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I'm writing an essay on free will vs. fate in Macbeth.  (I went with free will.) ...

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faivious | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 14, 2010 at 9:28 AM via web

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I'm writing an essay on free will vs. fate in Macbeth.  (I went with free will.)  What three points could I grab from this thesis statement?


Shakespeare plays puppet master with the character Macbeth by dangling his fate in front of him, but at the same time it is Macbeth's own desire and intellectual views that lead him into mental illness and finally to suffer his foreshadowed fate.

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted November 14, 2010 at 6:10 PM (Answer #1)

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If the three witches are to be believed in the role of the “fate sisters,” Macbeth’s own ambition precedes the proclamations of the witches on the heath in act 1 scene 3. The witches only served as mirrors on which Macbeth could see his own mind.

Macbeth’s long soliloquy in act 1 scene 7 reveals how Macbeth examines all the pros and cons of the murder of Duncan. He is clearly self-divided, drawn asunder by the contrary pulls of his “vaulting ambition” and his moral scruples. His unlawful ambition seems to get the better of his imaginative conscience.

It is again Macbeth himself who chooses to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance, though Banquo didn’t pose any threat to Macbeth’s power and authority. Fleance was on the hit-list only because of the prophecy of the witches as regards Banquo.

Macbeth’s decision at the end of the failed Banquet  to meet the witches is yet another instance of his “free will.” By meeting the witches and receiving another set of prophecies, Macbeth virtually enhances his doom.

Even if the tragic downfall of Macbeth appears as pre-destined, it is Macbeth himself who catalyzes the tragic outcome by his act of “free will.”

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