Shakespeare 's Macbeth - Fate And Free Will Essay

Shakespeare 's Macbeth - Fate And Free Will Essay

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Whether or not the concept of fate is legitimate is regularly debated by many people. Some believe that the events of one’s life are predetermined by a supernatural power, out of human control. Others believe that free will allows us to create our own fate, and that one’s decisions determine how the events of one’s life play out. In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, both fate and free will are predominant themes in the play. The ever-present supernatural aspect of the play can create an interesting debate over whether or not Macbeth’s downfall could have played out differently, or even been avoided completely. The witches’ prophecies had an impact on Macbeth’s actions, however, it is ultimately free-will that causes his downfall.
Throughout the play, three witches are the source of multiple prophecies that both intrigue and terrify Macbeth. In the first prophecy, Macbeth learns that he will become Thane of Cawdor. Shortly after, the current Thane dies and Macbeth is his replacement. The witches could have easily known that the Thane of Cawdor was dead before hand, or they could have murdered him themselves, rendering their vision true. Banquo, who was with Macbeth at the time, is feeling left out and asks to know his own fate. The witches fortune states “Lesser than Macbeth, but greater. Not so happy but much happier. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. So all hail Macbeth and Banquo.” (1. 3. 63-66). The witches’ words are very vague, and could be interpreted in millions of different ways. He could be lesser in titles, but greater in morality. He could be lesser because he himself is not king, but greater because of his predicted bloodline of future kings. Based on this, Macbeth could assume that any of these things are what t...


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...s own hands by murdering the king. He was not influenced by the witches when he makes the decision to have Macduff’s family murdered. In an attempt to scare Macduff and show that he does not fear the Thane of Fife, Macbeth seals his own fate and ensures his death. Shortly after the death of his children and wife, Macduff returns to Scotland for revenge.
Ultimately, it was Macbeth’s own greed, encouraged by the witches and Lady Macbeth that caused his tragic death. They pushed him to do the morally wrong thing, and he succumbed to their wishes. The three weird sisters may have predicted and lead Macbeth towards a certain path but fate had nothing to do with the decisions that Macbeth made. If Macbeth had not fallen for the witches tricks and riddles, he could have avoided his untimely death and enjoyed the titles that he had, without becoming power-crazy and paranoid.

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