Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Macbeth - Important Role of Fate

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The Concept of Fate in Macbeth

Literary critics disagree over the amount of leverage which fate exerted on the Macbeths in the Shakespearean drama Macbeth. Fate was quite influential, but it did not impair their free will; they remained free moral agents who ambitiously and voluntarily surrendered themselves to the evil suggestions of fate.

Macbeth: "If Chance would have me king, why, Chance may crown me without my stir."

A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy references Fate in the play to the Witches' prophecies:

The words of the witches are fatal to the hero only because there is in him something which leaps into light at the sound of them; but they are at the same time the witness of forces which never
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[. . .] It is this synchronizing of nature and fortune that soothsayers study, and that the witches in Macbeth know something about. 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

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