Fate may state what will be in one's life however, how that destiny comes about is a matter of man's own choice. In other words, incidents don't occur because our destinies are written. In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare expertly uses the theme of fate vs. free will and raises the pre-eminent question of which holds power over the characters. In Shakespeare’s tragedy, fate is not the cause of his downfall, his own desires and choices prove to be the deciding factor.
There are several examples of fate playing a distinctive role in the lives of Macbeth’s players. The main catalysts behind fate are the three witches seen intermittingly throughout the production. During their second appearance, they share this harrowing truth with the audience. “Sleep shall neither night nor day / Hang upon his pent-house lid; / He shall live a man forbid: / Weary se'nnights nine times nine / Shall he dwindle, peak and pine (I.iii.19-23). The sailor can be viewed as none other than the Thane of Glamis, Macbeth. As seen later in the play, Macbeth becomes deprived of sleep due to the overwhelming guilt and paranoia he faces. Furthermore, he dwindles away mentally; the hallucination of Banquo is a clear example of the mental deterioration. Physically, death is the ultimate fall of a person. The witches are able to clearly predict events seen later in the play possessing some foresight, yet every power has its limitations.
The most prophetic statement in the work is given by none other than the witches. As Macbeth approaches the hags, they great him by saying, “All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis! / All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! / All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!” (I.iii. 47-50). The wicked women state the first two correctly; he is the thane of Glamis and the newly appointed thane of Cawdor. The third is correctly stated, yet the audience is unsure of this truth. Macbeth is not the current King, but fittingly all will “Hail him King”. This profound prediction lays the bedrock for the argument of fate. Once again, the witches have a control over Macbeth and merely suggest the possibility and leave the rest up to Macbeth.
We are given yet another proclamation, three to be exact, by the sisters. “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff; / Beware the thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough…The power of man, for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth… Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until / Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill / Shall come against him” (IV.i. 80-81). All three of these declarations prove to be true in the end. The final fate of Macbeth is depicted in these three lines. The apparitions correctly reveal Macduff, a son born of cesarean section, will strike down Macbeth in cold blood, after the trees of the forest will be cut down by the English army and used as camouflage.
Fate plays the role of suggestion, but with every prophecy and “pre-determined” event, there is a subsequent set of actions and choices by...