Is fate real in the play Macbeth, and are the witches the fates?Is fate real in the play Macbeth, and are the witches the fates, or do the witches the fates simply know to much as agents of evil?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fate is definitely real in Macbeth, but it involves what is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Macbeth receives information from the witches that one day he would become king, instead of waiting for fate or destiny to make him king, he takes matters into his own hands, kills the current king, damning his two sons with suspicion of having killed their father, and ends up getting crowned King of Scotland.

"The witches, through their ambiguous prophecies, represent a supernatural power that introduces evil into Macbeth. Their equivocations—the intentional stating of half-truths—conceal the sinister nature of their predictions, and Macbeth does not consider the possibility that they are trying to deceive him."

The witches are agents of evil, making mischief at Macbeth's expense, toying with his human frailties, watching him drown in his own ambition, wallow in over confidence as he destroys the very fabric of nature in Scotland. 

"The Weird Sisters themselves do not have the power to enact a diabolic course of events such as that which ensues in Macbeth; rather, their power lies in tempting humans like Macbeth to sin."

In fact when Hecate, the queen of the witches discovers what they have done, she takes charge of the second set of prophecies because they have not exploited the human Macbeth enough.  She wants him to twist in the wind unaware that he is setting in motion his own destruction and that he is powerless to stop it. She wants to instill in him a sense of over-confidence, something she sees as a great flaw in humanity that should be preyed upon to unleash more chaos, mayhem and death.

The witches are agents of evil, they engage in prophecy not to help Macbeth, but to stir his deepest, darkest emotions, with the belief that as a human, his greed and lust for power will destroy many lives including his own.