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Macbeth Fate Or Freewill Essay

Macbeth: Fate vs Free Will Essay

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Fate vs Free Will is one of the most oft used literary techniques in writing. It is never more evident than in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. The major theme of the story Macbeth is whether or not the story is fueled by the free will of Macbeth, or by his fate. Are the events in Macbeth a result of his mentality and outlook on life, or were they going to happen no matter what? Almost every major event that takes place can be traced back to this question. It can be viewed in different ways, and most people have their own opinions. Dissecting this question is a part of what makes teaching Macbeth still have so much value to this day. But there is a clear answer to this question upon further dissection. The story of Macbeth is fueled by his free…show more content…

He had his fate going one way, but through his own free will he was able to turn it another way.
The main instance of Macbeth’s free will being shown is in his murder of Duncan, to become king. Macbeth heard the prophecy from the Weird Sisters that he was to be king and immediately began to plan the murder of the present king. Many would scoff at hearing such a claim, but Macbeth used it as justification for murder. It was clear that being King was something that Macbeth desired, and would do anything to achieve it. It became impossible to tell if Macbeth becoming King was as a result of fate, because he took the matters into his own hands. Right after hearing the prophecy, the first thing Macbeth does is write a letter to Lady Macbeth telling her of his plan. He did not let the statements run their course. Macbeth and his wife planned out the actions necessary for Macbeth to become king. He may have eventually become King if he never did anything, but there is no way of knowing what would have happened.
The first idea of “Fate” is brought about with the line from the Weird Sisters “First Witch- “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!” Second Witch-“ All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!” Third Witch- “All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter! (1.3.6). ” To Macbeth this seemed like a two-part prophecy of things to come, although in actuality he had

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Macbeth Theme of Fate and Free Will

(Click the themes infographic to download.)

The dog ate my homework. The devil made me do it. She forced me to eat that apple.

People have been coming up with excuses for their actions since Ugg first had to apologize for hitting Zog with a rock. (The saber-toothed tiger made me do it?) And the favorite excuse of great tragedy is almost always "fate." But Macbeth questions that excuse. Is it Macbeth's fate to be a traitor and a king-killer? Or is he alone responsible for his actions, and did he freely choose his choice? The play pits the prophecies of the three weird sisters against its own dramatization of Macbeth's internal conflict—and it's not clear which wins. In fact, fate and free will might just be working together.

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. What is Macbeth's initial response to the weird sisters' prophesy? Does his attitude change at some point? If so, when does the change occur?
  2. Macbeth is repeatedly described as giving the witches his "rapt" attention. Why is that? What does this suggest about Macbeth's choices?
  3. Do all of the witches' prophesies come true?
  4. What role does Lady Macbeth play in her husband's actions? Is she always involved in Macbeth's decision making?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Macbeth leaves us hanging. It never answers the question of whether free will or fate determines a person's future.

Macbeth may be fated to be king, but he decides all on his own that he will murder Duncan in order to obtain the crown. His actions suggest that fate may be predetermined, but free will determines how a people reach their destinies.

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