The theme of fate in Macbeth

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 616
Topics: Macbeth, Plays, Theatre, William Shakespeare

Fate and the expression of free will are prominent issues throughout  “Macbeth,” an iconic play written by Shakespeare roughly 4 centuries ago. Fate and free will play a major role in this Shakespearean play, just like the main character Macbeth. In this essay, I will research the arguments regarding this topic more in-depth. The question for discussion are the following: what do fate and free will even mean in literature and real life? Do they come together as a whole, or are they two different concepts? Who is the one responsible for the tragedy that Macbeth is? I will try my best to provide the answers to these questions in this essay.

Macbeth is a classic Shakespearean play that investigates the ideas of fate and free will. Some readers argue that Macbeth’s fate is to be a traitor and a King, while others claim it could’ve happened naturally, without any unusual circumstances.

Fate and free have a lot in common. Free will usually determine how an individual will meet their fate in life. This claim is supported in 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?”.

The fate in the play

The sergeant says that in the battle, Macbeth should have died. However, he also stated that Macbeth is strong and rules his fate out. Thus, it seems fate can be considered the reason the protagonist didn’t die as he was supposed to. Another question still stands: is Macbeth an agent of his own free will, or is he an agent of fate?

At the beginning of the play, it may seem as though Macbeth is following his destiny. However, as time passes by, it changes to the character following up on free will. This concept is illustrated by the following quote: “I am settles, and bend up each corporal agent to this terrible feat. Away, and mock the time with fairest showe; false face must hide what the false heart doth know.”

Who is responsible for the Macbeth tragedy?

Macbeth has chosen to deal with things on his own based on his free will. However, one question remains: who or what is responsible for the tragedy in Macbeth’s life? Is that fate or free will? Was he destined to do what he did, or was it predecided by someone else?

Macbeth puts himself through a lot of positions. Considering all of the events in the play, one might say that Macbeth is responsible for the tragedy that his life turned out to be. His mindset is very hurtful, greedy, and self-centered. He can only care about himself, his desires and his plans for the future. In the beginning, he’s described as a courageous, skillful character with a military background, but as the play moves along, we can see that in real life, our protagonist is very self-centered and will harm anyone who gets in the way of his fate. One of the quotes states: “Oh yet I do repent me of my fury / that I did kill them?” Macbeth is his main enemy. Once he kills Duncan, he also kills the guard. Thus, anyone or anything that could get in the way.


Macbeth is a self-centered character. He only cares about himself and what benefits him and helps him the most. Instead of waiting for his fate to occur eventually, he decides to put things into action. That’s where he strongly relies on his free will. He makes all these decisions that ultimately lead to the tragedy of his life. It once again shows that decisions were completely to benefit his own.

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