Do the Weird Sisters control the events that happen in Shakespeare's Macbeth? 

Do the Weird Sisters control the events that happen in Shakespeare's Macbeth?


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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most people would answer this question with a negative.  If we assume that the Weird Sisters control Macbeth's fate, then that means that he lacks free will and can do nothing but what fate dictates.  Further, he has no tragic flaw and he cannot, ultimately, be blamed for any of the terrible acts he commits.  If fate rules, then Macbeth is only traveling the path laid out for him.  This is problematic because Shakespeare's audience didn't care for the idea that their choices weren't really their own, that fate ruled their lives instead of their own decisions affecting their outcomes.  If free will determines one's future rather than fate, then we can hold Macbeth and Lady Macbeth responsible for the terrible things they do.

On the other hand, the Weird Sisters do seem supernatural (they can vanish and they do seem to know about some things that haven't happened yet).  This is the primary evidence used to support the idea that they control or at least know the future.  However, it seems even more likely that they only told Macbeth that he would become king because they were trying to manipulate him into corrupting himself, a process they would enjoy watching because they are malicious creatures.  In the first scene, they say "fair is foul and foul is fair," implying that what they tell him is going to seem fair (or good) but really be foul (bad).  They mean to deceive him, and even Banquo suspects this.  This evidence coupled with the above is enough for me to believe that the sisters do not control the future and that fate is not in play.

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