Destiny, Fate, and Free Will in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Macbeth: The Role of Fate Fate plays an important role in Shakespeare's Macbeth. The weird sisters use fate to wreak havoc among the Scottish nobility. Also, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth tempt fate. Later in the play, Malcolm, Macduff and the other revolutionaries try to alter fate. Fate can be many things to many different people. If one believes that fate is all-encompassing, then it becomes a perfect excuse for one's deeds. Yet, to Macbeth fate was something far more complex. Macbeth, upon seeing some truth in the witches’ prophecies, chose to believe all that they spoke and yet occasionally felt that he needed to give fate a hand The weird sisters, consider that fate is not something to be overly concerned with, but rather it is something to be enjoyed. However, their superior, Hecate, obviously thinks that it was important enough to discipline the weird sisters verbally for abusing it. The weird sisters view fate as routinely as Macbeth views water and bread. In Macbeth, it seems, the witches can travel in and out of time at will. Thus, they are able to both see the future and to change its very course. When examined analytically, this ability appears to be an illogical paradox, but Shakespeare's great work is brimming with paradoxes, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair"(I.i.11). The witches seem to already know the consummation of both Macbeth’s and Banquo's respective fates. However, they, for some reason unbeknownst to the audience, deem it necessary to interfere with this fate telling Macbeth and Banquo about their futures. Actions of this nature make it seem as if the... ... middle of paper ... ...n was again his downfall when he became terrified of MacDuff and lost the battle that resulted in his decapitation. While fate can be viewed as something that cannot be altered, the only way a strong person would ever use fate is to his or her advantage. To use fate as a source of stability and grounds for faith in one's own self and one's own abilities is a positive use of fate. However, becoming over-confident in or basing one's few momentous decisions on fate is not a wise undertaking as Macbeth learned. Fate is like religion and any other belief based on intangible ideas: it can be a good excuse to not take control of one's own life and responsibility for one's own decisions. When fate supersedes free will in the order of importance, then chaos is bound to follow.
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