"Macbeth’s Freewill of Choice”
Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. It tells the story of a man who makes bad choices based on the influence of others. Macbeth is an honorable solider until he meets three evil witches that know his deepest desire is to one day be king, so they tell him that he will be king one day. Macbeth immediately begins to have thoughts of murdering King Duncan even though he knows it is wrong. When Lady Macbeth learns that Macbeth will eventually become king, she begins making plans to murder Duncan as well. When Macbeth has doubts about the murder, Lady Macbeth uses the love he has for her to persuade him to make the choices she wants him to make. Therefore, Macbeth does not make the best choices possible. In fact, he makes all bad choices. Not only does he murder Duncan, he begins murdering people who are close to him as well. It is the influence of the three witches, Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth's own ambition that lead to his ultimate downfall. However, in the end it is Macbeth’s ambition the has the greatest influence over his choices.
Macbeth is a character that is easily influenced by three evil witches. In the beginning, they inform Macbeth of his fate; however, the choices he makes are of his own freewill and eventually lead to his destruction. Magill states, “They are symbolic of evil and prescient of crimes which are to come, but they neither encourage nor facilitate Macbeth’s actions” (3807). Therefore, they do not start a fire in Macbeth, instead they ignite the fuel which Macbeth created himself. Upon Macbeth’s arrival, the third witch says, “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (1.3.50). Even though the witches do not have the power of deciding Macbeth’s fate, they are able to see into his heart and knows that his greatest desire is to become king. Therefore, his deepest desire has been ignited and the choices he makes thereafter affect the rest of his life. In fact, Macbeth finds his every thought being consumed with the idea of one day becoming king. As a result, he begins thinking of ways he can murder Duncan in order for him to become king sooner. Macbeth says, “Stars hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires” (1.4.50-51). Fearing someone might see his horrible thoughts, Macbeth pleads with the stars to put out their lights so no one sees that he is planning to murder Duncan. It is important to mention that the witches never told Macbeth that he had to kill the king, only that he would be king. Mack says, “What is emphatically to be noticed is that the weyard sisters do not suggest Duncan's murder; they simply make a prediction, and Macbeth himself takes the matter from there” (183-196). Macbeth does, indeed, take matters into his own hands when he chooses to kill the king. Eventually, Macbeth decides to once again visit the witches so they can tell him what the future holds for him. The second witch says, “Something wicked this way comes” (4.1.45). Thus, the witches summon apparitions that tell Macbeth what he wants to hear which gives him a false sense of security about his future. Markels says, "To see the witches is to recognize in them an enormous power, a power not to determine a man's fate, but to stir his imagination, to influence choices for which he himself must finally be held responsible" (293-303). Because the witches tell Macbeth what he wants to hear, they have an enormous amount of influence over the choices Macbeth makes. Hence, Macbeth makes bad decisions which lead to his tragic death.
Because Macbeth loves his wife, Lady Macbeth plays a major role in influencing the choices he makes concerning their future. In fact, Lady Macbeth's greatest strength is the power of influence she has on Macbeth. Magill says, “Lady Macbeth is a catalyst and supporter, but she does not make the grim decision, and Macbeth never tries to lay the blame on her” (3807). It is important to...
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