Shakespeare on the Instruments of Darkness and their Modus Operandi

The Instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles“… But ‘t is strange:
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,

The instruments of darkness tell us truths;

Win us with honest trifles, to betray ‘s
In deepest consequence.”
(Macbeth act 1, sc. 3)

Tips for Use. Good lines to point out and stigmatize the appearance of truth used to hide deep and malicious purposes. Too many examples to choose from. Take the case of ‘homeland security’. It may not be a trifle, but the intent is apparently honest – i.e. to protect the citizenry from harm. However, it takes complete blindness of the spirit not to see how an apparently “honest trifle”, or rather an idea on which no one can disagree, has been converted into a veritable instrument of darkness. Betraying the “citizens to be saved” into the deepest consequences, i.e. the creation of a police state.
Or take the case of drugs. For almost a century, since the passage of the Harrison Act in 1914 it was found that drugs are bad (and on this most would say it is true). But it was also found that drugs are a sin that must be wiped out by law. This created the cops-and-robbers situation that has existed ever since. To have cops there must be robbers, those whose sin of taking drugs must be wiped out by law. Consequently, the government’s severity inflates the price of drugs. This encourages crime which in turn increases the payroll of the employees of the War on Drugs. Without accounting that in 1937 (or thereabouts), cannabis, sold as a medicine for at least a century and even used by the above-reproach Queen Victoria, became an object of the ‘war on drugs’ with all the consequences we know. To the delectation, of course, of, truly, the instruments of darkness.
The entries on this site are derived from the book “Your Daily Shakespeare”. It contains 1390 pages identifying over 10,000 daily situations. Each situation directs you to one or more Shakespearean repartees, comments, and answers. Repartees, comments, and answers that will get you on the stage or at least out of the water – besides making you a regular winner of verbal contests. “Your Daily Shakespeare” has been described as the most unusual, useful and unique book of Shakespearean quotations. Nothing similar exists or has ever existed.
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In the play. Banquo reflects on the words of the witches after they left.

Image Source:    detail from the tympanum of the Cathedral of Autun (France)

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