Fate vs Free will in Macbeth
Other than the rhyme in Shakespearean lines, Shakespeare’s play always give a equivocal opinion to spark the readers to think and question, it is also why the literature last for hundreds years and still in the high school english curriculum to make the students think. Macbeth is a good example of Shakespearean tragedy, it depict the rise and fall of Macbeth. The biggest theme in the play is Fate vs. Free will, it is a hand behind Macbeth destined all of these for him or Macbeth’s own choose lead him to a death? Different people have different opinions. The witches’ prophecy contributed the thought of King to Macbeth, Lady Macbeth encourage Macbeth to kill Duncan. Although these factors plant a seed into Macbeth’s heart, Macbeth made the seed grow, Macbeth made his own choice throughout the play, the choice of killing, the choice of down into dark.
The witches in the play represent the fate, they have the supernatural power to predict the future, their appearance gave the Macbeth the thought of becoming the King. In Act 1, Scene 3, after the three witches prophecy the first line of Macbeth ” Stay, you imperfect speaker, tell me more.” The first thought in Macbeth’s head was he wanted the witches could explain more clearly of their speech, but not doubt and rebuke the strange. After one of the prophecy, the thane of Cawdor came true, Macbeth mentioned in Act 1 scene 3, ” Are less than horrible imaginings: My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes so my single state of man that function is smother’d in surmise; and nothing is but what is not.”(Macbeth I.3. 149-152) This quote was in Macbeth’s soliloquy before Lady Macbeth even knew the news of the witches. Though this soliloquy, Macbeth did think about get the crown though murder before Lady Macbeth, nobody was influenced him. After the murder thought in Macbeth, he states his ambition of being king?” If chance will have me king,why,chance may crown me, without my stir.”(Macbeth I.3. 154-56) Macbeth gave up the thought of killing Duncan, but this quote is a good evident of free will, the witches didn’t mention about killing made him the king, but his first thought was killing Duncan to become the king. The ambition of become king lead Macbeth though next step.
Duncan announces his hereafter was the Prince of CumberLand , Macbeth thought about the killing again, ” The Prince of Cumberland ! that is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’er-leap, for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.” (Macbeth I.4. 55-57) The killing thought back again, before Lady Macbeth said anything, Macbeth was thinking about to kill Malcolm. The killing seed start grow in his mind, it is completely his free will, the witches didn’t say anything about killing.
The quotes above express Macbeth filled with ambition and killing, why he trust the witches so easily? Macbeth seems never doubt about the witches’ speech, the witches said he would be the king, he started thinking about kill the current king and hereafter almost immediately. What if he had the ambition of power and the crown before the witches, everything he had done making more sense. If that is the truth, there are no fate for Macbeth at all, he was taking control in the whole play.
Macbeth achieved his wish, became the king, without Lady Macbeth’s influence, he sent two murders to kill Banquo and his child. After he got on the crown, he started to worry about lose it, the witches told him, Banquo will be the father of the king, but didn’t tell him to kill Banquo. However Macbeth’s own thought is
No son of mine succeeding. If’t be so,
For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder’d;
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!
Rather than so, come, fate, into the list,
And champion me to the utterance!( III.1.68–76)
Which made him convinced two murders to Banquo and his family. Macbeth scared of Banquo’s children because of the prophecy, but the murder was by his own choice.
The witches started Macbeth’s ambition road, but all of the killing part was by Macbeth’s own choice. He let himself trust the witches’ speech, and allow himself to be influenced by Lady Macbeth. What if he didn’t trust the prophecy? He wouldn’t kill Duncan and Banquo, he might be the king, but not this way. Those are the choices that Macbeth had been made, it is all about his free will. He bring up the murder thought first, he also killed Duncan by himself, Lady Macbeth influenced him, but he is the one who take the action. After he Duncan, Macbeth continues his crime without Lady Macbeth’s encourage, just base on the witches said to Banquo “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.” ( I.3.70–71) In the play, Macbeth himself also doubt about it is fate or free will? He hesitated in between fate or free will many times, but he knew it doesn’t matter at the end. Just like what he said:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and the is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.( V.5.26-30)
No matter it is fate or free will, Macbeth went through all these life, he killed, he guilted.
Fate vs Free will in Macbeth