Macbeth Free Will Quotes Analysis

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4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 617|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

In William Shakespeare's play Macbeth, the theme of free will is explored through various quotes and characters' actions. The concept of free will is central to understanding the motivations and consequences of Macbeth's actions throughout the play. This essay will examine several key quotes that demonstrate the characters' beliefs about free will and its implications. By analyzing these quotes, we can gain insight into the characters' motivations, the development of the plot, and the overall themes of the play.

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One of the first instances where Macbeth expresses his belief in free will is in Act 1, Scene 3, when he encounters the three witches. After hearing their prophecies, Macbeth says, "If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir" (1.3.143-144). This quote shows Macbeth's initial belief that he may become king through chance or fate without taking any action himself. However, as the play progresses, Macbeth's understanding of free will becomes more complex.

Lady Macbeth plays a significant role in shaping Macbeth's understanding of free will. In Act 1, Scene 5, she implores the spirits to "unsex me here... come to my woman's breasts, and take my milk for gall" (1.5.41-44). This quote demonstrates Lady Macbeth's desire to rid herself of her femininity and embrace a more ruthless and ambitious nature. She believes that through her own actions, she can manipulate Macbeth into fulfilling the prophecies and becoming king. Lady Macbeth's influence highlights the interplay between fate and personal agency in Macbeth's actions.

As the play progresses, Macbeth's belief in free will becomes more muddled. In Act 3, Scene 2, Macbeth says, "I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er" (3.4.136-137). This quote reveals Macbeth's internal struggle between his desire for power and the guilt and remorse he feels for the actions he has taken. Despite his initial belief in the power of free will, Macbeth begins to feel trapped by his own choices and the consequences that follow.

While Macbeth grapples with his understanding of free will, the play also highlights the influence of fate and supernatural forces. In Act 4, Scene 1, the witches show Macbeth a series of apparitions that make him feel invincible. They tell him, "none of woman born shall harm Macbeth" (4.1.80-81), further fueling his belief in his own destiny. This quote suggests that Macbeth's actions are not solely determined by his own choices but are also influenced by external forces beyond his control.

Ultimately, the play demonstrates the dire consequences of Macbeth's belief in free will. In Act 5, Scene 5, Macbeth reflects on the futility of his actions, stating, "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage" (5.5.23-24). This quote shows Macbeth's realization that his pursuit of power has led to his own downfall. It underscores the tragic nature of the play and the consequences of unchecked ambition.

In Macbeth, the theme of free will is explored through various quotes and character actions. Macbeth's initial belief in chance and fate evolves as he grapples with the influence of Lady Macbeth, his own internal struggle, and the power of supernatural forces. Ultimately, the play suggests that while individuals may possess a degree of agency, they are also subject to external forces beyond their control. The consequences of Macbeth's actions serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked ambition and the potential limitations of free will. By examining these quotes and their implications, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of human nature and the role of free will in shaping our destinies.


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Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2011.

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Macbeth Free Will Quotes Analysis. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“Macbeth Free Will Quotes Analysis.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
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