Destiny, Fate, And Free Will In Shakespeare's Macbeth

976 words - 4 pages

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 witches have a human like desire for power, personified in their quest to affect the future of mortals.  Desire for power, which seems to be the root of their actions, also becomes the root of Macbeth's eventual fall from power. Macbeth's over-zealousness for political power led him to the murder of Duncan, the assassination of Banquo, and finally the slaughter of MacDuff's family.  These events spur the revolution that eventually costs Macbeth his crown and his life, not to mention the wife he loses along the way.

Now, many can argue that Macbeth is to be pitied because of the hand fate deals him, but there are other facets of his situation to be considered.  For instance, does Macbeth actually have a choice over what he will do or become?  To many the answer might be "No," but in reality, as we all must know from everyday life, the answer is "Yes.”  Macbeth, and any human being for that matter, does have limited control over the outcome of his or her life based on decisions he or she makes at certain critical times in life.  These critical times are momentous occasions; for Macbeth, deciding whether or not to kill Duncan was one of these moments.  Other decisions humans make do not...

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