Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Macbeth - Fate's Triumph

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Fate's Triumph in Macbeth

Shakespeare a fatalist in Macbeth? It would seem so, given the observation that the Macbeths capitulated totally to the evil suggestions of the witches. We shall clarify the concept of fate in this drama.

Blanche Coles states in Shakespeare's Four Giants the place of Fate in Macbeth's life:

Then, like a cog slipping naturally into its own notch, his thoughts turn to the Witches and their prophecy, and he concludes that he has defiled his mind for the descendants of Banquo he has murdered the gracious Duncan for them; he has poisoned his own peace of mind and given his immortal soul (eternal jewel) to the devil, the common enemy of man - all this to make the descendants of Banquo
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We call it fate, which over-simplifies it. (88-89)

In his book, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, H. S. Wilson explains the stand taken by Macbeth in his relationship with fate:

He pits himself no merely against the threat of hell but also against the enmity of "Fate" (as represented in the prophecies of the Weird Sisters):

come, Fate, into the list,

And champion me to th' utterance.

He brags to his wife:

But let the frame of tings disjoint, both the worlds suffer,

Ere we will eat our meal in fear [. . .]. (70-71)

The Tragedy of Macbeth opens in a desert place with thunder and lightning and three Witches who are anticipating their fateful meeting with Macbeth, "There to meet with Macbeth." They all say together the mysterious and contradictory "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." King Duncan learns that "brave Macbeth" and Banquo are bravely resisting the "Norweyan banners" and the rebellious Thane of Cawdor. When these forces are vanquished, Duncan bids Ross to greet Macbeth with his new title of Thane of Cawdor. Before this happens, however, Macbeth is greeted by the witches with "hail to thee, thane of Glamis," "thane of Cawdor," and "thou shalt be king hereafter!" When Ross and Angus arrive with news of Duncan's reward ("He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor"), it is logical for Macbeth to assume that all of the weird
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