The play Macbeth revolves around many themes including one without which all the other seem pointless- is Macbeth in control of his actions or do the predictions of the witches and apparitions control his fate? While Macbeth’s future was foretold as fact, was he still in control of his actions and could he possibly escaped the seemingly inevitable death that ended the play.
The idea of destiny has entered into the minds of many and most seem to have adopted the idea that “I control my fate.” However, this rather egotistic statement suggests that the only things that happen to a person are the result of that person’s previous actions. If a person traveling on the highway follows every traffic law and gets hit by and eighteen-wheeler, did that person do anything to cause such an accident? No, that person was simply subjected to the repercussion of another driver’s actions. This line of reasoning led to the idea of Karma and the statement “what goes around ...view middle of the document...
If the future that a person saw is set in stone, then nothing that person could or would do will change the future they saw, which again renders that foreknowledge useless. The third witch’s greeting “All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter!” set in motion a series of events which eventually led to the death of King Duncan and the rise of Macbeth as king. However, if the witches had predicted that Macbeth would become king, then he would have done so with or without their prodding, which once again would have made the witches prediction useless.
Seemingly the only explanation for the general statement of “predicting the future” that does not by nature render the knowledge of the future useless is that there are actually infinitely many paths that the future could take and the path that becomes the progressive present can be given as the sum of the numerous choices that people make each and every day. Using this logic, someone who “knows the future” does not really know the future, rather they know the futures. They can see the possibilities and can use their own powers of decision to cause the present to take the path of the future that they desire most. This seems to line up with Macbeth’s statement of “Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane, and thou opposed, being of no woman born…” (5,VIII) which brings full circle the predictions of the witches earlier in the play.
While the future is difficult to debate and even harder to predict, the fey fortunes given in many fantasy novels, plays, and movies can be rationally explained within the borders of our own space-time dimension. While in these works of art most prediction come true in their own way, it does not necessarily mean that the future is set, only that the future can be influenced by anyone and everyone, and those who can see the patterns between choices and consequences can, in their own small way, know the futures.