Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Macbeth - Lady Macbeth as a Tool of Fate
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Lady Macbeth as a Tool of Fate
The play of Macbeth is all about power and greed. It is about ambition overriding inhibitions and the conscience of a good man. We know that most people consider Macbeth to be a good and a brave man at the start of the book, for example King Duncan himself refers to him as “O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman!” He is admired for his skills in battle by everyone. It is hard to say what driving force underlies the events of the story, and it is equally hard to know what emotions or convictions drove the characters to do what they did. Parts of the text give us detail and insight as to the relation and power balance in the marriage of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, this can be interpreted and used to try to work out who actually made the major decisions concerning murder.
From the very beginning Lady Macbeth is presented as ambitious and driving.
“That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’effect and it…”
When she says this she means that nothing will prevent her from fulfilling her aim, and that pity will have no effect on her. This purpose does seem to stand strong for the first few scenes, in which the most important crimes are committed, but as she and Macbeth grow apart, and her involvement in the play lessens, so does her resolve.
When she first greets her husband, on his return, it is clear how proud she is of his newly gained titles. It is also clear how eager he is to gain her praise, after the conversation with the weird sisters he immediately thinks to write home and tell her. This is very unusual for the time in which the play was set; there would usually be more dominance from the husband, whereas Macbeth and Lady Macbeth seem to be e...
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... fortune to help the plot unfold. Usually, however Shakespeare’s plays are more sophisticated and there can usually be found a reason for an event.
I conclude that Lady Macbeth was a tool of fate. I believe the witches manipulated her, or their controller did so, to in turn exercise her influence over Macbeth and play out a series predetermined events. I do not think there is meant to be a reason in this play, but there is a moral, a mystery, and a great underlying evil. I do not know what Shakespeare wanted this evil to represent, perhaps he did not know himself; or perhaps it represents the vulnerability of all humans to fate, or chance; perhaps it pessimistically represents a basic evil in humans; or perhaps he wrote it to enthrall his audiences and leave them wondering…
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1977.