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Fate and free will traditionally represent the dominant theme of William Shakespeare’s classic play “Macbeth”. We will carefully consider many fundamental issues directly related to this topic. For instance, what is the specific meaning of fate and free will? Are they essential parts of the same whole, or are they two completely different things? We will also dive into the sufficient evidence of who is indeed responsible for the tragedy that happened in the play. It will become apparent that Macbeth follows more free will than fate. In this essay we will try to understand the answers to these and other key questions.
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“Macbeth” is a Shakespearean play that has become a unique masterpiece where the ideas of fate and free will can be traced. Some may believe that Macbeth’s personal destiny is to be a sinister man and a King. If this was his true destiny, it could have happened naturally. However, in his tragic case, he significantly accelerated the process and killed Duncan. Fate and free will in fact have a lot in common. Free will wisely determines how one will fulfill their ultimate destiny. This is evidenced by Act 1: “And Fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling, show’d like a rebel’s whore. But all’s too weak; For brave Macbeth; Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, Which smoked with bloody execution?”. This is a quote from his captain, who reasonably believes that Macbeth should have died in battle. Despite this, the captain says that Macbeth is a strong man who decides his own destiny. Therefore, Macbeth is the reason that he survived because he affects his fate. These reflections lead us to another important question: is Macbeth a representative of his own will or is he an agent of fate?
At the very beginning of the play, it may seem that Macbeth is following his predetermined fate. However, as the plot develops, it resolutely turns out that he is following his own will. An apt quote that confirms it: “I am settled, and bend up each corporal agent to this terrible feat. Away, and mock the time with fairest show; false face must hide what the false heart doth know?”. Macbeth decides to achieve everything he desires on his own, relying merely on his free will. Fate and free will clearly play a leading role and highlight the main controversy in this Shakespearean play. However, one question still remains unanswered: who or what is responsible for the tragedy that happened in Macbeth’s life?
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Macbeth puts himself in many various situations and decides his intended path. According to all the ample evidence provided, we can say that Macbeth is responsible for the tragedy that is his life. His peculiar way of thinking is very evil, selfish and rash. He cares only about himself and his ambitions. At the beginning of the play, he is portrayed as a courageous character, but as the plot develops, we realize that he is very self-centered and will injure anyone who stands in the way of his destiny. An excellent example is the statement: “Oh yet I do repent me of my fury / that I did kill them?”. Macbeth ironically becomes his own enemy. After killing Duncan, he also kills the guard. As follows, anyone or anything that could get in his way is destroyed.
Consequently, Macbeth is a selfish character. He does not care about the feelings of others, he is concerned only about himself and the most beneficial and valuable interests to him. Instead of waiting for his fate, he immediately began to act. This is how his use of free will is revealed. He performs all the terrible decisions that ultimately lead to his own tragedy. This shows that he was the captain of his fate and decided his future.
- Shakespeare, W. (1992). Macbeth. Wordsworth Editions.