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Assignment on Free Will
- In-Class Writing Prompt: You are at a restaurant and have already eaten a wonderful meal. The waiter asks if you want desert and shows you a tray with the most delicious looking piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen. You’re full, it’s expensive, but you decide to order and then consume the piece of cake.
- How did you rationalize eating the cake? Did you think you were predestined to eat the cake? Does you think that you are exercising free will in your decision to eat the cake?
- If they can tell you what it means to have “free will.” (Possible responses: you can choose to do or not do things, no one makes you. You aren’t fated to do anything. Chances are that students will have a rudimentary but incomplete understanding.)
- What the Christian view of “free will” is. (Possible responses: you can choose to obey God or not.)
- “The Christian view is that man has free will (is) that what will happen is not the same as what ought to happen. God permits what he forbids, and God, being outside of time, can see what man will do without making him do it.” [Auden, W.H. Lectures on Shakespeare. Ed. Arthur Kirsch. New Jersey, Princeton UP. Pg. 212]
- Note that Macbeth does not take the witches’ prophecies as fate, a future over which he has no control: “If chance will have me King, why chance may crown me. / Without my stir” (1.3.157-159). Neither does Macbeth ask the witches what he should do to fulfill their prophecies. Instead, he exercises free will and “what will happen is not the same as what ought to happen.” Macbeth’s choices are his own no matter how many others are trying to influence his selection.
About this Document
In-class writing prompt on the theme of free will in Macbeth. Also includes questions for guiding discussion on the topic.