Free will or fate? Is there evidence of Macbeth's actions being guided by destiny or by free will?

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Concerning free will and predestination in Shakespeare's Macbeth, our views on whether or not people have free will are irrelevant.  Macbeth is a character in a play, not a human being.  In answering this or any other question about a work of art, what matters is what's in the work of art. 

What's for sure is that Shakespeare raises the issue in the play and reflects questions that were on the minds of thinkers in his day.  Predestination vs. free will was an issue in Shakespeare's time, as, in fact, it still is today.  Shakespeare's play reflects this.  The issue may be seen as a refinement or continuation of the question of fate, which goes back at least as far as the Greeks.

The fact is that in the play the issue is ambiguous, and an argument can be made supporting that Macbeth was controlled by fate, or that Macbeth maintained free will. 

At the heart of the issue are the witches .  Do they really know the future?  Do they just know the future, or do they control it, too?  Or...

(The entire section contains 7 answers and 1513 words.)

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