"Wouldst thou like the taste of butter" The Witch and the Simplicity of Temptation
"Wouldst thou like the taste of butter . . . wouldst thou like to live deliciously?"
This is the climactic scene in the film The Witch (2015) where the eldest daughter of the pilgrim outcast family. Tomasin, demands Black Philip, a goat--also an incarnation of the devil (?), speak to her. All movie long, her younger siblings had claimed that Black Philip speaks to them and told them that Tomasin was the witch, which of course, she wasn't. On the contrary, she seemed to be the sweetest and most grounded of all them all. So embrace of the devil is unexpected and disturbing.
The sequence of the interaction is interesting. The devil never initiates or coerces. At each point, the choice is hers.
She follows Black Philip into the barn. She "conjures" him to speak to her. He asks what she wants, to which she replies, "What dost thou offer?"
Now, here is where Satan makes his pitch. Of all the things that could be offered, of all the things that the mighty Lucifer could present, the first thing he says, "Wouldst thou like the taste of butter?" Fascinating writing. He goes for a very simple sensation, butter, and then extends the offer to a delicious life. One thing missing here is the offer of power.
In two biblical scenes, Eve and Jesus' temptation, Jesus is tempted through food. Probably something like "Wouldst thou like the taste of hot, warm, chewy bread?" When Jesus declines the hot, warm, chewy bread, Satan ramps it up and eventually offers power, the kingdoms of this world. In Eve's case, the fruit appealed to the eye and looked good to eat. But the clincher it seems was that it "was desired to make one wise," or be like God--clear offer of power.
What was different in the biblical scenes and in The Witch? Many things, but with Eve and Christ, both had a lot to lose. Warm, chewy bread was just not enough to give up obedience to God. For Eve, she had everything she wanted in the Garden of Eden. But Eve and Tomasin are seduced by Satan because in both cases, he offers what is seemingly otherwise unattainable. Tomasin had no where else to go and the offer of a delicious life was far more generous than she could have hoped for. Eve and Adam are an interesting case. They could have been content, but the very presence of God on a daily basis only serve to reveal to them what they were not, regardless of what they did possess.
The simplicity of the temptation, butter or a delicious apple, was really a complex symbol representing power, the power to attain the unattainable.
With Satan, it's never just butter.
7/3/2020 11:48:16 pm
9/15/2021 02:14:43 pm
Sorry, but the snake in the book of Genesis isn't Satan. In fact, most of what Christians think they know about Satan comes from Dante's Inferno, not the Bible.
10/14/2020 09:05:47 am
Um, in your post above, you never mention God's conspicuous absence while the family is being torn apart; and, you never explain Thomasin actually flying at the end, indicating that Satan GAVE her special abilities: she could finally transcend the natural world and it's cruelty to her because of her theological dissociation from God. So, from my standpoint, as a woman living in New England during the 16/17th century and dominated by a patriarchal society which would blame women for all manner of misfortune, Thomasin, whose innocence has been abandoned by God, is clearly better off living deliciously with Satan.
11/24/2020 10:12:53 pm
Chill, dude. It's not that deep.
11/25/2020 02:57:30 am
Your comment that I should "chill [because] it's not that deep" may be intellectually dishonest. The entire blog post is an effort to abstract a pointed theological truth about temptation from what is essentially a horror movie:
9/22/2022 03:04:28 pm
It absolutely is that deep. Thomasin gets treated like crap and her puritanical religion destroys her family. The entire point of the movie is that she turns to Satan because Christianity failed her on every level.
10/7/2022 06:47:01 pm
Theducciano fucken nailed it shut with his summarization of the creepy and awesome AF climax to the VVitch. And as for "chill bro"...This little play out between Thomasin and Black Phillip is, THE classic ever ongoing battle between God and Satan. The scene and the consequences of choice, are as deep as the ocean.
11/30/2020 06:02:52 am
La única diferencia entre entregarle el alma a Jesús o a Satanás es que Jesús es el hijo preferido de Dios y Satanás no es Dios. Por ende, cualquier cosa que satanás pueda ofrecer es temporal, luego de eso sólo queda el vacío eterno a la sombra de la Luz de Dios. Postdata: no soy religioso, solo estoy analizando. Y si no entiendes Español, usa Google translate.
2/26/2021 11:34:44 pm
Brian, you're a clever man, but even today your heart is full of anger just as it's been for some time. You call yourself a Christian, but do you really know Christ? How can one who truly does relish the act of hoisting their contemptuous vitriol onto others in response to the slightest provocation as you so often have done? How would the clients who look up to you feel if they knew what really went on in your mind?
5/7/2021 12:40:06 pm
Lol whoa...we have an evangelical atheist over here. What a f##king door knob
3/12/2022 10:31:37 pm
Yes, exactly this! I thought it was a beautiful ending of a young woman finding freedom in the most unexpected of places.
5/2/2022 09:16:17 am
"a young woman finding freedom"? LOL:
5/2/2022 10:13:05 am
Um, "Thomasin ... could finally transcend the natural world ... is clearly better off living deliciously with Satan". Really? Well, "You're wrong!"
9/18/2022 09:05:47 am
You forget one thing: she murdered her mother. Doubtful she’s gonna wanna go back to the real world and make it on her own from the shame she bears of that act even if it was in self-defense.
9/18/2022 09:23:14 am
Link about Malleus Maleficarium : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malleus_Maleficarum
11/3/2022 12:00:14 pm
You're clearly unhappy. You should go to church. That's where I've found happiness.
11/3/2022 05:22:37 pm
Opioids like your religion tend to make everything warm and cozy, don’t they? I don’t need your patronization or your religion to find anything. I already have what I want.
9/7/2022 04:00:06 pm
O filme termina num momento de êxtase de uma moça acossada pela vida. Aquele momento é brevíssimo e por isso o filme termina ali, pois dali para a frente não há mais vida, somente a agonia de um destino dedicado à perversidade.
11/3/2022 04:34:37 pm
Whoa! There’s a ton of rage here! I wish this movie evoked a reaction as strong as any of these comments, but it didn’t for me. Pretty boring in my opinion (you gotta bring it now a days). Everyone kinda got the shaft in this flick and most all of that Chopin’ wood probably went unused. I guess “ living deliciously” will look different for different people, but I can definitely see what the author is talking about here, and I agree with it. Flying around in the woods, eating chickens and offing the young probably gets old after a while. I also suppose that you can’t really tap out after you’ve “had enough.” What I think is waaaay more interesting is how people are reacting here in the comments. Some people have something(s?) happen to them that just never get resolved and it rots in there somewhere and they start to see it in everything. I hope that gets worked out for those of you here that applies to.
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