preview

Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Macbeth - Important Role of Fate

Powerful Essays
The Concept of Fate in Macbeth

Literary critics disagree over the amount of leverage which fate exerted on the Macbeths in the Shakespearean drama Macbeth. Fate was quite influential, but it did not impair their free will; they remained free moral agents who ambitiously and voluntarily surrendered themselves to the evil suggestions of fate.

Macbeth: "If Chance would have me king, why, Chance may crown me without my stir."

A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy references Fate in the play to the Witches' prophecies:

The words of the witches are fatal to the hero only because there is in him something which leaps into light at the sound of them; but they are at the same time the witness of forces which never cease to work in the world around him, and, on the instant of his surrender to them, entangle him inextricably in the web of Fate. (320)

Blanche Coles states in Shakespeare's Four Giants the place of Fate in Macbeth's life:

Then, like a cog slipping naturally into its own notch, his thoughts turn to the Witches and their prophecy, and he concludes that he has defiled his mind for the descendants of Banquo he has murdered the gracious Duncan for them; he has poisoned his own peace of mind and given his immortal soul (eternal jewel) to the devil, the common enemy of man - all this to make the descendants of Banquo kings! Rather than face such an outcome, he challenges Fate to enter the lists with him against Banquo and champion him to the last extremity, even though that extremity be death itself. (57)

In Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy, Northrop Frye stresses the connection between the witches and fate:

The successful ruler is a combination ...

... middle of paper ...

...uin Books, 1991.

Coles, Blanche. Shakespeare's Four Giants. Rindge, NH: Richard R. Smith Publisher, Inc., 1957.

Coursen, H. R. Macbeth: a Guide to the Play. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1997.

Frye, Northrop. Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1967.

Knights, L.C. "Macbeth." Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.

Mack, Maynard. Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. http://chemicool.com/Shakespeare/macbeth/full.html, no lin.

Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.
Get Access