Macbeth Fate Vs Free Will Analysis

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About this sample


Words: 611 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 5, 2024

Words: 611|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 5, 2024

In the world of literature, the debate between fate and free will has been a longstanding one. This essay will explore the theme of fate versus free will in Shakespeare's play Macbeth, examining how the characters' actions are influenced by external forces beyond their control, and how they ultimately determine their own destinies through their choices.

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Shakespeare's Macbeth is a tragic tale of ambition, power, and fate. The play follows the rise and fall of the titular character, Macbeth, a brave and noble warrior who is tempted by the prophecy of three witches that he will become king. Throughout the play, Macbeth grapples with his desire for power and the consequences of his actions, ultimately leading to his downfall.

The debate between fate and free will in Macbeth is central to the play's themes and characters. On one hand, the witches' prophecies seem to suggest that Macbeth's fate is predetermined, as they foretell his rise to power and eventual downfall. However, Macbeth's actions and choices also play a significant role in shaping his destiny. For example, his decision to murder King Duncan in order to seize the throne sets off a chain of events that ultimately lead to his demise.

The character of Macbeth himself embodies the tension between fate and free will. While he is influenced by the witches' prophecies and the machinations of his ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth, he also makes conscious decisions that contribute to his downfall. His internal struggle between his desire for power and his guilt over his actions highlights the complex interplay between fate and free will in the play.

One example of fate versus free will in Macbeth is the character of Banquo. Like Macbeth, Banquo receives a prophecy from the witches that his descendants will inherit the throne. However, unlike Macbeth, Banquo chooses not to act on this prophecy and instead remains loyal to King Duncan. His decision to resist the temptation of power ultimately leads to his own death, but his integrity and free will set him apart from Macbeth's tragic downfall.

Additionally, the character of Lady Macbeth also grapples with the theme of fate versus free will. She is driven by her ambition and desire for power, which ultimately leads her to manipulate and push Macbeth towards his own downfall. While she may believe in the inevitability of fate, her choices and actions demonstrate the power of free will in shaping her own destiny.

In his essay "Macbeth and the Metaphysics of Evil," scholar R.A. Foakes argues that Macbeth's tragic fate is a result of his own moral weakness and lack of agency. Foakes suggests that Macbeth's choices to murder Duncan and others are not predetermined by fate, but rather stem from his own unchecked ambition and desire for power. This interpretation highlights the importance of individual agency in shaping one's destiny.

Ultimately, Macbeth's tragic fate is a result of both external forces beyond his control and his own choices. While the witches' prophecies may have set him on a path towards his demise, it is his own actions and decisions that seal his fate. In the end, Macbeth's downfall serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked ambition and the consequences of giving in to fate.

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Overall, the theme of fate versus free will in Macbeth is a central and complex one that continues to captivate audiences and scholars alike. Through the tragic tale of Macbeth and the other characters in the play, Shakespeare raises important questions about the nature of destiny, the power of choice, and the consequences of our actions. The play serves as a timeless reminder of the delicate balance between fate and free will in shaping our lives and determining our destinies.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Macbeth Fate Vs Free Will Analysis. (2024, March 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Macbeth Fate Vs Free Will Analysis.” GradesFixer, 05 Mar. 2024,
Macbeth Fate Vs Free Will Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Macbeth Fate Vs Free Will Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 05 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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