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Macbeth Fate Vs Free Will Through the Play

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In this scene Shakespeare has tried to portray Macbeth in two different ways, one being cold hearted and the other showing signs of care and wanting his wife to rest from the pain of recalling the night of King Duncan’s passing. The opening line of Macbeth’s soliloquy begins as metrically regular, following from Seton’s line to complete the ten syllables of the pentameter:

“The queen, my lord, is dead.

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She should have died”

It then becomes metrically irregular with the addition of the last word, “hereafter.” Because of this, it draws attention to “hereafter” and its rhythm. Shakespeare focuses on this word and tries to draw attention and portray the idea to the reader that it is important but leaves its meaning uncertain. This is very impactful as it leaves the audience to contemplate the meaning behind this ambiguity. On one hand, Macbeth might be implying , “My wife should’ve died later” or she “should’ve had more time,”. This may suggest to the audience that Macbeth does care about his wife and he does miss her, implying that she “should’ve had a longer life” – this may be because he wants her to see him completely defeating the opposition and live a long fruitful life.

However, there is the possibility of the other option being that “should” may take the sense and replace the modal verb “would,” e.g. “My wife would have died hereafter anyway; this news would have come eventually. (or would have had to come eventually)”. This option portraying Macbeth as cold hearted and like he was expecting this ever since his wife became mad.

There is also another option in this scene where he knew his wife was struggling with the fact that she took part in the action of committing treason and started to go insane, that death was the only way she could get rid of the pain of recalling those nights. This would mean that Macbeth does care for Lady Macbeth and now knows that she can now rest in peace.

In Macbeth, there is a question surrounding the whole play. The question being whether or not Macbeth is driven by fate vs free will. The three weird sisters approach Macbeth with prophecies and equivocations that will play a part in the whole story playing out. The audience may assume that all his actions in the play may be because he is just following his destiny. However, I believe that Macbeth has had a choice throughout the play to choose and change his fate. Macbeth journeyed down his own path through his own will.

Fate and free will ultimately led to Macbeth’s downfall. I believe the even though fate guides Macbeth into thinking about certain actions or plans, he freely chooses to commit and go through with his actions which he also ultimately ends up doing. He heavily relies on fate and the prophecies of the witches and puts all his confidence in these things which makes him overly confident and eventually leads him to his demise. He starts following this path on his free will.

Even throughout the battle, Macbeth continues to rely on fate to help him in standing as king. He is too confident that fate is on his side, which ultimately proves as his weakness as shown through what happens at the battle – Macbeth’s death. In the beginning, the battle follows the prophecies of the witches, making Macbeth feel secure, but because of the use of equivocations, further along in the scene, it leads to Macbeth’s death. In the play, fate is the leader driving the process but more importantly, free will is used to accomplish the goals.

I would argue that the witches control is limited in the whole play. This is because they predict the future, but I do not believe that they have the ability to change the future thus meaning that all changes to Macbeth’s future was done on his own accord. This could also mean that Macbeth’s life are pre-determined and that his actions may have already been decided upon. 

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