Was Macbeth a pawn of fate or an agent of free will in Shakespeare's Macbeth?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would say that Macbeth would be described as a pawn of fate. He starts out as a great warrior that everyone is impressed with. His King promotes him to Thane of Cawdor and that is all free will. However, once he meets the witches, in my opinion, he becomes a PAWN of fate. The three ugly sisters make prophecies and he follows them. While he still has free will, your use of the word PAWN causes me to think that he would have to be judged as such. The witches make suggestions, but he follows them. It's true that these decisions are up to him, but the witches are manipulating him into doing things. Once they get him started, others, particularly Lady Macbeth, are able to influence his decisions. At the end, he falls victim of the witchs' prophecies and there is nothing left for him to do but succumb.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial