Analysis of the Actions of Macbeth and Doctor Faustus Based on Free Will and Fate

1677 Words Feb 19th, 2012 7 Pages
Many scholars have debated whether the actions of Macbeth and Doctor Faustus in Shakespeare’s and Marlowe’s plays come from the characters themselves or whether they were following a predetermined fate. In the play The Tragedy of Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, each character’s destiny, or fate, seems to be predetermined by the supernatural and unpreventable by any actions meant to stop it from occurring. The concept of fate is a large component in many Aristotelian Tragedies, such as Macbeth. However, in the tragedy, The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus (commonly referred to as just Doctor Faustus), written by Christopher Marlowe, Faustus’s actions show a theme of free-will repeated throughout the play. …show more content…
The three witches have often been compared to the three Greek fates, signifying that what they say will happen later in the play. The Witches' ability to see into the future is first demonstrated when Macbeth becomes thane of Cawdor (Norns). The line, "What? Can the devil speak true?" (1.3.107) shows Banquo's surprise at the realization of the witches’ prophecy. In Macbeth, fate causes events to come to pass by affecting many of the characters, not just Macbeth himself. Lady Macbeth's uncontrollable greed helps spur on the action of Macbeth murdering Duncan, which makes him king. Without her urging Macbeth would not be able to attain that which fate had bestowed upon him (Harper). In fact, Macbeth first was inclined to leave whether or not he became king up to chance and states, “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir” (1.3.10). But after Duncan names Malcolm the Prince of Cumberland, next in line for the throne, Macbeth decides to take a more active role in his destiny by proclaiming:
The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. (1.4.4-9)
When Macbeth is on his way to murder Duncan to become king, he is beginning to have
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