ed Macbeth essaysMacbeth: Destiny of Each Character is Pre-determined In the play Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, each charactersdestiny seems to be predetermined. This raises the ultimate question: who,or what, controls fate? Existentialism is the belief that each person defines their future bytheir decided actions: that the future has not yet been written.
Fatalism is the belief that the outcome of all events is preordained, andtherefore, unalterable. Throughout Macbeth, the character Macbeth makesmany decisions which clearly affect his future, but are they trulydecisions? Or, are his decisions examples of fatalism, where another forceis guiding his actions to their predetermined conclusion? Many of the characters, events, and much of the imagery in Macbethindicates that fate plays a prominant role in advancing the plot.
Thecharacters most easily identified with having supernatural powers are,obviously, the three witches.
The Witches’ ability to see into the future is demonstrated when Macbethbecomes thane of Cawdor. The line, “What? Can the devil speak true?”showes Banquo’s surprise at the realization of the prophecy.
But, would the Witches’ prophecy of Macbeth’s royal promotion have cometrue had they not made Macbeth aware of the possibility? There was noreason to warn Macbeth of the fate in store for him, since it is mostlikely impossible for a person to alter their destiny. It is quitepossible that the witches have no real power at all, beyond that ofsuggestion. They may have only planted the idea within Macbeth, feedingoff his already present ambition. Perhaps the only true controlling powercomes from Lady Macbeth’s uncontrollable greed.
Once Lady Macbeth had learned of the witches’ prophecy, she immediatelyconcluded that Macbeth would not, with his present persona, be able toattain that which fate had bestowed upon him.
“…Hie thee hither, That I may pour my spirits in thine ear And chastise with valor of my tongue All that impedes thee from the golden round Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem To have thee crowned withal.” Lady Macbeth believed that it was her duty to induce Macbeth to carryout the necessary deed (Duncan’s murder) to fulfil the prophecy. However,if Lady Macbeth had not influenced him, it is doubtful that Macbeth wouldhave taken any action towards his Royal future.
This substantiates the idea that the strength of the witches’ words liesin the power of suggestion. Although Lady Macbeth stated her belief inFate, she felt compelled to help it along. During the banquet, Macbethrealized that the path of his life was coming to a “fork in the road”, andthat he must choose the direction he will take. Lady Macbeth saw thatMacbeth was unsure, and took it upon herself to help him decide.
“When you durst do it, then you were a man; And to be more than what you were, you would Be so much more the man.” and, later, “…screw your courage to the sticking place,” In the end however, it was Macbeth’s decision to murder Duncan. Just ashe chose to kill the grooms. The Witches’ prophecy for Banquo, (that hewould be the father of many kings) also contributed to Macbeth’s decisionto order the murder of Banquo and fleance.
But, the Witches’ role did not end there. Macbeth returned to questionthem further. The three apparitions, conjured by the Witches, each toldMacbeth more about the fate which was in store for him.
“1. Appar. Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff; Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.” “2. Appar. Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the pow’r of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.
“3. Appar. Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to High Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.” The first and second prophesies could actually be combined. It is thefate of Macbeth to be killed by Macduff, just as Macduff was destined frombirth to kill Macbeth. Malcolm’s decision to use the trees of Birnam tohide his army’s number was another action which was preordained.
Macbeth’s decision to send assasins to murder Macduff, as well as hisfamily and servants, is clearly a result of his fear due to the words ofthe first apparition. Though the second apparition assures him that hecannot be killed by anyone born of a woman, it was Macbeth’s choice toplay it safe.
“But yet I’ll make assurance double sure And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live!” In conclusion, it is evident that shakespeare wanted Fate to play aprominent role in the play, without overpowering a man’s ability to makehis own decisions. However it is not clear as to wheather the charactershad control over their own fate. So, if there is, a master plan which allexistance must adhere to, then even something as simple as this essay isgoverned by it, and with this last sentence, another Fate is sealed.
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