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Macbeth - Fate or Choice?

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Essay title: Macbeth - Fate or Choice?


Throughout the ages it is believed fate, by some uncontrollable force, has the power to forge one’s destiny. The outcome of a person’s choices is controlled by the way in which they are fated to occur. However, some believe these choices can defy fate and that fate only manipulates one’s mind into choosing their own path. The question still remains as to whether individuals are victims of fate or of their own choices, or if each aspect plays a significant part in determining their destiny. In the play Macbeth, writer William Shakespeare toys with this idea of fate, placing Macbeth’s destiny before him, yet allowing his own ambitions and idealistic views to drive himself irrefutably mad in order to achieve it. Macbeth is ultimately used by Shakespeare to fight the battle of his own manifestation and lay claim to what is foretold as his, but fate it seems, is not always as clear as Macbeth first thought.

Fate, the power thought to control all events, even a person's destiny. If the concept of fate is true, the outcome of a person’s life is inevitable. From the moment of birth, your life has already been planned before you, and you are helpless to change it. Was Macbeth a victim to fate? Did the choices he makes have any impact on the outcome of his destiny? In accordance to the play, Macbeth’s fate became a reality and ultimately his downfall.

“All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of /Glamis!” (1.3.48)

“All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of /Cawdor!” (1.3.49)

“All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King /hereafter!” (1.3.50)

Macbeth’s past, present and future as foretold by the Three Witches. Macbeth was destined to become Cawdor, and then by some means king. However, the process Macbeth undertakes to become king may not have necessarily been the prophecy’s intentions. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” (1.1.10-11) Nature has been disturbed by Macbeth’s own ambitious choice, the choice Macbeth made to kill Duncan, thereby disrupting the course of events to follow. The once noble soldier driven by valour is reduced to a bloodthirsty warlord in his quest to maintain power. In this respect it was by Macbeths’s choices that engulfed him in darkness. Fate only promised Macbeth to be king and that his reign would eventually end, but it was Macbeth who dug his own grave through choosing to walk the path that would cause his demise.

Macbeth made unforgivable choices in his quest to take the throne of Scotland. So terrible were these choices that through Macbeth’s actions a great ripple of disturbance flowed through nature. By this disturbance the natural world was unbalanced, and the impulsions of fate disrupted.

“Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware /Macduff!” (4.1.71-72)

“Laugh to scorn the pow’r of man, for none of women born /shall harm Macbeth.”


“Macbeth shall never be vanquished be until /Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill /shall come against him.” (4.1.92-94)

Fate has conspired against Macbeth. The disturbance of nature is so great that to balance itself once more, it has no choice but to consume Macbeth. The prophetic words spoken of the apparitions disguise their true meaning to those who are too arrogant to hear. However, it is curious as to why fate in it’s resoluteness to balance the courses of nature would allow Macbeth to receive warning of what is to come. It is almost as if fate has pitied Macbeth and given him the chance of redemption. Macbeth’s ambitions, his arrogance blinds him from the truth. “Let every soldier hew him down a bough /and bear’t before him.” (5.4.4-5) Birnam Wood will rise against Macbeth, yet only when Macbeth hears the news from a messenger does he put his arrogance behind him. “Fear not, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane! /And now comes toward Dunsinane!” (5.6.44-46) Macbeth chose not to heed the warnings of the prophecy, and thereby sentencing himself to death. Macbeth was a victim of his own envious nature and fate was forced to rid the world of him.

The choices Macbeth makes and Macbeth’s fate could in fact be quite interdependent of one another. It is interesting

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