Is Macbeth a Victim of Fate or His Own Ambitious Choices?

Topics: Macbeth, Decision making, Causality Pages: 4 (1256 words) Published: May 7, 2006
"Is Macbeth a victim of fate or his own ambitious choices?"
Fate, unlike fatalism, does not stipulate that human deliberation and actions are inconsequential in causing an event, as its occurrence is inevitable. Rather it simply states that all events, and the choices leading up to them, are predetermined; hence the role of freewill is no less significant in deciding fated events than it is when considering situations from a non-fated perspective. This concept can be observed in William Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which the title character's fate, as it is prophesised in the play, is clearly the result of and dependent on his own decisions as much as it is circumstances beyond his control. Several times during the play, such as in deciding to trust and act on the witches prophecies, Macbeth is seen to consciously choose a path of action that, unknowingly, leads him to his death. While it could be viewed as his fate to die as such it is obvious at all times that he is actively involved in its cause and cannot be considered unresponsible for its occurrence.

The level of freedom Macbeth has in deciding his fate is accentuated by the prophecy that portends its existence. The ambiguous nature of the prophecy; ‘All hail, Macbeth! …. Thane of Glamis!
…. Thane of Cawdor!
…. That shalt be King hereafter!' (1.3.47-50)
- allows it to be fulfilled in any number of ways, as it does not include the manner in which it comes about. Indeed, the witches neither force nor even suggest to Macbeth that he should murder Duncan and even he considers that ‘If chance will have me King, why,

Chance may crown me,
Without my stir.' (1.3.43-44)
Therefore his decision to ‘catch the nearest way' to the prophecies completion is one made entirely on his own as far as fate is concerned. This decision is one that effectively leads to his downfall, whereas had the prophecy been completed in a different manner the aspects of fate dependent on Macbeth's action in killing Duncan...
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