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Macbeth Essay, Research Paper

Freewill vs. Fate

By Owner of the Beast

1/25/99

Some people believe that everything that we do has already been predetermined. They believe that our destinies are mapped out and there is no way to change or alter the route. I, on the other hand, believe that our futures are basically made through the choices and actions that we decide to make.

Such is the case with the character of Macbeth in Shakespeare?s play Macbeth. In the very beginning of the play, three witches make predictions about Macbeth?s future.

?All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!?

?All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!?

?All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.?

-Act One, Scene Three: lines 48-50, pg. 30

The first prediction could not have been a prediction of fate because it had already come true before Macbeth saw the witches. Therefore, it was a known fact. The second prediction shouldn?t even be called a prediction because in the scene directly before it, King Duncan already stated that this reward would be given to Macbeth. However, the third prediction had never been heard of before at this point in the play. It is true that Macbeth becomes King of Scotland, but we are unsure as to whether that would have happened if Macbeth hadn?t taken this to his head and put matters into his own hands.

?We will establish our estate upon

Our eldest, Malcom, whom we name hereafter

The Prince of Cumberland…? -Duncan

?The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step

On which I must fall down, or else o?er-leap,

For in my way it lies…? -Macbeth

Act One, Scene Four: lines 37-39 &48-50, pg. 42-43

These quotes show that it was not Macbeth who was destined to become king, but Duncan?s son Malcom. It was only through Macbeth?s decisions and actions that he became king. By murdering Duncan and forcing his heir to flee for safety, Macbeth became king. However, this was not his fate but simply Macbeth taking action on the witches? words.

The second set of prophesies that Macbeth saw came shortly after he saw the disturbing sight of Banquo?s ghost.

?1st Apparition Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware

Macduff,

Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough…

2nd Apparition Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!…

Be bloody, bold, and resolute: laugh to scorn

The power of man; for none of women born

Shall harm Macbeth….

3rd Apparition Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care

Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:

Macbeth shall never vanquished be until

Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill

Shall come against him.?

Act Four, Scene One: lines 71-73 & 77 & 79-81 & 90-94, pg. 138 & 140

These three predictions could never have been made if Macbeth hadn?t decided to commit or command the murders of Duncan, Banquo and Macduff?s family. Thus, his future depended on the actions that he chose to take. If Macbeth hadn?t chosen to command the murders to kill Macduff?s family, then Macduff wouldn?t have wanted to kill Macbeth. Also, if Macbeth hadn?t committed those crimes and betrayed his country, then Malcolm, Macduff and many of the noblemen would not have turned against him.

In conclusion, Macbeth?s future was not predetermined by fate, but rather it was made along the way through his own choices and the consequences that came along with those decisions. It was not Macbeth?s fate to murder those innocent people. It was his decision to be sinful and devious.


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