and... Betty Parker: What? Jennifer: It doesn't matter. Betty Parker: No, I wanna know. Jennifer: Well, sex. Betty Parker: Oh. What's sex?” (Pleasantville). Jennifer goes on to tell her what sex is and other things she does not know about. This tempts her as well as many of the teens in society. Without this stimulus from Jennifer (Mary Sue), the town would not have come to the realization that there were things missing. Because of this she catalyzed the changes in the society of Pleasantville. In addition to that, David (and Bud in the television series) tempts Mr. Johnson with the wonderful and intricate books of paintings and all of the students with books filled with knowledge and ideas. Mr. Johnson, who works at a malt shop, is so into his routine that he cannot budge out of it. David (Bud) introduces the idea to him that things may not always go as planned, and that can be good. This tempts him into changing, and when he is introduced to color and painting, this intrigues him even more. The books tempt the kids because they have never seen anything but blank books before. When they are presented with these complex stories, they start to get ideas. Jennifer and David tempted the Pleasantville community when they showed them that there was more to the life that they were living. In Fahrenheit 451, two radically individual characters change the life of Guy Montag by familiarizing him with a whole new way of life. The book-burning society that Montag lives in is one with strict regulations and a set social norm, and anything

Jeremy Keeshin outside of that by the smallest bit is considered extremely peculiar and suspicious. Montag meets two characters that do not go with the grain, and their individuality makes him change his ways. He meets a teenage girl named Clarisse who shows him that there was a time when people thought and had ideas and conversations and things were different. She inquires of him, “Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?” (Bradbury 8). This questions Montag’s rigid set of beliefs and it is very perplexing to him. She asks him later if he reads any of the books he burns and later at an intense moment asks, “Are you happy?” (Bradbury 10). All of her questions about how he lives and the contrast with how she lives make him start to think. He becomes unsure if everything he believed once was right actually is. He later finds and becomes reacquainted with an old English professor, Faber who tells him that there are people like him with curiosity and the want to read. Faber nurtures his ability to think open-mindedly and freely when he talks about whose side Montag should pick: “And you’ll try to judge them and make your decision as to which way to jump, or fall. But I want it to be your decision, not mine, and not the Captain’s” (Bradbury 108). In this conversation Faber emphasizes how he wants Montag to have free will, not the Hobson’s choice decision making of society. In this way Faber tempts Montag and reassures Montag that he can go against his beliefs and his job and his wife. Faber and Clarisse tempt Montag into finding a new, more enlightened, thinking side of himself that he may not have otherwise found. All of the four works, Fahrenheit 451, Pleasantville, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Macbeth, demonstrate the same concept of how the temptress catalyzes the plot. They all have certain qualities that enable them to lure the society or main character into

Jeremy Keeshin a certain path of action. They have all been manipulative, cunning, and individual, and that is what has allowed them to be so significant. The temptress makes the show go on.

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