Summary: the Idea of Fate Through the Macbeth Play

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Humans have the tendency to find comfort within ideology that affirms their actions, rather than face the choices they make. Throughout history fate has been developed as the idea that one’s free will is ultimately forged through destiny. On one hand society implicates fate as the driving force of dire actions and consequences, while on the other society believes that the choices an individual makes can shape their future. In Shakespeare’s play, “Macbeth” the idea of fate versus free will is personified best through the character Macbeth. The play develops the idea of whether the acts an individual commits are dependant on fate or whether fate is a mere illusion meant to manipulate one’s free will. Macbeth throughout the play affirms his actions through prophecies and destiny eventually leading him to his downfall. Thus, when an individual is presented with a predestined fate they often shape their choices according to their fate corroborating their wrong actions, which results in losing everything.

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Individuals often come to terms with their choices once they realize that fate is not predestined but is rather shaped through their actions. For example, Macbeth realizes that the actions he committed were of his own free will and not predestined, when the English and Scottish forces show upon his doorstep. He is seen struggling to grasp the idea that the prophecies did not corroborate his actions. “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” Macbeth realizes that the witches made mere prophecies, and that it was his hunger for power that led him down the road of betrayal and brutal schemes. It is implied through Macbeth’s character that fate is a destination and one’s free will dictates which route a person takes. Shakespeare draws a fine line between fate and free will. He clearly implies that fate can dictate what the future holds, but how that destiny comes to be is off a person’s free will.

Throughout the play Macbeth is seen struggling with the witches prophecies, his decisions and the influence others have on his will. For example, the witches prophesize that Macbeth will become king but when he is faced with the decision of whether he wants to take the crown by force, he is seen struggling to grasp the idea of murder. “He’s here in double trust — First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against The deep damnation of his taking-off; And pity, like a naked new-born babe Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubim horsed Upon the sightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself And falls on the other.” Although Macbeth is told that he will become king, the witches do not tell him what he will have to do in order for the prophecy to come true. On one hand he is troubled with the thought of killing his king, while on the other he craves the power he is presented with. In the play, Macbeth is not only portrayed struggling with his murderous thoughts but also with the influence of his wife. Macbeth is continuously influenced by Lady Macbeth to fulfill his destiny by killing Duncan and take what is his to take. He is seen struggling with what he wants and what the people around him want. The struggles Macbeth faces throughout the play are a representation of how he is battling with the ideas of fate and the actions he has to take in order for the prophecies to come true.

When an individual finds comfort in fate dictating their wrong actions they tend to lose everything. Macbeth is seen throughout the play commiting actions with dire consequences, to fulfill the prophecies told to him by the witches. He affirms his decisions with the ideology that everything he does is predestined. At the end of the play Macbeth is faced with the realization that even though he was predestined to become king, the actions he took were off his own free will. Shakespeare presents the reader with the ideal circumstance when Macbeth is presented trapped in his kingdom amongst all he wanted and all he lost. “Out, out, brief candle. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” He is seen trapped in what once held his freedom, and he is powerless even though he has all the power he once desired.

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