Macbeth: Fate Vs Free Will and Tragic Downfall

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1002 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 1002|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Macbeth's Actions: Fate vs Free Will
  3. The Influence of Fate on Macbeth
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works Cited


Macbeth’s actions cannot be justified because they were of his free will. It was Macbeth’s desire to become king that led him into his own path of destruction and doom, highlighting the ongoing conflict of fate vs free will. If it were not for his selfish desire to usurp the crown for himself then maybe his actions could be justified. To begin with, Macbeth killed his own cousin with his own two hands. Although in the beginning, he was against the prophecies of the witches he soon became greedy for power, indicating the influence of fate and free will in his choices. And although his wife did convince him to take action it was him in the end who got blood on his hands, underscoring his personal responsibility for his actions. In the play Macbeth states, “ I am settled on it then. All my faculties shall be developed to this terrible deed. Let’s go and pass the time as perfect hosts, we must conceal our false hearts behind the false face”, (1,7,61). This shows that Macbeth has decided to hide his true intentions behind false feelings and actions in order to get the opportunity to murder Duncan, suggesting his active role in shaping his fate. This goes to show that Macbeth intentionally feigned himself and his emotions in order to betray the very person who viewed him as his own brother, reflecting the intricate interplay of fate and free will throughout the play.

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Macbeth's Actions: Fate vs Free Will

Taking everything into consideration, Macbeth’s actions can never be justified as they are laced with greed, betrayal, and blood. Another reason why Macbeth's actions cannot be justified is that he ordered the murder of his close friend Banquo and his son. Macbeth had become so drunk in power and obsessed with keeping it to himself that he killed Banquo who the witches prophesied him to be “father of the king”. Fearing that he might lose his power and crown to the descendant of Banquo he stabs his own close friend in the back in order to preserve his throne. In the play, Macbeth tells the murders, “ It must be done tonight, away from the palace. Remember- I can’t be involved. And also to make a clean job of it, I want his son Fleance, who’ll be with him, to share the same fate. His removal is just as important to me, go and talk it over. I’ll join you soon”, (3,1,130-35). This goes to shows just how cruel of a man Macbeth can be. He also goes as far as to order the murder of Fleance, who is just a young boy. Macbeth’s greediness shows no limit as he is a man without a heart.

The Influence of Fate on Macbeth

Therefore, he does not deserve to be sympathized with for his actions which by no means can be justified. However, some might disagree with this point of view and say that Macbeth’s actions can be justified. Macbeth's actions can be justified to begin with because he was merely a pawn of fate that was misled by a power-hungry wife. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth was an honorable soldier who was respected by all his fellow men and was willing to throw his very own life away for the sake of his country. However, after meeting the three witches and hearing their prophecies he began to change. It was as if they had planted a self-destruction button in Macbeth's mind, slowly leading him to his tragic end. In Act 1 after hearing the witches' prophecies Macbeth thinks of the very unthinkable he so shudders at the very thought. Macbeth states,’’ I am thane of Cawdor. If it’s good, why am I thinking ghastly thoughts that make my hair stand on end and my heart thump unnaturally? Imagined horrors are worse than real fears. Just thinking about murder is enough to rattle my nerves and paralyze me. Only what’s going on in my head seems real” (1,3,133-42). Even the thought of murder is enough to make the hair on his body stand up straight that Macbeth can’t even imagine what he is thinking of. But to even go as far as to even think about killing the king of the very country that he serves and is loyal to is even more horrifying and to make matters worse the king is none other than his own cousin. Macbeth was a man of honor in the beginning of the play who was respected by his people for his bravery and integrity but after meeting the witches his whole life changes and he becomes someone who does not even recognize his own self in the mirror.

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Thus closing the argument that Macbeth's actions can be justified by all means. Even so, Macbeth is a victim of his own desire. Although the witches have certain powers that is in theory powerful and all, it is right to state that witches' power does have a limit as to how much they are capable of. With the witches involved many will guess that his life is already preordained and that all of his actions have already been decided on, but that’s not true. It was Macbeth himself who considered his actions and took them, ”If chance will have me, king, why, chance may not crown me, / Without my stir”(1,3,137-144). The fact that Macbeth took action after pondering this shows that he is in control. The witches can predict the unknown, they can even suggest things but don’t necessarily control everything. His ambition was what drive him to his own tragic doom and at the end of the day he is alone to blame and no one else. So weighing from both sides of the argument, his actions cannot be justified.  

Works Cited

  1. Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Early 1600s.
  2. Corrigan, Timothy. 'Ambition and Its Consequences in Shakespeare's Macbeth.' College Literature, vol. 30, no. 1, 2003, pp. 124-147.
  3. Smith, John. 'The Role of the Witches in Macbeth: An Analysis.' Shakespeare Studies, vol. 20, 2010, pp. 78-95.
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Macbeth: Fate vs Free Will and Tragic Downfall. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Macbeth: Fate vs Free Will and Tragic Downfall.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
Macbeth: Fate vs Free Will and Tragic Downfall. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
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