Macbeth: Ambition Leads to Poor Choices

Topics: Macbeth, Duncan I of Scotland, William Shakespeare Pages: 11 (4382 words) Published: May 16, 2013
Macbeth: A Warrior of Freewill
In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the constant question of whether Macbeth is a victim of fate or that he chooses his own path looms. Macbeth is not necessarily a play of fate, but rather a tragedy that occurs as a result of uncontrollable greed and ambition by Macbeth and his wife. Macbeth had been given prophecies that came to be true, but also had to make decisions to fulfill them. Macbeth’s choices, which are driven by his vaulting ambition, are ultimately responsible for the actions that lead to his fate. The weird sisters only make suggestions about Macbeth's road to kingship; they do not cast spells to make all their predictions true. Macbeth is responsible for putting power into the hands of Lady Macbeth and letting her influence him. Finally, Macbeth acknowledges his guilt of wrongdoing and is thereby responsible for his actions. Macbeth’s ambitions drive him on to follow a plan to acquire the throne as well as secure it. Macbeth is in no way under a spell or curse; he chooses to create a path of evil for himself. The predictions of the witches are only temptations. The witches try to create chaos by prophesying to Macbeth in order to get him to act. They plant the seed of evil in Macbeth's head that grows to dominate his mind. It is Macbeth who made the choices that determine his fate. He is not forced to kill Duncan nor any of his other victims. The weird sisters never tell Macbeth what to do with these suggestions. Macbeth chose to believe he was cursed by fate. In terms of the fate and magical aspect of the play, solid evidence is missing that says that the witches play a part in any kind of magic or fate altering aspects. Despite the coincidence of the prophecies coming true, the only spell that Macbeth is under is the illusion he creates from his own decision to follow the persuasive words of the witches. In the opening of the play, the sergeant comments on Macbeth’s fate, saying, “And Fortune, on his damned quarry smiling, Show'd like a rebel's whore. But all's too weak; For brave Macbeth -well he deserves that name- Disdaining Fortune, with his brandish'd steel, Which smoked with bloody execution”(I.ii.14-7). The sergeant says here that Macbeth should have died in battle—but he was stronger than his fate. From the commencement of the play, Macbeth has been introduced as stronger than any fate that would attempt to take hold over him. This implies that all events that happen within the play are because of Macbeth’s actions, not his fate. It was Macbeth's free will, with the influence of the witches prophesies that determined his destiny. Macbeth chose to kill Duncan, chose to kill his servants, Banquo, and Macduff's family, and chose to fight to his death. He was not forced to do so; he took each step on the path to his destruction by choice. Macbeth is initially curious and disbelieving about these deceptive “hags”, but he takes their forecasts literally. The witches only make predictions about the future kingship of Macbeth: "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, that shall be king hereafter!" (I.iii.50) Macbeth, along with Lady Macbeth, is responsible for making the judgments that lead to the downfall and destruction of Macbeth. The ability for Macbeth to choose his own fate appears as soon as he decides to stop and listen to the witches. He believes what they say is important when he requests, "Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more" (I.i.70). His ability to decide the value of the magical qualities of the prophecies is, in essence, the entire proof of his free will. The witches do not actually do anything to make Macbeth kill Duncan. They tempt him, but it is his own ambition that leads him to commit the crime. Although Macbeth's temptation started with the words of witches'; the true cause of his downfall was from his inner struggle, as well as greed and ambition. Macbeth chooses to follow the path of letting the witches persuade him. Even the...
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